Monday, October 31, 2005

Twisted Halloween @#$%

For those of you trying to keep the Halloween spirit while at a humdrum job (with online access), here's a website that'll hold your attention...for as long as you can take it. It includes an article about a killer who removed his victim's eyeballs after they were dead. This is some twisted @#$%:

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Tale of Horror ("Make it stop!!")

Ever since the World Series started, Nick and Tony's had been slow. It was slow on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights this week. On Wednesday night, to counter the lack of customers, I took on the bar area, a 12-table section, the largest one. I figured if there were few customers, at least I could make some money by being in the bar area for those who wanted to to watch the game.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t slow at all. In spite of the World Series game and rain, the place filled up. I had three tables, then five, then eight. I asked the hostess to stop seating my section, but the people kept coming and all servers in all sections were getting slammed. It was packed. Now I had nine tables, now ten. Ten full tables with people who wanted bottles of wine, drinks, appetizers, starter salads and cups of soup in addition to ordering meals. More drinks, more bottles, more people. I couldn’t believe it. I would never have taken the largest number of tables if I’d known it would be like this! This was too much for me. Why were so many people out on such a wet Wednesday night? The Sox were supposed to win the World Series. What the hell were they doing away from their tv sets?

No amount of bewilderment helped the situation and I tried to remain calm. Cups of soup, starter salads, more drinks, more people being seated, more drinks, another bottle of wine. The panic began to build. I felt myself starting to shake on the inside. Enter the orders for a table of five, try to keep in mind that I have to serve three of them salads before I can order their entrees, enter the orders for another table of five, try to talk to the couple who was seated 10 minutes ago and have been waiting all this time. No, I can’t get to them because table 602 stops me and demands another beer. Oh god. Now I was dog paddling, barely able to keep up, but falling behind fast. Oh god oh god oh god.

How do I keep from becoming emotional at times like that? I am ruled by my emotions; there’s no turning them off as it seems others do. I just get scared. How do I manage that fear?

When the impatient old man at table 602 told me he had received the wrong steak, I had to tell the manager as soon as possible. He said he had asked for a 14 oz. filet, but I had heard a 14 oz. NY strip. When I managed to wade across the crowded restaurant and tell the manager, she reminded me that I’d made this mistake before. I had forgotten, but yeah, I guess I had. She made changes to the bill so Mr. 602 wouldn’t get charged for the steak, but I felt her displeasure and it contributed to my freak out. I just fall apart when I think an authority figure is unhappy with me.

I hated my stomach churning fear response. I knew I had nothing to be afraid of -- it was an honest mistake in a very difficult situation and I wouldn’t get fired for it -- and yet my panic increased a few notches at having to bother the manager. She was under pressure too (the people just kept coming in, it was incredible), and I tried to imagine her position, but I just couldn’t. It was time to return to my ten tables and try to remember who was due a round of salads, who needed more drinks and which tables were clear because they hadn’t been served yet and which were clear because they’d already finished eating.

Now things got confusing. About 40 minutes later when table 501 was paying, one gentleman pointed at the bill and told me that the manager had already spoken to him and discounted him the price of his steak because he’d received the wrong one. I thought, “What? Did the manager get the wrong table? I thought 602 got the wrong steak.” I remembered ordering him a 14 oz. NY strip, so I asked him, “Did you order a filet?” He said yes. So I just said, “Oh, okay,” and I nodded and took the bill.

Did I make the same mistake at two different tables? Does that make a grand total of three steaks I’ve @#$-ed up that can’t be charged for? Would I be fired? Would I be summoned before the general manager? How much trouble was I in?

I couldn’t get it out of my mind even as I tried to focus on who was waiting for food and who was waiting for a check and oh please let that not be another new table. I could feel my main defense mechanism -- a slowing down and going numb -- starting to kick in but I didn’t have time for it. Slowing down and going numb would NOT work in this situation! I forced myself to keep going.

