Monday, January 31, 2011

Reason 812 why I love a good conversation.

There are very few things in life I genuinely appreciate as much as good conversation.  Not just small talk, but where the conversation becomes a living, dynamic part of the company.  Over time I've come to realize that good conversation does not come from good topics, but from good conversationalists. 

812 Attributes of an Excellent Conversationalist

1. They make their point and elaborate on it, but don't harp on restating it over and over simply with different wording.
2. They don't create filler just to lead and dominate the conversation.
3. Unless they point they are making or story they are telling is extremely important, they will let the topic derail and move onto whatever flows next.
4. This isn't small talk.
5. They do not agree with everything you say for the sake of agreement.  They will be able to elaborate on why they agree without simply restating what you just said.
6. They will not disagree with everything simply for the sake of being disagreeable.
7. They understand that disagreement does not need to result in conflict, anger, or a need to be "right".
8. They are knowledgeable about a myriad of topics. 
9. Even if they are not well versed in the topic at hand, they still follow and attempt to learn rather than force steering it into a realm they are more comfortable with.
10. They appreciate the value of educating, informing, enlightening, and sharing knowledge, opinions, and experiences.
11. They are not out to propagate their agenda or force you to their way of thinking.
12. They are not limited to 1 or 2 "go to" topics.  They do not turn every conversation to the same topic.
13. They understand that they are only the most fascinating person in the universe to their self - others may enjoy hearing about them and their life, but not all the damn time.  A good conversationalist can have an excellent conversation about anything, a bad one can have an excellent conversation about their self.
14. A good conversationalist listens.  A bad one is only waiting for their next opportunity to talk.

Excellent conversation fires up the mind.  It invigorates the soul.  Many of the greatest moments in my life have been centered around a night of talk - whether liquor fueled or not - with friends, family, or even people I'd just met.  Although it hardly holds a candle to face to face communication, I've even had excellent conversations via IM or other media.

I love the feeling when one can hardly even break away to go to the bathroom or get another drink because it's so difficult to break the flow of thoughts.  When the great philosophies of life end up scribbled on the backs of bar napkins.  When words get imprinted on the mind and thoughts upon the soul.  When the only thing that can drag you away is time or interference, not boredom or fatigue. 

Good conversation is inspirational.  It infuses the mind and spirit with thoughts that come alive.  It invigorates one's day with creativity and sends neurons sparking on all cylinders. It fends off negative ruminations and serves as a reminder that there is other intelligent life out there and that we can find it. 

Inspiring conversation is addictive.  Once you get a taste for it you just crave more.  Small talk and chit chat just don't cut it anymore.  There are so many things out there much more fascinating than what you've been doing lately and what's new in pop culture.  I want to know what sets someones soul on fire.  I've been reconnecting with some excellent conversationalists and I've come to notice that it's made me thirsty for more.  It's been a long time since I've actually been able to sit down and talk with anyone that didn't default to work or other life stressors.  And now all I can think about is when and where I'm going to get my next fix ;-P


Friday, January 7, 2011


I wanted to apologize for the 6 week gap in posts.  It wasn't because I got off to a running start then promptly ran out of material, it was because I was moving.  Yep.  Anyone that has moved before I'm sure understands what that entails, but just in case you didn't, I'm going to let you know the process this move took.

It all started when my twin brother moved to California.  Dad, Twin, and I all sat down and had a powwow in Dad's basement and after several rounds of Black Bush & Coke it was decided that I would buy Twin's house.  I was excited, my current house was in an iffy neighborhood and had some fairly significant flaws.  It had character, but the pro's of the character were outweighed by the con's of the flaws and neighborhood.  Also, Twin was leaving his house furnished, so other than some $$$ for a tv and soundsystem he was leaving, I was inheriting a lot of very nice furniture and appliances.  So, he got out of having to gut and sell the house, and I got a very substantial upgrade in my living situation.

