Tuesday, December 25, 2007

And to All a Good Night!

For everyone out there to whom Christmas means more than a day off of work and an excuse to eat cookies-- Merry Christmas! For anyone like me-- enjoy your day off and your cookies (and spiced cider, spiked eggnog, and/or chocolates). Right now, I am basking in the sense of accomplishment that can only come from finishing a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Not just that, but finishing it between the time it arrived as a Chanukah present and today. I think working on puzzles may be an undiscovered form of meditation-- the intense concentration, the forgetting of one's daily concerns, and yet the mindlessness of sorting and piecing. I bet that studies would show that doing jigsaw puzzles lowers one's bloodpressure and resting heartrate the way that meditation does. Since no one seems to be studying this, however, I have no proof to my theory. Or disproof, for that matter.

Speaking of searching for houses (Yes, I am master of segue. No, there is no missing paragraph.) Don and I have potentially found another candidate. The log cabin we were interested in turned out to be a burned-out shell.

Us: So when was this place last occupied, do you know?

Agent: Oh, not since the fire in 2002!

Us: .... fire?

So the "Unique opportunity for first-time homebuyer or investor!" was ever so slightly exagerated and should have read "Burned-out building ready for tear-down-- but has a nice corner lot." We have learned to take the listing ads with not so much a grain of salt as a full tablespoon. Our weekends lately consist of driving from town to town, clutching a handful of ReMax printouts. Good times.

Because our price range is at the bottom of the barrel for these parts, we've seen some interesting interpretations of "house". One that defies description sits on four acres of land that seem to have been used as a private dump for decades-- and as a private cemetery, with 3 graves behind the house. Not old graves, either, but from the 1980's. Between that, the junked-out car engines, camper shells, boats, and random trash, and the hunters that we could hear but not see had me desperate to get back into the car and onto the main road.

However. There is one possibility I'm quite hopeful about, in a town about 20 minutes away. It's a farmhouse, built in the 1880's, and it's in our price range-- barely. To me, it looks like what a real house should be. You know, with two stories, a staircase, pitched roof, porches, fireplaces. We haven't been inside yet but it looks like people actually live there, or did until recently. Which indicates that the house is habitable. This is a real step up for us. The brochure claims the place is "fundamentally sound but could stand some cosmetic improvements." ...we just need to find out what that means once translated from realtor-speak into normal human. "Cosmetic improvements" aught to mean that some surface stuff needs updating. But we shall see. The house is over 100 years old, after all, and not so expensive. There must be a reason why.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


January 1990 -- December 2007

What can you say, when you've lost the dog you've had since childhood? Oh Max, Maxi-poo, Maxim Poochini, puppy, we will miss you so much. I can't imagine our family without you in it... I'm so sorry that I couldn't be there for you at the end, when your seventeen years got to be too much for you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Over-disclosure, Much?




Seriously, unless reading about the all-powerful uterus appeals to you, I'd skip this post. I mean, *I* wouldn't, because I love uteri, but I'd think that *you* might want to...


I never feel comfortable discussing my Womanly Cycles without a disclaimer, because some people are so weird about stuff like that. Like how some men are fine with picking up an economy pack of tampons for the lady in their life, and others feel faint at the very idea of, you know, that happening. Squeamish. I know a guy like that and he's a doctor, for heavens' sake... Told me that he attended a birth as part of his residency and it really grossed him out, what with the bleeding and all. And yet he wanted to be a brain surgeon-- don't brains bleed too? Or is that not gross because it's not Female Blood? I don't know. I just wouldn't want anyone to read my blog and have to reel away from the computer wailing, "My eyes! MY EYES!"

Anyways, I am on my period today! Sound the trumpets, hang the banners-- the trying-to-conceive begins again this month! I thought it would be last month, but Don wanted to wait one more cycle and I was fine with that; one additional month to heal and recover. My periods have been different since the last miscarriage. They're heavier, last longer, and start more suddenly than before; no spotting, just Bam!-- period. I've read that going through pregnancy and giving birth can change a woman's cycle, but can a miscarriage do the same thing? I mean I guess of course it can as mine have done just that, I just didn't know. I take it as a good sign; maybe my hormones have straightened themselves out a little, maybe the pregnancy and supplemental progesterone jump-started my system. It feels cleansing. Of course, I take things like cloudy weather or a stiff breeze as good signs, too. I'm irrepressibly optimistic and slightly superstitious... it's a fabulous combination.

I'm also PMSing much less than before, but I'm attributing that more to a better diet, as PMS is so strongly correlated with that. It's all the Omega-3s, the salmon dinners, probably, and the B- vitamin complex in my prenatal multi's.

I feel like, logically, there's no real reason for another pregnancy to fail. Statistically, I'm not at much higher odds of losing a third pregnancy than someone who's never lost one, especially since I've been screened for all the major causes. I think we can write the first loss off as a blighted ovum, something that's common and doesn't raise the odds for future miscarriage. The second, I don't know... a genetic default? A fluke? A bad egg? Hard to say in retrospect and we'll never really know. I think that between ensuring adequate nutrition, taking the artificial progesterone, maybe some baby aspirin... There's no reason to think that it won't work.

Emotionally, though, it's like Charlie Brown trying to kick that damn football.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Abusing My Powers

Awhile ago, the bank I work for started a new program in which you can get pretty pictures on your debit card. There are other things that go with it, like donations to charities and organizations or whatever, but the way I see it is that your debit card is now purty when it wasn't before. I didn't pay much attention to this, mainly because I didn't know how to switch people over to the new shiny cards. But then various coworkers and customers started turning up with their pretty check cards, and one card had a wolf on it. (It was for a non-profit wilderness-protection group.) Don just loves wolves. So I figured out how to do it so that I could get Don the wolfie card. Of course I didn't change his account myself because we're not supposed to mess with our own accounts; one of my coworkers made the switch and it was a nice surprise: Hey, what's this in the mail? Why it's a lovely new check card, with a wolf on it! That you will never confuse with your credit card again! (Because our debit and credit cards are nearly identical, leading to issues like, "Why on earth did you CHARGE a 12-pack of beer?" "I didn't mean to-- must have handed over the wrong card.")

Don loved it. And there were no problems with his existing card; the new card had the same number and everything. Fast forward to last night...

When I was out to dinner with some friends of ours. My friend (I'll call her "Jen") was asking about the fees on her account, and I offered to waive any future fees, cuz I have crazy authority like that! Not to the point of refunding fees already charged though... that would be too much power for me. So this morning I find Jen's account and set it to waive maintenance fees for the coming year, no problem. But THEN...

I remember that Jen is a rabid, obsessed, Red Sox fanatic. Crazy. And we have a Red Sox debit card! And wouldn't it be fantastic for her to get, as a surprise, a debit card that displays her devotion to her team! (You know, in case anyone missed the baseball cap.) She would love that, really. Except that I didn't realize that for some reason the Red Sox special debit card (unlike the Wilderness Whoevers) is a MASTERCARD, not a Visa-- which is what most debit cards-- including Jen's existing debit card-- are. So when I changed the card from plain to fancy, it also changed from Visa to Mastercard-- which automatically closed the old debit card and issued a new number.

Which left me in the embarrassing position of having to call Jen and tell her that I had just accidentally canceled her debit card, and totally ruin the surprise. I'm glad that she's got a good sense of humor, in any case.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Call me Einstein

I have discovered the following:

1. The public library. Why did I ever stay away from this marvel of civilized society? The limit here is 75 books! 75! I can take out as many as I want for free. There are a lot of small libraries incorporated into a larger system here, it's nice.

2. Creamed spinach. The cream, it does things to the spinach. Makes it milder, somehow. Perhaps this explains why spinach with cheese is so good, like in a quiche or spinach dip or that Greek dish I can't pronounce or spell. I don't know what kind of chemistry this is, but it will be hard for me not to add cream anytime I do spinach from now on.

3. For some reason I've been sleeping really well lately. One of these dietary supplements seems to be having the un-looked-for side affect of helping my chronic, mild insomnia. Tuesday night I went to bed at 10:00 and fell right asleep and slept till 6:00. Felt like a new person after, seriously. Unfortunately I don't know which part of this cocktail is doing the honors.

It's been a big week, really.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Apparently It's not "Gravy Train"

When I wake up before Don, I tend to serenade him with whatever song is playing in my head as I awake. The song selection (including but not limited to "the more we get together", "this land is your land", "crazy train", "let it snow", and "wild mountain honey") combined with my (pretty damn awful) singing voice combined with my lack of a snooze button...

Who wouldn't want me as a wife, seriously?! I mean come on.

By the way, everybody wakes up with music in their heads, right? That's normal?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Label Rant Part 2

Because nothing's more fun than random bitching, right?

In getting ready to try-to-concieve again (hoping that third time's the charm, right?) I've gone from taking no pills or supplements at all to lining them up on the kitchen counter like an old lady. I'm now taking: a prenatal daily multi-vitamin, a fish-oil supplement, an additional, 1,000IU Vitamin D supplement, and am about to start taking the additional B6 again as well. Oddly, the vitamin D is also derived from fish-liver oil, but it makes no claims for containing omega-3's, nor do the fish-oil capsules claim to have vitamin D. The vitamin D also contains a fair amount of naturally-occuring Vitamin A; because of this, it has the standard pregnancy warning on the label as too much A can be dangerous then. I decided to compare the amount of A in the D supplement with the amount found in the prenatal vitamins and it's actually the same amount.

