Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ode to Adulthood, or: 8 reasons I'm glad to be an adult

I love being an adult.

I often hear people talk about missing the days of childhood when life was simple. I don't know where they get the idea that life was simple as a child. Maybe that's true for them, but I remember childhood very differently.

8 Things That I Like Better About Being an Adult Than Being a Child:

1. I get to do whatever I want. All the time. Yes, I have to live in a system that has boundaries (like I need to do things to make money in order to be financially independent and thus have personal freedom), but I get to decide how I want to navigate that system. When I was a kid, I didn't have the final say in any decisions. For instance, my parents would force me to play a sport (I think because they wanted me to get exercise), even though the pressure of being on a team and the embarrassment of not understanding sports and lacking coordination made this an extremely uncomfortable experience for me. This kind of thing happened all of the time. Maybe if I had adult-level communication skills, I could have convinced them not to, but I didn't because I was a kid. Now, as an adult, if something makes me extremely uncomfortable (and isn't worth it to me), I can just choose not to do it. Like dissecting a pig in college biology lab. Fuck that shit.

Also, when there are things that I really want, like a kitten, rather than being confined by my parents' wishes, I get to decide whether or not it's worth it to me to put in the work to make that happen. Last year I really wanted a kitten/cat, so I fostered a cat that needed a home, it was great, but then I figured out that I didn't want to have the responsibilities of having a cat, so I gave him to a better home (ilu Catito), and I no longer have to live optionlessly with the burning desire to have my own kitten.

"I would rather have brain surgery again than get another cat." -My dad

Catito xoxoxo  [Photo credit Molly McGuire, Catito's new loving caregiver]

2. Making a joke at my expense is considered rude. Sometimes when I see adults talking with a kid, one of the adults will be like, "What's your favorite book? Infinite Jest?"* and the adults laugh because it's funny to think about a kid reading a really long, difficult book, and the kid feels awkward and alienated because they don't know how to respond when they don't understand the joke (at least that's how I felt when this happened to me as a kid). They're thinking, "Is Infinite Jest not a book? Is it an erotic novel? Is it a baby book?" and each of these options would have a different appropriate response. Should I scoff and say, "Nooo."? Should I blush and yell, "NO!"? If someone made this kind of joke about something I didn't know (and didn't make up for it by then warmly explaining it to me), the other people around would probably be concerned about my feelings, and they might think the jokester was being an asshole.

*Not a real example from my life.

3. I don't have to rely on others for transportation. Not being able to get places on my own was the worst! I'd be in love with some guy from the next town over and my parents would only let me see him once a week, because they had to drive so much to get me to his house. If he lived half an hour away, they'd drive half an hour there to drop me off, then back, then a few hours later they'd do it again to pick me up. So that totals 2 hours of driving in one night, and they don't get anything out of it for themselves. Now I get to decide whether travel time is worth it to me to see people, so I don't have any tragically under-fulfilled relationships where I only get to see the person 1/7th of the amount that I want to see them.

Feeling the freedom of independent transport

4. People are almost never blatantly mean to me. Every once in a while, some asshole driver will beep at me when I'm on my bike doing nothing wrong, but that doesn't compare to how kids make fun of other kids all of the time. I didn't even experience much bullying; I probably did more bullying than received it (sorry to anyone I might have hurt). But people being mean to me was way more common in my childhood than it is now.

5. It's not considered acceptable for people to belittle my feelings. I remember sometimes when I was extremely upset or frustrated as a kid, my mom would be like, "You're just tired. Stop being cranky!" and I would be like, "NOW SO MUCH MORE UPSET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Maybe I was being tired and cranky; I don't know, but I definitely was having some real and intense feelings, and other people refusing to acknowledge them was beyond frustrating. As an adult, even when I'm PMSing and my emotions are completely unreasonable and over the top*, whoever I'm with will just give me a hug and be respectful. They might even say, "Do you think that you might be more upset about this than you'd normally be because of your period?" and if I don't think so, I can say, "No, this thing I'm upset about is a big deal for me," or if I think it might be that, I can say, "Probably," and the person is still compassionate about the fact that I'm having difficult feelings. And if people do belittle my feelings, I don't have to keep hanging out with them. Or I can say, "I feel like you're belittling my feelings," and they'll think about it.

