Friday, December 31, 2010

Working on the night moves

So we are sleep training Abbott this week. It has been very stressful for the entire family. We'd never let Abbott cry for more than 3 minutes in his entire life, and the first night he cried for about two hours. Jeffrey and I just sat out in the living room, staring at each other and our countdown clocks while we heard it through the walls and blasting from the monitor's speaker. I had the TV on for a distraction, but couldn't have sound because of Abbott's assault on my senses.

I was resistant to this type of sleep training for a long time. It seemed very unnatural, going against all of my instincts. But I finally decided that we weren't going to go live in a Namibian cave in the way we are physiologically intended, in close contact all day, sleeping side by side by the light of a fire. I don't really have many transferable skills anyway. So, sleep training it was. And Abbott's 4 1/2 months now, and both my and Jeffrey's FMLA have run out. He is going to have to go into someone else's care, and that person is not going to be holding him to sleep. And if someone's going to have to be a hard-ass with him, I'd rather it be me or Jeffrey than some poor new person in his life. And with this long weekend, we can give him extra love during the day to make up for less contact at night and during naps.

It's basically the first time we have ever had to be hard-asses with him. And I know that it's just the first of like an infinite number of times, pretty much for the rest of our lives. It's our jobs to set boundaries, and his job to butt his head up against them. It's what we signed on for. In a way, I wish it hadn't happened so soon. But I am so grateful for that 4 1/2 months that we were able to just enjoy him, every minute.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What lies beneath

I heard "Cat's in the Cradle" while I was driving home the other day. And, as is my way, my brain started editing the lyrics. You know, at the end of the song when his son blows him off because "my new job's a hassle and the kids have the flu"? He says his boy was just like him. But my purely semantic brain can't help but think, well, no he's not. He's taking care of his sick kids. He's not just like you.

So I tucked that little tidbit away with the other lyrical flubs that make feel so clever: "You're So Vain" really *is* about him, "this ever-changing world in which we live in," from "Live and Let Die" makes me cringe, et cetera. I even came home and wrote a little blog post about it. But something about it bothered me, and I didn't post it.

A couple days later, I heard the song again. And I realized why I didn't post it: while accurate, it was not the truth. Here's the truth: I am scared to death of raising a "Cat's in the Cradle" baby. And in a week, I have to send him off to daycare. It's simply our financial reality. But it just isn't something you ever think of when you're envisioning having kids.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A good thing

So remember when I wrote about trying to help a woman find her homeless brother? And there wasn't a happy ending? Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is a happy ending -- or a happy interlude at least. I was able to get her phone number and message to him through a contact at a shelter, and today they talked for the first time in more than a year. I hope she'll keep me posted. Right now I'm feeling pretty good.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just because it's a cliche doesn't mean it's not true

I got an e-mail on Thanksgiving from a woman in California. She'd run across her big brother's name in an article I wrote about homeless people; I'd interviewed him in January, outside his tent in the woods. She's been looking for him for more than a year. She said he'd left California after a falling-out with the family and hadn't been in contact since. She said her father was still asking about him, and that even at 79 years old, he still worried about all his children. And that hit me.

See, I heard a ton of obvious and (therefore, to me) annoying platitudes while I was pregnant. I'll lose so much sleep? Well yes, I know. I'll love him so much? Of course I will. There was even the big lie: that I'd forget the pain immediately. Believe me, I remember it. How round and enveloping it was. I mean, I'd go through it again without doubt, but I didn't forget it.

And the one I heard over and over was that my life would change so much. In my head, I always snorted, well of course it will. But I didn't realize until I got that e-mail how profoundly it had. Because now I feel connected to this father I don't know, because I will also be worried about my child until the day I die. And in that way, I feel connected to the guy's lost son, as well. And I feel connected to every parent in every news story, good or bad. And therefore I feel connected to every child.

Unfortunately, I can't help the family out. I don't know where this guy is now, and neither do any of my contacts. There's no happy ending for this post. Just the acknowledgment that we're all going through it slightly less alone.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What a difference a year makes

It's Thanksgiving. And last year at this time, we created this.
And I am thankful.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Typed with one hand

Last night, Jeffrey held Abbott while he slept for what became 5 hours. That is a long time in his 3-week-old life. I said to Jeffrey, "You know, one day he'll sleep those 5 hours in his crib, and we'll all get to sleep."

And he said, "I don't necessarily look forward to that. I like to hold him."

And that is where we are right now. In love, and tired, and in love.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Is it fate, or is it Memorex?

Yesterday was the birthday of the mother of a friend of mine. If that seems random and inelegant, let me also mention that this is the first of her mom's birthdays that she is living through without her. And that she misses her terribly.

She told me a great story about how she and her mom had an inside joke about chili peppers. And as it turns out, we're in the middle of chili pepper season, and someone brought in his haul yesterday. So when she came in to work, on this day of missing her mom, there they were. I thought of them as a little smile, waiting for her.

The conversation stirred up my own such memories, which were, let's face it, just below the surface and ready to be stirred.

About five years ago I went on an interview at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a place I'd always wanted to work, to work with someone I've always wanted to work with. It was sort of a dream for me. But things were complicated with me and Jeffrey at that time. He had made it pretty clear that if I went, I was going by myself. And at that time, I was OK with that. So I guess they weren't that complicated, really.

So early one morning I went to the airport on my way to Minnesota. I struck up a conversation with a woman as we were waiting for the plane. She'd come here on vacation, the first trip she'd ever taken out of her little town -- the town where I was born. Now, this is a town that has never seen the sweet side of 20,000 residents. And the way things are trending, it never will. I'd never met anyone who'd even heard of it in my life. So, you know, pretty weird.