What's funny is that the prenatal vitamins ALSO contain the pregnancy warning, as do the fish-oil caps and the B6 pills. I just don't get it. I can understand why a product containing Vitamin A would carry the "consult your doctor" warning, but prenatal vitamins are specifically designed for pregnant women. "Hello? Doctor? Is it ok if I take pregnancy vitamins while pregnant? It is? Oh thank you!" And B6 is commonly prescribed to ease discomfort in pregnancy; the reason I have a bottle is because my doctor recc'ed the stuff for my morning sickness. And fish oil? Which contains nutrients that are both absolutely essential for the growing fetus (DHA and EPA) and hard to get elsewhere without eating a ton of mercury-tainted fish? What could possibly earn fish oil the consult-your-doc warning?

And don't even get me started on the idea that only the all-mighty doctor knows what's best for the hapless, ignorant mama-to-be. Because, you know, we can't possibly have the means and intelligence to research and make our own decisions.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I think I'll sue

I hate how litigious our society is, how everything has to be controlled/regulated/labeled to the extreme to protect-- not the consumer, but the producer-- from potential misunderstandings, misuses, general stupidity. This is an old, stale joke, but take the nuts I bought yesterday. (Nuts being part of the let's-get-pregnant! diet that I've created for myself; it's a yummy diet but if it doesn't work, I may get fat from it.) A small bag of almonds to eat with lunch; the word ALMONDS emblazoned across the top of the bag in large, bold letters. And on the back, the usual warning: "may contain nuts." You think? Really? If someone didn't notice the ALMONDS on the front of the bag, why in the world would they see the warnings on the back? Also, the bag was clear cellophane. Clear. Even someone who couldn't read would notice that the bag was full of nuts. There is no common sense involved here, and no credit given to the consumer.

I read somewhere (can't remember where, now) that quite a few foreign visitors to the U.S. think that we must be a bit dim, because of all the labels telling us obvious things: caution, coffee will be hot; caution, moving sidewalk coming to an end; caution, may contain nuts. Basically, if we need to be told these things so often it doesn't speak well for our general intelligence and common sense. That we label everything towards the lowest common denominator isn't immediately clear if you're not already used to it.

On the other hand, labels can be very useful, especially if the alternative is to outlaw something completely. Take something like, say, pasteurization. The routine heating-up of stuff like milk, cider, and orange juice, to kill germs-- not bad in theory, right? Fine for most folks who don't want to think twice about their milk except to consider 2% versus 1%, regular versus organic. But there are plenty of people that would just as soon not have their milk scalded for a variety of reasons-- that want raw milk, yogurts and cheeses made from raw milk, or would like to buy unpasteurized apple cider with the enzymes and nutrients intact. It seems to me that those who want unpasteurized (whose ranks I may be joining) should be able to legally get it, somehow. Wouldn't a warning label be great for that? Caution: unpasteurized! That would be useful. I don't understand why I can buy cuts of grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken and eggs at the farmers market, but not fresh milk or goats' cheese. Why treat the entire population as though they're too dumb or uneducated to make those decisions for themselves?

The way around that law, incidentally, is to buy "cow share" from a dairy farmer, so that you're not buying raw(!) milk, you're paying a farmer to maintain your cow and periodically, you come pick up your milk. So much to-do, when legalizing the sale of unpasteurized milk would be so much more efficient.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Chanukah, ya'll.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Catching up

I hate it when too much time goes by and I don't have time to write here; all my thoughts pile up and then make no sense. So in no paticular order...

Fall is finally, definitely here-- just in time for winter. Temperature staying nice and cool, trees changed at last. It's nothing like last year, which just took my breath away. The hot, dry weather this year makes for a more muted display, more rust and yellow than scarlet and gold. I kind of like it this way, actually, because it's so subtle. Not as in-your-face, look-how-gorgeous-this-all-is; you have to kind of work to appreciate the more subdued hues, to notice that it's still lovely, in a way.

It's the perfect time for sweaters! I love sweater season. Especially if I happen to get an enormous box of wonderful sweaters in the mail... then I can just live in them all the time. Especially as Don and I are trying to keep the heat as low as possible, for the environment and for our own health. I wish I could say that it would save us money, too, but power is still regulated here in Virginia and dirt-cheap. It really doesn't matter how much electricity we use, our power bill is always incredibly low. Not much motivation there to conserve, right? Things like that make me veer towards libertarianism, or at least to believe in the free market system.

Don and I are looking at houses. Don't you just love my complete lack of segue? I do. Anyways, we've been kind of half-heartedly looking about. Then over the weekend, we found something... I can't even say "a house" because it's really more of a "shack". And yet... I like it. And it's in our range, which is not something one could say about 96% of the homes here. This city is one of those places where it's considered normal to pay $300,000 for what would cost $150,000 where I'm from. (FYI, you must pronounce the "I'm" as "AH'm" in order to get the full Texan flavor of that sentiment. )

So I called the bank (the one I work for, natch).

Me: Hi... I'm trying to find out what steps I need to take to start getting my husband and myself pre-approved for a mortgage. So we can buy a house.

Banker Dude: Well, there aren't really "steps". We just do it for you. Do you have half an hour?

Me: ... um, yes?

So (45 minutes later, because I ask endless questions) we are preapproved for a ginormous mortgage. I mean we still have the final paperwork to be faxed and etc. But it all seems to be going through. I cannot believe how easy it was; I'm a little in love with the bank right now, and with the Banker Dude who helped me over the phone. All this time we thought we'd never be able to do that because of credit. Turns out that my credit is reasonably awesome. Don's isn't so hot, which kind of sucks because they only use his rating, as he out-earns me by something like 2 1/2 times. Having good credit doesn't do much good if you don't have the earning potential to go with it. There's no way we could afford the mortgage we've been (almost) pre-approved for... Banker Dude quoted a monthly payment that made me go: "hahaha, that's like twice what we're paying in rent! How silly!" But the idea is to get approved for more and then find a house for less.

The problem is that "what we can afford" is about 1/3 of the area "average price", even after the market slow-down and all that. So we're looking at the bottom of the market, where houses are small and crappy. We get emails from a real estate agent with houses that meet our criteria (i.e., within half and hour of the city and under x dollars)... Almost every house we've seen is the same thing. Small, cheaply-built little ranch houses, all so... I don't know, mundane? Boring? Anti-unique? Character-free? I guess if that's what we can afford, that's what we should get. I just don't like the feeling that, whatever we do, it will always be a cheap builder-ranch. You can paint and plant and renovate, but it will never really be more than the sum of its parts. I haven't yet given up that dream of getting an old, run-down house and making it awesome. But you can really only do that if a) the house had something to begin with and b) you have the funds to put into re-doing it.

So this... building. We drove out to it Saturday to have a look at the exterior-- everything we've looked at is outside of town where it's a tad bit cheaper. It is a log cabin. Or at least, it was a log cabin when it was built; now "pile of logs with roof" might be more accurate. The realtor's description reads:
"Unique opportunity for investor or first time homebuyer. House is ready for renovation."

Which is actually really generous. It does not have any of the following: heat, A/C, windows (i.e., there are holes in the walls that are (mostly) boarded up but no glass), or a water heater. One corner of the building seems to have a lot of wood rotted away, and as it's built from logs that's structural damage. We're unsure as to whether there is a kitchen or not-- the ad seems unsure. It would basically take at least $20,000 of work to just make it a liveable residence, to do things like putting in glass windows, and a heating system.

But I feel like... we could really make this place something awesome. It could have character, flavor, personality. It is nothing like any other house in the neighborhood-- and not just because it's the boarded-up, derelict, unhabited house. It's a log cabin, for pete's sake.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


It's finally gotten colder here. FINALLY, all the soup is justified. I can't explain it, but I've been on a real soup-making kick lately: bean soups, squash soups, chicken soups, chili. You name it. I made this white-bean soup over the weekend; and then apparently "ruined" it by adding the parsley. WHO doesn't like parsley?! And no, it does not look like cilantro. I can't believe that someone who is thrilled by the fact that an entire head of garlic went into the soup can be turned off by a little parsley. Either way, I thought it was soupy perfection. And I'm willing to leave out the parsley if it will make certain picky eaters happy. Siriusly, it was just a garnish.

I've been taking my prenatal vitamins again, to get back in practice. They include iron. If you've ever taken a supplement with iron, you know what it does to ya...

Don's numbers: 1/2 cigarette Monday. 2 Tuesday. 2 yesterday. Apparently one of his coworkers brought him a pack of cigarettes from the Philippines (?) that he found so terrible that he couldn't finish one and was turned off for the rest of the day. Personally I think this could be a great quitting tool! When you feel the need to smoke, light up one of these babies, get turned off. Of course, he could also just develop a taste for the new ones instead. Either way, he's not keen on the idea.

When it comes to Attempt Number Three (which is how I've come to consider our never-ending quest for offspring) our inherent differences are coming clear again. I'm intrinsically optimistic. More hopeful than scared, convinced that THIS time, everything will work out. Don is a cautious, pragmatic dude. Not willing to get his hopes up. Also not willing to take any chances whatsoever on getting pregnant before the prescribed waiting period is over, which is putting a serious crimp in our, uh, married life. (As I said previously, he thinks there's a strong correlation between the fact that we got pregnant so quickly after the first miscarriage, and losing the second pregnancy-- he thinks we should have waited longer and is committed to not making the same mistake twice. Which makes sense to me as well.) So it's a bit of, "Sweetie, I agreed that we'd wait until December or January to try-to-conceive again... I didn't agree to not have sex until then!"

