Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Month of Reflection and Looking Ahead

Earlier this month I celebrated my birthday, and it was wonderful. Emelia was wholly engaged in the celebration -- wanting to open the cards with me, singing me Happy Birthday, and looking forward to/enjoying the cake. Kathy made my favorite breakfast, huevos motuleƱos (fried eggs over tortilla, black beans and peas, covered with green salsa and goat cheese (Kathy uses feta)), and for dinner took me to one of my favorite restaurants (Nam Viet in Arlington). And my gift from Kathy and Emelia was a year's worth of massages, an extravagance that will probably do me a world of good but which I would never bestow upon myself. The day was completely low-key, and it was all I needed -- Kathy had trouble believing me when I said how much I enjoyed myself. The fact that several dozen people wished me happy birthday on facebook was surprisingly satisfying as well -- I like to think that it gave me a taste of what it might have been like to have had a birthday during the school year instead of the summer.

As the day of my birthday approached, I reflected on the fact that it had been a year since my mugging. Hard to believe that it's only been a year, as it seems much longer ago. It doesn't seem to affect me on a day-to-day basis (heck, days go by when I don't even think about it), though it's possible my troubles sleeping are influenced by that event. It's slipped in among my life events to become one of the multitude of things that have gone into defining who I am, never becoming a singular something that defines me.

Also this month I hit the halfway point for eligibility for full federal retirement. Amazingly enough, I can get full retirement in less than another 16 years. I'm not really one of those people who obsesses over my retirement eligibility, but I get a reminder of it every year in my statement of benefits, and as a numbers geek I'm more than capable of dividing by two. Before we had Emelia, I used to daydream about early retirement, and fully contemplated retiring no later than my first opportunity for that full pension, a worst-case scenario. Full retirement at the first opportunity, however, is less than one-third of my salary, and like everyone else's, my 401(k) took a big hit with the market crash. And now we have Emelia, and my eligibility for full retirement coincides with the time that Emelia would be about to start college -- I don't know that we'd be able to get Emelia all the way through college on a pensioners' income, though it'd be plenty easy to take that income and find a job I might like more. However I do it, I expect to work longer than I once contemplated, but I no longer mind it as much -- with the arrival of Emelia, my mindset has shifted from having to work to set me up for life, to having to work to provide for my family. I'd be lying if I said there isn't a bit of wistfulness, but it's a trade-off that I've made and would gladly make again.

And that statement provides the segue to something that's been on my mind every day of the month, and then some. Earlier this week we reached a big milestone, the end of the first trimester of Kathy's pregnancy. Yes, that's right -- something that took so much effort the first time happened without so much as a visit to the fertility clinic this time. Child #2, a.k.a., the Groundhog,* is due at the start of February. Kathy's been having a harder time this go around -- last time she was stressed by the absence of symptoms, worrying that was a bad thing; and this time she's complaining about those very symptoms. I guess there's no pleasing some people. We had wanted to keep the news completely quiet during the first trimester, but figured we had to tell my family during the week at the beach given Kathy's symptoms (and the inability to provide any other reason why she would reject all of Josh's delectable alcoholic offerings). So then in the name of equality, we had to tell Kathy's family. And although the story's been slowly leaking out, we've kept things mostly quiet, and I suspect that many of you are hearing about it for the first time. Now that we're making that news public, I can talk about it on the blog -- it's been tough to offer posts on the blog given that I couldn't discuss that particular elephant in the room of my mind (said elephant currently weighs less than an ounce), but I'm hoping to write more frequently again.

* - Note that the use of the nickname The Groundhog is not meant to suggest that we would name a boy child Phil.