Monday, January 23, 2006

Survey, Part Deux

1) I wouldn't mind being 21-24 again, when I was more certain of my youth and true adulthood still felt pretty far away. But then I didn't have Little Blue.
2) Where were you when 9/11 happened? At a gas station in KCMO getting chocolate milk on my way to work. I heard about the first plane crash on the radio right before I went inside, but at that point no one knew it was a deliberate act yet.
3) What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Get a little frustrated.
4) Do you consider yourself kind? Not as much as I used to be, but for the most part, still yes.
5) When you see a homeless person on the side of the road, what do you think? That I can think of half a dozen or more activities that person could do to improve their life that are more productive than begging or sleeping on the side of the road. I'm not a big fan of handouts. I think most of us are capable of doing some small thing to earn our way in the world. If quadriplegics can earn a living making paintings with a brush in their mouth, then most of the beggars I've ever seen ought to be able to do something useful.
6) If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be? The only way I could be made to get a tattoo would be in prison or something like that, and then I wouldn't have a choice about where it goes. I have no tolerance for that particular kind of pain.
7) If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be? I would love to speak Irish Gaelic or Welsh.
8) Do you know your neighbors? Yep!
9) What do you consider a vacation? Any bonus day I get to spend with my family instead of working, without taking a hit in the paycheck.
10) Do you follow your horoscope? Only for fun.
11) Would you move for the person you loved? Been there, done that.
12) Are you touchy feely? I have well defined comfort boundaries, and I'm usually very good at broadcasting them on a subconcious level. If I'm comfortable with someone hugging me, they can usually tell. If I'm not, it's obvious. A good example of this: not one stranger or little-known acquaintance ever touched my stomach while I was pregnant, despite many women reporting that it's common for unwanted attentions like that during pregnancy. It simply was clear that I wouldn't tolerate it.
13) Do you believe that opposites attract? I think attraction is a complex phenomenon, and that while it may be true that sometimes opposites attract, that doesn't necessarily mean that opposites will live happily ever after. I think a good balance of conflicting and complimentary interests and personality traits is necessary to have a relationship in which both parties can grow as individuals and yet share meaningful time together as well.
14) Dream job? Never having been one, I can say I'd love to be a book editor. Course, reality might be different than what I think it is.
15) Dream car? Any safe one that's free and has unlimited maintenance and warranty would be great.
16) Favorite channel? FoodNetwork
17) Favorite place to go on weekends? To the mall or a playground with Blue and Little Blue.
18) Showers or Baths? Long, long foamy whirlpooly baths with plenty of hot water to maintain the warmth.
19) Do you paint your nails? Toenails? Nope.
20) What do you like the most about yourself? I feel like I'm a good mother, and I'm proud of that.
21) What do you like the least? My body shape.
22) Do you trust people easily? I used to. Maybe I still do in comparison to other people who trust even less than me, but I feel like I trust people much less than I did a few years ago. I've gotten very tired of being deceived, and more than a little bit cynical about it.
23) What are your phobias? spiders
24) Do you want kids? I wanted the one that I have more dearly than anything else I've ever wanted. If I ever want one that strongly again, we'll think about having another.
25) Do you keep a handwritten journal? I used to.
26) Where would you rather be right now? Playing Robin Hood. :p
27) Who would you like to be more honest with? my employers, maybe.
28) Who makes you feel guilty? What I perceive as other people making me feel guilty i.e. my husband or sometimes his family is often just a projection of my own self-generated guilt.
29) Are you a heavy or light sleeper? Closer to heavy than light.
30) Are you paranoid? I'm starting to be, particularly about some politically-charged issues that have been coming up at work lately.
31) Are you impatient? With everything and everyone except my son.
32) Who can you relate to? My husband and some of my closest coworkers.

Because Blue got away with it, and besides I'm a hopeless conformist when it comes to these darn surveys...

