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Monday, March 31, 2008

Keep your junk to yourself

When did dancing with someone become simulated sex? Can someone please tell me when this happened?

I'll admit, it's possible that this extremely intimate dancing has been going on around me for years and I never noticed. I'm into my own moves on the dance floor--rolling my arms, shaking my booty, flinging my hips, and sliding my feet. Plus, I haven't been out dancing to pick up guys in more than 10 years, so I could just be out of touch with how single people interact with each other.

I enjoy dancing with people. But it's more like parallel play with toddlers. My son is playing with his car here, and your daughter is playing with her doll there. They aren't playing together necessarily, but they are playing near each other, enjoying the other kid's proximity. That is the way I like to dance. I shake my groove here. You hustle your moves there. But we do not share toys, so to speak.

So how did I happen to notice this Dirty Dancing on Ecstacy phenomenon? Someone told me that I seemed "timid."

I used to be the girl who blushed back when I was just starting out as a reporter. But timid? As in, timid on the dance floor? That just is not me. Or at least I didn't think it was me. For as long as I can remember, I've always run enthusiastically onto an empty dance floor. I didn't need anyone or anything except a song with a good beat.

Dancing is my thing. It's my release from a long and stressful week with kids. I look forward to it the way a hungry baby latches onto a milky breast. After that guy's comment, I took a minute to look around me, to notice the other dancers taking up space around me. And there were some definite distinctions to the way I dance versus what I saw:

1) I do NOT grind up against my girlfriends.

2) I do NOT let guys grind their junk into me.

3) I do NOT bend over and touch the floor while dancing.

4) I do NOT look like I'm having sex with the person I'm dancing with.

So if you add those things up, I guess I am a timid dancer. And I guess I'm okay with it because I will not change adapt to this new, way-too-much-information style. I'll stick with my solo style and ignore all that groping and grinding going on around me.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

You're always 95 percent done

The art of writing seems too fluid to ever be set in stone. And that makes my job difficult. I keep editing. And editing. And editing. Every time I read my book proposal, I tweak a sentence here. I add some color there. I rearrange something in the table of contents. I can't imagine there will be a time when I read it, and I don't see a single word that should be replaced with a better, more appropriate word. But if I continue with this line of thinking (and editing), I will never, ever send this proposal out to agents. I will never move past this fluid phase.

My talented husband said that as with software development, a project is always 95 percent finished. But you need to pick end dates so that you can actually ship the product. That same theory should be applied to this proposal as well. Letting the calendar dictate my end-date seemed like the perfect way to help me move past this editing phase. As a result, my new deadline is Saturday, April 5. That gives me one more week to tweak, edit, add, delete, paste, and perfect before I stop.

I know a big part of my hesitation is just the idea of putting my words and ideas out there. The idea of moving into the uncomfortable phase where strangers will cut it down, move things around, and ask for revisions is daunting. But I believe in myself, and I believe in my project. I need to remember that a year ago, the idea of writing a business plan for my book was daunting. But I did it. And I know I will do this too because I know that ultimately, all those revisions, all that criticism, and all that outside feedback will make it even better.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

No one's butt but my own

There was no one to feed but me, no teeth to brush but mine, and no butts to wipe but my own.

It only took 72 hours to undo the damage done to my mental status as a result of spending three years with my children without a vacation from them. A three-day, mini trip to Portland was thoroughly enjoyable, and I'm relieved to find out that I am still me under the stress and frustration of two children who enjoy biting each other, kicking each other, and removing fists full of hair from their sibling's head. While I do love them dearly, I sometimes I feel like they bring out the worst in me, and I find myself shouting (when I should be talking), scowling (when I should be laughing), and wondering how to escape (when I should be enjoying these fleeting times).

Since I've been back, I've been trying to laugh things off a little more and let them sort out their squabbles a bit more frequently. So far it's working, but it has not been easy. They sure know just what to do to make me cringe.

Anyway, I can't remember why I used to hate traveling before I had kids. It was so easy, and there was so much less to carry. I even enjoyed being at the airport. Without children, there was no one to distract me from my latte and my book. And I'm already planning the next get-away. Being selfish, I've realized, is good for the whole family.

Monday, March 03, 2008

It isn't laziness

It seems that whenever you get a bunch of talented mothers together, inevitably the talk eventually turns to work and the frustrations of trying to get some without abandoning the idea of raising the kids.

I had an opportunity to talk with Floral Designer Friend over the weekend. We were at a delightful birthday party for Aspiring Writer Friend. The party was delightful for so many reasons... good food, good friends, no kids. And then we started talking about work.

FDF has been an at-home mom for the past year and a half, and she has been thinking about going back to work part time. "I'd really like to figure it out," she said. "But I'm just too lazy." Floral design seems like the perfect job to do part time. But sadly in order to make it work, she would actually be spending money to go back to work because it would cost her more to pay for childcare than she would earn at her job. There has to be some equation where it would make sense financially.

Lazy is the wrong word. It just should not be this difficult to figure out.

If FDF decided to go back to work and pay for the privilege, she wouldn't be the first woman I know to go that route. Early Childhood Education Friend has been volunteering at a farm doing animal therapy with disabled kids and disabled veterans. She says it's rewarding work, but ECEF shouldn't have to work for free. She's hoping it will eventually lead to a paying job.

This is not laziness people. The system does not seem to value the brainpower of mothers. Where are the childcare credits for working moms? Where are the tax incentives for employers that make it more attractive to hire part-time professionals? I know that some employers go the extra mile to retain women and get them back to work in flexible jobs after they have a baby, but they seem to be the exceptions.