Friday, December 26, 2008

Maybe Sky-diving, Instead

Don's gifts this year included a few new CDs, on the theory that, for the first time EVER, one of our vehicles has a CD-player and he should try it out sometime. So I got him the new-ish Metallica and a Johnny Cash best-of collection. Don loves it. The dog, apparently, doesn't. She hates Johnny Cash. Who knew? It is only the second time she has ever displayed an opinion about music, the first being when she tried to howl to Aerosmith; but that had the extenuating circumstances of (1) being in the car, (2) I was singing along, and (3) it was that part of "Dream On" that jumps up an octave or three. (No, I can't hit that note-- can anybody?) If Dream On sounds like howling, maybe Johnny Cash sounds like growling. Who knows what musical criteria lurks in the minds of dogs?

In other gifty news, Don's mother sent a box for Christmas... I got a necklace, a bracelet, and these cool kitchen utensils that have my name on the handle. Don got socks, boxer shorts, and jeans. I think it's official: she likes me better than her own son.

I am leaving at the ass-crack of dawn tomorrow for New Mexico--seriously, I have to get up at FOUR AM., that time shouldn't even exist-- where I will spend a long-awaited week with my family*. My mom and I discussed the fact that I don't want to ski, since I haven't been skiing in about twenty years and I don't think it's the thing to take up at four months pregnant. Somehow she has translated this into, "The whole family can just veg out doing jigsaw puzzles and playing Scrabble!"-- or at least, the two of us. I'm not sure if this is an attempt to keep me comfortable, or if she's using me as the perfect excuse to laze out. I said that I'm totally up for snowshoeing, hiking, whatever, that doesn't involve falling down repeatedly; that my nausea is gone and my energy is back, but I don't know if that sunk in at all.

*My natal family, as opposed to the motley crew of husband, dog, cat and various dust bunnies that I have assembled myself over the past eight years or so.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Baby's First Latkes

Now repeat after me, little passenger: baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu...

Happy Chanukah, ya'll...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cookie Monster

When you use powdered sugar, maple syrup, dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, molasses, white sugar, and turbinado sugar (optional) all in one evening... you KNOW it was a good cookie-baking night.

(Maple walnut bars, molasses spice cookies, and good ol' chocolate chip. For work presents. They seem to be a smash hit.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Money Bad

I don't understand all this interest rate stuff. (For a banker that's probably a bad thing, right?) For one thing, every time some pundit comes on to the tv or radio to discuss What Went Wrong in the economy, he will always begin with "the abundance of cheap credit" in the nineties, which led to X, Y, Z and Hell. So if cheap credit was the first stepping stone on the way to "housing market crisis" and "frozen credit markets", how exactly is cutting the federal interest rate (again) NOW, a good thing? They're talking about making it smaller than it has ever been before, including during those crazy 90's. I don't get it, really*. Secondly, how is it that "rates go down" affects the rate at which I can EARN interest, but seemingly not the rate at which I can borrow? CD rates that were in the 4-5% range over the summer have dropped to 2%... or worse. Savings accounts are a joke. Treasury bonds are even worse. And yet my credit cards are still charging 16% interest. Even if I applied for a new card, the interest wouldn't be any lower than what I would be paying right now. Supposedly mortgage rates will be affected, but they're not going to drop that much, and they've been at "historical lows" for ages now anyway. So I get no benefit as a lender, OR as a borrower. Go figure.

Gift-wrapping PSA: It can be very, very important to use those little to:/from: gift cards as you wrap. For example: in my case, everybody in my family is getting some combination of books and/or sweaters. (Sorry, you guys.) If you're in a situation like that and you wrap too quickly, you'll end up with a pile of square-ish, book-shaped packages, and a similar pile of lumpy, sweater-shaped packages and not know which goes to whom. Luckily I could see where this was going after just one or two presents and broke out the gift tags, but it was a close call. I'm still not entirely sure that my dad and brother's books didn't get swapped.

* Please don't try to explain why it's a good thing now. Just nod your head in agreement with me, please.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oversharing, as usual

I am now, apparently, qualified for a C-cup bra for the first time. This is exciting in a way that only others who have spent their adult lives comfortably resting in B-cups, will understand. 36C... it's the stuff of legend.

Less exciting is that I also appear to wear size 14 pants, all of a sudden. (I don't know what happened to size 12, I guess I bypassed it entirely.) There is balance in all things, or so it seems... but it doesn't seem quite fair that the boob size went up only ONE, while the ass size went up TWO.

Other news: I am the MacGyver of holiday present wrapping, having just wrapped all of my presents for Don using a glue-stick instead of tape (there was no tape). For the record, the glue-stick works wonderfully well on anything that is firm and square, like small appliances in boxes, books, or CDs, but not as well for random lumpy stuff, (for example a sweater wrapped in tissue paper), in which the tape is really needed to kind of hold everything together. Perhaps I don't have my own gift-wrapping closet like Martha, but I think I'm probably better in an emergency wrapping situation, in which one would have to fashion gift wrap out of random household objects. (Yes, being too lazy to go back out and buy tape is an "emergency".) These are the kind of skills I hope to pass on to kids, someday...

