Note to Self

Author’s note: Note to Self is inspired by this song on a CD I just got by Ben Rector.

Note to Self: Let go of all the constant guilt. It's suffocating you and for no reason. It’s okay that you didn’t weed the yard this weekend. It’s okay that you didn’t let everyone into your lane. It’s okay that you didn’t text mom today like you meant to or thanked someone for yummy coffee ten seconds later than you wanted to. It’s okay that you hit the snooze and didn’t run this morning. It’s okay that you left your puppy at home for brunch and paid ten cents more than Costco for gas or tossed that food you didn’t cook. You’ll do better next time. On that note...

Note to self: Run more. I know you have a lot of blerches to beat. The weather sucks. Migraines make running really hard. But you secretly love it and you need it to maintain any amount of sanity. Don’t do it because you feel guilty about not having a perfect body. Run more because the gentle rhythm of your shoes on your pavement before the city wakes up is heaven. Run because you deserve it.

Note to self: Be nicer to people, especially Adam and your coworkers. Calm down about the rude drivers who don’t know how to use a turn signal. Give people a break. We’re all overworked and tired. Savor the little things and brush off life’s little annoyances. Always give a courtesy wave and duces to Wrangler drivers, let that person merge, and stop getting so angry about delays. People deserve to be treated well, even when you don't feel like it.

Note to self: Treasure the little things. Never pass up an opportunity to pet your puppy. Savor it when she spends a few more minutes outside playing than you’d like. Sing along to that silly pop song.  Drink your coffee slowly. Kiss your boyfriend when he’s not expecting it. Appreciate the pretty espresso machine you helped build and thank the people that made it happen. Throw the gross duck toy one more time. Shed a tear for that lion family reunion video. Your giant heart makes you wonderful.

Note to self: Stay diligent in the fight for civil rights. People deserve health care, an education, nutrition, a roof, opportunity, and respect. All people. Not just the ones that are connected to you. Not just because they’re your sister or father or friend. They deserve all the rights and chances you take for granted. Always examine your privilege and use it to make space for voices of people who have more to say than you do. Show up. Donate. Vote. And yes, occasionally re-post or publish. It matters, and it counts.

Note to self: Write more. Worry less. Bake more. Snack less. Spend less time worrying if things will go wrong. Play more games. Text your mother. Stop replaying that awkward thing you said weeks ago. Sweep the floor and fold the laundry. Buy that silly desk toy. Don’t buy that extra tomato (you never eat it). Stop denigrating your degree or qualifying it with how long it took. Weed the yard. Teach the puppy about soccer. Play more soccer. Drink more water

An Open Letter to the People Who Say I Want a Baby

To the people who say I want a baby;
To the people who tell me having a puppy is great training for having a baby;
To the people who tell me I better enjoy [travel, dates, nice things…] because I won’t be able to when I have a baby;
To the people who tell me I’m too young to know if I want a baby;

I’m not too young. I’ve had these conversations for ten years, and I want to stop.

When you tell me that I will want kids later, I hear you telling me that I don’t know myself as well as you know me. I hear you telling me that the most value I can have as a woman is to add mother to my identity. I hear you telling me that my body dictates my role in society and trumps all the rest of me.

When you tell me that having a puppy is great practice for having a baby, I hear you telling me that the purpose of my puppy is to train me how to have a kid.

When you tell me that I better enjoy life as I know it because it will all change once I have babies, I hear you telling me that my relationship and hobbies and lifestyle can only be temporary because kids are an inevitable part of womanhood.

They’re not.

When you tell me that I’ll change my mind about having kids, you remind me that a woman’s body is never really her own. It’s a vessel. A woman is a host, and society treats her as such. It’s dehumanizing and humiliating.

There’s a million reasons that kids don’t fit into my life, but number one on that list is that I just don’t like them. I make a few exceptions for the amazing ones I’ve met along the way (you know who you are). Except for those, I don’t like the sounds kids make or the messes that follow them. I don’t like the autonomy they restrict or the patience they require. I don’t like losing games or simple kid food or books without plots.

And all of that is okay. I have the right and the resources to decide what happens to my body. That’s awesome. We live in a time where motherhood isn’t a requirement (although it is more dangerous here than literally every other developed country in the world). Let’s celebrate that. Let’s pause and mourn for the women who live in places where that isn’t true.

I love mothers, and I know it takes a very special, patient, sacrificing, loving kind of person to be one. Mothers and fathers are owed more appreciation they get. We all know this. I am not that kind of person, and after a decade of explaining that to people, I’m more sure of it now than I ever have been. I want to be the person who spoils the moms and kids in her life, and then leaves them to go day drink or hop on a plane to go skiing.

Most of all though, and here’s where I ask for your help, I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t get so fucking angry when she hears her 28-year old boyfriend has never heard any of these things. If I have to take a pregnancy test every time I go to the doctor complaining of a stomach ache, then the same people who give me daily shit for not wanting kids can at least tell my boyfriend that he’s too virile and young to decide for himself if he gets to have kids.

Table for One

Author's note: This post is a week late because none of my passwords are on the other computer and the squarespace blog app BLOWS (love the site but seriously, get your mobile game together)

This morning, I dropped my boyfriend off at the airport. I had an errand to run near Green Lake, so I drove up, did a slow lap, picked up my race packet for tomorrow's run, and headed home.

