Thursday, August 25, 2011

Planning for Peanut: New Adventures in Pleasure Seeking

There's nothing quite like pregnancy to alter one's experience of pleasure. It isn't just about contending with the lack of booze or the dietary restrictions. It's also the fatigue, which (according to everyone I know who ever had a baby) is nothing compared to those long, sleepless days and nights of constant nursing and dirty diapers. Friends be warned - I'm not such fun company as I once was and it's only going to get worse before it gets better.

But I still long to be good company for myself. I've been surprised to discover a few new avenues for good time havin' ~

Non-alcoholic Beer

I know. It's sad. You know what's sadder? Fetal alcohol syndrome. Okay, I kid! Even if there were no such thing as N.A. beer, I wouldn't be pounding the real thing. But you see, I love the taste of the real thing and I miss it. Honestly, most of this stuff tastes like crap beer that I would never buy, but wouldn't turn down if it were the only option offered to me - think Rolling Rock (not Natty Light, which I would definitely turn down). So far, I've yet to encounter one that tasted even half as good as, say, Bass Ale (in my opinion, an excellent "macro-brew") but it's better than nothing. O'Douls tastes like shit and really isn't worth the bother. I tried one called Clausthaler that was okay, and I appreciated the German name and obscure label for contributing to the overall placebo effect. Ultimately, I think St. Pauli N.A. tastes best and now that I know they sell it at the grocery store where I work, I can get a 20% discount on it. Bonus!

That placebo effect is an interesting thing. At the end of a long work day, I do find a bottle of fake beer soothing. The flavor and the ritual have as much to do with that sense of unwinding as the actual alcohol content. And as I get deeper into the third trimester, I find myself "imbibing" more frequently. Somewhere in Chattanooga, a green glass recycling bin is overflowing with all those bottles I've emptied this summer.

Goes great with non-alcoholic beer! I learned how to drive just two years ago and at the time I wasn't particularly excited about it. It just felt necessary. I was 32 - twice as old as most people are when they get their first license - and I knew I'd eventually have a kid and would need to drive that kid places. As I've become more driving-dependent, I've come to find the experience less dreadful, though I would still prefer busing to work if I could.

But at some point during the first trimester, I began to find driving somewhat enjoyable. Perhaps it was the solitude or maybe it was the sense of controlling something bigger than me, which feels good when you can't control what's happening inside of you. Now that little Peanut is bigger and quite active, driving while listening to music is lots of fun. My favorite is driving to the gym. I bounce between the oldies and classic rock radio stations, sing loudly with whatever I hear and see how she rates my rendition with her kick-o-meter. So far, Queen is a big winner. She seems to like "We Will Rock You" best - that always gets a few solid kicks. By the time I get to the gym, I'm pretty pumped for a workout. Exercise almost always makes me feel better, so the drive home is even more fun. I'll grab a couple Tums from the stash in the center console and chug some water. Maybe I'll stop by Whole Foods to pick up some groceries and offend the yuppies with my sweaty clothes and foul smell. Then I hop back in the car and take a different route home, as I sing to a different set of radio jams. If I'm lucky, one of those three stations will play "Bennie and the Jets" and Peanut will kick a bit more. I now look forward to this ritual.

Cable TV
We'll be getting cable around the end of September, just in time for post-season baseball and Peanut's big arrival. I have this "thing" about not paying for cable - I'll certainly take it if it's free, but I resent paying so much money for something that's junk food to my soul. We got cable the last six months we lived in Michigan so we could watch Tigers baseball (reasoning that it would be less expensive to our budget and our souls than going to the bar to watch games), but once we moved to Chattanooga, there simply wasn't any need for it.

I changed my mind after a conversation with my friend J about life with a newborn. I asked her, "What do you wish you'd had during those early days with an infant?" She said she wished she'd stocked up on food she could eat with one hand. "Oh, and I wish I'd had a smart phone." Of course! That was the smartest endorsement for a smart phone that I'd ever heard. I know I'll have to get one eventually because it will become a social expectation, but I figured I had a few more years before I'd consider it. Suddenly, it started to sound like a really good idea.

But in recent days I've had to reconsider. I find myself too often sucking on the teat of the internet in search of good times, only to feel depressed and empty in the end. I don't know about you, but I'm no good at being online. I enjoy blogging, of course, and Facebook, but there's only so much I can get out of those activities. I'm just not that curious or creative when it comes to surfing. So then I look at Facebook again or I check my email again, and then I just find myself compulsively visiting the same few sites and getting nothing out of it. It's weird how addictive the internet can be, even when you don't enjoy it much. Do I really need to make that experience portable?

So I'm going to revert to the old evil, mindless activity and get myself some cable TV! I figure the novelty should last for several weeks. I'm envisioning life with a newborn as an experience akin to an intense Michigan winter, when the elements short-circuit your brain and it's best to just give up on the notion of going out much. J told me that she watched a lot of daytime TV. Perhaps I will rekindle my bizarre affection for Wendy Williams, though more likely I will record tons of M*A*S*H reruns on the DVR and further develop my Alan Alda obsession. If we're really lucky, there will be an on-demand karaoke station and we can see how Peanut feels about mom singing Queen, post-womb.

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