My neighbors across the street just put up their plywood nativity scene. It's kind of funny because while the camels seem to be a clear nod to the Middle-Eastern locale of the First Christmas, Mary appears to be a blue-eyed blonde. (They were ever so common among the Hebrew population 2000 years ago, just as they are today. Why, if you walk the streets of Tel-Aviv, you'd think you were in the Netherlands!) Ah well, as the good book says, man does create God in his own image... or something similar to that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Confession Time

I've been keeping secrets from my own blog, is that weird? It probably is, but honestly, I've been called weird for bigger things than that. Here's the scoop: I'm pregnant! I know, I know, I'm always getting pregnant, so what else is new, right? So get this: I am 15 WEEKS pregnant. That's right, in the second trimester, baby! I have BEEN pregnant for a long time now-- the longest ever, for me, by several weeks. This might actually be THE pregnancy that results in a real, live baby rather than the blood, testing, and tortured blog posts of the four previous pregnancies. We have had three ultrasounds, at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, and 12 weeks; that last one was the fancy technical one where we got to see everything... heart and stomach, feet and hands, brain, umbilical cord, all the bits and pieces. They were all there, in the right places. We even have a placenta, which is something that I (secretly) think may have gone wrong before. We've had the nuchal translucency test, the first-trimester blood work, all perfectly normal and chromosomally sound. Obviously we're not out of the woods yet, but things are looking decent. I'm starting to "show". I think I feel movement. I'm hopeful.

I didn't tell my family or my work until just recently, which is why I didn't mention it here, on the theory that you never really know who's reading, right? Also I've been tired for the last few months, go figure. So that's it, I'm officially Out of the (knocked-up) Closet.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Annual Christmas Music Rant

1. What were they doing, out in that isolated meadow, to prompt the parson to ask whether they are married?

2. Since when are "scary ghost stories" a traditional part of Christmas? Scary ghost stories belong to Halloween. Halloween is in October.

3. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" = ... so stay here and we can HAVE (scandalous) SEX to warm up! (Always the family-friendly Holiday Message you want to play!)

4. "Santa, Baby" is disturbing enough when sung by a female vocalist; the dude's version just creeps me out.

5. Although I really do love "The 12 Days of Christmas", the idea of giving people as gifts is also faintly disturbing. Speaking of which, I can't be the only person that always has to insert the Muppet-version, "Ba dum dum DUM" before falling into "four calling birds", can I?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We Can Rebuild It-- We Have the Technology

Recent events call for a re-build of both the chicken coop and the backyard itself. While I truly appreciate all of the "it's not your fault!" comments, in a way it is. There will always be predators after chickens. Whether they are dogs belonging to someone else, stray dogs, foxes, raccoons, cats, or hawks, it is the chicken keeper's job to protect her birds. We did a lousy job, not because we were lazy or cheap, but because we just didn't know enough yet. Now we do, and we're fixing several things before trying to obtain more birds.

First off, we're replacing the temporary wire gate with a real one, the kind that has pressure-treated posts sunk into concrete, heavy-duty hinges and latches. Nothing but a human will be able to get through this thing, and with the double-latch system that Don is putting together, quite a few people would be baffled as well. It had always been the plan to make a permanent gate at some point, but there were always more pressing projects at hand, primarily fixing the hole in the downstairs apartment before the weather got to freezing. What we had was working "well enough"... until last week.

The rest of the fence is fairly secure: it's 48" woven wire with sturdy metal posts. The only weak spot in the fence is this one section that comes up against the neighbor's front-yard retaining wall: their yard is raised about three feet from the level of our back yard, so the fence is only about a foot tall on the "outside", if that makes any sense, while still being four feet tall "inside". It would be very easy for a medium-sized dog to jump into the yard from the retaining wall at that point, and not be able to get back out. For that section of fence, we're going to make it double-height so that it will stand four feet high on the neighboring side, and be almost eight feet tall measuring from our ground up. Our neighbors to that side are elderly and both are sight-impaired, so I'm hoping they don't notice how weird it's going to look, although hopefully if they say anything I can explain about predators and they'll get it.

