Monday, April 11, 2011


I am at a crossroads. Many people would argue that anyone could say that about any time in their life ever, but this crossroads of mine is particularly damned. I am a 29-year-old recently married freelance writer. My husband and I have a cat, a dog, and a mid-priced rental apartment in Queens. “Well shit, Phaea has everything!” you might say, and it certainly does feel that way. My little family loves me and I love them. We spend Saturday nights together in the living room hanging out, playing Nintendo, and licking ourselves. (Note: not all family members participate in all previously listed activities.) I work, he works, we pay bills, we talk about things we’d like to write, occasionally find time to write them.  My life is like, as Henry Rollins once said, “… floating in luke-warm water…” Its comfortable, non-threatening, and it could easily drown you.

The thing about life is that it has to move forward, and it’s usually best to move forward with it. Per my career, I really like working as a writer. I’m ok at it now. I’d like to get better. And it occurred to me that some formal training might be the next appropriate step. Per my home life, I am insane for a baby. I seem to have a good thing going with the little family I’ve got and there’s space for one more tiny playmate. Thus my dilemma: Should I have a baby or should I go back to school for a MFA in creative non-fiction?

Has anyone else ever been in this position? Ladies?

The best way to make a decision this serious would be, of course, to pit a baby against a MFA in creative non-fiction in a battle to the death! But the second best way is an arbitrary point system based on only my most surface concerns. Let’s go:

            Opening Argument: I want a baby. I also want a MFA in creative non-fiction. 1 point each.

Time Commitment: Baby would only take 9 months and then I get a baby.  Grad school would take 2 years and then I get a MFA in creative non-fiction. I hate waiting for things, so 1 point for baby.

Attention: Baby will always get me attention. MFA in creative non-fiction will not. Point for baby.

Day Job Avoidance: Being in grad school means you don’t work; you’re just in school. Having a baby means you don’t work, at least for a few years. But, being in grad school potentially helps you get a career, and a baby definitely doesn’t. Point for MFA.

Freedom: MFA in creative non-fiction will keep me away from my home and my husband. Baby will keep me at home, but potentially away from my husband. 0 points.

            Pride: MFA in creative non-fiction will make me proud. Baby will make me prouder. Point for baby.

Bang for your Buck: While the college experience ends with after my thesis is done, a MFA in creative non-fiction is forever. So is a baby. 1 point each.

Laziness: Both baby and MFA in creative non-fiction would help me put off getting a “career” a little longer! 1 point each. However, both are a lot of work. – 1 point each. However, however no matter what you have to travel to a school for a MFA in creative non-fiction. Point for baby.

Convenience: I can get a MFA in creative non-fiction by riding the train to my college or university. If I get a baby I’ll probably have to move to Mamaroneck, NY. Point for MFA.

Colic: MFA in creative non-fiction doesn’t cry or fuss. Baby cries a lot and shits everywhere. Point for MFA.

Cuddles: MFA will not cuddle with me. Baby will cuddle with me, and smile!  Point for Baby.

Productiveness: I could spend my time in grad school writing a book! Baby would not let me write a book, most likely. Baby is a time thief. Point for MFA.

Character Flaws: Grad school makes me more selfish. Baby forces me think of the baby first. Reluctant point for Baby.

Appearances: MFA in creative non-fiction will give me a second degree, making me smarter. Baby will give me a bigger family, which makes me look mature. Point each.

Both will force people to take me more seriously! Double points.

Financial Aid: MFA costs $50,000, but I can potentially get scholarships.  Baby costs a lot and there are no grants for procreation. Point for MFA.

Peer Pressure: Most of my married girlfriends are IN grad school, so a MFA in creative non- fiction seems normal. None of them have a baby, so a baby seems weird.  Point for MFA. Counter argument:  If I have the first baby amongst my friend, I will seem exotic to them and potentially get treated like I am more special.  Point for Baby.

Dangle Baby: My husband could get one of those baby holders that dangles the baby off his chest, which would be adorable. He could not dangle an MFA in creative non-fiction. Side bar: My husband also will openly mock me for the MFA in creative non-fiction. He thinks grad school is a waste of time. Point for baby.

The Ugly Truth: It’s easy to have a baby after grad school but hard to go to grad school after a baby. Point for MFA, but it’s a depressing point. I don’t want to  give up on of these dreams for the other. I don’t even want to put off one of these dreams for the other. I want them both, and I want them both now.

Total Scores:

Baby- 11 points 
MFA - 11 points.

Of course. This must be one of those terrible “adult” decisions I’ve heard so much about. But even without a clear winner at least I can be grateful I have my husband, my dog, my cat, my mid-priced rental apartment in Queens, and my luke-warm water life. And grateful that I’m lucky enough to even have this decision to make. I’ve heard from the old timers that living is a journey, so even if I don’t know what to do with it, I can enjoy having the life I’ve got.

Also, my husband claims he isn’t ready to have a baby. Whatever. I guess I should take that into consideration.


Anonymous said...

Have the baby. Then write about it. Win-win. (Sidebar: This was so entertaining, do you really think you need an MFA?)

Phaea C. said...

I wish someone would just GIVE me an MFA. That would work for me.