Posts tagged ‘planning’

Weddin’ Planning

With the returning of the sun after midwinter, I have been kicking my own ass about getting this wedding set up. The next year is going to bring a lot of changes, including maybe moving out of town together, and hopefully getting closer to starting a family. I get the sense that if we do believe in getting formally hitched, then the right time is to do it before all this turmoil and settling down happens, a commitment that we step into that future together.

Gorgeous photo by James Jordan. All hail the Creative Commons.The first thing I did was hie me to my local public library to borrow a copy of Dan Savage’s The Commitment. The man’s been shaping my understanding of sex and relationships since I was a teenager. He had a weekly radio show in Seattle, and every week, somebody would *drive up to a Washington University with a tape of the show* and the university radio station would broadcast it in the middle of the night on Sundays. I lived on the top of a mountain in deepest suburbia just over the Canadian border, and had a boom box rigged up with a bunch of wires tied to the antenna… I listened to his show every week, including such highlights as live fisting and penis tattooing. And then Monday morning, I would fall asleep on the school bus.

But I digress. Mr. Savage is very wise when it comes to the human heart – and when he writes about marriage from the perspective of American gays, it is without the straight-people social pressures. Nobody expects gay people to get married in the States, where it’s not even legal (shame!). So when two gay Americans who have done A LOT of research go through all the trouble of coming to Canada to get married for their own peace of mind, it means that they see something really valuable in the formal commitment. After devouring the book in two days (and so much crying!) I think I agree with Dan Savage that getting married means taking a responsibility that adults who make a life together really should shoulder. Especially if there are kids on the way, it means that we promise to do our very best to be a team and provide a stable foundation of love and support.

But, for us Canadians, gay, straight and otherwise, who decide to get married, there is also that matter of signing a legal contract. The contract has a lot of fine print which most people don’t read. Step two of this weddin’ planning business is learning what that contract says, and what parts of it we don’t like.

I hied me again to the library, to borrow a book about prenuptual agreements called What to Do before I Do. It was helpfully filed in the dysfunctional section of the little branch library out by the university, right between Surviving a Divorce and Alcoholism and You. Its all about American law (what we Canadians endure) but I think it should be a good start.

Contemplating prenups is about as much fun as taking out my own tonsils, but what’s going to be really awesome is coming up with the cash to hire TWO lawyers, which you need to make a prenup valid. That, in turn, is only going to be half as awesome as dealing with my parents on this whole issue. But I do think it has to be done.

In less fraught news, I learned last night that a good friend is a totally amazing baker and cake decorator. That takes care of sourcing a cake.

Toddler visits!

My good and long-time friend R has been visiting the last few days with her 15-month-old son. I was so fortunate that they decided to pop by in this brief and dangerous lull between the last days of class and when all my term papers are due. (Tomorrow morning after they leave – out come the books!)

We spent the whole day today just out wandering and visiting people, and the sunshine cooperated, which here in the Rainforest, in the Rainy Season, is pretty much a miracle.

I’m really happy to be an honourary auntie to such a wonderful little boy. I am also lucky to have the parenting example of R, although my basic plan is a little different than hers – for a variety of reasons, she is full-time attachment parenting, and I’m pretty determined to keep working, especially after going back to school for a career I find really interesting. Her patience and warmth with her son are an inspiration.

Hanging out with my little “nephew” I demands this physical, ever-present-in-the-moment attention which is not my natural way of being in the world. It stretches me in a wonderful way. After he went to bed, I walked down to pick up our dinner and listened to a planning podcast and I could feel it engaging a totally different part of my brain – the analytical, thoughtful, long-range thinking part. I hope that when it is my time to be a parent that I can make this balance work, and find joy in the complete difference of these two centres: childish joy in the moment, and strategic thinking for the future.

Not to wish away the beautiful present, with some Christmas knitting on my needles and Z playing WOW in the other room, but I’m excited for what is to come.

Mind, body, spirit

When I was in about Grade 4, I had this photocopied Social Studies textbook about the First Nations people of the prairies. I wish I still had it today so that I could check it out and assess its cultural sensitivity, because it shaped my understanding of prairie First Nations cultures big-time. For all I knew at the time, it could have been a racist piece of crap like some of the other textbooks my elementary school came up with. (For example! The one showing cultural stereotypes and nationality names! There was a Frenchman with a stripey shirt and a beret, and my mom was horrified to see the “Chinaman” with a pointy straw hat.)

But I digress. The First Nations Social Studies textbook had all this stuff about spirituality and gender roles that completely blew my 10-year-old mind. It said that braids of sweetgrass were a reminder of the three threads that make up a person – mind, body and spirit. The more I think about that metaphor, the  more helpful it seems.

I’ve remembered that lesson in the last year or so when it’s become apparent that these weird fluttering heart episodes I have had for years are in fact anxiety attacks. They have been getting more debilitating since the start of grad school, and it’s been a learning experience to recognize the physical symptoms and to know that they are caused by the inseparability of body and mind.

