Month: October 2016

To Be or Not To Be (a Parent)?

Babies are cute, aren’t they? I know. How about screaming babies? Do you find them cute? Or rather annoying?

Let’s just admit it – no one likes it when a baby weeps even if it’s the sweetest creature on Earth. But hey, that doesn’t make you a horrible person.

Screaming babies drive me nuts. And wherever I go, they always seem to find me. On planes, in grocery stores, parks, by the lake, and even in the laundromat. Can’t see what those parents were thinking, but I also saw a baby at a rock concert once. Maybe I’m too conservative, but really? They all smile at first, some of them even giggle, but it’s only a matter of time before they change their mood and the shrieking begins. And I don’t mean the sound of a whimpering cute little dumpling, I mean that screech that sounds like the poor thing was being tortured.

I grew up the same as ninety-nine percent of the female population: with the idea of having babies one day. I don’t know what caused my change of heart – my unpredictable lifestyle, seeing the struggle of my friends, or the lack of meeting potential father figures in the past few years – but I’ve become unsure if I want to be a mom, and these random episodes with wailing infants aren’t encouraging me to go back to the original “plans.” Or let’s say, fulfilling “traditional expectations.”

I was on vacation in Italy last year and spent one of my mornings in a beautiful but overcrowded and, for my taste, too touristy town. By lunch time, I was dying to have some peace and quietness. So, instead of going to a packed restaurant, I decided to buy a slice of pizza and take it to a bench by the lake. Sadly, so did a French family with their toddler. A cute little unbearable anger ball.

How loud do you think a baby can cry? I did some research, so let me give you a little guidance. The limit that a human ear can comfortably accommodate is around 90 dB. A jackhammer measures 105 dB – hence we can barely stand it – and the sound of a rock concert reaches 120 dB. But all this is a piece of cake compared to a baby’s cry, which can go up to 122 dB! Need I say more?

I have no idea what happened to that little French fellow, but he wailed like a banshee. And not only that, but he also threw himself on the ground (and I was trying so hard not to guess how many people spat or peed there before) and was kicking around, twisting his small body, and bawling his head off. Yet, his parents didn’t seem to care. Good for them! They looked so relaxed, it was almost irritating.

I get irked in such situations and the way I try to distract myself is by thinking how much worse this is for the parents. Only, in this case, this didn’t seem to apply. “Does this happen so often that they’ve become immune to the voice of their own child?” I wondered.

I’m clearly not ready for this journey, and lately, it occurred to me that I might never be. Is this strange?Unconventional? Does it bother my parents? Maybe. Is it acceptable? Is it my call? Definitely. I don’t think that everyone needs to have a baby or that raising a child is the ultimate purpose of a woman’s life. And I don’t think that just because someone doesn’t want any, she is a horrible and unhappy person, who will never have a fulfilling life.

What’s wrong with being different? Why do people raise their eyebrows when a woman openly admits that she is too selfish and irresponsible to be willing to take care of another human being? And why do some people think that judgmental comments or sympathetic looks would turn everything around?

I might or might not change my mind in the future, I don’t know. But the one thing I’m sure about is that I don’t need a baby to feel that I have a purpose in life. But who knows, a friend of mine says that it’s not up to me. It’s the hormones. He said that no matter how I feel now, I would wake up one day with an unbearable urge to push a baby out of my vagina. If we put it this way, I wouldn’t make a bet on that.

I don’t want to give you the false impression, though. I like babies. And they like me. Even the grumpiest ones grin when I hold them. (Maybe they do that just because they’re pooping in my arms and they know it.) But there is something beautiful in the moment when I can hand them back to their parents.

I adore moms. My mom, who’s been one for over thirty years; my girlfriends, who’ve been trying their hands at this new challenge and doing so wonderfully well. I admire you all; I’m just not sure if I want to join you in the fun.

Would you rather read know my truth about online dating?

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Looking for Prince Charming

“Not tall enough. Too tall. Sandals? Oh boy! Cuddling with a kitten? Not manly enough. He doesn’t like cats? He has no heart. Posing in the mirror in underwear? What a self-obsessed moron! Doesn’t do any sport. Can’t relate to that.”

I’m not a judgmental person in real life. How can I be the exact opposite when it comes to filtering online dating profiles?

“Baseball cap with a straight stiff bill – are you 50 Cent, or what? I want hair. More on the head, less on the body, please. I’m not sure if I want kids or not, but he says he doesn’t want any? No. No-no-no. He HAS to be wanting kids. Eventually. Too old. Too young. Old enough but looks too young. Unattractive. Way too attractive.

Looks totally different in all his pictures, which one is the reality? Is that your ex-girlfriend next to you in that photo? Cute, but really? Argh… another photo with his car… and a half-naked picture. OK, let’s not be so harsh on him. There’s nothing wrong about being proud of his body or car, he certainly has worked hard for both. Oh, that’s not your niece but your daughter? How adorable! Or not.

Come on, girl, give a chance to this guy, he’s just a couple of inches shorter; you hate high heels anyway. Looking for a “relatively” intelligent woman? What does that even mean?

Looks like my ex-boyfriend. Doesn’t look anything like my ex-boyfriend.”

No matter what, he is just not right. I’m going to die alone.

Online dating is a weird mess. It’s this “thing” that nobody really believes in, but everybody tries (only once, of course) and gets hooked on because we all like compliments, even if they come from complete strangers or people we would never even notice in real life. And you also hear these stories how your friends’ friends met online and got married. So, how dare you not give it a chance, right?