Normally, whenever I've moved in the past, I've spent weeks boxing things up, organizing help, organizing a truck, and setting a day when I'd get everything done at once.  This was not one of those moves.

Firstly, the house I was moving into needed a lot of work.  As aforementioned, they left me a lot of fantastic stuff, which I very truly appreciate.  But with the furniture and the house came the clutter and mess left when someone has 1.5 weeks to move across the country.  So, I was essentially moving my full house into their full house.  Granted they got rid of a lot of stuff and I did too, but it produced a unique situation where there was the additional step of having to clean off a shelf or clean out a cabinet before having the room for my things.  So, everything in the house I touch I must make a decision about - keep, move, toss, donate.  Dust/wipe down/vacumn, then unload the things I wanted to put there in the first place.  It's been fascinating discovering the things that are now mine, sometimes finding things that I don't even know what they are, and possibly even discovering new uses for some items; but it does make everything into a 3 step process.

Secondly, don't ever move in December.  It's nearly impossible to find help.  I spent a month just moving over a carload at a time several night a week trying to work around Work, Church, Choirs, Holiday functions, etc.  Weather was an issue - trying to plan any help for big items on days when it wouldn't be precipitating or ungodly cold.  Salt and wet get tracked all over the floors.  Everybody is busy.  Money is tight.  Moving on a sunny, 70 degree day in spring or fall when there isn't much going on is easy.  Moving when it's 38 degrees out and you have to vacumn the mud out of the carpet in your old house before the sun goes down because you've already moved all the lamps not so much so.

Everything becomes a priority.  I tried to have a game plan.  I tried to get the new house spotlessly clean and organized before moving my things in.  I tried to take things one room at a time.  It didn't happen.  I was going to start with the upstairs (it didn't need much work) and then work my way down from there.  I was going to make my bedroom, the kitchen, and the family room all box-free zones so that I could be able to relax a little bit.  Didn't happen.  I had priorities, like minor fixes, painting, etc. that I wanted to get done before moving my stuff in.  Didn't happen.

I ended up just starting in the areas I was using the most - kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and working my way out from there.  Most of the cleaning I did already needs to be re-done due to dust and crud being tracked in on boxes and shoes.  All the deep cleaning - cleaning the furniture, scrubbing the floors, etc. turned into quick wipedowns and swifferings.  My kitchen table turned into two piles - cleaning products & stuff I don't know what to do with.  I can't find things like pliers because I "put them away" and I don't remember where "away" is.  Everyone that sees the house has a different idea of "what you need to do first".  Everything takes money. 

So, I've had to adapt a new philosophy on the house - "My priority is to not have a priority.  I'll do what I want to do, when I feel like doing it, until eventually the house is at least clean and everything is either where it should be or at least in a box on a storage shelf."  So far it's been working.  The upstairs is coming together, the main floor only has a few trouble spots, the basement still needs a lot of work but that is by far the least used part of the house, so it hasn't really bothered me yet.  When it warms up a bit the garage and decks will need some work, but as it's January in Ohio right now, hanging out outside isn't really happening. 

Internet hasn't even been a priority.  For some reason my laptop won't find any networks right now, so until I get that working or get my desktop set up (which involves getting the office set up, which involves cleaning the basement) my only home internet access is through my phone.  The Droid X does have a fantastic screen, but it's just not optimal for writing anything of this size when typing with thumbs.  Also, I work in front of a computer all day, so when I get home at night if I'm going to boot up a computer it has to be for something significantly more interesting than word processing.  Not having internet or cable is actually quite nice, I've been going through my dvd collection, reading books, getting things done around the house at a much higher rate than when I don't have my DVR holding all my favorite shows on standby.  I haven't even done any gaming yet. 