Yesterday, as part of a summer class, I got to be a middle-class tourist in the city’s cheapest housing, some of which has been recently taken over by the provincial government. These hundred-year-old hotels were built to accommodate seasonal resource workers, and mostly haven’t been fixed up or cleaned for decades. Depending on where they sit on some governmental list for renovations, they provide either basic housing or completely inhumane shitholes that no human being should be asked to live in.

I propped myself up on the dirty, smelly floor in this awful little room down a twisting, uneven hallway trying to reconcile mind and body while the social housing worker explained that homeless people spend years on waiting lists waiting for a place like this. Most of these people have mental health issues. Many of them probably suffer from anxiety, and I bet a lot of folks over the years who have no other place to go have had panic attacks in that little room.

My body betrays me when I get stressed out and upset, but I don’t want to turn away from responsibilities and truths that upset me just because 0f that fragile interconnection. It’s a pain in the ass. The useful aspect is that I can’t pretend not to be affected either.

Mind, body, spirit.

Renovation party!

Despite total gloom on the real estate market, we’re doing a few renovations to fix the more egregious malfunctions of this apartment. I worry that we’re completely delusional to be putting any money behind expectations of resale.  But with luck, I will graduate and get some kind of job in about a year’s time, and who knows where that job might be*. The apartment should therefore be ready-ish to be put on the market.

To that end, Z and I spent our day off today hanging around cabinet shops with my parents and considering the merits of various makes of fake wood cabinetry.

One of our projects involves combing the internet for parts to repair our vintage  plastic “whirlpool” bathtub. These efforts are based on the uncertain assumption that potential future buyers would prefer to invest in a bathtub that shakes the building with violent, furious bubbles and whose motor roars like a 1970s racing car than to become owners of a bathtub with several intriguing knobs and dials but no action to show for it. Even if we manage to repair it, the bathtub will retain its single most charming feature – the large cigarette burn in its bottom.

Reluctantly starting this renovation project with an eye to resale makes me realize how little remains in this chapter of our lives. I can be very impatient about wanting to move on, but this sweet little slice of time, when we are pretty free to see our friends in the city, and spend time with each other and our parents, and to pursue our selfish individual dreams (i.e. grad school!) is one day going to be missed.

PhD comics has a great T-shirt design that compares grad school to hitting the snooze button on life. But there’s only one more year of sleeping in for me! I might graduate, find a job, maybe leave town, have a kid.  Our lives, our relationship, our friendships and identities will never be the same. There may never be another peaceful moment! I cannot fucking wait, but try not to wish away the fortunate present.  But is it OK to wish away the renovations?

*I never would have foreseen this a few years ago, but I’m strangely drawn to the experience of working for smaller municipalities, where a civil servant might enjoy a wider range of responsibilities than in a big city.  Right now, however, jobs are scarce everywhere.

Well hello internet

I forgot what a royal pain in the arse that it can be to set up a blog. Nonetheless! I am stoked about this here little blog experiment.

You see, internet, I already have way too many blogs.  You might even say I have a problem. There’s the one I write for sort of officially, the personal livejournal which has waaay too many easily offended semi-acquaintances reading it to be personal, the one I started, then abandoned on behalf of a local non-profit, and the expired one I wrote for a class. I don’t know if this here blog is going to make it out in the blogiverse, or if I will quietly put an end to it as a failed experiment.  I will try not to abandon it with hardly any content.  This is a sad fate for blogs. Maybe one day I will have readers to discuss things with, or even grow some ovaries and open it up to people I know in real life.  Stranger things have happened.

There are all kinds of things that I like to worry about, and that I find difficult to discuss with people in real life.  Probably, this has something to do with my rabid cocaine addict of an internal editor. I need to find my own voice without worrying about offending anybody from our little circle of friends. But you, out there on the internet, are welcome to read and be offended or not, as you like. Should you want to comment thoughtfully on any of my ramblings, I would be so delighted for the conversation. Goddess bless the internet.

I think this blog might deal a lot with applied feminism, a topic that seems to be unfashionable among the young ladies of today. For example, my parter Z and I already live with about as many cats as you can reasonably fit into our apartment. We talk a lot about adding a baby human as soon as reasonably possible – that is as soon as I get my “mature student” ass out of grad school and into some kind of paying position with maternity leave. Much angst ensues on the topic of establishing my career, family expectations, sharing the second shift and navigating working motherhood.

But I’m not pregnant, right?  And I’m still in school, and said career is but a glimmer in my eye, right? 

I might add that I’m a planner. Ha ha, no seriously. I study planning. One day, if there is still an economy to speak of by the time I graduate, I will hopefully get paid to worry about things like housing, daycares, roads, train tracks, and perhaps endangered species. I excel  at worrying.

For now, I leave you, nonexistent internet reader, for  a 3pm breakfast of burnt french toast.  I’m not normally this lazy – it’s a golden combination of Z out of town on business, me sick with the flu, and school being out for a few weeks between terms.  Aaaaa!  Cough! Sneeze!