Each time I asked someone, “Will there be anything else for you tonight?” I longed to hear them say “No” so I could drop the check and be done with them, but tonight everyone wanted coffee, dessert, cordial drinks, espresso, more drinks, more wine, cappuccino. Oh, the damned cappuccino! I suck at making the milk foam for those cappuccinos, so of course table 602 wanted three of them. Incredible. This was the point at which Courtney, a server with fewer tables who was all caught up on her section, was able help me. Thank GOD Courtney took over the most recent new table to be seated in my section. The milk foam took me forever. I must have spent 15 minutes on those damn cappuccinos and freely hated the three men at 602 by the time I dropped them off. They were the most piss-poor cappuccinos, too, but it was the best I could do and I hoped it would keep them from ordering more. Later I had to ask the manager to fix two more mistakes I entered into our computer system and by the time I approached her to ask advice about dealing with a customer, she didn’t have any time at all for me.

Finally around 10:00 p.m. the people began to thin out. Several tables left and no new ones replaced them. Later I realized this was because Nick and Tony’s closes on Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. thank god. I had forgotten there would be an end. But there was no relief for me because by now I was fully in the fear of being in trouble and losing my job and anticipating this Talk we were now going to have. My worries weren’t lessened by the bartender’s soothing words (“Everyone goes through this. No, you won’t lose your job.”) or even the White Sox finally locking their World Series win. We all stopped to watch the final moments of the game at a few minutes after 11:00 p.m., we cheered and clapped, but my stomach remained heavy with knowing I’d have to face the manager when I clocked out.

But then I didn’t have to. When I went back to the manager’s office to clock out, she directed me to the bartender, who apparently clocks people out on some weeknights, and she made no reference to me being in trouble or wanting to talk to me about my performance. Later, when I hit the restroom right before I left, I saw her again. As we washed our hands, she just smiled at me and said, “I can’t believe they won!” I said, “Yeah.”

What the hell? Was all forgotten? I know there were plenty of things going on/going wrong that night with so many people. In all, my two steaks cost a total of $52. Maybe my problems didn’t stack up so high compared to everything else? (??)

So I guess things worked out okay, but I am left with the following: how do I manage my panic under pressure? How do I manage my gut-crawling response to what looks to me like punishing anger? How do I not let my ever-present emotions shut down my ability to think and function?

Tonight will be another crazy busy night, but the same nightmare will not happen again because I will get there early and secure a section with LESS THAN 12 GODDAMNED TABLES. I had twelve tables on Wednesday night. That should never have happened. Tonight I will make #$%-damn, @!&*-ing sure I get a section with no more than six.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Chicago: Home of the World Series Champions -- finally!

Everyone in the world that I'm related to, except for my parents, lives in Houston. Fortunately, I'm not a gloater or even a real sports fan. I just get pulled into these World Series dynamics by the emotion of it. I'm ruled by emotion.

My cousin told me she and the Astros are the same age: 44 years. She's been waiting her whole life for the Astros to win a World Series and she got quite wound up about it this week. I feel bad that she didn't get her wish, but I'm sure the Astros will win a World Series between now and when my cousin dies (sorry, don't mean to be morbid). Many, MANY Chicagoans waited their whole lives for a World Series win by either the White Sox or the Cubs, and you know what? They all died without it ever happening. So I can't regret that the Astros' dream hasn't yet come true. They're only 44 years old. They have plenty of time before the first generation of Astros fans is in their graves.

When the White Sox first made it to the World Series last week, Scoop Jackson, a Chicago sports journalist, wrote:

I knew it was serious when I turned on the news after "Monday Night Football" and saw a man who purchased "Sox AL Champs" banners to place over his parents' grave sites because, he said, "They waited for this moment their whole lives and they somehow still need to be a part of it."

Now those are sports fans who waited their entire lives -- every inhale and exhale of their entire lives -- for a World Series win that never happened. But now it has and as little as I usually care about sports, I'm proud to be a Chicagoan tonight. Maybe I can serve as some pale proxy of those who should have lived to see it happen. If not, at least I can witness what might not happen again before I'm dead. Congratulations, White Sox.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Thank you, White Sox - now let's wrap it up tonight!