Overall, I'm happy to be in the new house and I am enjoying it immensely.  But it has taken quite some time to get it where it is and I know it will be a long journey to get the house where I want it to be, but I am to the point now where I don't spend half my mornings digging through boxes and bags to find something I need, I can cook a proper meal without having to go searching for something, and I can chill on the couch with a hot fire, a soft kitty, a warm blankie, a stiff drink, and watch House dvds without staring at boxes.  And for now, that works for me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

812 Reasons I Don't Have Kids or Dogs.

Lest you think this is going to be some kind of child/motherhood bashing blog post, it is not.  This is just a humorous look at my views of children and why I don't have any. - JLK

I've gotten to a point in my life where all of my friends are breeding.  Some intentionally, some not, some with a spouse, some on their own, some have kids that are already half-grown at this point.  I do not.

Things I am:
I'm 28.
I'm single.
I have a College degree.
I have a house.
I have a long term boyfriend.

The things that I think I would need in order to procreate:
A Husband (and not just someone that marries me, someone that would be capable of being a father)

I have none of these things.  That, in a nutshell, is why I do not have children.

But wait, there's more -

I feel that being a parent is more than just spawning a child.  I think that if you're going to do it, you need to do it right.  I do realize that things like time, money, and sanity will never be there in the amounts I would feel would be adequate prior to bringing a child into the universe; however, I also believe that if I wanted to get a dog, say, I would need to accept the time, effort, and financial drain that it would cause.  I'd have to make sure someone could put the dog out multiple times a day.  I'd have to budget for vet visits, dog food, time for yard cleanup and grooming, walking, etc.  I'd have to arrange for someone to care for the dog when I'm out of town. I'd have to accept that sometimes the dog will get into things, destroy things, keep me up at night, have accidents in the house, and although a lot of this can be minimized due to good training, dog will still have slip ups from time to time.  For those reasons and more, I choose not to have a dog.

So, if I can't handle the pressure and responsibility of a dog, why should I have a child?  Being a woman approaching 30, there is an excessive amount of pressure being put on me to settle down and have kids.  I've spent the last 10 years focusing on my schooling and career, building a nest (securing decent housing, having a decent car, trying to keep some money in the bank), and focusing in my mental, spiritual, and physical health.  Now that I feel like I'm finally getting close to achieving those things, the pressure is on.  Even my doctor is telling me that the clock is ticking.  Me? I didn't even acknowledge the clock until I was told my time is running out.  But, at the same time, I still don't feel ready.

I still have no deep maternal instinct driving me to have children.  I don't see that as a hole in my life waiting to be filled.  I have a boyfriend, I have a cat, I have a nice place to live and nice things - other than working on my singing career and working harder in my insurance career so that I'll have financial security, I don't see my life as missing anything major.  I've always felt that the first step to being a parent is to want to have a child.

As far as dogs go, I already have a cat.  She knows and responds to her name, she plays with toys, she chases her tail and plays fetch, and she gives awesome snuggles.  She also poops in a box that only needs scooping a couple of times a week.  The work to reward ratio is pretty high with my kitty. 

I am sometimes afraid that I'll change my mind later on and regret not procreating.  When all my friends' children are grown and they're cool and enjoyable to hang out with, when I'm old and feeble and have no one to take care of me.  But I don't think that justifies bringing someone into the world just to have someone to be responsible for me when I can no longer care for myself properly.  I think that's a greedy, selfish reason to have children.  Much like how people tell me I need to get a dog for security purposes.  It only costs $20 a month for security system monitoring, and my security system isn't going to go off every time a car door shuts across the street.

Maybe I'm just not big on kids because I don't know any.  There aren't any children in my close family.  When I am around kids, it's at a large family function where there are like 10 of them swarming around and it makes me nervous and uncomfortable.  I can't relate to kids.  Every now and then I meet one and it's quiet, well behaved, and cute.  I wouldn't mind having a kid if it were like that.  Most of the kids I meet are loud, obnoxious, annoying, and destructive.  Those are the kind that make me glad I'm not a mommy.  Kind of like dogs, I only know 3 dogs that just chill out and don't get into everything.  Those dogs are pretty awesome.  All the other dogs all bark and whine at everything, destroy objects and furniture, and intentionally use the house as a bathroom.  Those dogs make me glad I don't have one.