Basically, I'm a Pooh and he's an Eeyore.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Banking Woes

Identification. Here's how it works. You have something official from the government with your name and photo on it, like a driver's license, a military ID, or a passport. You bring it to the bank for certain transactions, like withdrawing money, cashing a check, or changing information on your account. Are you with me so far?

We at the bank look at the piece of ID. We check the date (and yes, it matters. Expired ID is worthless ID.), we look at the picture. We compare the name to your name, the picture to your picture, and use that match to confirm that yes, the person in front of us is the person on the account or on the check. That happens so fast that neither you nor I fully realize that it's happening until something doesn't line up. It's kind of like checking your blind spot when driving-- how you don't even know that you do it until you see someone riding in that blind spot right before you were about to change lanes. So you think, "Wow, good thing I happened to check that time! Just as there was a car there!" but then realize that you always check but without really registering that you do so.

So far: you bring ID, we verify ID. ID must match you. This doesn't seem that complicated, does it? It works quite well most of the time, actually. Here's when there's a problem... You can't bring in someone else's ID. Based on what I've described, that makes sense, right? We use the ID to authenticate the person standing in front of us, so if that person is presenting his mom's or wife's, or roommate's ID, it just doesn't work. If that worked, it would mean that anyone who can get hold of your driver's license could clean out your account or cash your paycheck. Imagine the possibilities: corrupt teenage children rifling their mothers' purses, pick-pockets and thieves galore, unscrupulous housemates, even unauthorized spouses. (Dude, just because I married Don and opened joint bank accounts with him doesn't mean that he can take money from my personal accounts. Spouses can have gambling addictions, drug problems, affairs, or any number of reasons that one half of a married couple wouldn't want the other to do whatever they wanted with their money. As one manager pointed out to me, you never know who's on the brink of a divorce... and anyways, since when does marriage grant access to someone's money?)

Scenario: man shows up trying to cash a check written to someone else-- a woman, even. We explain that the only person that can cash a check is the person it is written to... kind of the whole point of checks, really. Man exclaims, "but I have her driver's license!" As though I'm suddenly going to go, "Oh! In that case of course you are authorized to cash this woman's checks! Why didn't you say so before!" Please! If it is so important that "she" get her money, make a deposit for her and she can withdraw at the ATM shortly. Sure, you probably have permission to try to do this. But that off chance that you stole her purse with both check and ID inside overrules.

Some common sense here, people. Don't give your checks to someone else to cash and then get mad at the bank for protecting you and your assets. Just be glad that we care more than you do, apparently.

Puppy Parenting

Never have I seen my poor puppy as sick as she was last night. First it was Cocomo, my sister's dog... She discovered that she could get her entire head into the bag of kibble. Unknown to us, she gorged on dog chow through the night, and was copiously sick all over my study. Why they always choose that room, I have no idea; both dogs seem to see my room as an emergency toilet. By morning, she was pretty well wrung out, and I spent the rest of the day worrying about her; she looked so sick and sad when I left for work.

Cocomo was fine when I got home. She was spry and happy, and the apartment showed no evidence of further episodes. Alice, however, looked a little... off. Head hanging down, eyes dull, listless, restless, panting. So I search the whole apartment and find a mostly-eaten bag of chocolate chips stashed under the sofa. Alice confirmed my theory by promptly throwing up the most disgusting chocolate mess I've ever seen.

She's had incidents with chocolate in the past, but hasn't touched the stuff in years. Otherwise I'd never have been so stupid as to leave the bag on the counter like that... We were up with her on and off all night, taking her outside, feeding her broth, letting her sleep in our bed. I've never been so worried about her before... her little heart was just pounding. I think chocolate is like heroin or something for dogs, it screws with their hearts.

This morning she seemed OK, though. Head back up, tail wagging again. She stopped panting sometime during the night and seemed to be sleeping better. I almost called in sick to work to stay with her but she was so much improved that I didn't. I hope that was the right decision. Now we have to steam-clean the carpets... again... And create a secure hiding place for our chocolate stash so that we don't accidentally kill our puppy. I don't want to ever go through that again...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Evil Cancer Sticks

OK, about Don and his smoking. He has been in various states of quitting for the past seven years. When he first wanted to change the nature of our friendship to something more romantic, I declined on the basis that I would never date a smoker again-- previous boyfriend had been a smoker, y'see. He surprised me by promptly agreeing to quit (I guess I was underestimating my allure as a potential girlfriend) and did really well for maybe the next six months. Then he gradually backslid into smoking again, until he was smoking maybe a few cigarettes every day, brought on by the stress of our move to Vermont, temporary unemployment, and my sudden descent into depression. The way I see it, he quit just long enough to cement the relationship...

We've been following the same pattern ever since, with a quitting cycle, several months of doing quite well, and then a return to smoking, usually triggered by periods of stress and upheaval. The last year hasn't been so good; our move to Virginia separated us for a good six weeks or so as he came up here to start work and I remained in Texas to tie up loose ends and get transferred through work. That period of being alone, living in the hotel and away from the positive influence of a nagging fiance plummeted Don back into smoking, and he hasn't really crawled out of that hole ever since-- except for a brief, disastrous attempt during our wedding/honeymoon vacation.

The quitting is complicated by the fact that Don gets really grumpy and nasty when he's quitting. I suppose any smoker or former smoker (or partner of either) understands what I mean. It's as though he's been possessed by an evil, grumpy gremlin and it makes living with him quite difficult. Hence the disaster of his trying to quit while simultaneously getting married and spending the week with both his parents and mine.

Because I've been absolutely, unequivocally, anti-smoking from the start, Don has kept his evil cancer-sticks to himself: he doesn't smoke in our house, in my car, or even in front of me. This is good in that it means I'm not sucking up his smoke, but it also makes it hard to know whether and how much he's actually smoking. Now that I've read so much about how smoking can cause infertility and miscarriage, we're both being more serious about the quitting. Believe it or not, it's hard work riding someone's ass all the time, you know? Even for a righteous cause.

He's been doing pretty well so far... no smoking at all on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Why I am Moving into a Bubble

When I'm tired at work, I tend to keep to myself: just stand at my window, help customers, and go online. When I'm in a good mood, I run around cleaning, organizing, stocking things; I sing to my coworkers, dance. I hate to say it, but I think they vastly prefer the tired, sad, and/or distracted me. Oh, well.

Why am I cutting out coffee? That is an excellent question with a meandering, complicated answer. In general, I tend towards the 'all things in moderation' school of thought: a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a can of tuna once in a while isn't going to do any harm. It sort of flows with the idea that women have been conceiving, carrying babies, and giving birth for ages with a surprising success rate. Nature's plan is a pretty damn good one, all things together. It would probably take an awful lot to dislodge a healthy pregnancy or mess up a baby. If drinking wine or beer were that detrimental, countries like France and Germany would have more problems than they do with maternal and fetal health. If coffee were that good of a contraceptive I would never have gotten pregnant, much less twice--or even be here myself, for that matter, because my mom's a coffee fiend. So a little bit of everything plus a lot of the good stuff-- fruits and veggies, beans and rice-- should be the perfect recipe.

Except. I've got two completely unexplained miscarriages under my belt and the urge to be extremely careful is overwhelming. The more common causes of miscarriage-- low progesterone levels, thyroid levels, blood clotting issues-- I've been tested for already; no answers there. So I'm left with the more nebulous, less-proven, potential miscarriage triggers. Seemingly inconsequential things like, say, soy suddenly loom large and menacing: did you end my pregnancy? Statistics like "shown to cause a 4% increase in chance of miscarriage" don't seem so meaningless and subjective as they did a year ago.

For me, it's emotionally easier now to just play everything extra safe than to try to justify the safety of various elements in the face of loss. It's hard to play the hmm-what-caused-this game, especially as a couple. We each have theories. Neither of us realized that Don's smoking increases my risk of miscarriage by a statistically significant amount. I have my dark suspicions about that. He has his own, namely that we got pregnant again too soon after the first miscarriage.

So I'm cutting out the caffeine for a couple of reasons. First of all, I'm trying to amp up my nutrition. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, you name it. After having been through that first trimester a couple of times, I know that I'm in no shape then to worry about eating well. It will be beneficial to have spent the month (or months) prior to getting knocked up ingesting plenty of calcium, folic acid, Vitamin D, iron, etc. so that I have some reserves to fall back on. Caffeine has a nasty way of actually leaching calcium from the bones, as well as blocking the absorption of other nutrients. Pregnancy favors the fetus, so if the mother (i.e. host organism) is not ingesting enough of a certain nutrient, it gets taken from whatever reserves she has; getting more than adequate calcium prior to and during pregnancy protects her bones and teeth from being sacrificed to the growing embryo. Same goes for every other nutrient, really, and caffeine can screw with those so that even if you're taking vitamins and eating your fruits, you may not be absorbing the nutrients from them as well as you would sans coffee. Second, caffeine has been linked (albeit inconclusively) to decreased conception; that is, couples in controlled studies took longer to concieve on average when caffeine was involved. Don and I have been trying to start a family for about one year, now. The first pregnancy took about four months to get started and I don't want to do anything to lengthen those odds this go-round-- even something as small as my morning latte. Caffeine has also been linked (also inconclusively) to increased risk of miscarriage. I think another miscarriage might send me 'round the bend, so best to just switch to Pregnancy Tea and be done with it rather than taking even the smallest risk.