It's beginning to dawn on me that the White Sox are a pretty good team this year.

But what's with the bumble bee costumes some Houstonians were wearing last night? I'm disturbed since that's MY Halloween costume and I don't want to look like I'm supporting the Astros on Saturday night. NOT that the Series will still be going on Saturday night (not not not).

Hey, does anyone want to watch the game at Nick and Tony's tonight? I'm working.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

OH yeah, it's the Sox

OH yeah, IT'S the Sox! Sorry, Houston. IT's the Sox! THANK god.

Let's wrap it up, people, and all go out to eat next Saturday night!

Reluctant Sox Fan

Okay, so as you know, I work in a restaurant. Saturday nights are the best nights to make fistfuls of money, so I was disappointed last night when the place was pretty empty. Between the rain and the Sox game, not many people came out to eat Italian downtown. This is that main reason I am seriously rooting for the White Sox, who I never cared about before now: I need this World Series wrapped up before next weekend so we can get some good crowds on Saturday and Sunday nights. Tonight was even deader than last night and I can't afford this. Game Six CANNOT be next Saturday, especially because Saturday is the night the servers will be wearing Halloween costumes at Nick and Tony's. On Saturday the 29th, I'll be wearing my sexy bee costume (see previous post) and it will be TOO sad if the staff is dressed up with no customers. That can't happen!

So please, White Sox: let's wrap up this world Series in the first four games and be done with it! I really can't afford the Series to last into next weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

More fat actresses, please

Mopie at Big Fat Deal had this to say about the movie In Her Shoes:

It's great that Jennifer Weiner has a movie out based on one of her books, and that it's getting good reviews, and that she's happy about it. But Toni Colette, as wonderful as she is, is not fat. Can't we please for the love of god stop with this size ten "movie fat" shit and let some fat actress represent?

I haven't seen the movie or read the book, but I totally agree with this statement. I was totally disappointed with the Bridget Jones movies for this reason: I found it insulting that they didn't bother to find a size-appropriate, British actress for the lead role. Why was that so hard? Why did the producers act like they had no choice but to go back to the usual over-exposed skinny American actresses that we see all the time? The overuse of just a few women with similar dimensions is tiresome and oppressive: in American cinema I, and women who look like me, don't exist.

It also bothers me because actresses like Zellweger and Collette shouldn't have to compromise their health by gaining and losing (and gaining and losing) so much weight when there are SO MANY average-sized women who can play these roles.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I won! I won!

Nick and Tony's is owned by Restaurants America, which owns many restaurants and chains across the country. Last week, to get a lot of Effen Vodka sold, the area manager announced a contest between the three main downtown Chicago restaurants, which are Nick and Tony's, One North (on Wacker) and The Grill Room (on Monroe). He wanted to see which restaurant could sell the most Effen Vodka. Bob Martin, our general manager and fearless leader, really leaned on us to sell this stuff. He says he hates coming in second to anyone for anything so he offered $50 to the person who sold the most Effen Vodka and $25 to the person who sold the second most.

Seeing it as a game, I took the challenge and pushed the Effen Vodka, especially last Friday afternoon when I had all these tables of people sitting outside in the gorgeous afternoon, slurping down Bloody Marys and Sea Breezes. And I ended up winning the contest! Bob announced the winners today and handed me a new $50 dollar bill (which I immediately tucked into my bra so I wouldn't get it mixed up with my tip money). Fifty bucks for saying, "We're having a special this week on Effen Vodka. It's six fifty a drink for any drink using Effen Vodka." Bob also announced that our restaurant sold 142 Effen Vodka drinks and the other two restaurants sold about 40 combined, so we totally beat them. He was very pleased.

So I made a serious bundle of tips that Friday afternoon from all that drink-serving, plus I won $50 for doing it. Life is so much easier at Nick and Tony's than it ever was at Carson's. The only thing that was easy to do at Carson's was exhaust myself.

I won fifty bucks in a selling contest at my new job! I am awesome.