*Though this is my experience of PMS, many women do not have intensified emotions before/during menstruation.

6. Being cool is less important and less clear cut. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be popular, but I was too weird. I went to school with the same group of kids for my entire childhood, so they all knew I wasn't cool. They remembered all the weird stuff I did, like chasing other kids around at recess in an attempt to hug them. (I would give more examples of why I wasn't destined to childhood popularity, but I suspect I repressed some memories, because I'm having trouble coming up with them.) But now I'm not stuck in a small community where everyone knows everyone else, so there are plenty of people who don't have preconceived ideas about whether or not they should like me. Also, in the general community of Boston, ideas about what is cool and what isn't are a lot less stringent than they were in my grade in the Easton public schools. Now a lot of the things that made me seem weird before can be seen by some people as endearing quirks. "Oh you love dogs and want to talk about how much you loved your now dead dog all the time? How sweet. I'm vegan."

7. Embarrassment isn't usually as bad. I  remember being so unbearably embarrassed as a kid when embarrassing-type things would happen, like I'd accidentally wave at a person who was really waving at someone behind me. But in recent years, I figured out that when I'm feeling embarrassed, I can say to the person I'm with (often the person I'm feeling embarrassed in front of), "I'm embarrassed." This pretty much always prompts them to say, "You don't need to feel embarrassed! It's just me!" Saying it out loud helps me to remember that embarrassment is just a feeling that happens sometimes and that's okay. And talking about it reminds me that the person I'm talking to also gets embarrassed sometimes, and they can relate to what I'm feeling. Also, my concept of myself is more developed now than it was when I was a kid, so it's not as fully defined by what others think of me.

8. I don't have to hang out with my parents all of the time. Even when I was young enough that my parents still seemed like the coolest people ever, they didn't have nearly enough energy! I'd be like five years old and ready to climb and entire mountain and they'd be like, "I think now might be a good time to turn back," and I'd be like, "I want with my entire being to continue climbing this mountain for at least as long as we've already been climbing it," and they'd be like, "No, we're too tired." And then I got older and was annoyed with my parents all of the time because I was an angsty teenager, but I still had to be around them for a significant amount of time every day because I needed them to feed me and drive me places, and I lived with them. Now I get to choose how much to see them, and if they're driving me crazy, I can just leave.

I don't think I had an especially difficult or troubling childhood, but I like being an adult so much better! How about you? Do you long for childhood?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My 9 Resolutions for 2014

Happy new year!

It's 2014 and I might start blogging again. I wasn't really thinking much of the change of year, partly because it seems like an arbitrary way humans measure time and not an actual event, and partly because thinking about it didn't really occur to me, but then yesterday I got asked, "So, do you have any new year's resolutions?" enough times to prompt me to start thinking about it. And it turns out that I like looking at my life and setting goals, so now I'm making a full-blown list of new year's resolutions! Here it goes.

1. Get back into taking pictures.
I used to take tons of pictures of everyday life, but then my camera became much less usable (semi-broke?) and I stopped carrying it with me, so now the only photos I take are with Eric's smart phone. I was thinking about it today and I feel like not taking photos regularly makes me feel like my experience of the world is... less. I'm not sure how to describe this, but it's kind of like I feel like I'm experiencing the world more passively, or like my view of my life was amplified by taking photos (and then having the photos later), and now it's just back to regular amplification, which is not as much. Also, it's a form of artistic expression for me, and I like having an ongoing creative project.

2. Floss.

3. Volunteer at those cool sounding places that I was meaning to volunteer at.
When I moved to Boston, I had all these ideas about getting involved in different communities and projects and nonprofits, but I wanted to wait until I got a job because I wanted my schedule to be open for work, and then I guess by the time I got a job I sort of got distracted... for like ten or eleven months. Some of the volunteer-type things I want to do are:
   -Teach a crafting class at Rosie's Place
   -Teach a creative writing workshop at 826 Boston, or even just volunteer as a tutor.
   -Lead a workshop with The Greater Boston Free School Network. Also possibly volunteer to update their website content because it looks like it hasn't been touched since the summer.