And then I got to the paper. And for some reason, a little essay I'd written about a page I'd done was hanging up there. It was in an in-house newsletter that somehow ended up there. Again, pretty weird.

And then I got to the hotel. And in my room, which was otherwise pretty modern, there was a little wall-mounted bottle opener, like the kind you see at old gas stations next to a big cooler of glass soda bottles. So its existence there was a bit odd, given that the hotel was not offering me any glass soda bottles. But the odder thing was that it had my mom's last name on it, in a little all-cap arc, as the manufacturer.

Pretty crazy, right? Here's what's crazier: I didn't take the job. Well, the truth is that they didn't offer me the job I'd gone out to interview for, because I didn't have enough experience. Of course, I totally understand that now, because I have more experience. But at the time my ego was hurt. They did offer me a different job, over a series of phone calls and negotiations, but I stayed here. 

I haven't thought about those little signs in years, and I honestly don't know what to think of them. They were a series of very improbable coincidences that happened to come within one weekend. But I made a choice, and Jeffrey and I made another go of it. And you know the rest.

I have no idea what would have happened if I had gone with the signs and gone out to Minneapolis. But I'm sitting here, waiting for our son to make an appearance. And I think it must be that you just make your own way in life.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Come out, come out, wherever you are

And by that I mean a couple different things:

1. I'd love for Abbott to make the scene sometime soon. I am not a huge fan of suspense.

2. And where the hell have I been?

Well, mostly, I have been inside my head, where shit is going haywire. There's a lot of stuff going on right now that I can't talk about, either for reasons of other people's privacy or for legal reasons. So that pretty much leaves me with the one thing I can talk about.

But I don't necessarily want to talk about that, either. I mean, I'm super happy, don't get me wrong. I have absolutely nothing to complain about. But I also know that we are so, so fortunate. And I don't want to casually rub it in the faces of others who are less fortunate. So I typically try to strike a balance between talking about that and other stuff. But since the other stuff is off-limits, too, I've been pretty quiet.

So ... have you ... seen Inception? Crazy, huh?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

But I guess what I'm really looking forward to when I start pumping

is all the phone calls I'm gonna get!

I mean, you know, I've never pumped. Maybe it WILL be this constant cavalcade of calls. But seriously?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Puns I love to say but that Jeffrey equally hates to hear

1. Sean "Puffy" Feet. This is how I describe my edema.

2. Egg Bagelly Jr. This pleases me to no end. Plus I've been saying it a lot since our refrigerator has been dead and we've had to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two weeks. And the thing is, it's not like it even works on more than one level, because I don't get any junior-sized anything. It's a full-on size for sure!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The apple and the tree and all that

So Jeffrey and I are powering forward in Project Nursery 2K10, even though it is way too hot for such activities. Today as I was cleaning, I noticed the vacuum hose didn't have any suction. Turns out there was a big clog of hair and kettle corn (don't ask) stuck about halfway up the hose. So I scoured the house for something long and narrow enough to get at the mess. I settled on a cheap wire hanger from the dry cleaner, you know, with the flimsy cardboard tube on the bottom instead of a piece of wood? And as I was plying it into a long wire with a hook at the end, Jeffrey said, as he often does, "You got a lot of the old man in you. You think maybe you should give him a call?"

I don't have the best relationship with my dad. It's been worse, for sure, but there's a lot of room for improvement there. And I realize that a lot of that room is on my end. He did call last.

And the thing is, I have a TON of the old man in me. But mostly I just think about the negative stuff. On occasion, Jeffrey reminds me of the good stuff, too, like the ability to jury-rig useful household items. That's just one more thing I appreciate about him.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Big questions from small people

My friend Evil Brian's young daughter asked him today why people went to heaven. At first I thought it was pretty cute, but then it gave me a moment of panic. How are we going to answer questions on this matter?

I mean, right now I'm an atheist. I believe in goodness and humanity and love, but I'm also pretty skeptical. And I guess I think it's one of my better qualities. I don't think that I will change. I mean, I could. I only became an atheist maybe 3 years ago. So, could I change back? Maybe. I was a goddist before that. And Jeffrey's beliefs are not quite as clearly cut.

Anyway, I feel like I have to prepare for these questions. I mean, how early can you really introduce concepts like subjectivity? I mean, I imagine that in the early years, you rely on the concept of absolute right and wrong to keep the kid alive. Don't hit. Don't put that in your mouth. Don't touch that. I am right, and you  must listen to me.

But when does "Here are some things that some people -- in fact, most members of your extended family -- believe in but your mom happens to not be one of them" come in? The idea of beliefs at all? In my early schooling, it was just fact vs. opinion, that which is provable vs. that which is felt or judged. What the hell are these beliefs anyway? Not provable, but pertaining to facts, not opinions. How early does a brain grasp this?

Also, like I said, I came to atheism as an adult, and it was a somewhat harsh conversion. Would it be better to cushion the kid with some comfort at first? I mean, right now I don't think so. But I do think I need to ask all the questions.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Credit where it's due

OK, so. I think most of Roxette's canon is drek. You know, that Swedish bubblegum pop duo with really severe hair from a couple decades ago? I mean, it's enjoyable drek, but seriously, it's bad. And by most, I mean it would definitely round to 100 percent, regardless of number of significant digits. Here's a sample of one of their No. 1 hits:

She's got the look
she's got the look
what in the world can make a brown-eyed girl turn blue
when everything I'll ever do
I'll do for you and I go
la la la la la
she's got the look 

And who could forget this?