So out with the coffee. Out with the plastic water bottles, steaks cooked medium-well, and every other risk that is hardly even a risk. For most of it (except the EVIL CIGARETTES of Don) I don't even think there's real danger. It's just to make myself feel better, and in the worst-case scenario, to rule out potential causes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Naval-gazing as always

And you thought I could go a whole month without obsessing about pregnancy... that's what you get for thinking. Isn't it funny how I write as though other people are reading this when in fact that does not seem to be the case any more? Anyways.

Everybody seems to be pregnant (except me) and it's starting to get to me. I'm beginning to have the resentment that seems pretty common among women having trouble getting and/or staying pregnant-- that annoyance with anyone who seems to be happily, effortlessly fertile.

The writer of a blog I read is pregnant again-- not even on purpose. One of my coworkers is pregnant, and while I'm happy for her, it's also frustrating on so many levels. For one, she too is miscarriage-prone and the worry and stress is contagious. It's like vicariously re-living my own fears. The other thing is that, well, I tend to research. I like to read and read and read about things that pertains to me or even anything interesting, whether it's pregnancy, cattle ranching, or Seattle. It kind of drives me crazy when people don't do that; when they don't bother to reach for the relevant information. Don't you want to know what's happening to your body right now? To know what decisions you'll be making in the next year, to form opinions about those things? My coworker really can't be bothered. But because she knows that I'VE done the reading she asks me questions constantly. Can she eat this. Can she do that. Why this, why that. I am not an expert on these things, and I keep trying to explain the concept that every woman, and every pregnancy, is different. Because I've been through two first trimesters this year, she is always asking me about those experiences for point of comparison. Personally I'm not that keen on discussing my failed pregnancies, and I think for her to compare her (most likely healthy) pregnancy to my two that didn't work isn't good. So that's tiring and frustrating.

Don and I are getting ready to start trying again. Back in August, we'd agreed upon December or January as long as everything else went OK. All the blood work has come back negative. No clotting disorders, no thyroid issues. I feel good: healthy, vital. I'm taking my vitamins, although I need to find a Vitamin D supplement. And a DHA supplement. Actually I need to make a list.

Preconception Checklist

* Start eating breakfast every day again-- to get back in the habit, to get more fiber, etc.
* Prenatal vitamins every day. Because folic acid is yummy!
* DHA supplement. Mmmm, fishy oil.
* Vitamin D supplement.
* No more coffee! (Why is this so hard?)
* No milk that isn't organic. Sorry, Starbucks.

Right, this month isn't going to be at all challenging. But really, what wouldn't I do...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Corporate Traveller, I am

It's like I've been gone forever, right? I haven't abandoned the blog, no worries. Just been extra busy lately with work and all. I spent this week in Baltimore for a training seminar, and the two weeks previous to that feverishly trying to catch up on the pre-work that was supposed to be done before class. It's about ninety hours of computer work, and ideally I would be tucked into a corner computer or the back room for a couple of hours a day to finish. But we're so short handed that I had no time at all to work specifically on the training and had to squeeze it all between customers and during my lunch break. Which is when -hello!- I usually do things like check my email or update this page. So between that and not bringing the laptop with me to Baltimore... no blog.

Traveling for work is kind of neat. I felt quite grown-up: staying in a hotel room by myself, dressing up every day, getting everything comped by the bank. Why yes thank you, I WOULD like a taxi! I don't let it go to my head though, because if I were still in Texas I would just go downtown for the training and not have to stay over. The traveling is really more a result of being so far from a big city than of being promoted. Unfortunately, the other nine associates taking this class were local to the area-- not shipped in as I was. Which meant that instead of us all going out after class (because we're all staying downtown and separated from our families and friends) they all drive back to whatever Baltimorean suburb they're from, leaving me alone in the city to do my thing. Which was cool, OK, I have no problem entertaining myself... but it would have been fun to have company!

I did what I always do in a new city with time to kill: find the nearest bookstore, which in Baltimore was the Barnes & Noble down in the inner harbor area. Quite nice actually. Except... I wanted to finish reading a farming book I'd picked up to look at here in Virginia, so I scoured the store (upstairs and down) looking for the agricultural section. (Generally in a B&N, agriculture is sandwiched between ecology and pets.) When I finally asked for help, the dude at the info desk explained to me (in small words) that Baltimore isn't very "agricultural", that there aren't a lot of "farms" in the area, and that there may not be any actual "books" in their agricultural section. Actually there were: three books about tractors. I guess I've gotten used to living in the sticks... if a city of 40-50,000 can be considered the sticks. But we are surrounded by farms here. And cows.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Posterior cortical atrophy. Have you ever heard of it? I hadn't. It is so rare that even Wikipedia doesn't have an entry on it. Imagine a disease with all of the horror of Alzheimer's, except that it strikes people younger, progresses faster, and blinds the victim as well as robbing her of memory. This is what my aunt (and uncle and cousins, by extension) have been battling for over 1o years now. It is a terrible, tragic disease, and essentially caused her death last week-- decades before her time. The last five days have been a chaotic blur, getting shifts covered at work, making last-minute flight plans, driving to D.C. to fly to Michigan, getting back to D.C. late last night to drive back home. To be honest, I'm so tired I'm not sure this post even makes sense.

The last time I was in Michigan was for my grandmother's funeral last year; this trip had a very unsettling feel of deja vu to it. Same limos, same funeral chapel, same elderly relatives chanting indecipherable Hebrew at the Shiva. But there is such a difference between the funeral for someone who died at 95 after a long, healthy life, and someone who dies at 66 from a degenerative illness; there is a sense of tragedy to the second that the first doesn't have. When a beloved someone dies at 95 we mourn--more for ourselves than anything because we'll miss her-- but there is not that sense of what-might-have-been, or what-should-have-been, because really that's about as good as it gets. To live to old age with all your faculties and independence intact; to retain your memory and drivers' license, your apartment, vision and hearing, family and friends-- isn't that the best any of us can hope for? None of that can be said about my aunt; to mourn her is to mourn all of the years that should have been, and to mourn the last several years in which her quality of life was so poor, her memory dying. It's hard to think about the hole left by her; not so much for me (although it's there, of course) as for my uncle, my cousins, my father. It is impossible to describe how close and loving my aunt and uncle were in their marriage, or how devoted he was to her both before and after her diagnosis-- joined at the hip. It's so painful to witness his devastation.

I cannot adequately write a tribute to my aunt about what a wonderful, loving woman she was, or list her many talents and accomplishments, and it has already been said by others who know even better. But I was thinking about it the evening before the funeral. What happens is this: the rabbi comes over and sits down with the immediate family and asks us about our relative so that he can fully understand who she was in order to create a meaningful eulogy. So for maybe two hours we all sit in the living room, sharing memories and stories, explaining things about her to the rabbi. I just listened, because my memories from childhood were too vague to express well and it was fascinating to hear so much I never knew about her. It is a real legacy to leave behind a family that is so close. 3 grown children who live far-flung lives-- Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco-- but call their father every day just to chat, who are close to each other, who are in committed relationships themselves, whose partners form seamless additions to the clan-- for a woman who put family before everything else, this speaks the loudest about who she was. She will be so, so missed.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Upside Down, Dreaming

You know how there are some songs that just make you inexplicably, wonderfully happy when you hear them? With those I try not to hear them too often, because I don't want them to wear thin. What if one day, you heard your favorite song and it did nothing for you? This song came on the radio today, I haven't heard it in years. It still does it for me.

Crazy how it feels tonight
Crazy how you make it all alright love
Crush me with the things you do
And I do for you anything too
Sitting smoking feeling high
And in this moment it feels so right

Lovely lady
I am at your feet
God I want you so badly
And I wonder this
Could tomorrow be
So wondrous as you there sleeping
Let's go drive 'till morning comes
And watch the sunrise and fill our souls up
Drink some wine 'till we get drunk

It's crazy I'm thinking
Just knowing that the world is round
And here I'm dancing on the ground
Am I right side up or upside down
And is this real or am I dreaming

Lovely lady
Let me drink you please
Won't spill a drop, no, I promise you
Lying under this spell you cast on me
Each moment
The more I love you
Crush me
Come on, oh yeah

It's crazy I'm thinking
Just knowing that the world is round
And here I'm dancing on the ground
Am I right side up or upside down
Is this real or am I dreaming
Lovely lady
I will treat you sweetly
Adore you I mean you crush me
And it's times like these
When my faith I feel
And I know how I love you
Come on, Come on

It's crazy I'm thinking
just as long as you're around
And here I'll be dancing on the ground
Am I right side up or upside down
To each other we'll be facing
My love
By love
We'll beat back the pain we've found
You know
I mean to tell you all the things I've been thinking deep inside
My friend
Each moment the more I love you

Crush me
Come on
So much you have given love
That I would give you back again and again
Oh my love
Meaning I'll hold you
But please please let me always

I'm probably breaking some kind of obvious rule by grooving on Dave Matthews Band while living in Charlottesville, but I really don't care.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Don is home, f-i-n-a-l-l-y. Got in around midnight after driving all day. The thing is, it really isn't that bad when he's away. We've been separated for as long as six weeks at a time, between staggered cross-country moves and travel for work, so it's not like I can play the weepy we've-never-spent-the-night-apart! wife. And there is the security of knowing that he's coming back, and when. It's not as though I'm an Army spouse with a deployed hubby or in some other precarious situation, you know? I tried to explain this to his mom, who seemed to be feeling guilty about keeping him away for so long-- that I can be on my own for a few weeks with no appreciable harm-- but I think she can't get past the idea of me all lonely and sad.

