Meetup for Moms Who Hate PHX

Lately I’ve been longing for a simpler, smaller, more navigable city. Well, strike ‘lately’ and that would be true. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Phoenix. It’s difficult to articulate, but it’s partly that it’s so huge that it’s hard to find an anchor. Like finding moms/babies for an age-appropriate playgroup for Baby – something that has, thus far proved impossible. I thought it would come naturally to find playdates for Baby. Step One: enroll Baby at daycare. Step Two: get folded in to existing social calendar filled by other daycare moms who can’t wait to welcome the newest member to the playgroup!

Well, that didn’t go so well.

So then I thought, oh, it must be more like this. Step One: someone at work sets me up on a friend blind date with another new mom who has a baby the same age who has just returned to work too. Step Two: We fast become besties while our babies giggle and play with one another for years to come.

Hmmm. That didn’t work either.

So I broke down and finally joined meetup to find some playdates. I went to my first meetup playdate yesterday. While I was a little sad that it came to joining some impersonal website to meet like-minded moms, I thought, well, it’s the cost of living in today’s modern age (or, more likely, such a giant, impersonal metropolitan area). Baby is nearly 9 months and I still don’t really know any other moms with even remotely similar-aged babies to hang with, so I figured it was time to suck it up and give meetup a shot. Especially since it’s about to be hotter than hell and I’d like to pre-emptively develop some mom friends so that I have someone to call to come over for an indoor playdate once the Death Star arrives.

But I was kind of over it before I even attended an event. Searching for groups isn’t that user-friendly. Not only are there all these bullsh*t sponsored ads within all the search results, there are also tons of groups that are really just sponsored groups under the guise of an ‘authentic’ meetup group, groups for whom you have to pay lots of money for each event (Stroller Strides, anyone? Only $35 each time!). Then there were pages upon pages of groups with whom I would have NOTHING in common: the stay-at-home moms, the conservative Christian moms, the tattooed self-rigteously deal-with-it alterna-moms.

When I did find groups for working moms, I was surprised that their events calendars showed  meetups at 5:30 p.m. on a weeknight or at 10 a.m. on a weekday. Y’know, so I could forgo making dinner (nevermind feeding Baby hers) or dash out of a meeting at work because “I have to get Baby to a playdate!” The groups I finally found that really were for working moms were for Type-A moms – tons of red tape that seemed more trouble than they’re worth for a social gathering. Must attend at least one event a month; in addition to the one you attend, you must also plan your own event at least once a month, you must prepare and bring an hors d’oeuvres to share, and I thought, I really must stop reading your rules, stupid mom group. Anything with more than one use of the word “must” must be told to F off. (Sorry, I guess so many imposed rules and regulations just brings back the defiant and oppositional 15 year old again.) It just seemed so damn unwelcoming and unfriendly – a closed society. I decided I’d just create my own group and see what happened.

I made it clear that my group was (1) for working moms, (2) for uncomplicated get-togethers on the weekend, and (3) for moms of babies and toddlers. I didn’t really expect anything to happen. I was glad that a handful of folks joined my group and even RSVP’d for a walk in the park, but I still had a lot of anxiety about it. Who knows that people really are who they say they are online? For all I know “Candice” with a 2 year old is actually some ex con named Bruiser with a windowless van and rag that smells like chloroform who grabbed a screenshot of some mom & her kid off of Google Images for the meetup profile. But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only were all of the women who they actually said they were, I have a lot in common with 3 of the 5 women, perhaps the most notable item being that all of us are lukewarm on living here in Phoenix.

None of us are from here, none of us planned on living here long, and yet all of us have found our ‘temporary’ stay here to be a much more extended one than we ever would have expected. (I moved to Tempe in 2006, and thought I would be here just a couple of years, yet here we are nearly 6 years later with no other destination in sight. Everyone else had similar stories). And, without exception, when the question came up of “Do you like it here?” the answer was a polite, “Uh….well….there are *some* things that I like about it….but…ummm…” without finishing with a ‘no.’ Basically that response is the only way anyone like us could answer in an initial meet & greet. Because if you answer off the bat that you don’t like it here, you might appear negative, even if you’re not a particularly negative person. And if you don’t equivocate or qualify your response, it appears you don’t even try to make something fun out of a place that you don’t like. So until I live in a small town where other moms just come over, barge in and strong-arm me into joining the community playgroup, where we compare notes on which children’s books suck the most and where in god’s green earth one can buy baby girl’s clothes that aren’t pink (but also aren’t $30 an outfit), meetup will have to do. And thankfully, from the answers these women gave at this first playdate to ‘do you like it here?’, I can tell that we are going to get along.

Alone. Together.

I listened to a fascinating interview today with sociologist Eric Klinenberg, who has written a book about being single, and how the way that society thinks about single life has changed dramatically over the past century. What I found most interesting though is that, as an aside, really, he talked about his own personal life – that he is married with small children and living in New York City – and, when asked if he spent a lot of time alone, his response was “when you live in New York City, you don’t have much opportunity” to be alone – it becomes “a fantasy.”