Gross Married Men

Tonight I served a table of two gentlemen who were out for dinner. One was quite good-looking and he gave me a lot of attention. All I did was greet them and start describing our dinner specials and he acted like he couldn't keep his eyes off me. By the time I had their drink orders and walked away, I could feel my body responding on a very primitive, gut level. At the same time my mind knew exactly what this was: this was a married man!

I hadn't seen his left hand yet, but I have learned that most of the time when an attractive guy in his 40's gives that much sexual attention in a such a superficial situation, he's married. He's married and bored, or he's married and wants to believe his marriage is over, or he's married and separated and thinks it's okay to flirt with other women, but the bottom line is HE'S MARRIED. Gross. Pathetic. Euw.

Sure enough when I took their drinks back there was the wedding ring, fat and gleaming, on his left hand. And there were his gorgeous, flirtatious eyes, locked onto mine like he'd never seen such an enchanting person before. Slime!

He kept it up every time I went by their table until I was so disgusted I told the bartender about him. The bartender is married, so I felt like I was also warning him NOT to try this behavior because it's wrong, pathetic, manipulative and icky.

I am so disgusted by what some married men will do.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Although I finally stopped believing there's something wrong with me because I've never been married, I still feel deeply disappointed and discouraged that, at the age of 39, I've never fallen in love or found someone to share my life with. It's a discouragement that often feels like bitterness and the bitterness probably masks the fear that my heart doesn't work the way it's supposed to because I've dated men who were crazy about me and wanted to marry me, but I broke up with all of them because I didn't feel crazy about them and I didn't want to marry them. My friend Kenn once asked me if I'd ever dated anyone I wanted to marry and the answer was no. I'm almost 40 and I've dated hundreds of men and had many relationships, but I've never fallen in love and I'm afraid that indicates that I can't.

I've got to find a way to re-frame this, to see it differently, to feel okay about my solitary status. I wish I could not go into a rage whenever someone tells me, "It happens when you least expect it" or "It happens when you stop looking" or "Just focus on yourself and being happy on your own and it'll happen." At this point I want to scream whenever I hear that that kind of thing because people have been telling me that stuff for ten years, but following that advice doesn't make any difference. I've tried following every piece of advice I've ever received on the subject, including "Just stop thinking about it!" so now that kind of advice just feeds my destructive anger, which on bad days turns into the depression.

In a Sex and the City episode, Samantha Jones says, "I'm not a relationship person." Maybe I'm not either, but I miss sex. And now I'm going to go eat a cake, probably an entire one.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

May the VCR Rest In Peace

According to TiVo:
• Many manufacturers have halted production on VCRs permanently.
• 2006 will be the last year for VHS movie releases.

Sad. I still prefer using a VCR to watch rented movies because I don't have a DVD player and have to watch DVDs on my Apple laptop. I wonder how long my VCR will last now that it's getting harder to replace them. The only way I can watch one show while recording another is to program my VCR to record it and then watch "live" programming with my TiVo box. Using both the VCR and TiVo is also how I occasionally record two programs at once.

VHS triumphed over Beta back in the 1980's, but I should have known it was also mortal.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New Job Still Good

More reasons why my new job serving at Nick and Tony's Restaurant is so much better than my old job:

1. Better tips.
2. Parties of 5 or more have the gratuity (tip) automatically added on.
3. Fairer system to determine who gets to serve those parties of 5 or more. We draw for it. It's random and excellent. No politics or favorites.
4. One server per (up to) 40-person party This is the life. Last night I had my first 12-person party and I discovered how easy it is to tend to them and the tip just GROWS. These people were having 55-dollar bottles of wine, appetizers, cappuccino, the works, and I made $77 just by being the one who brought it all.
5. Cuter cooks.
6. Cuter bussers.
7. Easier work for me. Foodrunners bring the entrees so all I have to do is take care of drinks, appetizers and dessert. Mainly I just make sure their order is correct and keep an eye on them. In this way servers can handle 10 or more tables at a time and that means tips, tips, tips.
8. More easier work for me. Servers do more set-up at the beginning of the shift, but after that foodrunners, cooks, dishwashers and bussers do the heavy lifting, the cleaning and the stocking (at Carson's the servers much more stocking and cleaning).
9. I am earning way more money than I did when I started at Carson's.
10. I am earning way more money than I did when I quit Carson's.
11. Life is good.

