I think one of the best statements I read about September 11 was one by a writer in an English-language newspaper in Bangladesh. I don't have it exactly, but here's the paraphrase:
When the Twin Towers got hit on 9/11, Americans thought that the world had changed forever. But in the eyes of the rest of the world, it was America that had changed.
The author's point was that death and destruction and violence -- so much a regular part of life in so much of the world -- was something that we as Americans (well, maybe non-urban-dwelling, non-disenfranchised Americans) just did not have to deal with in the "before" time. But then after 9/11, we had to deal with the reality that we, too, were vulnerable, and we as a country consequently underwent a seismic shift in attitude about the world.
It won't surprise you to hear that I sometimes feel like I straddle both entities, that I am of both "America" and "the rest of the world." But on this day – the day that, ironically, spawned all of the policies and attitudes that make me feel more “other” than “American” – on this day, I feel more American than anything else. My sense of shelter and security was shattered, just like so many other of my neighbors.
Today, I’m so glad that the sky in San Francisco never gets to that bright, brilliant blue of New York and Boston on September 11, 2001. That sky, more than anything, is what has hit me in the gut in the past.
I've always known that I've wanted kids, and that steady desire has always (I think) been a little higher than that of my peers. Because of the steadiness of that desire, I always suspected that I would never have that biological clock ticking moment that so many women talk about -- I always thought that my desire for children could never be more than it always was.
But boy, oh boy, was I wrong.
I see babies everywhere around me. I have friends, GOOD friends, being pregnant, being excited, being happy. Male friends, female friends, married friends, single friends, everywhere friends who are gearing up to have children. But not me, and not for a long time.
Competing with my desire for children are so many other things. Confusion about career is a big one -- I just started a job at a new company, and while the potential for my vertical ascent is quite high, right at this very moment, people with less work experience and education than me are in positions of greater seniority than me. That, to me, is a sign that I need to focus on career, IF I want a career which is fulfilling. I'm not the bright young star anymore -- I'm actually several years older than every single one of the new hires at my company. I'm still smart and hard working, but now, I've got to be even smarter and harder-working than usual, simply to make up for lost time.
Another source of confusion is my physical well-being. I'm not actually ill or anything... but I'm not a picture of glowing health, if you know what I mean. My gym habits have gone down the toilet. I've gained (gulp) 20 pounds in the last 2.5 years. I don't get enough sleep. And on and on and on -- nothing that is life-threatening, just quality-of-life-threatening. But years of being a preventive health nut means I can't ignore this stuff.
And finally, money. I've got lots of student loans to pay off. A husband to support. Retirement funds to build up from ground zero. And while I'm making about 3 times as much money as I ever had before.... I don't know. Money goes fast in the Bay Area. It would probably be going fast regardless of where I was.
So, yeah. The baby clock is ticking. But so are all sorts of other clocks. And instead of one of them drowning out all the others, it's just a mess in my brain. The desire for a baby does NOT cancel out the other desires I have, for health and career and money. And vice versa.
In conclusion, I probably won't be having a baby anytime soon, or a good career, or money, etc. That's what makes me sad these days.
Friday night: Went out to dinner at MH's friends' house. Did not eat till 11, and didn't leave their place till well after midnight. The person who made dinner pissed me off by commenting no fewer than three times what a huge imposition it was to have to make a meal without pork (which I don't eat). This is turn led to a fight with my husband, because I called the cook an asshole (eta: not to his face, just as an aside to MH) and he (MH) thought that I was being a drama queen about the whole thing.
Saturday: Got up at 7 am, and continued the fight from last night. Resolved the fight. Went to the farmer's market, which was extra crowded probably because of the New York Times article which featured it. (I go to the Alemany market.) Spent the afternoon in sunny Palo Alto at a friend's 30th birthday barbecue. Stayed up till 1:30 am trying to finish up a crocheted baby blanket for my friend's baby shower the next day.
Sunday: Woke up at 10, continued crocheting until 2 pm. Headed to the baby shower, which was just lovely. Ovaries were subsequently aching from the cuteness of all the tiny little baby things. Tried to go to bed early, but didn't actually fall asleep until midnight.
It was back to the grind today, and I REALLY need more sleep. Don't think an early night's in the cards for tonight, though -- we have already promised a friend to meet him for drinks at 9 pm.
But I would like to publicly state that I feel really bad for how I portrayed my mom in my post from a couple days ago. I know that this is just my blog, and I say things here that I wouldn't say to her face, blah blah blah... I just feel really bad for making the world (or, the 10 of you who read this blog) think that she's a racist.
My mom is wonderful. She has done things in her life that I will never in a million years be able to do. As I am sure I've mentioned before, she got married to my dad when she was 20 years old, barely a kid. She was a good girl, and went through an arranged marriage that her parents wanted her to have to a man who was 7 years older than her, whom she had only known for 2 weeks, and who whisked her away 10,000 miles away from her only home days after getting married.
My dad told me that for the first year of their marriage, my mom used to get up in the middle of the night and just stare out of their bedroom window, crying silent tears. But she never left my dad, and through sheer grit, they made their marriage work.
My god. She was only 20 years old, and about as sheltered as a traditionally-brought up Muslim girl with 7 sisters and no brothers could be. She is the strongest person I know.
Even though this is a wedding that is theoretically made of evil, Jenna Bush looks totally adorable in her wedding pictures...
...and so does her dad.
Actually, the whole family looks pretty darned cute.
I love the contrast between the close, cozy just family picture, versus the slight awkwardness that Momma Bush has with her new son-in-lawin this one. It just seems so normal and real to me -- a picture of the beginning of a whole set of new relationships, not just the marriage.