What is a cause you’re passionate about and why?
Well, reproductive rights, but I certainly do not have the energy to write about that after a long weekend of parenting.
In fact, as I stare at this blinking cursor, I’m finding I do not really have the energy to write about anything at all. I can’t even think about what I would write about if I did have the energy.
So, here are the last five Tweets I faved:
One cause I feel strongly about is phoning it in on a Sunday night.
What is a life lesson you feel everyone can benefit from learning?
The other day, I was playing with Edith after work, and I paused to give her a big hug and say, “Edith, I missed you so much all day today!”
At which point, Edith hitched herself up so that her butt was directly in my face, issued a long, low fart, and crawled off.
Anyway, I think most people need to get more comfortable with being mildly disliked by others.
Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.
Is it possible I have never faced a challenge? I can’t really think of one. All the examples that spring to mind fall under these categories:
- Being out of work and needing a job.
- Forgetting my wallet somewhere, or not having local currency. Weird travel snafus where everything’s closed and I don’t have somewhere to stay, or nowhere takes cards and I don’t have cash.
- Figuring out some complex adult process.
- Getting kicked out of (or priced out of) my apartment unexpectedly for various reasons.
- Having to perform under various unenviable conditions (like losing my voice or busting my knee or something).
- Having to go about daily life without the use of my non-dominant hand for a few months.
- Annoyances, like being ghosted by a moving company day-of or realizing my one appropriate dress doesn’t fit anymore ten minutes before an event.
All these things seem so distant now from relatively stable middle-age, and anyway, they weren’t especially high stakes or interesting.
I feel like a “challenge” would be like, a mathematical proof I couldn’t crack, or developing a vaccine under pressure, or growing up in poverty.
I think I’m not important enough to have challenges.
What does your ideal day look like?
Well, this is awkward, because in every version of my ideal day that I can think of, I do not have a baby.
One thing I think a lot about is the different varieties of happiness and how reductive and simplistic most conversations about “happiness” are. I have read that people who have children tend to be less happy as a group than people who don’t but also experience more profound joy, and that sounds right to me. A meaningful life is not necessarily a happy one, and merely being happy is not everyone’s primary goal. At different times in my life, I’ve optimized for getting quite different things out of life. There’ve been periods where I’ve optimized for adventure or inspiration or ambition, and if you’re optimizing for those things, you have to do a lot of things that make you very unhappy. You experience a lot of extreme ups and downs. Then, there’ve been times when I’ve optimized for contentment and pleasure and absorption. That sort of life leads to a lot of gentle, uninterrupted happiness — many peaceful days, but no ecstatic ones. These days, I’m primarily optimizing for meaning and joy, which again doesn’t necessarily equate to short-term happiness or comfort.
That’s a bit off topic to the prompt, though. My ideal day would be go for a run on the beach in the mild sunshine with my dog first thing, effortlessly write something truly brilliant in the morning, swim in the pool in the early afternoon followed by five hours of uninterrupted reading in the hammock, dinner with friends outside in the charming little town square (all walkable). Same as probably everyone’s, I’d imagine.
What emoji(s) do you like to use?
I don’t like to use any emojis; I would love if my life were such that I never had to use another emoji, and one day when I am very old, it will be so.
However, I am driven to most frequently use the rage face and the cry-laughing face. Also the grin.
Mostly, writing this makes me feel sad and hopeless, because it highlights how many of my friendships (and all of my workplace relationships) are now 100% virtual and how long it’s been since I regularly hung out with a group of actual people in physical spaces. Physical proximity is more of a rare treat now, a cause for great celebration. I think it’s making us all deeply mentally and physically sick and broken in ways we are largely pretty unaware of, but it works really well for capitalism and it’s also easier for us personally (in the way that staying in bed is always easier and more comfortable than doing something), so we’re all willingly allowing ourselves to be convinced it’s great. And that was before the pandemic.
God, we’re all so fucked.
What does it mean to live boldly?
I don’t know, but it sounds like something you probably can’t do with small children. In this house, we live very cautiously. Threats abound, hazards on all sides. I spend most of my time these days worrying about what the baby might have swallowed when I wasn’t looking.
My big fear is button batteries. When Edith was a newborn, I read a horrifying article (I won’t link, it’s devastating) about a woman who had lost her daughter to a button battery, and basically, if your kid eats a button battery (and they look SO edible), your kid is dead, because even after the battery is removed, the acid continues to burn them internally and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
I have thrown out everything in the house that I could find that had a button battery, but I still worry that I missed one, or one might come into the house somehow without my knowing about it.
And that’s just one hazard. I also have to take her on the interstate sometimes, among other things.
So overall, living boldly isn’t really relevant to my interests lately; I am pretty fully focused on keeping a baby alive who meanwhile seems compelled to actively seek her own destruction at all times.
What do people incorrectly assume about you?
How should I know? That seems like their business. I guess now that I have a baby, people tend to assume that I’m married. It’s a natural assumption and easy enough to correct. The only awkward thing is I worry that in certain situations saying “oh, I’m not married” might sound flirtatious.
When I had a baby by myself in a red state, I thought that people might be shitty about it, and I had all my defenses prepared. But actually, everyone’s been chill. I think people tend to go around assuming that other people will freak out about this or that, and sometimes it’s less that we dread it than that we’re hoping people will so we can have the rarely socially permitted delight of telling someone off, but being righteously justified in doing so. It’s like we go around all the time spoiling for a fight. And then, if one or two people are rude to us, we exaggerate it, portray ourselves as constantly embattled. It’s an unattractive characteristic, and I’m not sure why we do this. I think there’s something in people confusing unpopularity with character — unfortunately, just because some people don’t like you doesn’t necessarily mean you’re brave or interesting. A lot of people like me, but a lot of people don’t, and in those cases, I’ve usually done something to deserve it.
What do you like most about your writing?
I read in a baby book recently that babies really love enthusiastic praise. Any of my colleagues could tell you that praise isn’t really my forte. It just doesn’t occur to me. I don’t think I had ever responded to anything Edith has done with enthusiastic praise, so this morning, I tried to keep it in mind. She was playing with a cup and a ball, and she put the ball in the cup.
“Good job!!!!” I squealed, clapping my hands.
I wish you could have seen the look she gave me. Basically, it was the sort of look you might give me if I responded that way to you putting a ball in a cup.
Anyhow, I have written one novel and it’s some real ball-in-cup shit. I’ll like my writing when I write something worth liking.
What makes you laugh?
Mostly, I guess things that are funny.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, the baby is asleep and I am overdue for my Friday night treat of eating crap (shredded cheddar melted on tortilla chips) and watching crap (Real Housewives).