She seems to be doing remarkably well, but is house-bound as she's restricted from car-travel until her breastbone (which they have to break in order to get into the heart) heals, because a collision that re-opens it would be fatal. Being stuck at home isn't easy for her.

Anyways when Don came home, it was to a sparklingly clean house and a hot meal (butternut squash soup, roast chicken, peach cobbler. All from the Saturday Farmers Market). I think if he only came home once a week-- I would be a domestic goddess. The keys to squash soup are to make it kinda spicy so that it doesn't taste like baby food-- a little chili powder does the trick-- and top it with sour cream and bacon. Don will eat anything, I think, if you put bacon on top.

Problem is, the house is clean and organized and pretty because I poured hours of labor into it. Every day for more than a week, I was coming home from work and getting down to work. Running car-loads of stuff to the laundromat, dragging huge bags of trash to the curb. So the cost of coming home to a homely home is a slightly peeved partner who will want to sit down and have a Big Talk about housekeeping. Including New Rules and Responsibilities. Because a little two-bedroom house like ours should not take that kind of effort to clean, it really shouldn't. And I have no intention of being the only one keeping it nice.

Today is the first day of my favorite month. Yay for October! It was even chilly this morning, a nod to the new month. I called my doctor this morning because I want to get my thyroid tested. Hypothyroidism runs in my family and can cause infertility and miscarriage. Symptoms include inexplicable weight gain, fatigue, and feeling cold all the time. Those are kind of vague, because I exhibit all of them at times, but not all the time. And how can you really know if weight gain is unexplained? I'd say in my case it's more a matter of inexplicable weight change-- gaining and losing for no apparent reason. If you tracked my weight on a time-graph, I would look like a yo-yo dieter when in fact I'm not a dieter at all. I hope she will call me back, run the tests, get a diagnosis, put me on medication, and get me on the way to a place where we can start trying for a baby again. (Look, God, at my clean house and organically stocked freezer and homemade squash soup. Don't you think I should have a baby? Don't you think I'd take good care of it? Come on!) My faith in nature and my body being somewhat squashed at the moment, I'm pinning hopes right now on a medical intervention. Maybe a year from now, I can have a blog full of baby pictures...

Friday, September 28, 2007

What, another week has sped by already?

Update: Don's mom is doing really, really well. She's home from the hospital, up walking around the house, itching to get back in the car and go to bingo. His dad is doing well too. They are both the kind of people that are stronger than what we credit them, you know? Don's been there for a full week now and he'll stay through until Sunday... it's been a quiet week here (in Lake Wobegon) without him.

But I've got a ton done here. The house is clean. C-L-E-A-N. Stuff that hasn't been done since we moved to Virginia is done now. It's amazing what you can get done when you have your evenings totally free, hours to kill between getting off work and going to bed and no partner to lure you into couch-sitting, TV-watching oblivion. Man I've got a lot of books. Almost, dare I say it... too many. Some are going to go away to new homes.

My sister's dog is starting to drive me nuts. I mentioned back in May that I had a new favorite non-fiction book? I was re-reading part of it in bed the other night, and she chewed the book when I was at work. The spine and dust jacket are pretty much destroyed. Also, one of the quilts that my mom made for me has a hole chewed in the border. This dog is almost three years old; she's no teething puppy. Too damn old to be destroying my stuff, essentially. But my sister gets back next week, hallelujah.

Well, must go figure out what to do with this week's box'o'veggie...

ETA: And time to mess with the blog.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Don's Mom's Heart

Don's mom had a major heart surgery yesterday-- a valve replacement. We didn't even know that she was having heart issues until last week, or that she was going to have the surgery until Wednesday evening. Then we find out that they moved the operation up a day. She'll be in the hospital for another week most likely. Don is driving out there as I write this to be with his parents, to return sometime next week.

I hate not knowing what's going on. Not hearing anything for hours and hours at a time. With the exception of one over-taxed neighbor, there's nobody there to keep us informed. Don's dad suffers from early-stage Alzheimer's, which makes him vague and confused at times--especially when he's upset. This trauma has kept him from sleeping and he's not in a place to be taking care of himself right now. The way they each worry about the other is touching but makes things worse, really.

I wish I could go with Don, although my presence would probably just complicate matters. I know logically that she should be fine but it'd be nice to hear it from Don himself.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Netflix lurve

Over the course of 4 days we've watched Love, Actually; Bend it Like Beckham; and all six episodes of Coupling: Season 1.

Don decided to start actively participating in our Netflix account on account of British overload.

But it's too late for him to prevent what's already in the mail: Pride and Prejudice.


Public Service Announcement

Your banking institution will not, repeat WILL NOT, e-mail you asking for all of your personal information. We, the bank, already have your info. We did not suddenly forget it. We do not need to "update our records". Some information, like the PIN for your debit card or those magic numbers on the back of the card (that let you shop online) or the pass code for your online banking, we don't have and don't need, or want-- those are for your knowledge alone. If there is potential fraud on your account, we don't send you an e-mail to "alert" you (and for some reason request all of your information to "fix" the problem.)

The same thing goes for online shopping channels like Yahoo and Amazon and Pay-pal. Repeat: if you've already set accounts up with a bank or whomever, then that institution HAS your data. They will not come around requesting it.

For the love of GOD don't answer the e-mail. I don't care how how realistic it looks. I know that the emblems are all there and when you follow the link, it sure looks like your banking institution's website, doesn't it? Here's a hint, check the address bar. YOUR bank's website will generally read www.bankwherever.com/yadayadayada. Images are easy to copy, it doesn't take much ingenuity to create a skin that mirrors any other website, really. But that address bar is usually a give-away.

Never never never enter your social security number online, especially if "someone" is requesting it unprompted by you. Because you know what? I can cancel your debit card, close your checking account, change your Online Banking ID and pass code and open entirely new accounts for you, but there's not much I can do about a compromised social-- that's going to haunt you for awhile. THINK before ever giving away sensitive information. Ask yourself-- does this really make sense? Who needs these numbers and why?

Sincerely, your beleaguered banker.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I tired!

The summer squash has been sliced, frozen, and bagged. Ditto the green beans. The peppers have been flame-roasted, skinned, chopped, frozen and bagged. Leftover veggies and the carcass of a leftover roasted chicken have been simmered down to broth; chilled, skimmed, portioned, and frozen. The enormous bunch of basil became even more pesto (with walnuts because where are my pine nuts? Where? They are the most expensive ingredient that I buy and they are missing. It's like losing a bottle of olive oil-- the really good stuff.) which in turn became pasta salad for dinner which used up the cherry tomatoes. And a cup of pesto for the freezer, of course. And it's all neatly dated and labeled.

The pumpkin became pumpkin bread. The apples became apple pie. The overripe peaches are hiding in both the bread and the pie, disguising themselves as extra pumpkin and apple. They are the Scarlet Pimpernel of fruit, really. The bounty from the CSA and the farmer's market is stacked neatly in my freezer, and cooling on my table. Only two more weeks of CSA deliveries and I'm running out of freezer space.

Wondering yet how I spent my weekend? If my fridge goes out and ruins all of that food and two solid weekends of labor, I will throw a temper tantrum the likes of which have never been seen in these parts.

Being a member of a CSA farm has been really interesting, and fun. But I think we'll probably not do it next year. It was just too many veggies every week for two people-- produce was always going bad before I had a chance to deal with it-- and then it's Friday again, time to pick up this week's box. And while the variety was awesome, there's always going to be stuff we don't like, like eggplant, okra, and beets. Or maybe I just don't know how to cook them right or something. There's such an excellent farmers' market here that just going there every week would suit our needs better and essentially serve the same purpose: getting (amazingly good) local, organic produce and supporting local farmers. But we can just buy what we need for each week and not worry about how we're going to use two heads of cabbage before the next week.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Autumn at last

I feel a bit ecstatic, lately. It's the changing seasons, probably. My favorite month: October. Second: November. Third: September. Guess my favoritest season, go on-- guess! haha. I love having to grab a sweater to walk the dogs in the morning. You know what was at the farmer's market this morning? Pumpkins. (Yes, I bought one... but just a small one, I swear.) It's probably from growing up in a place where summer is something to be endured and autumn is a welcome respite from the relentless heat. Or maybe, being Jewish, I intuitively understand that right now, this week, starts the New Year-- not the arbitrary, dead-of-winter Jan. 1st, but the harvest season; the end and the beginning of the agricultural year. Or maybe, it's having started a new school semester every fall for 16 years. Who knows? But it's a fresh start, and I love it.

What to do with the pumpkin, though?

