You know what they say about assuming...

This morning when I logged in to twitter, someone had sent me a DM with the following question (edited to remove potentially identifying details and broaden the scope of my thoughts):

If I write a post about <insert life choice> and all the pressure as a <insert stage of life> to <re-insert life choice>, will <insert all those people at previous stated life stage pursuing previously stated choice> get mad at me?

Oy…what a question to start the day with. My first instinct? I was annoyed that this individual felt they had to ask. NOT annoyed that they asked, because I was happy to share my thoughts. What bothered me about the question was that they knew there was a possibility - okay, probability - that there would be negative (judgmental) reactions to their choices.

You see, we have this idea that life should go a certain “ideal” way. Here’s the general order in my experience:

  1. You’re born.
  2. You have a childhood.
  3. You go to university or college.
  4. You date.
  5. You start your career.
  6. You get married.
  7. You buy a house.
  8. You have kids.
  9. You have a career.
  10. You retire.
  11. You travel/downsize/become a snowbird (for Canadians).
  12. You die.

But darn it all if humans - who made these rules - don’t bother to follow them! (I know…shocking!)

Some people don’t get a degree, including me.
Some people don’t get legally married.
Some people don’t buy a house.
Some people don’t have kids.
Some people don’t establish a career.
Some people don’t retire.

Despite all these exceptions to “the rules”, people still push these narrow and highly unimaginitive expectations on the people in their lives at the stages when they get there, disregarding entirely any possible reasons that someone might not want to follow this path.

Every time a high school graduate crosses a stage to pick up a diploma, there is someone waiting on the other side to ask them where they’re going to go to school and what they’re going to study. 

Couples who date for more than six months or so fend off questions about when they’re going to get engaged. Then, they get engaged and you’d think people would be happy, but NO! That merely starts the round of wedding date inquiries.

The wedding should satisfy people, but it really doesn’t. How many weddings have you been to where the question of kids hasn’t come up? Not many, eh? Didn’t think so. Seriously? Give them AT LEAST a day before you start asking, people.

I think the time from high school graduation to probably late thirties/early forties have to be the most intense period of life changes and busybody interference and questioning. 

I know people mostly mean well, but I personally found it really difficult - emotionally - when I was asked when I was going to have children. This went on for years, because I’d already lost a baby and you don’t just share that information with everyone you meet. That decision was intensely personal for me and Matt; it wasn’t something that was anyone else’s business. After one particularly awkward conversation with someone who was barely an acquaintance, I vowed that I would not ask anyone else when or if they were going to have kids. If we are meant to have that discussion, it would come up naturally in a way that the other person is comfortable with.

Then I watched a co-worker get relentlessly nosey questions (practically interrogations) about when she was going to get married to her long-time boyfriend for over three years. She handled it with grace and dignity, but it got to the point that even I was uncomfortable when it happened. So, I extended my rule to other life stages as well.

Why?

Because I don’t want to make assumptions about choices that others are making. We’re all different. We all have different experiences and backgrounds that affect our choices. The road I take is right for me to the best of my knowledge. It isn’t necessarily right for anyone else and it’s better that I build a relationship with someone to talk about these things than unknowingly creating a potentially awkward situation for them or me. Ultimately, I’ve found that I develop more sustainable and deep relationships with people when I don’t dig too deep too soon.

Have you ever felt the pressure to make certain decisions about life choices from people around you? How did you handle it?

Wedding window shopping

I’m from the U.S. Born there. Grew up there. Learned the ways of the world there. 

Except for the whole royalty thing. We don’t have royalty there so the fascination with royals of any nation is foreign to me. Actually, all this hullaballoo about anyone with a little noteriety is too much for me, but what do I know?

Despite my obvious shortcomings in this department, when Mama Kat challenged me to make a list of 10 wedding gift suggestions for William and Catherine, I decided it was the perfect opportunity for me to do a little window shopping.