Man, you got that right. Have you been to NYC? It’s impossible to carve out any niche of solitude (although it helps to wear your earbuds everywhere to drown out everyone else). When I was last there, I got on a bus from the Newark airport to Manhattan, where I could claim an entire row to myself & all my crap, and waves of relief washed over me immediately, “oh thank GOD. I am SO sick of being around all those people. In the airport shuttle, in the airport, on the plane. Jesus! I am just so glad to have some space to myself.” Then we stopped at the next airport terminal. And the next. And it quickly became apparent that there wasn’t going to be any personal space on this bus – it was just that I was the first stop! Then we got to the Madison Square Garden stop and I got off the bus only to navigate seas of people. Everywhere. All I wanted was to get to my hotel room and collapse. It was late Sunday night and I was exhausted after a long day of flying standby, hoping to make connections. And even after the respite that my claustrophobic hotel room provided, it was back to being thrown into throngs of people everywhere I went. It was impossible to find a seat on a bench to myself in museums. The stairs outside the public library in the park were just teeming with other solo folks just trying to make private phone calls in public. On the subway, at restaurants, in line at coffeeshops, on walks through Central Park – there is no space to call your own. I could never, EVER live there.

But it got me to thinking: would his thinking about single-hood and being alone have developed if he lived somewhere else, in some other context? Where the experience of having alone time was neither novel nor particularly noteworthy? Would it have struck him to study being by yourself if he weren’t living in a context in which the only way you can be alone is together, with milions of others? I think it’s a striking example of how one’s thinking can be, to at least some degree, a product of one’s circumstances and context…

Please to Explain, NYC Edition

Can someone please enlighten me as to why NYC is so great? Maybe it’s awesome for people with money, but for me?

It took me over 2 hours to go from JFK to my hotel in Manhattan by subway.

It smells.

It’s so, so dirty. I’ve seen piss, vomit, and all kinds of bullshit on the streets. Everywhere I go, all I can think of is of all the filthy nasty hands that have also touched the door handle I have to touch.

For $250 a night, I expect a goddamn coffeemaker in my hotel room. Or at least free coffee in the lobby. Assholes. And a shower with hot water.

It just cost me $9 to get a bottle of water & an iced coffee.

The world does not revolve around you, NYC, as you clearly believe it does.

$23 for lunch?! Seriously??

I can’t even breathe. There’s so many people, there’s no space to spread out, no space to carve out for your self. Like at cafes, bookstores, restaurants, it’s just stools at counters or sharing a table with complete strangers.

Must. Escape.

Seriously, PHX?

This morning I was driving home from the grocery store, ready to get on with my day. I was in the left lane, stopped at a red light. The light turned green and I started to go, when BAM!

Next thing I know I had somehow pulled into the turn lane, was laying on my horn, and my head HURT. Badly. Like I had been shot in my head. I turned to My Better Half and he went white and goes “OH MY GOD!” I’m thinking, “I’ve been SHOT! I’ve been SHOT!”

It all happened so fast I couldn’t piece together what had happened, but here’s what happened. A car going in the opposite direction kicked up a pebble that came flying through my car window and pinged me in my forehead at high speed. I had a huge knot in my forehead instantly, a knot the size of a ping pong ball, and I was bleeding all over the place. I had momentarily blacked out while simultaneously somehow managing to pull my car over and stop. I can’t account for the instant between when I got hit in the head by a high velocity rock and when I came to in the turn lane, but it was only a fraction of a second. My Better Half hadn’t had a chance to react and didn’t know what had happened. I’m all fine — just a headache from hell.

But seriously….this is a freak accident. I’m thinking the chances of this happening are pretty slim, so of course it would have to happen to me.

Songs for Visiting Team

One of the things that has surprised me about living in a major metropolitan area is how much I’ve come to like baseball. I am officially a fan. And while I’ll definitely watch a game on tv, there’s nothing more fun that going to a game. While it’s standard practice for each batter on the home team to have a theme song played at each at bat, I think the Diamondbacks should have a playlist of songs for each visiting player’s at bat. My suggestions:

Not a Girl, Not yet a Woman

Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon

Loser

Your suggestions?

Dear PHX

Dear Phoenix,

I don’t know how else to say this, but I don’t think this is going to work out. It’s been fun and all, but I’m just not looking for anything serious right now. We’ve had a good time, but I just kinda need my space.

We’re just in different places in our lives. You’re in to making money, livin’ large, and enjoying the best that megalopolitan life offers. Me? I ‘m a little bit simpler. I dig a small local scene, people I know, and escaping to the great outdoors.  I don’t care and I don’t want to care about what shoes you’re sporting or where you hit up happy hour.

You try hard, I know you do, but you don’t get it. Like when I say I’m into the outdoors, I mean mountains and forests and camping under the stars. I don’t mean hanging by the pool perfecting my tan. (And speaking of tans, you really might want to start investing in sunscreen before you completely turn into pleather. Seriously).

Best, FAM

And you know what? Size does matter. Yours is WAY too big.