Being alone for breakfast, I did what we all do: found a table for one.   Today, that was at Cheeky Cafe right next to my old apartment.

There are a million reasons to love this place, not the least of which is the nostalgia that comes with it. My friends and I used to fill tables and then all order tomato soup and grilled cheese when we needed a break between board games.

This place is special for another reason though, one I'd either forgotten or just taken for granted. It's kind of a 'table for one' haven.  

Back when I lived next door, this was my home. It was a place my ex husband approved of, so long as I wasn't with anyone he didn't approve of (which meant anyone who wasn't him). When he deployed, it meant I could enjoy a meal by myself without feeling judged by the host or other patrons because half the dining room was people eating solo.  

Those meals turned into a kind of unplugged escape for me when it was rough between him and I (which was always). They sometimes were followed by movies by myself, especially when I needed to extend the outing and disappear into a happy fantasy. 

Now I'm living that happy, healthy, loving life I was dreaming of just a few years ago.  Brunch gets to just be awesome eggs and deep-fried French toast (at least as good as it sounds). It gets to be a quiet pause of appreciation; one that I can enjoy so much more because of those people I wasn't "allowed" to be here with.

30 by 30: Silly Aspirations

#3 Brew a batch of beer
#10 Pass the DLAB
#15 Knit an entire scarf
#20 Finish “On the Road”

I’ve decided to try to group this list so that I get to the good stuff (items I’m excited about working on or excited about having completed) by the time the big day comes around.

Yesterday, I wrote about some more significant ways my personality has evolved over the past five years. Today, it’s about the silly stuff. Seriously, what was 25-year old Ila thinking with these?

#3 Brew a batch of beer
When I was 25, I thought I liked beer. I want to give past-Ila credit for this one. I really love the idea of beer. I like how it makes Seattle more interesting. I like how local it is. Did you know Washington grows most of the nation’s hops? It’s why, I assume, this town is so obsessed with IPA’s.

What I really like are sours and goses, which are far more like cider than beer. Someone once told me that they taste like New Jersey, which I think is a bad thing?

My point is that I definitely don’t want to make beer. I’m not sure why I even wanted to do this in the first place, especially as a human whose apartment was like, 190 square feet at the time.

#10 Pass the DLAB
There’s a couple of important notes here:

First - Once upon a very long time ago (like in 2011 when I wrote this) I dated and then married a soldier in the Army. Second - DLAB is short for Defense Language Aptitude Battery. It’s a military exam that measures your aptitude for learning foreign languages. My ex-husband took the test and explained it to me in a way that made me think I’d be awesome at it. Basically, the idea is that you have to decipher a fake language based on clues they give you. I took four years of Spanish in high school, the last of which I took while also learning beginners French. I love language, especially its structure and organization. I would kick ass at this test.

Unfortunately, despite a tiny blip in college when I tried to enlist in the Marines (long story for another time), I do not want to be in the military. At all. Pass on this one.

#15 Knit an entire scarf
This one comes with a cute story! Yay!

My mom knits. She’s amazing at it. She knit my dad one of those crazy 12 foot Dr. Who scarves. She’s made me two amazing bags, a scarf and matching fingerless mittens, and coffee cuffs. She’s knit countless hats for the homeless.

When I was a Resident Assistant in college, my mom would drive all the way to Ellensburg from Seattle just to teach my tenants how to knit. She’d bring her own yarn and she’d sharpen take-out chopsticks and pencils to use as knitting needles. For the next couple weeks after that program, I’d watch my tenants sit around their dorms or the common lounges working with the yarn and their pencils. I loved it, and I get inspired thinking of how my mom uses her gift like that.

I did not get her talent, focus, or dexterity. I can’t read a pattern. I can’t ever remember how to cast on or what the heck a purl is (or if you make it? Or do it?). I have a knitting kit that I brought with me through about four moves. It’s sitting in my closet right now.

It’s time to give up and leave the knitting to my very talented mother. I’m going to finally let this one go.

#20 Finish “On the Road”
Oh man is this a long time coming. Giving up, I mean, not finishing it. I have started to read this book almost every year since my last year of high school. Like a lot of things on this, I love the idea of it. Jack Kerouac is iconic. It’s romantic, this idea of spending your life wandering across the nation meeting people and following the flow of the universe.

But really, the characters of this book are insufferable. And you just start to get to know them and then they disappear, probably to never return (though I guess I’ll never know).

I once made a very tragic mistake, in my many occasions of buying and then “losing” this book, of getting the ‘original scroll’ version of this book. The story goes that Kerouac sat down at his typewriter and wrote the whole book over a couple of days on a single scroll of paper. The ‘original scroll’ version is apparently the legendary first draft. It’s missing pretty vital but often taken for granted items of novels like paragraph breaks and most punctuation. It hurts your eyes to read. I ran out of breath reading it. It felt like a marathon. It sort of fit the theme of the book like that, so I get the appeal.

Before I moved in with my boyfriend, he and I stared at this book on my shelf. He’s incredibly gracious and is less concerned with this romantic notion of finishing a book for the sake of being a part of the culture it’s created. He convinced me to donate the book instead of moving it into his condo. That dear boy liberated me from this curse, so I’m letting it go in his name.