The Fever.

This past weekend, Captain Kev-merica and I had good ol’ fashioned Date Night.  We were excited to see This is 40 as it’s our kind of humor and the well-anticipated pseudo-sequel to the early-2000s comedy classic Knocked Up.  Who cares if we can’t exactly relate fully to the whole marriage­–kids–mortgage­–health insurance–Over the Hill–stuff yet.  It would still be funny.

And it was.  And, strangely enough, I actually did find it extremely relatable. It instantly jolted me back to my childhood: Mom, Dad, 2 daughters and a whole slew of life’s little obstacles thrown their way.  I especially connected with their portrayal of the 2 sisters, for obvious reasons; how the sweet and imaginative 10 year old looks up to her older sister–the irritably hormonal, and therefore borderline insane 13 year old who screams and cries for no reason almost constantly–and thinks to herself, what has this puberty thing done to my big sister? It broke her and now she mood swings into every room like she’s some schizophrenic marionette. (Except a 10 year old wouldn’t use the word schizophrenic. Or marionette.)

On many occasions, Cait has made references to a time when our relationship generally centered around my torturing and ignoring her. When she says these things, I most often roll my eyes and remind her that I think she’s remembering it, well, wrong.  We got along splendidly.  I was a peach.  Mary Poppins herself ain’t had nothin’ on me.  But on Sunday evening, This is 40 handed me one heaping helping of perspective, and perhaps (dare I say it) my sister is right.

As I watched the movie, too many glorious memories of going 13-year old girl buck nut crazy pants came flooding back.  I stared at the screen and thought to myself, yeesh, that’s exactly how it was.  Between the year 2000 and 2006, all bets were off in the Knisely house with 2 growing girls between the ages of 13 and 16.  I’m sure I had moments when the Devil himself crawled out to aid in a melt down about the way my hair looked.

Good ol’ Girl Hormones. Gotta love ‘em.  They have that ability to make every woman taste the crazy, and everyone else know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of them.  But it’s one of those magical bits of life that we all eventually learn to work with in one way or another.  And after watching that movie, I became overwhelmingly thankful that my own no longer have that adolescent kind of Incredible Hulk Hormone strength.  (I mean, nowadays I only have a melt down about my hair like once a month.)

No, see, now my good ‘ol Girl Hormones have devised an entirely new approach to running my life.  And their hold on me can be summed up in two simple words: Baby. Fever.

Yes, you read correctly.  I said Baby Fever.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar, allow me to explain.  Baby Fever is a condition wherein a young woman becomes completely, incomprehensively and obsessively smitten with babies, being around babies, holding babies, looking at babies, and just generally thinking about babies.  Yep.  That little internal time clock starts a-tickin’ just a bit louder to remind you that you’re not getting any younger and reproduction is a-callin’.

It begins when you start noticing little humans everywhere you go.  You might be walking along in the grocery store, minding your own business, when out of nowhere you’ll see a baby with a gigantic squishy head and a onsie striped with gender-neutral greens and yellows.  Your eyes will sort of droop a little and, before you know it, you’ll be letting out a sweet, high-pitched aw.  You’ll give that knowing smile to the baby’s mother and, if you’re really creepy like me, you’ll try to have a silent conversation with the baby.  Your face will twist all around and you’ll blink your eyes a lot in an attempt to get the little thing to smile.  The mother will thank you, the baby will coo and you’ll be completely distracted for the next hour or so thinking about how damn cute that onsie was.

Oh, but the symptoms don’t stop there.  Eventually, those little humans begin to sense your susceptibility to their kind and they join your hormones in the fight to get you to reproduce.  Yes, it’s as if all the children in the whole wide world have singled you out and have actively become cuter as a manipulation tactic. They look back at you differently. They want to be around you.  They trust you.