Now, with both dogs and kids, I do accept that a lot of their behavior is due to their training and upbringing.  If you set them on the right course early in life they'll not much stray from it later in life.  It is also possible that, with hard work and dedication, you can correct behavioral problems later even if they've gotten out of hand.  But, I know it's always easier to judge when it's not yours.  I know that with the amount of work that goes into children and dogs it's easier to just let them cry/bark and tune it out than to do something about it.  I know it's easier to indulge their fits than to council and rectify the behavior.  But, tis easier to resist the first temptation than to satisfy all that come after it, and children and dogs will both push for what they want, and eventually one caves to them and they get positive reinforcement for a negative behavior.  Then you have to work twice as hard to re-assert your authority. 

Being a parent is a full time job.  I have a full time job.  It's called work.  But, although I do tend to obsess about work in my free time, I do have free time to pursue my hobbies, volunteer work, organizations, or to just chill if I so choose.  With a dog, I'd have to either crate it, risk it running loose in the house all day and possibly destroying things, get a sitter, or take it with me wherever I go.  With a kid I'd be limited to the latter two options.  No more romance, no more relaxation, no more Jennifer time.  Even with a sitter I'd always have to be available for an emergency phone call.  I'd have to either quit my job or have the kid spend half its day with someone else.  I know I could do the "daddy takes the first shift then works evenings and mommy takes the second shift" thing, but then you're left with more of a business than a family.

I do believe a child should have both a mother and a father present.  I do not mean this offensively, I mean it as something that I have observed both through my psychological/antropological schooling and through experience.  I think that dual-gender parenting is a crucial part of a childs' development and without both parents present it leaves a significant gap in the childs' ability to develop relationships later in life.  I think both the female and male influence is also critical in the childs' development of their own personality and identity.  Now, I do know that a child can still grow up in a loving, secure environment with either a 1 parent family or with same-gender parents, and of course I would consider that to be preferable to growing up in a disfunctional or unloving family, but I do think that it is not ideal for optimal social development.

Likewise, dogs are social animals.  I don't think it's good for them to be home alone all day, even if they're not crated.  Cats are relatively anti-social animals, and yet when I come home from work my kitty is all over me with the "Oh my God where were you I missed you so much I just want to be a part of you" kitty snuggles.  We play games, we talk to each other, we hang out together - and I've heard from The Boyfriend that if he has to stop over when I'm not there, kitty gets all excited and does the same thing to him.  So she clearly seems to enjoy having company as she never got that excited about anyone coming home before when I had a roommate and a roommates' cat. 

So, I don't know.  Maybe it's because I'm self centered and want to live my life for me and can't be bothered with smelly, noisy things running around my house.  Maybe it's because I think that I'm ill-prepared for motherhood and would rather go without than create a life I do not have the capacity to be responsible for. 

Maybe I'm just scared of children because I have no exposure to them.  There are not many children in my family.  The ones we do have I only see sparingly.  My house is full of fragile, valuable, and pointy things.  I don't think Smidgen (the kitty) would be too fond of a child pulling her tail.  I've never changed a diaper.  I'm sure dealing with children wouldn't seem as scary if I were exposed to them more often, but I'm not.  I don't know what type of crying means what.  I'm a fraternal twin - I'm much more likely to have twins than a non-twin.  I could end up with two kids at once like my parents did.  Could I handle Double Trouble? 

I don't know. 

Is a kid an all-encompassing fungus that permeates every tendril of your being,
so you can hardly walk;
or is it just like having a fussy dog
that slowly learns how to talk? 
Could be that I am wrong
and a child is the best thing ever,
even better than if I had
a PS3 and a kitty cat fused together?
I'm still trying to decide
if I'm meant to be a mother;
or if I can live my life for me
and leave the breeding to my brother?