She says hello, you fool, I love you
Come on, join the joyride 

So a bunch of meaningless garbage, right? But yesterday I heard one of their lyrics on the radio and thought, man, that is kind of nice imagery:

I know there's something in the wake of your smile. 

It was sort of like finding a diamond in a big mound of trash. Or maybe more like finding a safe-looking, fully wrapped Ring Pop in a big mound of trash. Anyway, this is many years too late, but way to go, Roxette.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I chose ... wisely

Jeffrey and I wrapped up our birthing classes this week. After 2 months of complimenting each others' healthy snacks and talking organic cotton baby carriers, we couples finally let our hair down and got a bit goofy. People dispensed with the hummus and the carrot sticks and brought cupcakes, cookies and strawberry shortcake. We all talked about the bad things we'd done, the sips of margaritas at the barbecue, the mochachinos, the sushi. It was refreshing.

Later on in the class, some of the second-time moms were talking about how to explain the newborn's umbilical cord to big brother or sister. One suggested comparing it to a raisin. Jeffrey and I were thrown by this. He said, "How will they know that they're not supposed to touch this treat that they just had for snack?" I said, "It will be called the Raisin of Knowledge." Jeffrey laughed. Even though we are not on the same page religion-wise, we're at least in the same book, whose title is lower-case.

But infinitely more importantly, it's nice to have someone on your side – who also thinks you're funny.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

STFU, future me!

I really hope I never become a mommyjacker. Never heard of the word? Neither had I until I came upon this awesome Web site today: STFU, Parents. It basically calls out all the people who used to be fun and able to Facebook about things other than their kids' diapers or lack of sleep. It also talks about the aforementioned mommyjacking, which goes like this:

Person 1: Regular status update like, "I am suffering from writer's block today."
Person 2: Totally hijacks status update with something like, "I can't believe my kid is 1 year old today!"

Of course, Facebook will possibly implode by the time I have the kid. But I never, never want to be Person 2 in this scenario. If you see that happening, please, please tell me. I said to Jeffrey tonight, "I really hope I stay funny." I can tell that he hopes so, too. And not in an ironic way.

Whew, ok. Moving on.

I had a lovely weekend shopping with Bernadette in Bethesda. I mostly window-shopped, which was fun and inexpensive. There's a super-cute little shop there called Red Orchard. We only found it because the restaurant where we wanted to eat couldn't seat us for an hour, but it was the best shop we saw all day. I love serendipity like that.

Then I got home today and Jeffrey and I went to the annual art festival near our neighborhood. It makes me crazy because it draws in all kinds of people with gigantic cars who don't quite know how to park? You know? But we walked over and got a turkey leg and a shaved ice. And then everything was OK again. I charted it thusly:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The craziest thing I've ever done

I always thought the craziest thing I'd ever done was going to look for alligators when I was an intern in Miami. One night a bunch of us drove around to this remote area and poked around with our little flashlights. I don't remember much; I believe it was after a full and raucous night of karaoke. I'm going to say it was somewhat swampy? I think there was an abandoned shed we walked through, also? Sorry, I don't remember much, and I can't find anyone to verify the details right now. I just remember telling someone about it the next day, and him saying, "Are you crazy? An alligator has a maximum land speed of 25 miles per hour. You? MAYBE 5."

Sounds pretty crazy, yes? But during my morning commute today, it hit me. That was merely foolish and dangerous. The craziest I-don't-even-recognize-myself thing I've ever done was the time I got together a band of near strangers, rented out a recording studio for a night and recorded a song for my boyfriend.

See the problem is, I'm a doer. I don't just think about sh*t. Well, I think about plenty of sh*t. But then I go out and do it. This was particularly true with this guy, my first boyfriend. I was on an internship (those were crazy times, weren't they, interns?) in Delaware, so far away from him in Illinois. And the nightly talking and daily e-mails weren't enough. I had to show my devotion. And I chose to do this by finding the cheesiest semi-country song and recording it on like a 16-track cassette. (Side note: cassette is such a weird-looking word now, isn't it? I could barely spell it just now.)

Seriously, where was my sense of self? Had I heard of the word co-dependent? I could injure my current self rolling my eyes at my former self.

So anyway, I chose this song, a duet (no less!), and set about finding the band to play it. I got 2 business reporters, maybe an IT person? Some other people? See how crazy this is? I was some little intern and I didn't even know these people, but I somehow got them together and we holed up in the bass player's home and rehearsed a couple times before the big night. The IT guy and I did the singing, and we were in a real studio, like with the big headsets and the pantyhose thing in front of the microphones and everything. We had a producer named Marc, I remember. And all these guys gave up a couple afternoons and a Friday night to record this song for my boyfriend. That IT guy had a pretty good voice.

See, and now I don't even know where that tape is now. I think maybe it got thrown (and I don't mean thrown out; I just mean thrown) during the break-up. But the memory of crazy lasts forever.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Breaking radio silence

I've been caught inside my head a bit lately. Here's a bit of what's been going on in here.

I've been thinking a lot about one of my first best friends, Jimmy Mills. Maybe it's the time of year, or maybe it's a natural part of first pregnancy to reconsider everything in your life before it drastically changes.  For whatever reason, I've been missing him quite a bit. From the moment we met in first grade, we seemed to always be in on the same joke, even though we were completely different. When we weren't having some stupid spat, we were inseparable. I'd go over to his house and he'd try to teach me to skateboard, or we'd walk down the street to his grandmother's house, and she'd tell us about his grandfather and the war. We'd go to the rink and couple skate. He gave me a ring. I really wish I still had it; I probably gave it back to him in some crappy young kid way. Of course, I was madly in love with him. But that's hard to show when you're seven.

