Sunday, February 22, 2009


Tomorrow the world will change. And not just the world of one Chicago couple…but the whole world.

Your arrival will change everything.

You’ve taken nearly ten months to get to this point, and now your mother (impatient as always) is ready to get you out of her body and into her arms. By sheer force of your mom’s will (and maybe a little Pitocin), you should be with us sometime tomorrow.

It kind of blows my mind that you’ll be here so soon. I mean, I’ve known this day was coming for a while now, but the fact that sometime tomorrow I’ll get a call (followed promptly by a little picture of you on my cell phone), well it’s hard to wrap my head around. But it’s all I can think about. You. I don't even know your name yet, but all I can think about is how you’re gonna change the world.

No pressure or anything. I don’t mean you have to be president or join the peace corps or cure cancer. I just mean – well, 40 weeks ago the world was on one course, but now, upon your arrival, everything will be different.

Certainly things will be different for your parents. While I know they will go to great pains to not become that couple, I suspect their non-stop schedule will slow down slightly. And while I know their lives will change in all the obvious immediate ways, I wonder how you will change them for the long term. And what other lives will you change? Certainly mine. I already love you more than I would have thought possible, and you’re not even here yet. I’m desperate to meet you, to hold you, to look into the big brown eyes I know you will have and tell you that I will always, always be there for you. Always.

I know. I’m getting all sappy. But since your mom isn’t really the type to coo at her big belly, I figure you can suffer through a bit of cooing from your aunt.

You’ll change our lives, no doubt, but I wonder who else you’ll encounter and in what ways you will change them. Will you be kind and gentle with their feelings? Will you be open with your heart or slow to show your emotions? Will you be the leader of the group or more of a loner? What causes will you champion? What passions will you hold dear? And more importantly (to your dad at least), what music will you like?

I don’t know who you’ll be yet, but that’s kind of the magic of this whole thing, huh? You can be anything. Princess or punk rocker; superhero or school teacher. And no matter what choices you make or who you become, you’ll have a whole team of people behind you who love you unconditionally.

And I’ll be one of them.

I can't wait.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The magical mind-reading man.

I’ve been married nearly seven years. I know; it’s hard to believe (at least, it’s hard for me to believe because I still think I’m twenty-two years old), but it’s true – seven years! And while seven years of wedded bliss hardly qualifies me as a marriage counselor, this rarely stops me from doling out the relationship advice to anyone who will listen. And my number one secret to a happy relationship? Communication, which is a pretty broad way of saying: ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED. Because no matter how much you love someone, no matter how long you’ve been together, neither of you has ESP. You cannot read each other’s minds. You have to SAY what it is you expect/want the other to do. Out loud. In words. It’s not exactly romantic, but this is the secret to my marital bliss.

Which is why my actions this past Monday made no sense whatsoever.

So I get into my car after work, and as usual, I call Roger to tell him I’m on my way. I do this primarily to give him a timeframe for wrapping up whatever stupid Xbox game he’s playing. Occasionally I will also use this phone call to ask him to preheat the oven or take something out of the freezer. On this particular Monday, I ask him to take the pork tenderloin out of the fridge. I can hear him rattling around the kitchen, the TV on in the background, and for some reason, I’m suddenly irritated by the fact that he’s already home – probably in his pj’s – and I still have a forty minute commute ahead of me. I’m cranky; I’m hungry; I think I’m getting sick, and I really don’t feel like cooking. In fact, I just want dinner to be magically ready when I walk in the door.

But for some reason, I don’t say any of this. Despite the fact that my husband is perfectly capable of unwrapping the already marinated pork and placing it in the oven with the washed and precut veggies, I don’t ask him to do it. Instead, when he asks, “Do you want me to do anything else?” I simply say “No” and “Love you.” before sliding my cute little red phone closed. But as I let my phone fall to my lap I hear myself shouting, “Well, you could start COOKING, Butthead!”

