Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What To Do ...

I can't speak for Chris, but I'm still reeling from the choice not to have kids. I told him yesterday that the choice both saddens and thrills me: Whenever I get down about it being just him and me forever, I suddenly think, "Travel!!!" It's up and down. There's just such a terrifying finality to it.

I found myself stuck between two worlds and have finally given up on one. Sweet Grapes stresses that you make the choice to live without children, so I turned to the childless-by-choice community. What a loathsome bunch. Let's just say that I didn't fit in because I'm not a militant atheist and I don't hate children. And I do mean hate. I like the little boogers (children, I mean--not the childless-by-choice crowd)! They're hilarious! I like that when I help with homeschoolers, the littlest one of one of my families insists on being picked up ten thousand times and always asks, "Am I heavy?" (My reply? "You're still not heavy.") The childless-by-choice crowd wants "adult spaces" to be free of children so they can do adult things ... like talk about children all the time. They display such selfishness and immaturity that they can only be called children themselves. There, I said it. Now I've buried that portion of my life and spat on its grave, and I shall move on.

When I think about it, I guess I didn't really make too much of a choice. I didn't come at this from an angle of just not wanting children. My angle was having PCOS and depression that varied from non-existant to major force interrupting my life. It wasn't that I didn't want children--it's that I felt unfit to have children. So I looked up the childless-not-by-choice crowd, and I felt much more at ease. In fact, a rather lovely blog on the subject introduced me to Savvy Auntie, a community that recognizes the oft-overlooked importance of the aunts of the world. There are lots of women there who can't have children of their own and many who've chosen not to have children so they can love on their nieces and nephews. (Guess there is hope for the world.) According to the Savvy Auntie book, about 50% of women of childbearing age in the US don't have any children. Crazy, huh? I'm not alone!

Anyway, this was meant to be that list of things I plan on doing without kids until I got all ramble-y, so I should get to that.

I'm going to Disney World! You laugh--or not--at this miserably cliched joke, but it's true. Chris insists that Disney World isn't really for children anyway. Plus, we have plans (for whenever we have a life again) to go in November when the art fair takes place. I can get back to the noble business of tweeting, "Oops--bought art!" again!

I'm going to travel during the off-season! Summer is the season of travel, it seems, but there are only two places I want to be in summer: 1) in my house, in the air conditioning; and 2) in Maine. Right now, the plan for Chris's spring break is to go up to Kansas and hopefully stay on a working ranch. And hopefully it won't be as snowy as it was one state north in Nebraska when we went there for spring break to see the sandhill cranes.

I'm going to collect art! My lifelong godmother (as opposed to my Orthodox godmother) and her husband said they collected Japanese prints as their substitute for children. Chris and I have huge amounts of wall space in our house just crying out for expensive art. And I'd totally branch out into sculpture, but the dogs would just pee on it.

I'm going to photograph everything! Like this cake mix I took a picture of at Christmas!

Weird choice, but it's a pretty good picture. And damn good cake.
DSLR for color, film for black & white. Maybe I'll sell some pictures on Etsy. Who knows. We'll see.

I'm going to write! Yes! It's time to use that degree! I already have some ideas in my head that would be good YA (young adult) novels (I'm poorly suited for the grown-up stuff). I seem focused on mental illness, so perhaps I can have some impact on the kids even if I never raise them.

I guess that's all I have for now. Maybe there'll be more later. Oh, and Chris showed me the stats on the blog--thank you to all my readers worldwide, especially the Russians! You guys made my day!

Friday, July 27, 2012

I Weigh in on the Chik-Fil-A Controversy

I weigh in on a lot of controversies this way, so forgive me if you've heard this before.

OH FOR CRIPES SAKE!! THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO HAVE NO HOME!!! THERE ARE SCHOOL DISTRICTS WHO KEEP THEIR CAFETERIAS OPEN BECAUSE OTHERWISE THEIR STUDENTS WOULDN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO EAT IN THE SUMMER!!! I KNOW A SCHIZOPHRENIC PERSON WHO CAN'T SEE A PSYCHIATRIST BECAUSE MEDICARE WON'T COVER MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES!!! WHY THE HELL DO YOU HAVE YOUR PANTIES IN A WAD (EITHER FOR OR AGAINST) OVER THE OWNER OF A PRIVATE COMPANY THAT SELLS FRIED CHICKEN SAYING THAT HE DOESN'T SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE?!?! YOU SHOULDN'T BE EATING FRIED CHICKEN ANYWAY!!! IT'S BAD FOR YOU!!! DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR MONEY THAT WILL ACTUALLY HELP THE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY AND EAT SOME DAMN GREEN BEANS, FOR PETE'S SAKE!!! 


Thank you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The End of the Dream

I realize that the age of 29 is a pretty young age to decide that children just aren't going to happen. That doesn't mean I'm not capable of logical thought just because I'm not quite 30. Still, I'm surprised by how much this decision hurts. Curse you, Facebook--my old high school friends are firing out children by the dozens (not all at once, thank goodness), and all I can think is, "8 years of marriage, 1 miscarriage, 1 failed adoption." That's what I have to my name. No cuddly infants or precocious toddlers. Just Chris and me.