I never got to see Jimmy grow up; none of us did. He was killed almost 20 years ago, riding his bike. I miss you, buddy.

Also, Mother's Day was this weekend. I have definitely been missing my mom. At our birthing class on Thursday, our teacher said we should try to resolve any unresolved grief or conflict about our parents before we become parents ourselves. I pretty much abandoned any hope of that, since unresolved conflicts are my predictable best friends. So it went right out of my mind almost as soon as she said it.

But then the next day I was watching a show I'm too embarrassed to name, in which a little girl loses her mom. And I just cried a long and ugly cry. I don't know what is more odious, the constant manipulation of this Show That Shall Not Be Named, or the fact that I fall for it every. Single. Time.

Anyway, those have been on my mind a bit. And a few other things. But mostly I'm pretty happy about this little guy, and thinking about what his personality will be, and just loving him, loving him, loving him.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Great mornings

Sleeping on your left side supposedly increases the circulation to the baby, but it wasn't natural for me, so it makes me a bit sore sometimes. So every morning when I wake up, I flip over to my right to balance it out for a few minutes.

And every morning, Abbott flops around in there when I do. He's only moving around periodically these days, but I can count on him moving around at that moment. It always puts me in a wonderful mood. And I say to him, "Good morning, Abbott!" And then I know it's going to be one.

Friday, April 23, 2010

New litmus test

In my teens and twenties, it periodically came up that I skipped a grade. I had always been young for my grade, and that made me even younger, and then I was young for my first job. No big deal, I did it when I was 8 years old, it had very little relevance to anything present. But when people would ask about my relative young age, I would tell them. 

And whenever I did, there was always one of exactly two responses: 1. Oh, huh. and 2. Oh, well, my parents didn't LET me skip a grade. 

I mean, OK. It always felt a little defensive and somewhat shoulder-chippish. It surprised me the first couple of times, but then I heard it over and over. It's not like it was this incredible character-revealing moment, but it usually ended up making sense when I looked back at other moments. 

Anyway, that has stopped coming up. I don't look as young anymore. Also, I'm *not* as young anymore. But I have found a new inadvertent litmus test: telling people I'm pregnant. Oh, the first responses are always about the same: "Congratulations! That's such great news." People are all really nice, and that's great.

But being pregnant is not just telling people once. It's 6 months or more of it coming up in conversation. And I've found that sometimes people really reveal a negative side. I don't have to hear, this is how my experience sucked and your experience will necessarily be the same. I mean, if it is inevitable, why do I need to worry about it now?

Because let me reveal this about myself: I'm excited as hell about this kid. Sure, I have some anxiety too, but I will take it as it comes. And I'm sorry about whatever it is you feel negative about now, but you don't have to make it about me.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sometimes it just hits me

I am missing my mom so much today. I mean, there's no big surprise there, right? Some days it's purely intellectual; I wish I could talk to her about her birth experiences, I think about how I can integrate her name into this boy's name, et cetera. Today it's fully stop-and-cry emotional. I just want my mom. I want her to know what we're doing, what I'm doing. And I know some people would say that she does know. But I personally do not believe in that. I mean, it's fine when people say that to me; I just gain no comfort from it. So here I am, made my bed, sleeping in it.

Here's a passage from "A Prayer for Owen Meany," one of her favorite books (and from her actual copy of it, which I keep on the mantle so I can flip to the inside cover to see her "N. Lam 1/93" written inside):

When someone you love dies, and you're not expecting it, you don't lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time -- the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes -- when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she's gone, forever -- there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm a believer

So all of these Toyota revelations have me in the mood for the movie "Class Action." It's from 1991 and stars Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as a somewhat estranged (strained, to say the least) father and daughter who are on opposite sides of a car safety lawsuit. If you haven't seen it, consider it. Of course, the movie is really about familial relationships, but the car storyline is quite compelling.

This morning I read in the paper that Toyota used evasion and deception as a frequent tactic in legal challenges. I guess, by this stage in the game, that shouldn't be shocking. I don't know why, but it hit me particularly hard this morning. We were a 2-Corolla family until an SUV assaulted Jeffrey's '96 in a parking lot last year. I bought mine a couple weeks out of college; it's the only car I've ever owned.

I think I'm pretty cynical. I never believed in Tiger Woods, and politicians can do precious little to shock me. Those things roll right off me. But I realized today that I must have really believed in Toyota. It was a hidden bias, one of those feelings you don't realize exists until it ceases to. And sometimes that marshmallowy inside really surprises me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

And just in case you wanted to see him ...

Here he is:

I like our ultrasound technician because she always labels the head and body. Sometimes I look at these things and see little alien bodies. But this one is pretty good.

In other baby news, I've been feeling him squirming around in there. It mostly feels like my bowels moving, but I know they're not right in that spot. So it must be him. It's not like he's kicking or punching yet, as far as I can tell. And it's not quite strong enough yet for me to call Jeffrey into the room from wherever he is, just for the baby to stop doing what he was doing. 

We also are taking birthing classes every Thursday for 2.5 hours. So far it's been pretty good. At first it was a bit too feeling-y, but now it's seeming more practical, and therefore my speed.

In nonbaby news, I have decided after years of trying that Jeffrey and I simply do not see eye to eye on cheeses. Swiss, you're flavorless and pointless. You're dead to me now. Now, an Emmentaler or a Gruyere, I can understand. There's something to work with. But the saddest grilled cheese in the world is one that has Swiss in it. 