Failed at Segue, return to Go

Yes, I got the promotion. I have graduated from level-8 peon to level-7 peon-- sound the trumpets, let the wild rumpus begin. Benefits of movin' on up (cue the Jeffersons soundtrack here) include: a decent pay raise, an additional week of paid vacation, and most importantly, getting recognition for doing the work. Because I'd already been taught how to open accounts and etc, I know that even if I stayed in my position my managers would have me doing accounts, doing desk work, all the time.; even if I was only being paid for being a teller with only a teller's responsibilities. I figured that if I'm going to have the extra work and more responsibilies, I might as well have the title and the money, right? Right.

I have had a realization, lately. Not an epiphany, but- a slowly dawning recognition that in the past year or so, I haven't been doing any of the things I like to do. The things that make me happy. Baking. Cooking. I still do maintenance-level cooking, fixing dinner and all that. But cooking for fun? Trying new recipes? Bringing homemade baked goods to work? Haven't done that hardly at all since moving here. My quilting stuff--fabric, patterns, half-finished quilt-top-- is still in its box. I haven't used any of it, haven't taken a single stich. This time last year, I was working on my quilt every day. I used to sketch blueprints, house plans, all the time. I would read architecture books, get inspired, and then draw and draw. I'm no artist, but it is something that I love to do; I can visualize exactly how what I'm drawing in plan would look-- window seats, fireplaces, staircases, dormer bedrooms. I haven't even had to buy a new enormous-graph-paper-pad since coming here. My piano gets dusted more often than played, and it's hardly ever dusted. Even just listening to music, as though picking out a CD is too much trouble or something. The funny thing is that I don't know why, and I don't know what it means. Am I depressed? Bored? I don't know. I don't know if it has anything to do with the move, or if the move just makes it more noticable because it's such a concrete way to measure time: since coming to Virginia, XYZ has/ hasn't happened. I'm confused because these little things are what defines us, to an extent; so who have I been this past year? But I have decided to do something highly unusual for me: to take action instead of just thinking and thinking.

I've decided that the best thing to do is just to start doing everything again and worry later about why I unthinkingly stopped in the first place. So in the last two weeks, I've been baking bread; I've been making huge batches of broth and freezing meals'-worths of soup from the end-of-summer CSA bounty. Going to the farmer's market. Playing the piano, sketching houses. This weekend, I will clear off the table that I set up for quilting, and unpack my quilting box. It's like getting re-aquainted with an old friend: why hello, self. You enjoy this, remember? See how good it is?

Thursday, September 06, 2007


My job has changed substantially in the last few weeks. On the one hand, it's great to be doing something different, learning new things, having more responsibility. I might even get a little promotion and raise out of the deal. On the other, though, my time spent on the Internet is greatly decreased. I am lucky this week if I get a lunch break and a chance to pee, much less check my email or update the blog. Does it show? So this is what online-life is like for those folks who can't do it from their work-place...

Weekend in Texas = absolutely wonderful; it was exactly what I needed. A great big THANK YOU to everyone who made time for me, took me out, had me over, introduced me to new people, made me scrambled eggs every morning... ya'll know who you are. OK, the last was my dad who doesn't read this, so he doesn't. Still. My batteries, they are recharged.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


There seems to be rather a fine line between keeping one's private life private, and leading a secret double life.

You start off just not telling people that you're trying to start a family. Nobody's business, after all, but your own. And then when you get pregnant, you keep it to yourself as much as possible, because it's early days yet. You miscarry, and congratulate yourself on everyone you didn't tell-- even though now there's this kind of emotional barrier between you and the un-told: they don't know what's going on with you because you couldn't tell them. You try again, succeed and fail again in rapid succession. More people know this time, because the pregnancy hit harder and lasted longer-- you were starting to come out of the closet, so to speak. But there's still a large contingency that knows nothing about the trying, the pregnancies, and miscarriages. Combine this with the fact that you started trying to get pregnant at the same time that you moved across country, meeting an entirely new group of friends and acquaintances; people to chat with, hang out with, but not necessarily share the more intimate details of life with.

And suddenly it's difficult to chat and hang out, (even more than before, when you didn't explain why suddenly you can't stay up past ten in the evening) because you realize: it's a double life. Someone asks "What's up, how are you?" and your answer is a complete fabrication-- fine, not much new, same ol' same ol'. But you're thinking: the whole time we've been friends, for almost a year now, I've been struggling. I've gotten pregnant twice; spent maybe four months total immobilized on the sofa, having traded nights playing darts for hugging the commode. Went through two miscarriages. I'm trying to deal with the changes and problems that these new stressors add to a relationship-- the guilt, the blame, the worry. And you don't know a thing about any of it, which is nobody's fault but my own. I'm scared and depressed and tired, and I can't talk to you about it without starting from the beginning and changing the nature of our friendship.

And it's my own fault. For being so circumspect right from the start, for keeping new friendships light and airy, based on television-darts-hamburgers-beer-the Red Sox and not on life. Should I have been more open? It is against my nature for the most part. It wouldn't seem so for someone who keeps an Internet journal like this, right? But this writing is a substitution, something that balances the private, quiet, almost closed-off character that I tend to be in person. But where is the line drawn? How do you know which people are which-- which ones that could be close real friends that talk about the future, the past, joy and heartbreak, and which will back away uncomfortably, wishing that the subject of conversation was still last night's game of darts? I have always waited for the other person to make that call and then responded in kind, but now I realize that this is lazy and ungenerous.

And it leaves me with a fake smile on my face, casual lies flowing from my mouth, and a blog as the main place to sort out the truth.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Green Tea, Green Sweater

Well, it is just poison ivy, after all. Which is better than a mysterious infection. But boy does it itch. And itch. And itch. I'm groggy from all the Benedryl last night as I had to take another dose around two in the morning-- couldn't sleep with all the itchy. When I get home from work, I need to gather the damp towels, re-wash them, and take them to the laundromat to dry. Fun evening, right?

On the bright side, the weather is acting unseasonably autumnal; it's cool, grey and breezy with threatening storms every so often, and I got to wear my new green sweater. I love fall. And sweaters. And drinking hot beverages when it's nippy out. OK, so maybe mid-sixties isn't really nippy, but after the 90-degree heat for so many weeks it feels downright chilly to me.
Lately, I hate all my clothes and wish that I had the money and time to get new stuff. I've never really been into clothes or fashion, so I'm kind of wondering what this is really about. Why a sudden desire for pretty things when I generally don't pay that much attention to what I'm wearing? Maybe it represents my boredom with other aspects of my life; my job, probably. Something nice and shiny-new while everything else remains stagnant. Maybe it's just me wanting to have some modicum of control over something for once, since my reproductive system is so maddeningly beyond reach? Perhaps I was secretly looking forward to buying cute maternity clothes. Either which way, I want a new skirt. And some boots. And jeans. And a jacket. Too bad I'm so broke, ha. Old Navy is meant for folks like me...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I don't even know where to begin...

My life has been stupid lately. To the point where I'm starting to look for the hidden cameras...

Thursday evening, I left my car window cracked open. Why, I don't remember. It rained all that night, of course, and my car seat was soaked... which I didn't notice until I was already driving to work. Huh-- this feels kind of damp... and squishy...

By the time I got to work, my pants were soaked through, all the way through my undies to the skin. Soaked and wrinkled, naturally, from my sitting in them. But because I work within a university, I have ready access to their bookstore, which sells tons and tons of over-priced school-branded crap. Including lots of sweatpants and even underwear. Lucky for me. So I shell out way too much money for a pair of sweatpants with the name of the university running down the leg, and a pair of panties that say "I heart (name of school)!" in a rather inappropriate place.

Needless to say, I do not love said school, nor am I affiliated with it in any way. (Even if I did love the school, I would prefer to have that written, say, across my chest or perhaps on a breast pocket. I mean, I heart Harry Potter but I'm not going to write that across my crotch, right? Because that is weird.) Nor am I supposed to wear warm-ups to work-- not what you'd call business casual. But I can't work for hours in wet pants in a chilly, air-conditioned basement so I did what I gotta did and changed into the new sweatpants while my stuff dried out in the back. Working in a bank in what to me are pajama bottoms is strange: at once extremely comfortable (warm! fuzzy! soft!) and uncomfortable (good grief I look ridiculous). Fifty dollars gone, just like that...

Yesterday was one of those rare, golden days in which Don and I are both free. We took a long, meandering drive up in the mountains where it was cool, stopping to walk a few feet along the Appalachian Trail now and then just because it's there. Today I woke up with either a tremendous rash or a parasitic infection-- hard to say which. In 2003, I had a case of poison ivy so bad that I ended up in the ER; this is almost as bad. But I can't tell if it's poison ivy or not. For one thing, it seems most concentrated on my right leg, pretty high up, where my jeans should have protected me. For another, it seems to be spreading. For a third, I have found three tiny tiny little bugs walking on me, that I can't identify. Three insects and a rash seem awfully coincidental, right? I don't know. They aren't fleas (and I checked the dogs). They aren't ticks or bedbugs. I look like I've got chicken pox or something. I thought maybe an allergic reaction to the new pants and knickers from the previous indignity-- usually I wash everything before wearing as I'm pretty sensitive to chemicals and etc. But that would be quite a delayed reaction and wouldn't explain the teensy crawling bugs. We were in the woods for maybe 15 minutes!