1. Name three things you can't live without: My family, my roots/memories of home, and my sense of humor.
2. If you could hang out for a night with any fictional character, who would it be? Polgara the Sorceress.
3. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up? A district attorney, always, from like, age 5.
4. Right now what do you want to be when you grow up? First of all I'm as grown up right now as I EVER want to be, and second, I don't think I'm doing what I really want to do in terms of a career. But more importantly I am a wife and mother, and that IS what I most wanted to be.
5. What song always makes you cry? "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World"
6. What's the best advice you've ever been given? off the top of my head, "Don't believe everything you see, and only half of what you hear."
7. Are you a good liar? No, I'm a horrible liar. I have a saying. Gullible people can't lie. We believe everyone else is as transparent as we are. If we were capable of lying with any skill, we'd be able to tell when others lied to us.
8. What still surprises you about your life? That I am so far from being what I thought I should/could/would be at this stage of my life, and yet so happy so much of the time.
9. What quality can make you instantly connect to someone? A sense of humor similar to my own.
10. What turns you off right away? Smoking
11. What's really difficult for you? Setting boundaries i.e. saying NO when I'm overwhelmed, and asking for help.
12. What do you wish you'd done differently? My college years.
13. Desert island picks? Is it cheating to say a solar-powered distress beacon and a bountiful supply of food that tastes better than bugs and roots?? Okay if the answer has to be all survivoresque, then I'd say a good knife, a box of brand new lighters, and a plastic tarp.
14. Favorite spot at home? Snuggled up on the couch with my arm around my son watching toddlervision.
15. What emotion motivates too many of your actions? Frustrated, resigned but resentful acceptance of an increasingly lousy situation at work.
16. Favorite kind of extreme weather? I don't like extreme weather. I like a good breeze, a light fluffy snow, a gentle rain, and lazy summer heat, but I don't like any of those things when they occur in the extreme.
17. Do you have any recurring dreams? Yes, but I can only remember what it is for a day or two after I have an occurence of it.
18. Psychic or shrink? My horoscope thinks I'm psychic, but I'm not, so that leaves shrink I suppose. It makes sense when considering I spent half my teenage years in therapy.
19. Vintage or modern? I prefer most things modern.
20. Do you ever scream? Only on the inside.
21. What are you most afraid of? Financial insecurity and having something bad happen to my family.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

How Happily Ever After is Done, Pamphlet-style

This is the post you've all been waiting for. The one-time-only, big ticket reveal of the Pamphlet secret that just might be the biggest reason for the successful relationships Blue and I have shared as a married couple and as parents. There's more, of course, but this single activity, in my belief, carries a large share of the credit for the almost charmed existence we live. Are you ready?

It's so simple it seems ridiculous that it could be so important, but it was. For the first year or two of our dating relationship, Blue and I spent many long hours playing what we call The Question Game. The rules are easy.

1. Play any game you want in which there is a clear winner. We used Scrabble, Go Fish, Poker*, Chess, Trivial Pursuit, rummy, and many others.
2. The winner of each game/round/hand gets to ask the loser 1 question. ANY question. And the loser MUST answer, and must answer honestly.

See how simple that is? And yet so profound. It transformed our dating years into one giant, fun-filled interview for Who Wants to be Married Happily Ever After. Through that game we explored our childhoods, our morals, our beliefs and convictions, the kind of spouses and parents we wanted to become, how we would handle challenging issues as a couple and as a family. We grew to understand how each of us thought in different ways but could arrive at compatible conclusions, and it taught us how to argue/disagree with respect and love. We got to know each other so deeply we knew what the other thought, dreamed about, hoped for, was ashamed of, liked, hated, and desired. The Question Game had no boundaries, no off-limits zone. We talked about our most embarrassing moments, our sexual fantasies and fears, our views on religion and on politics. We even questioned each other about what values we wanted to pass on to our future children regarding sex/abstinence, religious tolerance, and how we feel about drug use. And while (of course) we didn't come up with all the "right" or "perfect" answers for how to live our lives together, we learned invaluable lessons about how to communicate together and relate to each other. It opened our eyes and hearts and got us off to a good start.

So what does this mean to all of you? Maybe nothing. But maybe there's a way our game can be incorporated in your current or future relationships. Invent your own version, whether you're in a new relationship or one that's well established. I'm fairly sure it can't do any harm, and it might do a little bit of good, or else just be good plain fun.

*Intimate couples: for a really revealing night of Question Game, trying playing it with Strip Poker! Somebody will be baring more than just their soul that night! ;-)

On My Own

Tonight, for the first time in two years, I will spend the night alone. The first time in all of Little Blue's short life that I will have been away from him overnight. He has gone with daddy to a family member's wedding out of town, and I have stayed home to catch up on some work at the office and have some time to myself. I am conflicted. The parts of me that know I really need to get that work done and that it's healthy for me to want time for myself are at war with the parts of me that hate working on my personal time and would rather be anywhere with Blue and Little Blue than be here without them. So the whole weekend is likely to be wishy-washy, back-and-forth, like-it-and-hate-it. I can't wait to truly sleep in tomorrow morning, and I can't wait for them to come back tomorrow night. I dread spending five or six hours alone in my office doing boring work I don't really enjoy, and I look forward to spending an evening of watching whatever I want on television and reading books without pictures and snuggling with kitty. And calling my Blues to see how their day was and tell them good night.