Forty-two minutes later, I open the door to our apartment to the incredible smell of peppercorn pork and garlic roasted veggies. My perfect husband stands at the oven – hot pad in hand. I stop in my tracks; torn between the urge to tear off my clothes to express my gratification and the desire to tear into the perfectly prepared dinner. Roger looks like my own personal Adonis – peering into the oven, acting all nonchalant about the whole thing. And why wouldn’t he be? It’s not like he can’t cook – he can. But I tend to be a bit of a control freak when it comes to food, so I've accepted the tasks of grocery shopping and cooking. That’s just how we do it. It’s what works for us. Which I guess is why I didn’t ask him to start cooking when I called home earlier in the evening. Because cooking is my nightly task. He doesn’t ask me to hang pictures or program the DVR or take out the dog at night…so I don’t ask him to cook. But on this night, on this magical night, he somehow knew that cooking was the last thing I wanted to do. He knew…somehow he knew…it was almost like he read my mind…

I’m still frozen in the doorway, stumbling over my words of gratitude when it occurs to me – Roger doesn’t have ESP. And as much as he loves me – he rarely does things without being asked. I glance down at the cute little red phone in my hand, and suddenly this moment doesn’t seem so magical.

See, my cute little red phone is not a flip phone. It’s a slide phone. And unlike a flip phone that ends the call when flipped shut, my slide phone does not end the call when slid shut. The call continues until you press the “end call” button or the other person hangs up. This is a flaw in the design, if you ask me, and while I’m fully aware of this flaw in the phone, I wasn’t exactly thinking about it when I launched into my mini-rant in the car (“You could start COOKING, Butthead!”). My face turns red with the realization that my tantrum was possibly – no, probably – heard by my oh-so-perfect husband.

I’m suddenly riddled with guilt, though I’m not exactly sure why. I didn’t do anything wrong, really. Sure, I guess if I wanted him to cook, all I had to do was ask. I didn’t have to act like such a child about it. But on the other hand, he’s acting particularly coy about the whole thing. In fact, I bet he thinks he’s pretty sneaky – letting me think he’s magically read my mind. Making me think he’s this perfect husband. As if! How dare he act like a mind reader who can just make me happy anytime he feels like it?

I can't cope. We’re no more than two bites into dinner before I blurt out, “You heard me right? On the phone?” Roger looks up, feigning confusion. “I don’t know why I said it...or didn't say it,” I continue, flustered. “You’re not a butthead!” I add pathetically before shoving another bite of the delicious pork into my mouth. But the confusion on Roger’s face is genuine, and I immediately regret my need to overanalyze what was obviously a rare moment of marital ESP.

“What are you talking about?” Roger asks, already cracking up at my obvious discomfort with the situation. I launch into my confession, trying to ignore Roger’s smug expression. I’m rarely in the wrong though, so I decide to let him have this little moment.

My sometimes-perfect husband…the occasional mind-reader.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I'm sure you've noticed by now that my quirky neuroses walks a pretty fine line with straight-up crazy. Having meltdowns in the grocery store over which oatmeal to buy. Screaming in the car. Putting novels in the washing machine. Hiding peanut-butter from myself. Obsessing over everything from how much to tip the Starbucks guy to whether or not the girl in the cafeteria at work is judging my eating habits. These are not the actions of a normal person.

You know what else isn't completely normal? The voices. In my head. Actually, it's mostly just the one - and it sounds a lot like me, and occasionally, Sarah Jessica Parker. I wonder if this is a problem for all writers - or bloggers anyway. You start to go through your day with a narrator in your head. Commenting on every moment, every interaction, and interpreting it the way you would in your blog. Moments that might normally pass by unnoticed are constantly evaluated for their blog worthiness, for their capacity to make you - the audience - laugh or think or cry. You'd be surprised at how many blog worthy moments there are in a single day. I don't even have to leave the apartment to find them. My impossibly charming husband provides me with material on a daily basis.

The problem is finding the time to transcribe these moments from the narrator in my head to the computer on my lap. Time. I'm not sure where it goes anymore! Dare I say it? For the first time in a long time, I think I'm "busy."

