weekend to-do list (or, how simple life is without children)

bread, p.b., and honey on thrifted Heath
  1. Bake no-knead bread that had been resting overnight.
  2. Eat breakfast (fresh bread with peanut butter and honey that caramelized all over the plate in the oven because I was busy multitasking).
  3. Steam-bake four potatoes smeared with olive oil, paprika, salt, fresh pepper, and a garlic clove, wrapped up in foil, one of which will become lunch.
  4. Soak two cups of chickpeas that will transform into a curried chickpea-cauliflower-and-potato soup on Monday.
  5. Walk downtown to the Central library (about 45 minutes).
  6. Drop off a library book (The Sense of an Ending, a short novel recommended for its take on personal history, faulty memory, secret lives, and the contrast between self-conceptions and how others see us, a book I liked better than Geoff Dyer did).
  7. Pick up a new library book (nothing's ready on hold so I'll browse the fiction and "Lucky Day" sections).
  8. Walk 15 minutes further over to NW 21st Avenue to drop off at the cobbler my vintage thrifted Kerr pumps, the heel tips of which disintegrated into little black pieces scattered around the carpet the first time I tried wearing them a week ago (fortunately, I didn't make it out of the house).
  9. Walk the hour-plus home (errands plus exercise).
  10. Help a friend cull for his upcoming garage sale.
  11. Help another friend with her craft and organization projects.
  12. Attend a group meeting.

thrifted Nina peep-toed pumps, minus heel tips

Last night I watched Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson in Heartburn for the first time, another layer on the childbearing theme that cropped up more than usual this week. (Since strict Mormons don't allow themselves R-rated movies, I still have a lot to catch up on from the 1980s.) If you haven't seen the Ephron/Nichols film, Streep and Nicholson's characters, both writers, fall in love, get married, and have kids, and though friends have warned Streep ahead of time about Nicholson's cheatin' ways, the marriage falls apart. As Streep's father-character says, "If you want monogamy, marry a swan." (As a side note, I was amused to see my friend Jeff's vintage Cuisinart, which he swears by as the food-processor-above-all-food-processors, at work in a cooking scene in the film, the one in which she whips up the infamous key-lime pie.) In the meantime, Streep's character spends most of the film waddlingly pregnant.

Many of my friends have had or are having kids. However, nobody's crying or throwing a tantrum at my house. Nobody's pooping on the floor—except my cat (territorial power issues have developed between her and the roommate's older, fluffier, meaner-but-declawed cat, leaving my cat to sniff, "Okay, if you're going to run down from the attic and trap me in the bathroom as soon as you hear me scratching in my litter box, I'm going to sneak up and poop all over the floor in front of your litter box when you're napping—so there!"). There's nobody I have to bathe or dress besides myself. Nobody's wiping sticky food mess all over my clothes and furniture. I don't have to vacuum and mop after every meal. I have time to write and take a two-hour walk with my camera. Not to offend my friends with kids, but children usually entertain me for short periods and then I am bored.

My mother claims everything's different when you have your own (hint, hint), and in fact I did feel differently about my very smart youngest brother, who could beat me regularly at UNO when he was three and I was 16. But that's not a gamble I'm willing to take. I resent the implications in the Babble founders' TED talk I watched the other night that my childless life has less meaning. Or maybe on some level it does and I'm missing out on a crucial life perspective. But it's the life I prefer. Some of us should be allowed to observe child rearing from a distance, helping out occasionally (but only occasionally). But all luck and happiness to those who choose otherwise. At least we do have choices now—all hail to birth control. (And now I know why "Coming Around Again" always made me cry.)

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