 

1) Because girls really need to have pretty nails. And if you can get a machine to do it, so much the better. Catherine should unwrap this one right away so she can use it for the big day. Diana dazzled the world with her serene grace in the face of Charles. Catherine can make a statement with her nails. With the ability to do customised designs from jpegs, she could (almost) literally wear her heart on her fingertips - in the form of William’s face. Or she could pick another picture - it’s just an idea.

2) Happiness is a lighted pair of earbuds for that honeymoon journey. Because who wants to talk to their new spouse when travelling? Or, for the nervous traveller, these ear buds make you happy. (Or, could it be that blocking out the noise of other passengers makes you happy? I know my happiness increases about 100-fold when I have earbuds in on the bus.) Not that the happy couple needs to worry about buses. Come to think of it, they probably have full control over other passengers on the plane too. Oh well, they can save them for when they’re having “one of those days”.

3) For the truly green-thumbed bride and groom. Honestly, this one is total group gift material. I mean, who could resist 8 Tools to Help you Grow a Nice Green Garden? I’m sure the royal gardeners would appreciate the help. Honestly, though, I saw this title and I couldn’t help but giggle. I immediately pictured 8 people who would be the 8 “tools”. This is the downside of all this reimagining the English language. I get totally sidetracked from my true purpose.

4) No wedding is complete without a life-size cutout of the bride and groom. Don’t scoff. I know it’s not the usual thing to have at your wedding, but I think William and Catherine are going to be trendsetters with this one. If they were smart, they could have one made of them doing the royal wave so they can take a snack break or something. Perhaps if that one worked well, they could split the receiving line in two. No? Okay, maybe they should just place it artfully somewhere in their house, er, castle? to be admired by guests.

5) Weddings are great for useful kitchen gadget gifts…like pizza cutters!! And this hip royal couple (who I hope are kinda geeky, tech savvy types since that’s all I’m gifting them) would surely appreciate a pizza cutter in the shape of the Star Trek Enterprise. It’s perfect for those quiet Friday nights after a long week of…engagements (the royal kind) and all you want is to call and order a double pepperoni. Of course we all know that you have to cut the slices again after delivery. Why not do it in geeky style?

6) The iCADE iPad Holder Case Arcade Cabinet(!). Play on your royal iPad in style on that honeymoon journey with this sweet little slice of life. It’s the easiest way to go retro in modern style. The portability is much improved over it’s 1980s counterparts. Playing Pac-Man has never been so much fun as when you get to do it old school style - with a joystick. Who needs an accelerometer anyway? Silly Apple. They really missed the boat with all these i-things.

7) A secret decoder ring. William and Catherine are royals and as such privacy and discretion is key. How will they whisper sweet nothings to each other without someone overhearing? Well, why not skip all the bling that usually ends up on your ring finger after the wedding and go with something really practical. This decoder ring would make communication so much easier and discreet. Downside is apparently you have to write it out to decode. That’s tricky. Is there an app for that instead?

8) “All the fun of candles without the danger”. Imagine the possibilities. A free evening with no state dinners or other such engagements to attend. Just William and Catherine with free time to spend a romantic evening together. How do you have a candlelight dinner and prevent a fire? Well, of course they do it with LED candles - you can even blow them out. How nice would it be to not have to search for matches or a lighter?

9) Good geeks like to bake…cookies…and store them in a lovely cookie jar. For those lazy weekend afternoons when the newlyweds decide to do some baking together, this handy dandy zombie cookie jar will give them the perfect place to store their goodies. My guess is that it will remind them of the happiness they experienced throughout their honeymoon as they play Plants vs. Zombies side-by-side on the plane, cheering each other on. The only way this cookie jar could get better is if it said, “BRAINS!”, when you open the lid. That’s also valuable when somone has their hand in the cookie jar a little too often!

10) You know it’s gonna happen, so you might as well just start getting ready. “William and Catherine sittin’ in a tree. K. I. S. S. I. N. G. First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes the baby in the baby carriage! *gasp* A baby! Who knows when - I won’t pretend to know their plans, but the likelihood is great with all that pressure on William to produce an heir to the thrown. So, what’s a busy royal couple to do when they have to leave the baby behind and go to their royal engagements? This remotely soothing baby monitor is the answer to all their parenting needs. How excited would they be to open this on their wedding day!? I bet you would be too.