4. Be friendly.

5. Do things that are out of my comfort zone!
I was reminded of the fact that this is important to me recently because I solidified my trip to Uganda for this spring and I started feeling nervous about it because it can be dangerous, and I'm going to be away from my regular life for a month and a half, and I don't know what I'm going to end up doing while I'm there, and I'm expecting to miss Eric a lot, and I have to get shots and stuff beforehand, and get a visa, etc. And I don't know anyone there except my sister, and it's a culture I'm completely unfamiliar with. So when I started feeling fear about this trip, I was like, "Hey, I'm fulfilling my goal of getting out of my comfort zone!" So I'm off to a good start. :)

This is hanging on the wall of my bedroom.

6. Do laundry sometimes.
I did a great job of sometimes doing laundry in 2013, and I'm hoping to run wild with my sometimes-laundry streak in 2014!

7. Make things and think of good things to do with the things I make.
I really like making crafts, especially out of repurposed materials, and I usually give them as gifts and sometimes use them for parties I'm hosting. I'd like to come up with other things to do with crafts I make, though. I'm really at the early stages of brainstorming on this one. Some possibilities:
   -Sell them. (Etsy? A local art shop? This blog? Would there be copyright issues because I use magazine clippings?)
   -Sell them to raise money for things I think are important.
   -Other ideas

8. Plan fun things.
I like themes! I like having parties! Why not plan things that I like to do and ask people I like to do them with me? Some ideas:
   -Go to the movies in pajamas. Okay this one sounds like I'm writing a post called, "12 Fun Things To Do as a Family This Year," but whatever, I want to go to the movies in my pajamas with Eric in his pajamas. It's great because I don't even wear pajamas to bed; I sleep naked.
   -Themed parties! Whatever theme I want; it doesn't have to be relevant! Maybe a "moon-themed" craft party? The crafts don't have to be related to moons. But maybe I'll make a moon pinata and we can have some sort of "moon cake?" I don't know; I don't know how to make cake. Sometimes I hear of really cool sounding parties that I can't make it to, because maybe I'm busy or maybe I'm not invited, and I'm like, "Man, I wish I could go to a pie party!" (this is a real example and I was later told that a party I had recently been to was a pie party, which explains why there were so many pies there), but it's starting to occur to me that I can just have whatever kind of awesome-sounding parties I want. So I'm going to. Some party ideas:
       >Fabulous brunch. I recently saw photos on the internet of a complete stranger's "queer fashion brunch" and was super jealous. Then I was like, "Maybe I should have a queer fashion brunch!" and then I was like, "But I want to invite my straight friends :(" So how about a fabulous brunch where everyone has to dress fabulously? And maybe it can be queer "themed." Like we can read a queer short story or watch a queer movie or something. Or dress up as queer celebrities?! Yeah, this is a great idea.
       >Puppy themed movie and comfort food party. This is a nighttime party. I'll have to make sure it's on a day when Teddy will be home, so there will be a real dog. But we can watch movies with dogs as main characters, eat Field Roast hot dogs, wear furry clothes, watch puppy videos on Youtube, look at my two books of puppy photos, etc.

Okay, I only have two months before I leave the country for a while so I think that's enough party ideas for now.

9. Go to 30 yoga classes in two months.
I just bought a $20 Groupon for 30 yoga classes in the Boston area. I've only done yoga a few times, but I always like it when I do it. I bet Eric that I would go to all 30 classes before Uganda and if (when) I win, he has to buy me dinner. He suggested that if I win, he'd have to go to Uganda with me, but I thought that was too high of stakes, so I suggested that he would have to buy me dinner, and I think we both thought that was a better idea.

I'm excited to start on these resolutions! I decided that I would start on at least one by the end of today. I think I'm going to email some nonprofits about volunteering.

Did you make any resolutions this year? I want to hear them!