While Captain Kev-merica and I were in Mackinac this past summer, I wandered into a park bathroom while we were waiting for our ferry to the island.  I walked in directly behind a teeny, tiny little figure–a girl about 5 years old–while her family stood guard outside.  She waltzed right into a stall and began singing to herself (adorable), and, once she realized someone else was in the bathroom, she promptly said, Mom? in the sweetest little voice imaginable (very adorable).  I didn’t want to scare her, so I didn’t answer.  While I was washing my hands, I heard her stall door open and the faint shuffling of light-up shoes against the floor.  Suddenly, they stopped.  I turned around to find her staring at me, with big, innocent brown eyes (extremely adorable).  We had a mini stand off for a moment, and then I realized that the sinks were nearly twice her size in height.  I smiled and asked, do you need help washing your hands?  She simply nodded and walked over to me (unbelievably, crazy adorable).  I asked her if I could pick her up, she nodded again, and I hoisted her up by the waist so she could wiggle her little fingers under the running water.  When she was done, I returned her to the floor, and she simply smiled at me and left the bathroom.  (The most adorable thing ever and needless to say a moment that I could never forget.)

Symptoms come and go.  A woman with Baby Fever may have what we call ON and OFF months.  On OFF months, baby interactions may be limited, or perhaps you will have had a run in with an ill-tempered baby and will momentarily be turned off by the idea of motherhood (however, it most definitely is temporary).  On particularly bad ON months, I’ve been known to take strolls through the baby clothes section at Target and gush over pictures of Baby Gap models for longer than I should.

A couple of months ago or so, on a seemingly blah kind of day, one of my best gal pals, Frannie, called me to blow off a hang out we had planned.  I was PMSing (a faction of good ‘ol Girl Hormones that we’ll leave alone for now) so this news was met with my best beyotch voice hissing back, you better have a good excuse.

And oh did she ever.  She had found out that day that she’s going to be a Mom.

Seeing as I have had an aggressive case of Baby Fever for about 5 solid years now, I would liken receiving this news to getting slapped in the face with a glittery, love-filled rainbow of happiness.  We’re having a baby!  It’s going to be so freakin’ cute!  It’ll call me Aunt KK! I’ll love this baby forever, ever, EVER!!  But then she interrupted my one-woman rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus just long enough to inform me that I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone because it was too early to make the announcement and, besides, she and her husband really should do the telling.  Um, what?!  Telling a woman with Baby Fever that she has to keep that big a secret is like giving a Chocoholic the keys to Willy Wonka’s factory, then telling her that she can’t go inside.  So how did I cope with such a task?  I began telling complete and total strangers about just how excited I was that Frannie had a bun in the oven.  Yep, while working at the juice bar, instead of giving my sweaty, exhausted, post-workout customers a moment of silence as I prepared their drink, I gushed about the news.  I received more congratulations than I can count, even though these people couldn’t pick Frannie out in a line up of two.  Eventually the announcement went viral and I no longer had to censor my excitement.

I believe this week the baby is the size of a lemon and Frannie truly has a twinkly glow about her.  It has been so fantastically surreal to watch someone I care deeply for do the coolest thing a woman can do–something that she has always known she was meant to do.  She’s actually baking a person from scratch.  What an amazing, amazing thing.

So, mazel tov to my dear gal pal (and to her hubby JB. He helped, too).  Although this pregnancy has severely aggravated my symptoms, I know I shouldn’t complain as it hardly compares to her battle with the next step along the ride: good ol’ Pregnancy Hormones.  Oh yes, I am certain there are quite a few celebratory cries in our future.

I believe I shall most happily invest in some waterproof mascara, because, golly gee, there’s a baby on the way.  Hormones be damned.


The Top 6 Things that I Learned in 2012.

2012 is my year.

That’s how I began last year: one simple proclamation.  It would be sunny and happy and twinkling with the sweet smell of success.  And as I kissed 2012 goodbye, I got to thinkin’ about whether or not I lived up to my word (well, I actually didn’t get to thinkin’ that until the day after.  I ate myself into such a glorious food coma at the evening’s celebration that I passed out roughly 10 minutes past midnight.  Truth.)  Had it truly been my year?  Well, it wasn’t perfect, but I certainly wouldn’t say it was bad.  In fact, I learned quite a brain-full this year; about myself and others, about love and loss, and perhaps what it feels like to get just a little bit closer.

And so I have compiled a list.  Yes, of the top 6 things that I learned in 2012. Why 6?  Well, um, because 6 is half of 12.  And, uh, yeah, why not?

Please do enjoy.