So, what do you think? Are these presents worthy to be in the royal house of William and Catherine? And, more importantly, which one do YOU want?

Day 05 - Something you hope to do in your life.

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky (Relishing.ca)It’s such a small thing - this thing I want to do. But it has eluded me for 15 years.

I want to sing in a wedding.

I was even asked - twice. I’ll never forget the first time.

After receiving an invitation to a friend’s wedding in 2000 that I didn’t really feel right about attending (long story), she called the week of the wedding and I felt terrible so I said I would go. I had no reason not to.

I sat at a table with a group of people who were once close friends of mine. My life path went in a different direction and though we parted ways gradually and without malice, I felt awkward nonetheless. I didn’t know what to say to them anymore.

One of the group was at an adjacent table with his fiancée. She was a little older than he was and had three kids - he was only 25 or 26, so there were eye brows raised more than once as conversation flowed. This was my first time meeting her, seeing them as a couple. My friend (I’ll call him Tim) apparently told his fiancée (I’ll call her Tina) that he used to sing duets with me and was complimentary of my abilities. So, without hearing me sing, she came over and asked me to sing in their wedding. 

I was thrilled! It was out-of-the-blue, totally unexpected and completely flattering to me that she asked. I happily gave her my number and she said she would call.

That was in September.

I happened to see Tim come into the retail store that I worked nights in November - roughly two months later. He saw me too and came over to say hello. Though my phone had never rung with the call from him or Tina, he also didn’t mention the invitation to sing. He did mention that his wedding was taking place on the coming Saturday (news to me).

So, not only was I not invited to sing at his wedding any longer, I was also not invited to the wedding. 

Ouch.

I’m not totally sure why I was excluded, though it may have had something to do with that long story I mentioned earlier. Either way, it was disappointing. It hurt, but mostly I was just excited to get to sing at a wedding.

My second invitation to sing was when I was supposed to sing at my brother’s wedding, but we were having some technical difficulties prior to the ceremony. I misread the cue from the guy handling them (he said it was working and to go ahead - I thought he said it wasn’t working) so I didn’t sing even though everything was all ready for me to belt it out. That was disappointing for me and my brother, who’d genuinely wanted me to sing for his wedding.

Maybe one day I’ll get to sing at a wedding, but I’ll need to start doing some warm-ups soon. I’m so far out of practice, it’ll likely take me years to catch up. Maybe I can be ready by the time Brandon’s ready to get married. ;)

*****

This post is all about truth - Day 5 of my 30 Days of Truth. I’m not the only one, so here are others if you’re interested in getting to know other bloggers.

To gift or not to gift

Today Matt and I got an email saying that we can expect to get an invitation to a wedding that is to take place this coming August. This is a family wedding, but neither of us even know the family members’ names, nor would we recognize them if we saw them out in public somewhere. I don’t think they would recognize us either. So, I have absolutely no idea why we’re getting an invitation.

Or is this just a ploy to get a gift? Not knowing them, I can’t make a judgment, but I suspect that could be part of it since wedding etiquette says you’re supposed to send a gift if you’re invited, even if you don’t attend the wedding. So, do we give them a gift? I think there should be further wedding etiquette that you have to know what someone looks like if you’re going to invite them to a wedding.

Matt and I had a quick chat about what we’re going to do and we decided we’re going to do nothing. The invite will come and we’re not going to go to the wedding, nor will we send a gift. It won’t mean a thing to them if we did. My personal feeling is that when I had my wedding, it was a special event where people that I knew or who were very close to mine or Matt’s immediate family came to gather. It was a fabulous time and I’m very glad that I didn’t invite people just to bulk up the numbers. The things we received from our friends and family still mean something to both of us - especially when I look at or use those things and remember our special day.