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Because a vision softly creeping left its seeds while I was sleeping

Jeffrey and I learned this week we're going to have a boy. Smile for a boy! It's not any more exciting than finding out we are having a girl would have been, but it's just nice to be able to start thinking about our child in more real terms and to be able to abandon gender-neutral personal pronouns.

I know this will seem sort of out of character for me, but I pretty much felt it was going to be a boy. Both Jeffrey and I had been having dreams about our kid, independently, and it was always a boy. I had one very early on, and it was this boy with this crazy shock of shiny black hair. And when I woke up and told Jeffrey about it, he said, "That's funny. I've been dreaming about a boy, too." Then later I had a dream I was reading to him. It could have been a complete coincidence, I recognize, but it just happens that I was not surprised.

Anyway, that morning I told my friend Rita right away, and she said we should go out and celebrate and buy some boy clothes. That's what she and her husband had done when they found out they were having a boy. But it was an incredibly rough week work-wise for me, so we didn't make it out.

Then this weekend we went shopping for a crib and stroller, and we got pissy, as we do. Those strollers are so hard to fold down! It was deflating. So I remembered what Rita said, and took us over to the boy clothes. But it didn't work. We just left, empty-handed and tired.

I'll tell you what did work, though. We had to go to Target to get some low-light bulbs for the bathroom (bright enough to light my constant night peeing but dim enough that I might be able to return to sleep) and we wandered through the science fiction toys. Really, they were just brightly colored plastic pieces of garbage that have little or no use and are bound for the landfill. But you know, Jeffrey could not have been happier.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

2 things that annoy me

1. People who massacre the English language. I'm not talking about people who don't have access to education; I'm talking about people who have access to too much education and have an exaggerated sense of self-importance because of it. I'm talking about bullshit changers of parts of speech, users of fake words like "impactful." And I know, I'm hypocritical. I sometimes use adjectives as nouns ("Who called?" "Oh, some random.") in shorthand. And I know that if I really thought about it, I could suss out some deep insecurity as the reason people do this. And then I would probably have to show some understanding or sympathy or something. I will save that for another day. For now I'm just going to keep on flipping off these e-mails with both middle fingers.

2. Sympathy-baiters: People for whom nothing big is really wrong, but the general ennui of life has just gotten to be too much. Every. Single. Day. And they have to tell you about it, either in words or with their sad, sad faces. And again, I know there is a lot of hypocrisy here, because here I am complaining about them. So I'll just stop. 


Monday, March 22, 2010

Sacrifices comma none thereof

So here's something I realized today about my being pregnant: I have had to give precious little up. I drank maybe twice a year, mostly at the insistence of others, and coffee was never something I had the tenacity to drink regularly. Also I don't smoke or change cat litter or do drugs.

Really, it's just given me an excuse to eat those puffy Cheetos and ice cream bars without feeling as bad. Also, it forces me to get sleep. I would say this pregnancy has been awesome!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hello. Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me.

Is there anyone at home?

So I have a bit of difficulty having faith in things I can't see. I'm an empiricist at heart, really. It's always been the case. So this pregnancy has been very interesting for me. I can't see what's going on in there.

Right now I'm just on the cusp of 19 weeks, when many women are feeling their babies move. I've been feeling something, but is it the baby kicking? I don't know. No one can tell me. I read that it feels like this, or it feels like that, but also that every woman's experience is different. So that's not much help.

But, because I've been working on it, I do have faith that the kicks will come soon, if these aren't they. And I'm terribly excited every time I feel what I may ultimately discover was gas. I slow down and hold my belly. I even turn down the radio, which, surprisingly, helps. It doesn't matter if it's an elbow, or a knee, or a round ligament adjustment. All of those things bring me closer to the moment I meet my baby.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Like the corners of my mind, or, Time for a new Venn diagram

A week ago today I was sitting across from a dear old friend in a New York restaurant. I hadn't seen him in 13 years, and he looked exactly the same. It's funny how your friends don't age. He said that I was the same, right down to the hand gestures.

We did the catch-up dance: How are you, Fine, How are you, Great with child, I noticed but didn't want to say. And then we started talking about the olden days.

He and I worked on the high school newspaper together. It felt like war or summer camp; it tethered us forever and made us strong. My freshman year in college I had this crazy idea that we should maybe lose our virginities to each other. I was always coming up with these kinds of impractical and wholly inviable ideas. But to my surprise, he said yes.

So he drove up to my dorm and we very awkwardly and minimally made out. I mostly just remember being nervous and falling asleep.

So we were both recalling this story, and he looked shocked when I mentioned the sex intent. He didn't remember coming up for that purpose at all. And he told me what I said to him after we kissed, which I don't remember in the slightest. These huge details that are burned in one memory are completely absent from the other's. In his incredulity he exclaimed, "I tell that story all the time!"

It made me wonder how many other stories we don't remember correctly. I think there should be a TV show called "Memories: Debunked!" I don't need people to unravel the Bible or some conspiracy theory. Landed on the moon, didn't land on the moon, it makes very little practical difference in my life. I just want people to tell me, Hey! You don't remember sh*t!

Or maybe I don't. At any rate, here's a Venn diagram I made of the incident and others like it. Enjoy!

Monday, March 08, 2010

And now for the most useful thing you will ever see on my blog

I've been struggling with belly bands (tummy bands, bella bands, what have you) ever since I got pregnant. It's a spandex tube that is supposed to hold up your pants while you wear them unbuttoned because you're growing a little person inside you but you can't suddenly go out and get a bunch of new pairs of pants. Well, the band has never worked for me. Maybe I'm not big enough yet. Maybe I'm too sensitive in the belly parts. Not sure. No matter.

