Sunday, October 18, 2009


I have several crippling character flaws, but lately the one that has been stuck most unrelentingly in my craw is my tendency to indecision.

This does not mean I lack for opinions; on the contrary, the indecision is borne of very strongly held, yet frustratingly contradictory, opinions. Let me illustrate with a few examples, many of which were provided by Facebook updates and my blogger dashboard.

1. Eat cookies vs. run a marathon. If you are thinking that these two options are not mutually exclusive, and that you might like to post in the comments about how you feast on snickerdoodles all day long and run six marathons a year, save your time. We are fundamentally different. When I decide I'm in the mood for health, I go to the gym like a rat for hours a day and eat only salad. When these paroxysms of vitality start to get old, typically after six to eight weeks of unmitigated raw vegetation, I go back over all the recipes my diabolical friends have been posting on their blogs and decide I really ought to learn to make cinnamon rolls because it's a life skill. Tragically, I never remain in either phase long enough to satisfyingly complete any of the related goals. And I usually only have one pair of decently-fitting pants.

2. Have fun vs. grow up. Again, if you are pushing thirty and don't, in any tiny recess of your nostalgic imagination, feel that sixteen was a more entertaining time of life, you have the right to remain silent. I, for one, earnestly enjoyed spending my parents money and getting drunk on the love only an adolescent girl can have for her 47 BFFs. Don't tell me you wouldn't rather sit by the river all day talking about your best friend's boy troubles and then stay up all night trying to figure out if your crush likes you back and occasionally behaving illicitly than doing whatever laundry and making whatever dinner captured your energy today. On the other hand, adulthood has its advantages. I am smarter than I was ten years ago, and more interesting. I have a deeper perspective on myself, the world, etc., which might make me a better conversationalist. I have an increased sense of self-efficacy. But I laugh far less.

3. Invest in myself vs. procreate. I know that having children can be a wonderful experience, and optimally results in personal growth. I also know that some people manage to produce offspring while remaining fundamentally interesting human beings, as many of you have managed, fair readers. But I am pretty sure that my current schedule of working, bring a grad student, and having lots of friends, hobbies, and time to read bizarre things that catch my eye in the public library would be significantly hampered by children. And yet, my fertility, it wanes with each lunar cycle. I want to apply to PhD programs, but then who will I annoy when I am old and my body systems start to go? Who will owe me one when I am one day incontinent? Will I be irrevocably left in the dust of those who choose the sticky path of children?

4. Stay vs. leave. I have lived in Utah since I graduated high school, quite by accident. I never meant to stay, but I never had a reason to leave. Now, much to my chagrin, I am somewhat attached. I like that people always seem to be coming through town so I can stay in touch better. I like knowing my way around well enough that I don't have to figure out what I like and what to avoid. But middle America ain't my thing, and I keep fixin' to hit the road, but then I realize I am halfway through grad school and have no reason to pull me away. I bought a house, but I didn't think that meant I'd get stuck. But, sometimes, I feel as though perhaps I have. I had a genius idea, that Ryan and I could each choose five locations we had always wanted to see in the lower 48 and then plan a connect-the-dots road trip. On our way, we could take noted and photos to chronicle our journey and inform a decision about where to go next. But such trips are costly, which brings me to the next burr in my saddle.

5. Spend vs. save. A penny saved is a penny earned. Live like nobody else will so you can live like nobody else can. I've heard it. But what about this? And this? And a couple of these? How can this be a luxury when I am so convinced it's a necessity? And don't even get me started on this. I think I could decimate the IRA with a few swift clicks. This seems like it would be enriching. And I'll need this to go with this. You get the point.

6. Speak up vs. shut up. The other night, I was having a discussion with some friends. Wonderful friends. Open-minded friends, gifted with keen social skills and the ability to tolerate my presence despite my wildly flailing emotions. As I get older and my opinions grow stronger and better informed, I sense myself periodically, and increasingly, missing the forest for the trees. When a topic arises that I identify myself with, all bets for civility are off. My head threatens to explode. I can't listen. I leave feeling exposed and violated by MY OWN behavior, no matter how kind and gracious the witnesses. And, on the other hand, I like being a person of strong opinion, a person who cares about things. I like that I will say uncomfortable things sometimes for the sake of integrity and honesty. But I sense myself alienating myself from people after bursts of thinly, or un-, veiled rage over some topic, and this trend is neither advantageous to me, nor the causes which I have invited to become part of my identity.

7. Now vs. later. I'm a list-maker. I have post-its all over the place enumerating the tasks that need doing, groceries that need buying, projects I'd like to complete, activities I'd like to try. They remind me to visit the baby elephant at the Hogle zoo and to learn conversational Spanish. The trouble with my system is that it does not discriminate nor prioritize among tasks. There is nothing to indicate that sending out an invitation to Pumpkinfest (Oct. 30! Invite pending! Hope you'll be there! Bring a pumpkin to carve and a pumpkin-based/themed food item to share! Tell your friends as long as I like them!) is more urgent than learning how to create a strawberry barrel, and that studying for my Substance Abuse Counseling midterm requires attention sooner than my desire to learn to knit.

I thought identity crises were supposed to be an adolescent thing.


Jacki said...

Get knocked up, move to California, and come sit on the floor with me and eat cookies. We can talk about salad and marathons.

amy said...

You have always been better at making my life decisions than I, dear Jacki. I've bet the farm on you before...

It must be nice to have an answer for everything; bonus you can articulate it in two sentences.

Jen said...


I give you a quote from my favorite movie ever: "Get MARRIED. Make BABIES. You starting to look OLD."

I'm only mostly kidding. One adjusts to children. I do much more personally enriching non-children stuff now that I have kids than before I had kids. Do you know how many interesting books you can read while they are nursing? A lot. Children are marvelous, and much less likely to have Downs Syndrome and a panoply of other problems if you birth 'em young. (My baby brother has DS, and I absolutely wouldn't trade him, for the record. Just sayin')

Don't move to California. Move to Southern Utah. It's like living in Utah, but not. We'll run a half. I will never run a full one. Four hours of running is too boring. I'd rather sew. Or bake. It is in fact a life skill. Running was only a life skill before man learned to use a club on the dangerous animals.

Zillah said...

that sounds just about every single one of my indecisions. except for the marathon one. i'm going to go eat another cookie for breakfast.

Kate said...

Thanks for writing this list for me. I can cross it off my post-it now.

ALSO... EVERYONE MUST COME TO PUMPKINFEST. I live in Washington, DC and I am coming. So there.

Wren said...

What substance abuse midterm??

Jill said...

Are you really flying from DC just to go to Pumpkinfest??? That's a good idea