For me, it all started with a research I was doing for a screenplay I’m working on. (See how we even lie about it?) And also out of boredom. I like meeting new people, and the Internet offers the opportunity to get to know thousands of interesting strangers from all walks of life on a silver platter. I went on a couple of dates, and even though I never got into anything serious, I almost always had a good time (or at least, an experience that makes a good story) and made some new friends.

(By the way, the research part is true. I’m writing a screenplay about a liberal, free-spirited grandma and wanted to see what’s out there for people at this age. Too bad, you can’t sneak around on the page without people knowing that you visited their profiles. Imagine how surprised – or flattered – the eighty-year-old grandpas were when they saw that I checked them out.)

One time, I went on a date with a guy in London. He took me to a really nice bar I’ve never been to. He was kind but also funny and laid-back; we got along really well, and I could almost see us as a couple already. Until we sat down and he moved closer to me. His breath stank like sewage, rotten eggs, and garlic all at once. And that was it. I couldn’t deal with it. We spent hours together (me keeping a safe distance from his mouth); laughed and talked, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I didn’t want to kiss him. End of story.

There was a positive outcome, though. A week after this less than ideal rendezvous, I took a girlfriend of mine to the exact same bar to celebrate her promotion. While I was waiting for our drinks, a guy with a cute smile approached me and we hit it off right away. (After I ran a quick, secret smell-check on his breath, of course.) We spent the whole night talking and walking around the city and had our first real date the very next day, and it was one of the best first dates I’ve ever been to.

Have you read my story about the LA creep?

LA – The City of Angels or Creeps?

I’m in Los Angeles right now and am staying in Venice, which is the part of town where skateboarders, artists, fortune-tellers, and hippies like to hang out. As I was strolling down the Venice Beach Boardwalk, trying to avoid eye contact with the dozens of homeless people and hipsters, memories rushed through my brain. There was one I recalled particularly detailed. One that burned itself into my mind forever, one that I don’t like remembering.

It happened a few years ago when I first visited the City of Angels. I found myself in a disturbing situation, but thanks to my intuition, I got out of it. You might not believe in “sixth sense,” but I’m sure you all know what it’s like to encounter someone that gives you the feeling that something is “off” and you just want to get away from that person. The one that makes you uncomfortable purely by his presence.

I didn’t know the city at all that time, and just like in every place I ever visited, I was going to use public transportation to get around. My American friends thought I’d lost my mind when I told them about this plan. They weren’t even sure if a public transportation system existed in LA. Americans drive here, but there are many subway and bus lines all over the city and they are safe to use. Except when they are not.

I stayed in a hostel in a somewhat dodgy neighborhood and the nearest subway station was a fifteen-minute drive away. Thanks to the generosity of the staff, this wasn’t an issue as they offered a free lift from the station whenever you needed. You just had to call them and wait for the pick-up. I must say, though, you didn’t want to hang around by yourself too long in that neighborhood. It was right next to a highway and there was nothing around. No shops, no bars, no restaurants, no public phones, no gas stations, and no people. And not much street lighting.

I took the subway from Downtown LA. I was standing on the platform, waiting for the train, and minding my own business when I saw a creepy guy hovering around and glancing at me from time to time. He shuffled closer and closer, and his occasional looks became constant stares, which made me nervous. I couldn’t tell why, but I didn’t like the guy. He was giving off this unsettling vibe, and somehow I knew he was going to try to talk to me and was already thinking of ways of how to get out of an unwanted conversation. Surprise, surprise, a moment later, he stood right next to me and asked me where I was heading to. My inner alarm went off, but I didn’t want to seem nervous, so I told him I was going south. (Which he already knew based on the side of platform I was standing on.)

The train came and we both got on. I sat down sideways, facing the window to minimize the chance of having to look at him, but this didn’t make it more difficult for him. He moved to the closest seat that was looking into my direction and started staring at me. I could see him out of the corner of my eye and I could feel his gaze on me. He wasn’t looking away for a second. After a few minutes, I felt so uneasy that I had to move.

I didn’t want to be too conspicuous, so I lingered around for a while and pretended that I preferred standing, but then moved over to a seat farther away from him. I could still see him, which meant that he could see me too, and I felt his eyes on me again.

By then, I was sure that he was up to something. Something that couldn’t be good. I could feel it. I started to panic. I knew that he was going to get off at the same stop as me, and I didn’t even want to imagine what could happen once we were alone in that godforsaken neighborhood. I didn’t know what to do, but it was indubitable that I couldn’t let him get off at the same station because my inner alarm was screaming inside me. I felt sick.

We were only two stops away from my destination, so I needed to come up with something rather quickly. As the train was slowing down to approach the next station, I jumped up and made my way to the door. I kept an eye on the guy, who raised from his seat, too, and moved to the door closest to him while still staring at me.

The train stopped and the doors opened. I hopped off and stayed so close to the metro car that my left shoulder was rubbing onto the dirty metal surface. Other passengers were moaning because I was in their way, but I didn’t care.

The moment I heard the “Stand clear of the closing doors, please!” announcement, I jumped back on, clutching onto my backpack, which almost got smashed by the closing doors. My heart was pounding like it wanted to burst out of my chest. I was trying to calm down and looked through the door window. The guy stood right in front of me, staring into my face. His eyes flared, incandescent with rage, and I breathed a sigh of relief as we were moving along and his face was fading away into the distance.

Fancy another creepy story?