Because there are 2 ways to keep pants up, am I right? Through cinching and through suspension! However the problem with traditional suspenders was that they would come down in a sore, tender spot. I did a little research and found these:

Pregnancy suspenders!

Yeah, I didn't know what they were, either, but they come down the sides and clip onto the pants. They're perfect! These are available at I am excited beyond belief.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Out with it

So. Here is how I am. I am wonderful.

I'm thinking in terms of relative fruit sizes and weeks, and looking forward to thinking in inches, and pounds and ounces. I'm thinking of how exciting it will be to try on tiny shoes, and wear them out of the store. I'm thinking of teaching a love of mathematics, while Jeffrey thinks of teaching love of food and music. I'm growing and growing, and knowing I will have to grow infinitely more.

I am full of joy, and excitement, and Dunkin' Donuts double chocolate doughnuts. And I am already in love.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More lyrical madness

Warning: Rant ahead.
OK, I've been listening to pop radio, and that is never a good thing. What is the deal with all these pitiful-girl-next-door songs? I got somewhat worked up listening to one tonight. I thought they had come out of nowhere and proliferated in the past year, but then I discovered that someone named Taylor Swift is responsible for most of them. Yep, she's the one with the best guy friend she secretly pines for. Aside from the fact that this is a wholly laughable construct, it sends a completely pathetic, desperate message.

Sung: But she wears short skirts/I wear T-shirts
She's cheer captain/And I'm in the bleachers

Unsaid: As we compete for men, we can categorize ourselves based on completely superficial characteristics and pit ourselves against each other.

Sung: Standing by and waiting at your back door/All this time how could you not know

Unsaid: If I wait passively long enough, you will choose me. I have nothing to say or do about it.

Sung: I'm the one who makes you laugh/When you know you're about to cry

Unsaid: If I give enough, I can make you happy! And then you will choose me!

The thing is, these types of songs never talk about the major deal-breaker with these guys: they aren't into you. So why would you stay hooked on someone who doesn't want you? Tell him how you feel and then move the f*k on. And I know, yes, these are fictitious songs. But I also know there are women out there in this situation, crying on their painted guitars. And I have been in this situation myself. And I wish that someone had just told me to move the f*k on. That it's not going to be this guy, and that's OK. That things do not just come to you in life just because you want them; you have to do something about it. Not that I'd have listened to any of that. Still.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lyrics comma stupidity thereof

OK first, what is the deal with Even the Nights Are Better? I had it in my head today and I thought, really, *even* the nights are better since you've found me? I would think that the nights would be the *first* thing to see significant improvement. I mean, sure, Air Supply is not where I should look for logical lyrics. And they don't supplant the Worst Lyrics in the History of the English Language winner, Dan Hill's Sometimes When We Touch. Yeah, Dan, sometimes the honesty is just too much. But still, come on. Dumb. Which would not matter if it weren't so ding-danged catchy.

Secondly, I looked up the lyrics to that song that starts out Our love is ... like water. I only really know that first line, and I've always kind of liked it. Huh. Our love is like water. That's sort of nice, isn't it? Wrong. The rest of the song is NOT NICE. Good to know that now, more than a decade later.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy New Year/Valentine's Day!

Today is Valentine's Day and the lunar new year. We celebrated the former with dinner out last night; the latter was going to the annual Tet celebration in Virginia Beach and then getting Chinese food on the way home.

The Tet celebration was nothing like the ones in Cedar Rapids that I vaguely remember. This one is huge, and full of hundreds of people. Asians as far as the eye can see, which is not very far, because your view's blocked by a bunch of Asians. There's a stage with actual organized programs. And all the food's for sale. I don't remember it being like that in the rinky-dink parties we'd have in Iowa. But then, I was a little kid. What did I know?

Anyway, Jeffrey helped me discover something about myself at the celebration: Whitey can't win with me. I saw an older white guy walk in from the parking lot alone, and immediately got suspicious. He was a little schlubby, bald and bearded, and I immediately thought, Asian fetish. Gross. I've seen plenty of that kind of thing, and I am not interested in it. So I stereotyped him right away. And I said something to Jeffrey, like, ew, gross. And Jeffrey said, "Maybe he dropped off his family and went to park the car." And that seemed plausible enough.

Then we went inside. Aforementioned as-far-as-eye-can-see Asians. And there the guy is, still alone. Just walking around. I was grossed out again. Like, what the hell are you doing here unaccompanied? Who gave you a pass?

So I was telling Jeffrey all this and he said, "I saw that guy talking to a Vietnamese guy. Maybe he's a Vietnam vet or just someone who loves Asian culture? Do you just want Asians to celebrate Asian culture?" And I guess he has a point. I probably think that everyone should celebrate cultures, not just those drafted into that culture by birth. And I say "probably" because I haven't thought about it as such since elementary school. And probably then it was with a lot of idealistic passion.

So, my husband taught me a flaw in my own thinking. Happy Valentine's Day, honey. I love you.

Still that guy was creepy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A gift

OK first let me apologize for the topic of this blog post. It's going to be about Facebook, which is about as beaten as a dead horse can be. So, sorry.

But I've been thinking about it lately because someone I know has blocked me from his page. I don't know if it's just me; he may have blocked everyone. It might have nothing to do with me at all. At first I was annoyed and offended. But now I see it for the true gift that it is.