Part of the reason I'm busy is because I signed up last week to run a half-marathon with Team in Training, a group supporting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's mission to end blood cancer. (I know; a half marathon? But we've already established that I'm crazy.)

So it's not that I didn't write anything this week. Because I did. And right now I'm going to invite you to go here to read it. Please take a moment to visit my fundraising page and find out why Team in Training's mission is so close to my heart.

Robyn's Team in Training Fundraising Page

Thanks for your support, and don't worry, plenty more to come from the voices in my head next week.

(Oh, and congrats to Steph and Cathleen for loving the movie Pretty Woman as much as me.)

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I’m proud to report that my first couple weeks on the job have been a success. Successful in that 1) They seem to want me to keep coming back, and 2) I think I actually like what I’m doing. Seriously. I keep waiting for them to tell me that in addition to research and writing, I’m also expected to make 500 cold calls a day or scrub the men’s room toilets. I’m joking of course...kind of. I mean, I’m sure the proverbial toilet brush will be handed to me eventually (because no job is perfect), but at the moment, I’m still pinching myself.

I think part of my giddiness stems from the sheer normalcy of my life at the moment. Friday morning, as I sipped coffee from my travel mug while listening to the Bert Show in traffic, I couldn’t help but think how nice it is to be back in Atlanta. It’s not that Johannesburg wasn’t a great place to live – it was – but it never felt normal. And I think it never felt normal because I knew from day one that it was only temporary. Does that make sense? I mean, I guess you could say everything is temporary. In this day and age, it’s rare to spend most of your life in one city or one job or even one relationship; however, I still think that most of us make decisions based on the assumption that what life looks like today isn’t all that different from what it will look like next week or next month or next year.

But when you know that the life you are living is definitely not the life you will have, well, it makes you see and do things differently. In fact, I don’t think I realized until recently just how much my temporary mindset affected my life in South Africa. From where we chose to live (had it been long term there’s no way in hell I could’ve lived in the M-I-L’s backyard!) to the work I did (my status as a temporary resident limited my work to "freelance") to the way I spent money (I’m not much of a shopper anyway, but knowing I would have to haul it all back one day kept me from buying much at all) to the way I enjoyed the "South African lifestyle" (from the swimming pool to the maid, I was constantly feeling guilty and reminding myself to not get too used to it!). And of course, knowing my life there was temporary certainly affected my relationships. How could it not? As much as I tried to open myself up to people and possibilities, I always felt a little like an outsider. And that was my own fault.

I’m not saying I have regrets or that I would’ve done anything differently. I’m not sure that I could have done anything differently. But it’s nice to feel like I’m back in my “real” life, a life that isn’t temporary. A life where I can make Plans. Social Plans including a girls’ weekend trip, out of town weddings, and of course, Buffestalo. Living on the opposite side of the planet precluded me from attending these types of events, and even before that, my job in real estate often prevented me from taking part in weekend activities, so it’s nice to finally be able to make these kinds of Plans. And of course, we’re starting to talk about some Big Plans too. Plans to buy a house one day, maybe try to have a baby…not anytime soon, of course, but it’s nice to be in a situation where we can at least talk about making Plans.

But of course, as much as I’m loving these Big Plans, I wouldn’t be me if some tiny part of me wasn’t slightly panicking too. There’s a voice in my head saying, “Actually, no, I’m not a planner. Me, I’m kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gal, you know, moment-to-moment...that’s me.” (This voice sounds a lot like Julia Roberts. Bonus points if you can name the movie.) But maybe that’s not me anymore. While I’ve always taken some pride in my history of spontaneity, maybe I’m no longer that girl. Maybe now I’m someone who makes Plans.

Then again, perhaps…well, isn't it possible that I’m both? That I've always been both? Can't I be someone who makes Plans but is open to a Change of Plans too? And maybe that’s a good thing, because really, who are we kidding? Life rarely lets us follow the plans we make anyway. So maybe it’s best to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl…who just happens to have a Plan.