Honestly, the choice not to have children came from a particularly distressing situation. I've sort of made the choice not to have kids on numerous occasions, but it always seemed like a positive thing--a celebration of an unusually good marriage that wasn't turning out to be fruitful--and not at all coming from a place of pain. Then I decided to change my medicine for my major depressive disorder. Taking the meds away gave me incredible anxiety, but adding them back gave me a deep depression that I haven't experienced in years. Although I'm doing better now, I'm still working things out. With these thoughts in mind, Chris and I were forced to look at being a family of two (I prefer that term to childless or childfree) from a place of pain rather than the usual "why fix what ain't broke?" standpoint.

Most of the time I'm okay. Sometimes I'm disastrously depressed. I take meds that could cause birth defects, and clearly changing my meds to something more suitable could put me in a very bad place. Yes, I could do it, and it's an option, but it's also a risk--one I'm not really interested in taking. So getting pregnant--something already unlikely after all this time--is out.

But what about adoption? Let me count the ways ...

1. Did you know there are 36 couples for every one infant available for adoption?
2. Did you know stigma against mental illness prevents me from adopting abroad?

That would leave adopting from foster care, but I know those children would have needs that could possibly send me into a downward spiral. I don't want to be unavailable to a child because of my own problems, and I don't want to leave Chris as the lone parent for long intervals. Chris has a hard enough time and I've already caused him plenty of heartache just over the past few weeks. Oh, and never mind that adoption agencies want you to be stable in your mental illness, which I'm clearly not.

I've been rereading Sweet Grapes (now on Kindle for your convenience!) because I need a refresher course in making this a good decision instead of just one more miserable one. In the coming days (or weeks, knowing me), I'll post a list of things I'm going to do without children just to stay positive. In the meantime, here's my heartbreaking choice--our heartbreaking choice.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How to Knit for the Homeless

My computer's in the shop and I'm in the midst of a terrible depressed episode, so my superpowers are confined to knitting and lying deathly still. I thought a little writing might do me some good, and since I'm putting my crazy new iPhone camera to work taking pictures of my knitting and describing what I'm doing, I thought I'd write on that subject.

As I've said before, I'm a "think globally, act locally" kind of girl. That said, I've only recently realized that I live in Texas. Last year's winter was so mild that my hot water never ran out while I showered, and I can do some marathon showering sessions. That isn't to say that we haven't had some nasty winters--we're mostly known for ice storms and not snowstorms--but Texas may not be the place for an inundation of wool hats. If you're in the same predicament I am, you may consider giving to this place in New York (they haven't updated their website in years, so I suggest contacting them beforehand) or this place in Minneapolis. My personal choice for the year was the realization that my hometown of Columbia, MO, gets considerably colder than Denton, TX, so to Columbia my knitting shall go this year.

You don't need a big, fancy organization that specializes in hat-knitting for your purposes. All you need is a local (or less-than-local) homeless shelter. I have in the past given my hats to the Salvation Army Shelter, which is the only homeless shelter in Denton County (!), and they have no official charity or "program" for such giving. Often shelters will have lists of the things they need, but that may be about as official as it gets. So don't be afraid to still create and donate in your area.

There's a hierarchy, I've learned, to what's needed: Anyone can knit a scarf. I'm not saying that scarves aren't needed, just not in the abundance at which they can be churned out. Heck, I'm knitting a scarf right now--it's a great way to use yarn ends. Hats are probably the most needed item--I mean, who leaves the house in winter without a trusty hat on? I'm aware that knitting hats is not the easiest thing in the world, but that's why Knifty Knitters exist. And boy howdy, using the basic stitch you can make a bazillion hats in no time flat! I knit exclusively on knitting looms (can't get the same nice, tight stitch with needles, don't know why) using proper knit and purl, which you can learn here (unfortunately I can't find my usual free source--sorry). If you can knit mittens or socks, you're a gall-dang superhero.

If you can't knit but your superpower is sewing, get some fleece and a pattern and make hats and scarves and mittens. I have this pattern and something like 5 yards of fleece waiting for me, and I love the hood and easy-looking mitten pattern. Also consider the amazing ugly quilt. If you can't sew but your superpower is shopping, I recommend buying up all the socks and underwear (for both men and women) you can get your mitts on. Again, check to see if your local shelter has a list of things they need and flex your shopping muscles on that.

General rules: Skew dark. Dark colors hide dirt better and therefore can go longer between washings. As charming as some yarn may be, I'm getting word that solid colors are preferred--if you're the creative knitter type, think of the project as meditative instead of creative and save your mad fair isle skillz for a nice sweater. I'm getting conflicting reports on wool vs. acrylic. Wool is warm, as we all know, but we probably also know what happens when you put wool in the washing machine on hot. Let's not even talk about the dryer. Naturally, my stash is flooded with wool yarn, so my hats and scarves are all wool. If you have the choice however (and maybe have the money to replace your entire yarn stash with acrylic), I'd skew towards the manmade fibers. SKEW LARGE--that's very important! Chris has a pumpkin-noggin, and if I can't get a hat I've made to fit on his head I know it's no good. If it can fit a man, there's a good chance it'll fit just about anyone who needs it.

In summary: Large, dark, solid, acrylic hats, scarves, mittens, and socks. 


That's all I've got. Thanks for listening to me. I feel a little better. Happy knitting/sewing/shopping!