We have a tenuous relationship, this person and I. I didn't even like to see his posts; they struck me as self-pitying and whiny. I even hid his updates from my news feed. But for some reason, I continued to go to his page, even though it annoyed me. I was weaning myself slowly, but I couldn't completely break the habit. It was making me unhappy but I kept doing it. I'm addicted to things that make me crazy.

But now I see that he helped me break my addiction in a way that I don't have to feel bad about. He did what I could not do. I am very thankful for that.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Simple pleasures

Here are just a few of the many, many things it turns out I love.

1. Masterpiece Classics' version of Emma. I love the simplicity, and the costumes, and the drama. And of course, I love Mr. Knightley. In fact, here are my favorite Mr.s Knightley, in order of preference:
1. Jonny Lee Miller
2. Paul Rudd
3. Jeremy Northam
Of course, they are all very close.

2. Box macaroni and cheese. I hadn't had this since I was a kid, but I made some tonight. And sure, it's different now, all organic and such. But still, it is quite delightful. It started out as a side, but then I finished the entire box. Jeffrey asked, how many servings did you eat? I replied, all.

3. Comparative advantage. On Sunday, Jeffrey and I enjoyed a day of doing the things we like to do, and are good at, around the house. I put together a bookcase, and he made a really good caldo verde-like soup. When his mom heard I was putting together the bookcase, she was appalled. And in the past, I'd have made a big deal out of how we turn gender roles on their heads. But now, it's just comfortable. I do what I like. He does what he likes. It doesn't have to be a thing. It's just us.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Today's entry is sort of like an '80s sitcom clip show: Some personality, not much substance. But I had to post tonight because a friend of mine from work sent me this astrology Web site that lists traits of the sun signs. I had to laugh at hers because under "likes" it listed rainbows and magic. But I looked up mine, and I've never seen one peg me so dead-on. It's like it was written secretly by an ex, insightful but not bound by any show of affection. Check out my likes:

Scorpio Likes: strenuous activity, the unraveling of mysteries, winning at any cost, being acknowledged the undisputed champion of anything, and the comfort of their own homes.

Being acknowledged the undisputed champion of anything! Seriously! That's what Son Ngoc Van means in Vietnamese! Then there's this:

A typical Scorpio has the characteristics of self-criticism, intense concentration and a passionate drive, which results in complete success or utter failure. You also have a strong self-destructive streak along with unreasoning temper that can be triggered at a slightest provocation. You are very suspicious and jealous.

I mean, come on. Have you met me?

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Um, Northwestern? What part of "We're giving all our money to Haiti right now" do you not understand? Seriously. I can appreciate the effort you made in calling me and pretending to be interested in my career, but sorry. A bunch of rich kids in clubs do not compare to the orphaned, the diseased, the already poor. And I know, not everyone at Northwestern is rich. I mean, I went there, for god's sake. But everyone at a private school in the United States is doing better than the earthquake victims. Hit me up next year.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Same as it ever was

I was chatting last night with someone who had been a very close friend half a lifetime ago. I barely even recognize that time in my life now. And I hadn't talked to him, really, since I'd gotten here. Things had gotten kind of dramatic between us in that sort of unspoken boy-girl way. So for the past decade or so, we exchanged a few occasional e-mails, but we couldn't get a good rhythm. The closeness was very clearly gone.

And last night I thought, hey, he used to be really important to me. And here he is on Facebook, so I'll chat him and just say hello. But then we started really opening up and I asked him why we weren't friends anymore. I mean, I thought I knew the answer, that he had done something to piss me off that I was graciously forgetting.

It turns out that it started with something I had done 14 years ago. He was unhappy, and I started trying to fix his life. I thought that maybe he was gay, and if he could just figure it out, he could be really happy. I'd had a couple close friends come out not too long before I met him, and they were transformed by it. And I thought, here's this gift I can give this guy. It was ultimately closed-mindedness masquerading as open-mindedness.

So he really thought about it. It confused him. And I dropped it after a while, but I had been so sure about it in the beginning that it stayed with him for a long time. It ate away at him. And all this time, I had no idea. So I apologized. I really had done it out of love, out of a desire to make him happy.

But then I realized I'm still doing the same shit today. I haven't tried to out anyone in quite a while, but I still try to force happiness on people. I just want people to be so happy so badly that I end up steamrolling over them sometimes. And yes, I know it's counter-intuitive and jacked up. I just hope that people won't wait 14 years to tell me anymore.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I haven't much today

Someone else's negativity is sort of bringing me down. But I don't want to add negativity to the sum total in the world. So I'll leave that topic. Moving on.

Jeffrey and I had to break down and buy a new computer this weekend. His old one had been eating his music data for years. Really, for years I've been telling him to get one. But he always put it off. And then it ate his data one last time.

As I was chastising him once again for waiting so long, I said, "I wonder what it is about waiters like you that attracts you to doers, like me."

And he said, "Maybe we're the only ones who can put up with you!"

Probably he is right. Today I asked Paul, another in my life who, shall we say, moves deliberately, why our types are drawn to each other, even as friends. He said, "We give you something to do."

And I say, thank goodness for those who give me something to do. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

A night of television

Day 2 of a 3-day weekend has been rainy and lazy and is ending with some television. First off, is everyone on The Golden Globes drunk or high? Of course, I will feel really bad when I find out that Harrison Ford has had some kind of stroke event or something. But come on. Ricky Gervais is supposed to be awkward; it's his shtick. But you, Felicity Huffman? What's going on?

Then we flipped over to Big Love. It's the show about polygamists on HBO. It's fairly compelling. Right now the oldest daughter is splitting from the fold and marrying a nonbeliever. She's a nonbeliever herself, really. The big drama tonight was whether she would get married in the Mormon church or in another church. Well, she didn't get married in a church at all.