So there's that. I saw the rash and went on with my day. Remember how I mentioned a post or two ago that our dryer is broken? Absolutely HAD to do laundry today so I decided to do a combination of line-drying and laundromat. Our down-stairs neighbor has a clothes-line and has said that I could use it whenever. She's been gone all weekend and I don't know where she keeps the clothes-pins, so I just washed all the towels since I could kind of fold them in half over the line. Right? I've never used a clothesline before but felt vaguely virtous about it-- letting the good sun dry my towels instead of nasty carbon-based electricity. Yeah.

Did that, gathered everything else, went to the laundromat. So far everything is good. (Except the rash, which is consistently getting worse as the day goes on.) I drop the clothes in the washer and take my car to the car-wash place so that I can clean out the interior-- the interior that got soaked in the rain when I left my window down. Remember? Clean, vacuum, wash the exterior, go back to the laundromat, dry clothes, watch a cute little family and realize that everyone has a baby except me.

Stop the pity party, fold the clothes, back to the car (it's all shiny and clean! Yay!) headed for the grocery store. Need Benedryl and cortisone for this rash-- not going to the doctor after what happened last time. (They prescribed a steroid to dull my immunological reaction to the rash-- I reacted to the steroid by spontaneously developing a throat infection, ear infection, and urinary tract infection. I had to go on antibiotics for those, of course, and reacted to the antibiotic by breaking out with a yeast infection. That was a fun cycle.)

Buy dinner, buy rash-fixings, buy self-indulgent magazines that I can't afford. (Come on, I'm all itchy. I deserve In Style!) Come out of the grocery to find that it's raining. All over my shiny clean car. All over the wash that is outside on the clothes line back at home.

So I give up. I'm opening some wine, taking the Benedryl, and letting Don cook the salmon. If this is some kind of cosmic joke... you win! You got me! I realize that a little heartbreak doesn't excuse one from the random indignity of life. I know that you can lose a loved one today and slip on a banana peel tomorrow. But come on. Can't a girl catch a break?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pick One

(car bomb, truck bomb, road-side bomb) goes off in Iraq killing (10, 15, 19) (soldiers, civilians, families)

(hurricane/tsunami/earthquake) in (the gulf coast/the Philippines/Japan/Peru) kills (dozens/hundreds/thousands)

(Plane crash/bridge collapse/mine cave-in) in (Brazil/Minnesota/Utah) kills...

I am going to turn my radio to the country station and go back to bed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Married Life

Sometimes it's hard for Don and me to talk about things. It all comes back to that whole him=man, me=woman thing that I imagine haunts most hetero relationships. I have to remember to ask for what I want instead of assuming that he already knows. He has to talk about how he feels, which is apparently something you lose man-points for. Darn these strong, silent types.

About three weeks ago, our dryer broke. Working fine for one load and then for the next--gone. It was terrible. Unfortunately, my method for breaking the broken-dryer-news to Don was to tell him that I had bad news-- something you shouldn't ever do when pregnant, it seems. I will never forget how he looked: so concerned. Scared, even. How he pulled me closer and put his hand on my belly. I felt so bad then for worrying him, even as I realized how much this pregnancy meant to him.

But when I actually have to tell him that I think something is wrong with the pregnancy, he switches into action-man mode. First, the stop-being-paranoid-everything's-fine stage to correspond with my I'm-sure-something's-wrong-but-have-no-evidence stage. When I switch from that to shit-I-knew-it,-I'm-bleeding, he moves into it-ain't-over-till-it's-over. When I finally get to I'm-sorry-baby,-it's-gone, he goes into automatic it's-OK-sweetie,-we'll-try-again. We'll take tests. We'll have a baby before you know it. Because he is afraid that his pain will make me feel even worse. I have to get him to stop trying to take care of me, to fix it for me-- to stop acting as though he isn't hurt by this as well--to acknowledge how upset and sad he really is. I have to articulate that his pretending that everything is fine is actually hurtful, not helpful, because it makes me feel alone; as though he wasn't invested in this pregnancy when I know he was.

Our conversation starts serious and ends in a tickling match-- as usual.

Don: stop it-- be serious!

Me: I AM serious! (going for behind the knees)

Don: You're goofy is what you are.

Me: NOT goofy-- serious! (totally winning this one)

Don: OK, you're serious-- Sirius BLACK!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I don't know what that is, exactly. My mom tells me yesterday that I'm being so strong, but how am I? What other alternative is there but to process, to deal, to adjust and keep going? I'm not one to crack up and go nuts, or to drown my sorrows in alcohol or reckless behavior. 90% of people are the same way, I think. Shoulder it and keep going, and try to stay open; to grow from the experience and not shrivel.

This is not the worst thing ever. It sucks, of course. I'm not trying to say that everything is fine or that I'm not sad, pissed off, and scared. But it's not the end of the world, there are so many worse things. I know that so many people are going through worse, and with such grace. An uncle of mine, to just name one. Now if it turns out that Don and I will never have a child, that I'm not at all capable to make a baby, that would be the worst.

I am back at work today. I found out that I could have taken the whole week off no questions asked, but why? It doesn't do me a whole lot of good to sit at home, alone, thinking too much as Don would say. I'm not in any physical pain... at least, not more than what a normal period is like. The longer I'm away from work the harder it is to come back; I'd rather face everything right away, deal with the questions and the comments and let it fade from everybody's mind, which will happen faster the sooner I return. I stayed home all weekend and yesterday. Watching my favorite movies, reading favorite books. Cleaning my study and playing with the dogs. You can only do that for so long, right?

It's not that I'm trying to avoid thinking about the miscarriage or feeling it through, but it helps to have the distraction of work; to have other things occupying my mind for a time.

What I really need is some time at home-- in Texas. With my family and my friends. I need to see my mom (who almost decided to fly here for the weekend) and just chill for awhile. I don't have any vacation time left but I hope that I can take some time off unpaid-- I don't mind missing a paycheck. I'm going to ask my manager today and hope that she's still feeling bad enough for me to be unorthodox about this.


When I was your age, television was called 'books'.

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!

--You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

You seem like a decent fellow, I hate to kill you.
--YOU seem like a decent fellow, I hate to die!

What about the R.O.U.S.?
-- Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don't believe in them.

Anybody what to guess what movie I watched? Anybody?

Monday, August 13, 2007


It's all over, now. Another miscarriage, this one at exactly 12 weeks. Is that why 12 weeks is supposed to be the magic turning point? I don't really know what to write at this point, I feel strangely calm, or maybe kind of numb.

I've felt for a long time, maybe two weeks now, that something wasn't right. That I wasn't really pregnant anymore, that my little bean had "stopped growing" (to use the clinical phraseology) and that I was just carrying dead weight. Nobody wanted to believe me, not even my doctor's office-- it's so much easier, more hopeful to think that it was just because I'd miscarried before. Obviously that would make me worry more, right? But it also gave me the insight into what a pregnancy gone wrong feels like. This miscarriage was surprisingly manageable, nothing like the dramatics of the previous. I had an ultrasound first thing this morning just to make sure that everything is, you know, out. It confirmed what I already thought, which is that I actually lost the baby not long after the eight-week ultrasound but that my body was taking its own time in processing that information.

I keep wondering why. I've never had anything like this happen before. 26 years old, healthy and strong. Built to have babies, or so I thought--I should be the poster child for a healthy, uneventful pregnancy. This is the first time that my body has failed me, and I feel betrayed by it. Right now, we do the hCG tests, to make sure that it's decreasing as it should be. Next week: a "panel" of tests that measure, I don't know, how my blood clots or something. Some causal factor in miscarriages. Because we were already doing the progesterone, you know? That was supposed to fix it? After that, who knows. Genetic testing for me and for Don, to find out if we're likely to create chromosomally un-viable offspring? What would cause a pregnancy to fail that had already hit so many milestones? That got to 8 weeks but not to 10? I really thought that after seeing that little heartbeat, we were out of the woods. So to speak.

Any which way, Don and I are going to wait until the winter to try again. That will give us plenty of time to run whatever tests we can, and to give my poor body a break; I'm not going to put it through three first trimesters in a row. Two within six months has run it ragged already-- if I got pregnant again soon and kept it that would be like being pregnant all year long. And a third miscarriage might drive both of us around the bend. Even though I know it's not a factor, Don is convinced now that we shouldn't have tried again so soon, that I was still taxed from the last. I know that wouldn't have caused a miscarriage, but I can see where he's coming from. I need to pull back and concentrate on nutrition, on losing this ten pounds that have crept onto me (I write this with a pint of Ben&Jerry's in hand), on regaining my vitality and strength before trying again to become a host organism.

My mom sent a tiny little hat and booties that she knitted. I got the package right after the bleeding and cramping started and just lost it. The dogs wondered why I was bawling. But I haven't bought any baby stuff at all, haven't held any eensy onesies or tiny teeshirts. It kind of drove home that I wasn't losing a 12-week pregnancy so much as the baby that I was going to be holding in February. Now I have to call her and let her know that I received the package but lost the baby...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

And now, I'm bleeding.



Friday, August 10, 2007

I don't know why exactly, but I find this very sad, and touching.

A homeless man who had lived under the bridge assured authorities that no
homeless people were caught in the disaster, Martin said. The man knew everyone
who camped there -- he didn't say how many -- and was sure all were elsewhere at
the time of the collapse, Martin said.

