Friday, February 25, 2011

Choices, Choices

Lately I've been thinking about choices. I've touched on this in a previous blog, but I wonder if sometimes it's hindering to have too many options - like I have the whole world in my palm and I can make anything of myself if I just put some elbow grease into it. I sometimes feel so overwhelmed with where I can go in life, that it almost paralyzes me - it's scary to move forward, so I end up just standing still. I don't like to make decisions because if I choose the "wrong" thing, all I'm left with is regret and wondering "What if?"

Some choices seem easy - where to eat dinner tonight, what drink to get at happy hour, should I wear a scarf today. Even then, I struggle with making a decision. So forget about making significant choices like career, living situation, relationship. It's been a goal of mine to be more decisive - trust me, I know how frustrating it can be when you're out with someone and they ask, "Where do you want to sit?" and it takes 20 minutes to figure it out. Or how irritating it can be when someone says, "I don't care. You pick," every single time. That's me in a nutshell - leaving decisions to other people so that I don't have to make them.

This is why I excelled so much when I was younger. There were structured decisions - taking honors classes in high school, getting involved in this club, applying to this college, majoring in this subject, interning at this company. All of it was guided, for the most part. There was an unwritten manual that helped guide you to the next logical step. Adulthood? Nope. No such manual. It's an off-beaten path, so you have to make your own road.

This is a lot harder than I imagined. As a teenager and young adult, I only thought about what my next step was and what my immediate goals were. And my life changed pretty regularly from year to year - always moving, taking new classes, meeting new people. Now, I'm in a state of stability, which ironically makes me restless. Not because it's boring (well, at times it can be. Watching movies on a Friday night and bedtime by 9? Check.), but because I get nervous that maybe I'm not supposed to be "stable" yet. Shouldn't I be off galavanting in big cities, traveling the world or writing a novel? Or is it perfectly acceptable to just go to work, keep active, see my friends and family, go to bed at a decent hour, pay my bills and just live in my routine?

See, more questions. More choices. I know my neuroses is clearly showing here, but is there anyone else out there who feels/has felt like this? Anyone? All 2 of you reading this right now?

I'm very comfortable with my life right now, and as someone who welcomed change in the past, you'd think I'd be all for rocking the boat - like changing careers or moving to a cool midtown apartment away from the comfort of the suburbs. Is change necessary even when life is going well?

The reason I wonder all of this is because I always want to be growing - always want to be learning. I never want to rest on my laurels and just accept life as it comes. I want to make my life and feel somewhat in control of it. I'm 25 - this is not the time to be settling, by any means. I don't want to be on auto-pilot and wake up in 10 years, regretting that I didn't take certain chances.

So there it is. My latest analytical drama. If anyone has any thoughts or advice, I'd gladly welcome it! Just don't ask me to make any decisions, though. It might take awhile.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thank You, Planned Parenthood

After hearing that the House of Representatives recently passed a bill to restrict federal funds from Planned Parenthood, I about lost my mind.

Of course, most people (read: conservative people) assume PP is just an abortion-performing machine (News flash! All kinds of doctors perform abortions outside of PP). I also think a lot of people who are against PP have never stepped foot in one. So this is why I felt compelled to write this blog. It does go into my personal story a bit (sorry, family members! I'm 25 and have been in serious relationships before, so the jig is up), but I feel like it's necessary to hear how such an important organization has touched the lives of many different people, including regular ol' me.

In high school, I first learned what Planned Parenthood was from my sister. I was lucky enough to have an older sister who knew about this stuff - I don't know how other teenagers would learn about this, especially in such a small (and small-minded) town as the one I grew up in. We were not low-income by any means, so my parents could easily afford to get me on the pill. And therein lies the rub.

What teenager would willingly and openly go to their parents to get them on birth control? I could barely tell my mom when I got my first period. I remember sitting in the living room with her after dinner, watching "Wheel of Fortune" or something. In my head, I was pressuring myself over and over, "Do it, Tracy! Just do it! Just tell her!" I finally blurted it out, but because of my nerves, it came out almost as one word: "Mom-I-started-my-period!"

Of course, she feigned excitement because this is the lie women have been telling younger girls for years - that it's the sign of "becoming a woman," when really it's a shitty, monthly inconvenience that we women would trade with men any day.

So, my point is this: if I could barely discuss normal, run-of-the-mill body issues with my mom, there was no way in hell I was going to ask for something that implicitly stated I wanted to get down to business with a guy.

Thankfully, I had friends and a sister I could talk to about this, and on our own, we figured out where to go (in the biiiiig city of Reno, Nevada) to find this hidden little clinic. I was nervous beyond belief to go there. I thought I would instantly be thrown out or that my dad would somehow know where I was and find me. It was terrifying, and it didn't get much better once I got there and had to answer personal questions about my sexual health. I couldn't talk to my parents about this, and now I have to tell some stranger if I'm sexually active or not?

I remember the nurse that helped me like it was yesterday. She answered every question I had without judgment and without making me feel like I was doing something wrong (because heaven forbid I take my health into my own hands). She explained everything clearly, about how the pill worked and how I needed to come back in 3 months to see if it was working well for me.