And of course, I believe just like she does. I wear it like a badge, really. I gave up  Christianity at the age of 9. And for the first time tonight, 25 years later, I realized that I must have broken my mom's heart that day. I remember talking to her up in the room I shared with my sister, saying, what makes you believe that stuff is true? Just because the bible says it? She said that she had faith in it, and I just couldn't understand that.

I've always thought I was just so smart when I thought about that day. And I mean, it's not like I can go back and change it now. I can't believe in something I don't just because it would make my mom happier. And hell, I don't even know how much she believed in it; we never went to church, and she had converted to Christianity when she married my father. Maybe that's why she didn't fight me at all on it.

But for the first time I'm realizing, in real terms, how hard it must have been to be my parents, for the very personality traits that I'm so proud of.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A couple bits

OK, first something that kind of makes me crazy: When people use uncommon words unnecessarily and imprecisely. A wire story yesterday characterized the flow of aid workers in Haiti as nascent. And I was like, really? This flow of aid workers was JUST BORN? Nascent has the same root word as prenatal, having to do with birth. It just doesn't fit. How about just new? Or newly arrived?

Anyway, sorry for the rant. And yes, I am fully aware that I am part of the problem.

Moving on. If you're like me, you're reading a lot about Haiti, to a point. I wish I were a doctor who could go down there and help, but also I should be honest with myself. If I were a doctor with a practice, would I take the time out to go down there right now and help? Or would I easily come up with excuses why I couldn't? All I've done so far is read about it, feel bad, be pissed and give money. And only one of those things does anything, and it's questionable how much it even can do right now, given their difficulty with infrastructure. I mean, I've done this before. I'm a money giver, and I know it's the easy way out. It assuages my guilt and lets me live this incredibly spoiled life in which I do not question where my next meal or super-clean glass of water comes from. A life in which a bowl of food sits on the dining room table getting soggy because I just wasn't in the mood for the rest of it. It lets me forget who I wanted to be.

Anyway, that's enough of that. This internal gazing doesn't help, either.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Money, money, money, money

I think money is the most personal thing, even moreso than sex. I know that's probably odd, but I would rather talk about sex than about money. I mean, I'm not likely to talk that openly about the specifics of either, but sex *just* edges money out in that revelation race. I think it has to do with how we value ourselves, after we leave the obvious esteem shelter of grades.

I've thought about this today because of The Great TV Purchase of 2KX. We ended up spending a little more than I had hoped to, which was a compromise. We did extensive research, and the set we bought fit our needs (LCD for video games) and was a good brand in terms of reliability (Samsung) and the model was recommended by Consumer Reports. So we decided to get it. And I feel OK about it, I guess. (See? No specifics.)

The weird thing was the desire I felt to buy a second flat-screen, for the guest bedroom. It was so strong! But we don't even watch that TV. I'm the one who spends the most time in there, and I *never* turn the TV on. And it still works. And I don't care about image quality. I would happily watch movies on the iPod Touch.

But here I wanted to spend this money, on top of the OTHER money that we just spent. And you know, we probably technically could afford it, but why was I being overwhelmed by the feeling? I don't even want it!

So then I got home and decided that maybe I should turn on the TV to see if I really wanted a new one. I flipped around and landed on Suze Orman. I know a lot of people hate her, but I'm not sure why. Though I never ever watch her (she being on TV and all), I kind of dig her when I do. I think she says a lot of smart things. And she was talking tonight about women's emotional problems with money. And hoo-boy, do I have that. My family was poor, so I feel incredibly guilty for what we have, on top of feeling incredibly grateful, as well as wondering if it will be enough.

But I've decided that I've had enough of all this anxiety about money. My friend Julie recommended a book to me years ago, and I finally bought it on Amazon tonight: Your Money or Your Life. I'm going to choose life.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The return of snidbits

Or, slightly longer than a status update, but less ponderous than the normal pap.

1. So, OK, I'm back to doing all the hippie sh*t. When I threw in all the blacks last week with regular detergent, they wound up with some white crap all over them. I ended up having to wash them 5 times. Seriously not worth it.

2. A friend and I were discussing unrequited hate today. It started out as a joke, a little clever word play, but my brain is still chewing on the concept. I guess unrequited hate makes us feel bad because when we hate a person, the decent thing for them to do is to return the enmity. But when they don't, they're better than us. And that sucks.

3. Our main TV died. We bought the 36-inch CRT behemoth 3-4 years ago on Craigslist, or as the older media refer to it, the "online classified ad Web site," Don't even get me started. At any rate, it's heavy like a piano, and now has no picture, also like a piano. So I put it back on Craigslist, free to a good home. A mobile TV repair guy came and picked it up. He only turned out to be a repair guy; he didn't say that when he asked if he could come have it, to which I replied with great enthusiasm. Anyway, he offered to fix it, but I really just wanted it out of our home. Why keep reviving obsolete technology? Plus, the sh*t was heavier than William Taft. I'm happy to be rid of it.

4. However now that begins the painful process of a Major Purchase. Tackling such a task alone is difficult enough, but reaching agreement is nigh impossible. We've done tons of research, asked friends, checked prices, looked at ratings charts. My head is pretty much spinning at this point. In fact, I just jumped over to Consumer Reports, and now I'm wondering if the one we decided on is the right one for us. Oh man, Jeffrey's going to hate this.

That's all I got right now. And it's cold, which makes me remember that I can't move back to Iowa.