Plus I like the management better, the customers are more interesting and I'm getting to know and like my co-workers. In fact, this job is better than my last one in every single way except that Carson's had better drink serving trays (with cork). Besides that, I'm surprisingly happy at my new job.

The only thing that still bothers me is that I never got to say good-bye properly to my Carson's co-workers. I was going to enjoy a graceful two-week period of explaining to everyone why I was going and telling them I'd enjoyed knowing them (the ones I liked, anyway). And then that Family Crisis hit right after Labor Day weekend and aborted all that and I had to leave town abruptly to be with my family. I never got to personally break the news to all of my Carson's colleagues so my departure could be thoughtful and not sudden and heartless. Damn. Saying "Good-bye, I'm leaving!" a month and a half after I already left is just stupid and dorky.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Almost a Cubs Fan

I’m part of a writing group that has given itself the assignment to write our best autobiographical story that takes place in a bar. I’ve never been able to stomach alcohol so I’ve spent shockingly little of my 39 years in bars, but this story at least ends in a bar.

On Tuesday, October 15 2003 I was riding an el train to go hear presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich speak. It also happened to be the night of Game 6 of the NL Championship that pitted the Chicago Cubs against the Florida Marlins. I don’t follow sports, but the drama had gotten to me: along with every Cubs fan in the universe, I found myself emotionally poised for the miraculous to happen. Could the Cubs actually go to the World Series? If they won this game, they would. Even though I was committed to the political rally, I gazed eagerly out the train window as we neared Wrigley Field. As the train passed I could feel the emotional excitement as strongly as I could see how alive the entire area was with blue, white and red -- Cubs fans. The stadium glowed with at least three kinds of electricity and hordes of fair-weather (like me) and true fans made Wrigleyville a solid mass of aching, anxious adreneline. The hope was exquisite.

At 9:30 I headed back on the train, determined to at least be in proximity should the miracle take place. On the train, those with access to the game updated those of us without it. The tragic Bartman incident happened when I was about halfway home. The riders with radios reported it to the rest of us and I searched their faces for signs of reassurance that things might still be okay. I didn’t get any. The energy on the train fell and I grew very serious as I realized that the worst had happened: the Cubs had lost Game 6, the game with which they were supposed to capture the championship. Even though everyone knew the Cubs could still go to the World Series by winning Game 7, somehow they knew this was the end. The ride was over.

As the train pulled up to the Wrigleyville stop, I looked out over the silent yet still congested streets. Thousands of people were slowly walking away from the stadium, heads down, speechless. I turned to the door as my train car filled. White men in their 40’s -- the demographic I see as the most emotionally unshakeable -- slumped despondently in their blue and white jerseys and caps. Couples, families, groups of friends, all in Cubs regalia took their places in the crowded car and rode in silence. All the spirit was gone; all the light, all the hope. Their sadness felt all the keener because it was unrelieved by tears. Their dry eyes were filled with stunned disappointment and maybe an all too familiar sense that this was how it was supposed to be, this was the only way it could ever have been.

On the night of Game 7 I decided I didn’t want to watch the end of the game alone and that’s how I ended up at the small, local bar nearest my apartment. I joined a few guys and a couple who were sitting at the bar, while about a half dozen others sat in corners. They all grimly stared at the television screens, Cubs-fan-excitement replaced with a stoic determination to see this thing through to the end and not look away no matter what.

The game ended about ten minutes after my arrival. The bartender turned off the tv, the place fell silent and I once again felt like an intruder at a funeral. The couple embraced, the woman’s face buried in the man’s shoulder. Others stared into space, the bartender pretended to find a spot to clean, and I glanced anxiously into faces, wondering what anyone could say. One of the regulars was the first to speak. I remember he said, “Well, you can’t hurt a Cubs fan. What are you gonna do? Tell us our team sucks?” I felt awful as the silence continued, unbroken by his pronouncement.