From an article about the bridge collapse. For some reason I hadn't thought about anyone living under the bridge before...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Sometimes there's too much going on, to post in a blog. Sometimes there's nothing going on and nothing to write about. Sometimes it feels like both.

My sister and her boyfriend spent the weekend here, en route from Texas to Europe. Now they're gone, but we have her car and her dog in our possession as a reminder that being a big sister is forever. Don't make that commitment lightly, folks...

Am I a little jealous about a 2-month trip to Europe? Of course. Who wouldn't be? On the other hand, I will never be footloose enough to quit my job, cancel my lease, put all my stuff in storage, drop the dog at my sister's, and take off. I will never be outgoing enough for couch-surfing to be my preferred way of travel, which is what they'll be doing. More than anything I want them to have an amazing trip, something to remember for life.

Although I'm damn worried about Cocomo. This dog is seriously underweight, almost to the point of being starved. I've never seen a dog so thin that was being actively cared for-- she's the kind of skinny that you usually only see in strays or recently rescued shelter-dogs. Her home-life has been very unstable since Don and I moved away. First in one apartment, with three different roommates in succession. Two with dogs. Then in a house populated by three guys, my sister, and a huge unfixed male boxer that intimidated the hell out of her and ate her food. You can see all of her ribs, even from a distance.

I know my sister loves her dog and that she does as well as she can by her. But I kind of wanted to smack her when I saw that puppy... If my dog were losing weight like that I would do whatever I could to fix the situation, you know? Move the dog to a safer location. Keep her, and her food, in a bedroom. Something. Not just let her stress out until her ribs poke out through her fur.

Lately I've been gripped with worry that I'm losing this pregnancy. I don't know why, exactly, but I feel certain that something is wrong even though I feel OK. Maybe because I feel so OK. I don't even remotely feel pregnant anymore. My next doctor's appointment isn't until Wednesday, a week from today. I guess if nothing happens between now and then, I'll just ask them to confirm that everything's still ticking along in there. Right now all I feel is impending doom...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

You Don't Say-- Really

Apparently, being pregnant is somehow like running for public office; it enables random people to ask questions and make comments that they never would ordinarily. I don't remember signing up for this...

Tips on Dealing with the Pregnant Woman

Don't touch. I guess it's one thing later on, when there's a cute basketball-belly full of baby; some people can't help themselves. But if your coworker spills the beans that she's 9 weeks pregnant, DO NOT grab her belly. Yes, someone did this to me. I had to grab her hand, push it away, and say, "That's NOT BABY, that's my belly. YOU ARE GRABBING MY BELLY FAT." I explained in graphic detail that the "baby" is at that point the size of a Lima bean, floating in a uterus the size of a grapefruit that is still tucked securely in my pelvis. Anything that is "showing" on me right now is just weight gain due to the excessive hunger and complete cessation of all physical activity. Babies don't start behind the belly button and grow out; they start wayyy down, below the pubic bone, and grow upwards.

On a similar note, how is it appropriate to make comments about someone else's body? Unless my baby is finally showing up front, there is no call for this. My growing ass and boobs are not your concern and it is tacky to mention them.

If someone you know is suffering from ongoing morning sickness, do not do any of the following:

Do not repeatedly exclaim that you never had a day's worth of being sick! Isn't it just funny how some women get sick and some don't! Well, I'm so happy for you, but it sure doesn't make me feel better right now. Misery does not love gloating. I prefer to hear about similar stories from women that are understanding, that remember clearly the relationship that develops between preggers and their toilet bowl. (Or bucket. I heart my bucket.)

Do not imply that worry, ambivalence, or unhappiness with the pregnancy is causing morning sickness. What a toxic, disgusting idea. We've been trying for the better part of a year to make this baby. Had a terrible miscarriage just a few months ago. If I were any happier about being pregnant, I would float into work instead of walking. (Dragging. Whatever.) I know I look miserable, but that's because I feel like shit, not because I'm ambivalent. DO NOT say, "Oh, I never got morning sickness, I think I was just so happy to be pregnant that it just didn't occur to me." Because if I killed you, I think I would be acquitted. Here's the thing: during early pregnancy, the female body is flooded with hormones. Some women react better to that than others; some react as though they are being poisoned by these unfamiliar chemicals that are building up in the liver and kidneys. The body's natural response is to get rid of the 'toxins' the only way it knows how, which is barf. And I'm sure that being on these hormone supplements for the last month is not helping my case. But it doesn't give anyone the right to question how I feel about being pregnant, which last time I checked wasn't even anyone else's business to begin with.

Sharing the news. I had to share my happy news at work much earlier than I intended to, because of the constant illness. Half had already guessed, because let's face it, when you see a woman going to barf several times a day for days on end, it becomes clear that it isn't a virus. But here's the thing; just because you know doesn't give you the right to share that with whomever, whenever. For example. I tell my manager about the Little Bean out of necessity, to explain a sick-day. The next day is a general announcement, congratulations, etc. OK. But why is she telling so many random people that couldn't care less? Our customers do not care. Visiting higher-ups and other managers don't care. Pregnancy only becomes interesting to strangers when it's visible and imminent. First-trimester pregnancy is boring. So please don't go, "And this is Mara, who just told us she's going to be a mother!"

Telling the people I work with every day out of necessity is a bit different than wearing a sandwich board as I walk down the street. I have no desire to share my happy news with random strangers, so could you please stop doing that? When I'm showing, that will be my sandwich board to the world. Until then, why not keep it among those who either need to know, or who care enough about me to find it interesting news?

On the same note, it's silly to ask, "Did you just find out?" No. I just told you. I've known for a month or so. How ignorant do you think I am-- to not realize that I'm pregnant for weeks and weeks? It seems I have more discretion than you realize; I can apparently decide to keep this news from you as long as I deem necessary. Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but managers and coworkers are not the same thing as close friends.

Ahh, labor and birth. Why would you tell me that I'll need the drugs? Is it because you did, so you can't stand the idea of anyone else daring not to? If I heard that you were training to run a triathlon in six months, I would never pat you on the back and say, "Honey, you'll never make that. I'd look into steroids, if I were you. Everybody does it!" Obviously, I don't KNOW what labor will be like for me. Obviously, you don't either. Personally I believe that I was built to give birth, as anyone who's seen me in real life could understand... I have the HIPS, baby. But you know, I can't guarantee that I won't need pain relief, I understand that it's a possibility. I just don't understand why you would try to undermine someones desire to do that "natural thing".

How OLD are you? Are you married? Was this planned? Wow, could you be any ruder? Did you parents forget to teach you manners? Were you brought up in a barn? Sorry, I forgot that turnabout isn't fair play. I am 26 year old. Yes, I realize that I look younger than my age; five extra years so far of getting carded doesn't let me forget. Guesses tend to range from 19-24, average about 22. I know full well that if I were ten years older (or looked ten years older) you wouldn't dare to ask these impertinent questions, nor would you even care. My story is pretty boring: 26, married, very much planned. A long time trying, actually. Does that excuse your asking? No. What the HELL. If I WERE 21, single and completely surprised by this, would that justify you? Would that make it OK to ask these kinds of things? My being young (or young-looking) does not somehow give you the right to ask me questions you'd never ask a 36 year-old matronly type. I do not like seeing you prepare to judge me, and then change your mind because I have the right statistics. You have no right to judge in the first place; my answers are irrelevant.

This lesson brought to you by one grumpy-assed pregnant lady!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Sorry about the netspeak, but I just couldn't help myself...

AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! re: Deathly Hallows.

I can't say anything because I think it's too soon to spoil. I don't want to ruin anything for anybody, so if you haven't finished the book... Hurry Up! There's so much to discuss!

I just saw a button that says, "Less Bombs, More Art Supplies" and it really bugs me. Not because I disagree with the principle, but because it ought to be "Fewer Bombs, More Art Supplies"... right? It gets under my skin.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


It's all good. Embryo is alive, has a heartbeat. Looks like the Michelin Tire Man, but in a good way. It looks like I'm actually pregnant for the long haul this time...

I had to wait one day to write about it, because yesterday it would have been all gibberish and blubbering, which doesn't translate well onscreen. I cried all over the nurse as she tried to explain various part of my Little Bean as "the yolk sac" and "the arm buds". Honestly it looks just like a blob. But a living, flashing blob; very cute. So different than the dark empty spot in the last one. I called my parents last night to share the news (finally!) and (of course!) they're thrilled to death.

The sickness is getting old. I find myself calculating the statistics: throwing up between two and six times a day, mean of 3, median 2. If I had a point for every new bathroom explored, I'd have a lot of points-- who's in charge of the points, anyway? I need to talk with them. Everyone at work asks me how I feel, multiple times a day. I don't know what to say; do I tell the truth-- I feel crappy, I wish I were at home in bed with my bucket? Because that's getting old and boring. Do I lie and say I'm fine, even though they are asking genuinely? bleh.

HARRY POTTER TOMORROW. SO EXITED. Here are the theories that I'm hoping will bite the dust once and for all:

The Harry-and-Hermione-are-brother-and-sister theory. PLEASE.

The Harry-(or his scar)-is-a-Horcrux theory.

The Harry-will-die theory. (I hope, I hope, I hope...)

The Snape-and-Lily theory. Ewwww. Nuff said there.