I went back to PP every few months to get birth control (FREE birth control, mind you. How much can a minimum wage-earning teen afford?). I remember one time, after waiting a good 2 hours (which was normal), the nurse told me she was being told to only give out 1 month's worth of pills to people because of funding cuts. I was horrified. Then you know what she did? She gave me 10 month's worth because she knew how vital it was. That lady is an angel! I will never forget that.

And that was the beginning of my years on birth control. Thanks to Planned Parenthood, I have not been knocked up by an asshole boyfriend. Thanks to them, I didn't have to deal with mind-numbing cramps or worrying about if my period would come unexpectedly and seep through the back of my cheerleading uniform.

And thanks to being on the pill, I did not have to face the decision to have an abortion or not to have one. The idea of going to my dad as a teenager and telling him I'm pregnant was the equivalent of committing suicide.

I quickly spread the word to other friends about PP, and even accompanied a couple of them in the waiting room. I know other friends of mine used their services for STD testing, too. Gasp! Young people taking care of themselves. Yes, we must defund such an awful organization that respects young people's privacy and choices.

I know the idea of abortion and young people having sex are scary thoughts to adults. When I look at my cousins who are now in high school, I still view them as the little kids running around at Grams' house. So I understand that mentality of wanting to protect young people in any way we can.

But defunding Planned Parenthood is not the way to go about it.

If anything, talking to a nurse about peeing in a cup so that she can check for chlamydia is enough to scare a lot of kids straight.

Young people are going to have sex - and as countless studies have shown, abstinence-only education is ineffective and even dangerous. Areas that promote it actually see higher rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.

And really, how realistic is it to wait until marriage when people are putting that off until their 30s?

So, I just want to say thanks to Planned Parenthood. Their employees always treated me with respect, which is hard to come by as a teenager. Most people brush you off and assume you don't know anything because you're young. But Planned Parenthood let me make decisions for myself, for which I will be eternally grateful.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Older...and Wiser?

Last week I celebrated my 25th birthday, which is a big milestone if you're excited about renting a car for cheaper.

I actually get excited about every birthday, milestone or not - mostly because it's a day when I get a lot of attention. It's funny that even though every single one of us has a birthday, we act like the world centers around our own individual birthdays. Like as if each person with a birthday is the first to have one. Regardless - it's a day when I can feel totally special.

My parents were in town, so they took me to lunch. My co-workers decorated my office in pink galore. I even got THREE sets of flowers - one from Steve, another from my sister and then from my friend Erica. Ahhh, it was a good day. I ended the day with drinks and pizza at this new place downtown called Dive Bar where there's a tank with actual mermaids! OK, not actual ones, but just humans dressed as them.

Besides feeling special, I feel like birthdays are a time to reflect on life (as if I don't do enough of that already) and if I'm happy where I am at any given age. I'm not sure where I really pictured myself at 25, but overall, I feel like I'm where I want to be - living on my own and being a career girl.

I also think about happiness a lot. I'm always sitting at the edge of my seat, waiting for that turning point to happen when everything just fits together like a puzzle piece and I'm brimming with joy every day. But who's to say that's the definition of happiness? Maybe happiness is just being content, not shitting rainbows every day. Maybe I've been overlooking what I have and not realizing that I don't need to wait around for anything - I'm already happy! It's like that famous quote: "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." So very true. I need to work on living in the present more.

In other updates, last week I had an embarrassing moment when I went to lunch with my co-workers. Now, for anyone that knows me, you'll know how much I loathe seeing people I know unexpectedly in public. Even seeing people I enjoy being around - it's a weird thing I have about seeing people outside of where I'm expecting to see them. I've been cursed with this affliction since childhood. I remember seeing a boy from school at the grocery store and almost peeing my My Little Pony underwear.

Anyway, I went to lunch to a place I rarely go, and in the parking lot I spot the car of a guy I went on like 2 "dates" with back in the fall. He was the guy whose mom is in my yoga class, and she actually got my number to give to him (umm, yes I noticed this as a red flag from the get-go). We hung out a couple times, and it went nowhere. He was just not my style. So I noticed his car in front of another restaurant, and I assumed he was there.

Nope. I spotted him once we were inside the place, and I turned 6 shades of red. Then what do I get? A text from a number not in my phone saying "I see you." Shit. No getting out of this one. So I popped over and said hi. Thankfully he was with his mom, whom I really like, so that made it less awkward. Ugh, I just hate seeing people I know in public! As I wrote in my last blog, my social graces are somewhat lacking when I'm caught off guard. I tend to say very ridiculous things. Like when I blurted out to them out of nowhere when it got silent, "Yesterday was my birthday!" Umm, Trace. No one gives a shit. Just stick with the weather. That's always a safe haven.

In other news, I slept more this weekend than I have in a long time. I went to bed at 9 p.m. on Saturday. Yeah, yeah. Break out the single lady jokes about crocheting and cuddling with my cat. Now I'm a grandma to boot. But I must admit - I awoke on Sunday feeling like a million bucks. Nothing beats a complete night of sleep!

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. I'm heading to San Diego for my grandma's memorial. OK, so that part is not exactly the type of hootenanny you look forward to, but I love spending time with my family. There's nothing I enjoy more! I'm also going to a spa - overnight! - with my sister and cousin. Sure, I'm poorer than Oliver Twist, but we planned this months ago, and I'm not going to let a little financial bump get in the way of one little (and much-needed) splurge.

So far, the start to my 25th year has been great.....and happy :)