Eventually people started moving and talking again and later I think I helped relieve the tension by expressing my surprise that people seemed so wrapped up in this “curse thing.” What I said was “No one can ever tell me again that women are the superstitious ones after what I’ve heard about this ridiculous goat story.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth I realized how offensive they could sound, especially coming from an outsider, but to my relief the men actually laughed and appreciated my opinion. By the time I left the bar I felt glad I had decided to participate in a small piece of Chicago history.

Since then I've supported the Cubs and not just because I live on the northside of Chicago. If they're such big losers that they aren't even a punchline anymore, then we belong together.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Chicago Marathon

Tomorrow is the Chicago Marathon and the general manager at Nick and Tony's says we'll be packed tonight, all reservations full. It's because we're an Italian restaurant and all the runners will want to eat pasta tonight to "carbo load" for tomorrow's race. I heard on the radio that every reservation at every Italian restuarant is full for tonight. Every Italian restaurant in Chicago will be jam packed.

How is that possible? Isn't every fifth restaurant in Chicago an Italian restaurant? How can they ALL be full on one night? And yet I guess it's so. The managers at Nick and Tony's assure us that this will be Hell NIght for us. I'm scared!

Thursday, October 06, 2005


It’s beginning again. Another one. This must be roughly the 324th since the process started when I was twelve. Month after month after month and never for any good reason. The lining becomes plush and thick, “ready to receive an egg,” it said in the Modess pamphlet I got in the sixth grade. And then it all just sloughs off. Slough, slough, slough.

What do a nun and 7Up have in common? Never had it, never will. For me, it’s just been so long, I can’t remember much. Is there supposed to be a guy there? At this point I feel like I know as much about clasping and sweating as I do about children or marriage.

My uterus. As useful as a kamikazee fighter after Japan surrendered. Useful like the extra button on the inside of the sweater. Like the rest of the banana. It’s the kid forever standing in right field with the brand new catcher’s mitt. Ready to receive an egg.

The monthly drip is a drag, a leak that hasn’t been plugged in 27 years. I wish I could just shut it off. Twenty-seven years of being ready to receive an egg. Put away the mitt already! I never even wanted to play.

54 Degrees

It's cold outside! I'm so excited. Finally, the damn summer is over!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Fatty McBlog

Damn it. Can't sleep. Spent last hour reading Fatty McBlog which is a very interesting and often funny blog. At least feel like I've been productive. Check it out, especially if you're at all food-obsessed like me. Their blog reads, "We're not here to lose the weight, we're here to gain your hearts."

Just noticed ad banner at the top of my blog has annoying ads with catch phrases like "Embarrassing Infertility?" and "FertilAid for Women" and "Trying to Get Pregnant?" Result of inhuman Google ad crawler scanning blog for key words and running whatever ads match those key words. Damn.

Today it was 85 degress and muggy as hell in Chicago. Sick of summer weather! Must stop. It's October! Last night played Christmas music to drown out air conditioner. I love Christmas music.

Must try to sleep now. If insomnia continues, will be forced to turn on tv...maybe infomercials will do the trick. Fatty McBlog is too interesting and I keep making comments. Too awake. Also in bad mood. Must sleep

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Nick and Tony's Experiment

My first weeks at Nick and Tony's are going well, but my feet aren't used to this much wear. Being off work for a month really killed my stamina. Trying to build up again.

Just about every shift there's competition: a bottle of wine for whoever sells the most glasses of wine or whoever has the highest Per Person Average. Today one contest was for whoever sold the most bottles of Republic of Tea iced tea. And I won! I got a 16 oz. cute little bottle of "Il Rosé" which is "made with Rosato grapes from Italy's Veneto Region." And I actually plan to drink it because it's a rosé! The bottles of Merlot and Cabernet they usually give as prizes don't interest me. I'm just lucky I happened to win a contest with a bottle I actually wanted to try (I've noticed the little "Il Rosé's" in the wine cabinet and wondered about them).

