Shh, do you hear what I hear?

Long, long time ago…wow, a full Chinese zodiac rotation ago (12 years), there was a thing called Team Angie vs Team Jennifer, namely, nosy third parties who took a position on the love triangle of  Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Rachel Green from Friends.

Me? Team Angie. I mean, why wouldn’t a man be drawn to a badass bitch who flew planes when your wife complained 24/7 about being type-cast? Though completely neutral on her acting skills (honestly can’t tell if she has them or doesn’t,) I was turned off after reading any interview because it was one whiney rant. If I want that, look no further than this blog, or open an email from my reliably pessimistic older sister–I don’t pay for Vanity Fair to hear the rich and famous puff and pout about how life is so unfair.

Oh but Jennifer, that was over a decade ago. How times have changed. Girl, you and I have more in common than I would have ever imagined. Remember the days when you were on a tabloid every week for having a bloated belly at the beach or some invented source talking about how you were getting fertility treatments? It was rather relentless and brutal. Simply put, it was bullying and I’m sure there’s some pop psychology class at some hip college that is dissecting it now (not that these college kids know who Jennifer Aniston is, oh but their professor does…oops, I digress.) Oh yes, our parallel developments.

Shhh, listen. Do you hear what I hear?

Nothing. Yup, no one is talking about how you’re trying for a baby any more. Me, neither, about a year ago, people stopped bothering with social perfunctoriness like “Oh you never know.”

The air is thick and heavy with the unmentionable.

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Bah Humbug Mother’s Day

Yup, that time of the year to avoid social media, retail, and brunch hotspots. Sticking to my version of GTL–yoga, groceries and laundry.

Yoga was a room full of the usual suspects, single folks.

Supermarket was luxuriously empty. The cash registrar rang me up.

“Do you want the receipt?”

“Yes, in the bag, please.”

“Here you go. Happy Mother’s Day, to you and yours.”

Sigh!

A Perfect Neutral

Five years ago, I was tense all day. A good friend gave birth and everyone was stopping by the hospital to congratulate the new parents. The social pressure was mounting as much at the same rate of my internal stress–fuck babies! Fuck this shit! I don’t like babies! I want life before babies! Here’s another friend who’s leaving me! Why don’t I want babies?! Why can’t I figure it out already?!?!

By the time I talked down my inner angry voice, I had missed visitation hours, but I put on my best unbitter face, sweet-talked my way past security and swallowed the growing knot in my throat to open the door–there they were, the once weekend-warrior-stoners, holding in awe their very own creation. I peered into her red wrinkly face, scrunching, stretching, squinting, smiling. Her tiny hands and feet with perfect miniature nails, nailbeds and all. Life–the science class videos and metaphysics course readings all blurred–couldn’t recall who said what, but here, undeniably was a miniature being throbbing with it.

Of course the miracle of it didn’t stop the rolling tears on the subway ride home, streaming frustration and confusion about this thing called life I wasn’t part of.

Fast forward to today. Another dear friend gave birth after a very long and difficult conception with all the scientific assist money can buy. “High risk pregnancies,” we’re told, but brush off because there are 50-somethings doing IVF, but in her case, there were multiple complications, a reluctant C-section, and a full day of not being able to hold her newborn as she was tethered to an IV. I don’t visit every baby at the hospital, but I figured the mom could use a friendly face.

I knew this was one of the last newborns I’d see, given most of my friends are done with building a family. I had some anticipation–namely, I wanted to know how I would react to a newborn. Perhaps if they’re not screeching or running from one side of the house to the other, a baby would be attractive. I peered into the swaddled red face scrunching her nose trying to figure out this stranger. She popped her tiny little hand out of her cocoon and moved it like a starfish before making a loose fist against her ears. There they were, those perfect baby fingers, nailbeds and all. I matched my breathing to hers in hopes she’d relax a little.

But I was also trying to locate the connection with my inner voice.

Isn’t life amazing? 

Yeah.

Look, just look at this tiny baby. A perfect human being.

Yep.

….anything?? I mean, anything????

no, I’m trying…I’m trying, but…. sorry, negative. No biological squeal, no jealousy, no I’m-ready-for-mine–nothing, absolutely nothing.

Stella Art Thou–Winterstorm

Stella, a blitzkrieg of a snowstorm and winter’s swan song. A state of emergency declared in New York City with most above-ground transportation suspended, schools shut down and businesses encouraged to close save essential staff.

In the case of my workplace, the essential staff was the bachelor and me. Following  HR’s “work from home as necessary” guideline, neither of us could validate the necessity of staying home, us single Manhattanites with no kids.

I was productive on a quiet day. Three incoming calls total. Even had the chance to read some trend and research reports.

Around 5PM I figured I’d get home before it got dark.

“See you tomorrow,” I told my trench mate. He was watching ESPN on his computer.

“Yup! Get home safe.”

We had held down the fort of single people, a space free of pancakes, hot chocolate, snowball fights and puzzles. We stayed warm under the glint of fluorescent lights and stared out of aluminum framed office windows waiting for the storm to abate–so that we could scurry home to frozen dinners and chilled beer.

Remember the Allomo

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the quality essays in this book, a book that wasn’t around when I started this blog. These writers have become my imaginary best friends, my older sisters and mentors, individually and collectively soothing my frayed nerves– “It’s okay, we didn’t have kids, and we turned out alright.”

My new BFF Courtney Hodell introduced me to a new word, “allomothering.” Observed throughout the animal kingdom, it describes parental care given by a non-genetic mother. Sounds familiar–like that aunt who researched and offered to pay for a tutor after a parent-teacher conference she wasn’t even at, the aunt who is reading sex ed books for tweens with a glass of wine in hand to pre-screen them for content, the aunt who is routinely texting her niece’s mother to make sure her Halloween costume is completed in time… yeah, that hag with maternal sensibilities and no umbilical cord.

Hey kiddo, when you grow up and turn out alright, maybe you’ll remember me.

Slow jam the spurned

Summer doldrums–a good time to catch up with people, professionally and socially. A guy I meet once a year or so cancelled our networking coffee. “Let’s do after Labor Day. Taking my family on vacation next week.” Family?! Woah, Nelly. This is the same guy who thought getting bottled service at a bar was cool. That was not that long ago.

Surrounded by friends moving, sending kids to school, having more babies–all that’s considered onward and upward–I wonder, are doldrums only for the summer? Or for me, forever?

Scent and the City

An interesting set of circumstances led me to the heart of an elite mixed martial arts competition. A friend’s brother was competing, and we were given comp seats and backstage access where post-match athletes limped and watched replays of their fights on their phones through one good eye. Those yet to compete donned their hooded jackets and stormed towards the stadium, flanked by his trainers, thirsting to win. They were from all over the world–Brazil, Russia, Ireland, Nigeria–the best athletes combining strength, agility and endurance, fighting like men always have–with their bare hands.
I was introduced to my friend’s brother’s coaches–the grappling coach, the Muay Thai coach, the jiu jiutsu coach–he’d have one more if he could budget one, I was told. They walked around shirtless and I took in the beauty of their physique. Tatestosterone. It was everywhere. Man fumes. Something inside me stirred. Namely my ovaries. They were waking up from a long nap. What is this smell?? DNA! Superior genetic material to procreate with. Super-athletes. Men. Men. Real men. I was so happy. I could not remember when I lusted so hard. My shriveled up ovaries were soaking up the man essence like a sponge. They got a new lease on life. Two years, possibly. Who needs FSH injections?! This is what they needed. Follicules–man molecules that stimulate ovulation.
I sense a business opportunity in a man-odor vape bar adjacent to a fertility clinic.