The Top 6 Things that I Learned in 2012   

1.  My metabolism is slowing down.  Hi. My name is Kirsten (KUR-sten), and I’m addicted to candy.  I am also a woman and, you know, something weird began to happen this past year; in 2012, I did, on more than one occasion (I’m embarrassed to admit), look in the mirror and utter the words ugh, I’m getting fat.  The Feminist within me was appalled, of course.  I made excuses like, you’re not getting fat, Kirsten, you’re becoming brainwashed by Society! Just because you’re a woman means you need to be a size 2?! Down with the man!  That’s called politically charged denial. And, frankly, it’s safe to say that eating late night dinners of bacon/green olive pizza and candy, coupled with a relatively less than active lifestyle, might actually be unhealthy and make me gain weight and, additionally, a pimply teenage complexion.  My metabolism is getting tired of carrying all the weight, quite literally speaking.  Beyonce would so not approve.

2. There are some valuable lessons to be learned from The GodfatherIn the past few years, my personal notions about family and friendship have really been through the wringer.  I’ve had to evaluate and re-evaluate my relationships, particularly, I believe, because I’ve grown exponentially since graduating from college.  But through the ups and downs I’ve learned a very valuable lesson: family is composed of those people who choose to love and accept you unconditionally, whether by blood relation, or through unexpected, deep-rooted and loyal friendship.  I’m proud to say that my family has grown, and it’s these people in my life––new and old alike––that make me who I am.  In the immortal words of Don Corleone, a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.  I like being the real me.  Oh, and that other quote, leave the gun. Take the cannoli.  Those words spoke to me, too (see #1).

3. 18 year old girls are, well, stupid.  And teenage boys are no picnic either.  It’s weird; in so many ways, I don’t recall entering this transition into adulthood.  But let me tell you, they were right when they let out a satiated sigh and said, kids these days.  At some point in 2012, I became keenly aware of the distance I’m racking up between my teenie-bopper days and my nowadays.  Yes, at the ripe ol’ age of 25, I’m becoming a ripe ol’ curmudgen; my boss at the coffee shop/juice bar even refers to me as the Grandma of our little work family, as I can often times be found shaking my fist at the youngins in his employ.  Yes, teenagers are stupid.  The worst part, of course, is that they don’t realize they are, so they’re pretty confident in their stupidity.  And for that reason, I recognize my responsibility to be compassionate and patient. After all, I was there myself not too long ago.  And let’s be honest, give me another 10 years and I’ll be complaining about all those 20-somethings running amoc around town…you kids stay off my lawn!

4. Insecurities are just a waste of time.  I am just about the weirdest person you’ll ever meet.  Truly.  If these many weeks of entries about my crazy antics haven’t proven that fact, then, well, just take my word for it.  I dance and sing constantly.  I have a tendency to act like a 14-year old and a 75-year old simultaneously.  I cry about almost everything (I cried at a Friends re-run recently).  I unintentionally talk really loud when I think I have something important to say.  I relate to children more than I do adults.  The list goes on and on.  I’ve always been, um, colorful (yeah, that’s a good way to put it); and for most of my life, I tried to hide that fact.  I did my best to put on a front and act a little too cool for school (and I love school; fresh notebooks; sharpened pencils; learning!).  But in 2012, with the help of family and friends, and I’ll even say the inception of this blog, I have learned to embrace my quirks and be secure in the person that I am.  And I will say, it’s put me well on my way to happiness and success.

5. My soul is happy out west.  Much of my extended family lives in Arizona, and despite a country’s worth of distance and the fact that they’re mostly second cousins removed and removed again, we’re oddly close.  Growing up, the Knisely gals would hop on a plane almost every summer and spend some vacation time in Phoenix.  Some of my greatest memories revolve around that place and those people, so much that I might even deem it my most favoritest place in the whole wide world.  And in 2012, February to be exact, Captain Kev-merica and I went to visit his brother(s) in sunny Burbank, California.  It was a mere 5 or so days, but it warmed my soul all over and made me realize that I could be happy as a clam there if I so dared.  Oh, and it made me realize that, for a girl who always wanted an older brother in her life (to my dismay, my mother informed me at a young age that that probably wouldn’t be possible), it seems that I’ve adopted 3 of them by way of super-boyfriend; who coulda thunk it? (see #2).

And finally…a drumroll please…

6. It seems I’ve become a full-fledged, kind of serious, definitely whimsical, sometimes thought-provoking, happy-go-lucky and pretty legit Writer.  (with a capital ‘W’).

And you ain’t seen nothing yet.  2013 is my year.