Will now watch tv and fall asleep. Work again tomorrow. Compliments from the managers. Getting to know co-workers. Enjoying the different clientele N & T's gets (as opposed to Carson's. Ewww Carson's!). Look forward to Friday as my first day off in almost two weeks. Rough schedule, but I've needed the cash.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

No Babies Here

One thing I am very grateful for is never really suffering from “baby fever.” There was a short period around age 30 when I thought I wanted to bear and raise a child, but three years of doing childcare took care of that craving. I know a lot of women like me (coming up on age 40, never married, never mother) feel an increasing urgency to get on with the process of motherhood, whether that means finding the guy who’ll be the daddy or figuring out the finances and logistics of becoming a single mother. But even in my worst depression, convinced I was the failure of all time, doomed to never find a man, too old to be a “young” bride anymore, et cetera --- even through all that, I felt grateful to not be battling baby fever as well.

As much as women hate it, it’s now pretty well established that pregnancy past the age of 35 has a much greater possibility of complications, starting with how hard it is to get pregnant. Even Oprah has featured a fertility specialist who hated to say it, but had to inform all of us childless older women that the later it gets, the more we risk never getting pregnant at all.

Because the truth is that we can’t really “have it all” if we define “it all” as having a child-free, accomplished, kickass career until we’re in our 30’s or 40’s, and then having babies we bear ourselves and feed in a rocking chair that’s surrounded by our kickass awards and trophies. I mean, we can approximate that by adopting or by having a shorter-lived career or trying to do that ideal juggling of work-and-family which never really approaches anyone’s ideal. But to truly devote ourselves to our in-the-wide-world vocation for as long as it takes to fulfill that part of ourselves, we really do have to sacrifice the best years for childbearing. Those years are roughly before age 35, but do you know what the absolute best childbearing age is? The female body is most primed, healthy and ready for pregnancy and childbirth between the ages of 18 and 25. As early as our late 20’s, our bodies start to lose potential for conceiving and bearing children.



But not for those of us who have no interest in having children anyway. At the overripe-and-only-good-for-soup age of 39, I responded to this information with a sense of its unfairness, but no anguish. My initial response the first time I heard this news was simple gratitude that as hard as I am on myself about everything else, I have never felt bad about not being a mother. I'll never know what it’s like to carry another living being inside of me and so be it. I won't pass on my genetic material and it's for the best. I don’t think I have genes that should be reproduced anyway.

Actually, I think way too many parents do a poor job of raising children and I’ll proclaim before the world that I don’t think I’d do it any better. We all witness parents behaving abusively, say, in the grocery store. What do we think when we see a parent screaming at their child, their anger out of proportion to the misdemeanor? We think the parent is being unreasonable, or if we’re kind we might give them the benefit of the doubt, or if we’re very judgmental we might think they shouldn’t be raising kids. But most of us think we’d do it differently: we wouldn’t be so punishing to our children, so belittling, so shaming.

Not me. When I see parents emotionally abusing their children in public it makes me mad as hell, but I doubt I’d do any better. Any child that was raised by such a parent will reproduce that behavior with their own children, unless they put considerable effort into breaking the pattern. I'm not willing to find out if I can do that. I tend to be an angry, fearful adult with a fury that usually turns inward on myself rather than towards other, but I still have no desire to see what I’d do with a child of my own.

I've also seen the parent who decides to never scream at her child and never turn to her in anger, but that can turn into a lack of strong discipline, which can create kids who are out of control. I don't even want to attempt the impossible goal of "getting it right."

I don't want children because of my low expectations of my mothering abilities, my desire to keep myself first in my life and my fear of being needed by others. These things pretty much tell me that I am not mom material. Plus, I just don’t want ‘em! I like plenty of sleep, I like my time being my own, I like saving money just for me. I like being the center of my life and I do not respond well when anything threatens that arrangement. I understand that most parents feel they receive plenty of benefits to compensate for the headaches of childraising. From what I see, motherhood provides wonderful experiences that no mother would give up for anything in the world, but those mothers also pay a very high price for those experiences. I just have no interest in paying that much for that particular rollercoaster ride which has no exit and lasts the rest of your life.