Don has explained that electric fencing really won't deter the dogs at all, and is not worth putting in; it was just a vindictive idea on his part. He had also come up with many cruel booby traps for anything going after the chickens, but decided against them on the grounds that they'd be more likely to get me, him, or our animals than the intended victims-- and also because they were downright inhumane. Also considered and dismissed: getting a rooster to protect the flock (he'd be more likely to run at the dogs and scare them, than to run away and entice them), or getting any of the following to do the same: a goat, a gander, a male swan, or an ostrich. Essentially, we decided against a guard creature of any kind. For one thing, being downtown severely limits what animals we can maintain; for another, our 1/8th acre wouldn't sustain much more than chickens, and lastly I don't want anything that would attack me. (I'm scared of swans, to be honest. They're beautiful from a distance, but up close and personal those things are powerful and mean.) It's too bad that we can't use our own dog to guard the chickens, but she would go after them just as these dogs did. Alice is a bird-dog at heart.

Building the gate and reinforcing that one area of fence should make the yard reasonably secure. Our long-term plan involves planting shrubby, thorny bushes around the fences to create a bigger barrier; we're putting raspberry brambles along one edge this spring. The more important thing is to make the coop itself as secure as possible, which really means, completely secure. Don and I both agreed that if the coop itself had held up against the dogs, the girls could have just hidden out in there until the dogs got bored and left. It was the coop being breached, more than the yard, that was the real problem. The "run" half of the coop seems to have held up just fine, ironic since it's just a frame with wire mesh while the "coop" half is heavy-duty lumber and plywood. Don spent yesterday making small changes to it anyway, that make it sturdier and will let it connect with the coop more securely. The latch on the coop's back doors was just not strong enough; it only latched one door to the other to hold them both closed. Don is fixing them so that one door will latch to the house itself, and a two-by-four brace will wrap across both doors and be dead-bolted on the side. I can't exactly picture it, but he bought a lock set for the coop that is better than anything we have on the house. (He feels more than a little guilt about all of this since he built the coop, even though he did the best job he could; we just didn't know.) I pointed out that I will still need to open the back of the coop at least once daily to feed, water, and gather eggs; he asked whether my convenience was more important than the birds' safety. Something tells me that my morning routine just got more complicated.

Once we've finished all of this, I will try to find more chickens, although this is exactly the wrong time of year. If I can find three grown or mostly-grown birds in any of the breeds that I'm interested in, then we will start again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Neighbor's dogs killed all my chickens.

... I'm devastated and I don't know what to do. My girls were doing so well, everything was going so great with them. Now, just like that, they're gone. My poor babies, what a terrible way to die.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fat-bottomed Girls...

Taking a dust bath:

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Simple Test:

The bank statement arrives in the mail every month. Does it have your name at the top of every page? If it does not, then stop trying to come into the bank to access that account: it is not yours to query, withdraw from, or transfer out of. If you are listed as "PoD" on an account, that means that you can access it once the other person is deceased. "PoD" stands for"payable on death" and does not give you any rights to the account prior to that day. Nobody can open a bank account "for" you: ridiculous concept. Here's another quick test: were you present when the account was opened? Did you present your driver's license, a second form of identification, your address, social security number, and date of birth? Did you have to sign certain documents that simultaneously show your proof of consent to open an account and make a record of your signature, should the bank ever need it? If you have no recollection of going through that process, chances are about 100% that you are not a signer on said account. The only way somebody can open an account in your name is if they have PoA for you, power of attorney. And if that was the case, it is highly unlikely that your able-bodied, able-minded self is going to wander into the bank to use said account. Power of attorney is given when people no longer have the capacity to act on their own behalf: I've never personally seen it apply to a college student. Generally it's used by middle-aged daughters of ailing, aging parents. Here's a third test: look at the debit card that you are trying to present. Is the name printed across the bottom in those raised, metallic letters your name? If there is a photo, is it a picture of you? If the answer to either of those is no, then you are making a grave, grave mistake in trying to present it to a bank teller as your own. Now I'm going to assume that this is not really your mistake so much as your boneheaded parent's. Some idiots will open an account in their name and hand the debit card and pin to their kid to use. Why? Search me. It could be they want total control over the account, but opening a joint account would give them the same level of access, and--hey!-- not be illegal at the same time. Or maybe said parent is just too confused by the fact that at 17 or 18, their little Cindy-Lou is old enough to have legal rights over a bank account. Either way, do NOT come into the bank with your parent's debit card, complaining that the ATM is out of order, that your PIN stopped working, or what have you. Because if you are a 6-foot tall college freshman with a beard and the card is issued to a one Linda X born in 1960, then we have a major problem on our hands. The teller is not "being mean" to you, or being "rude". What you are trying to do is flagrantly illegal, your parents are idiots, and what you are trying to do would get a bank teller fired. Give your mama's debit card back to her, say "thanks but no thanks, Ma", open your own damn bank account like the legal adult that you are, and get a shiny new debit card with your own name on it. It ain't rocket science, folks.

And one more thing. Do not ever, ever, write a check for funds that are not currently in your account. Do not think, "If I write Friday's date on the check, they won't be able to cash it until I get paid!", or "It should take at least three days for them to get this check in the mail, I should have money by then." It just doesn't work that way. Once you give someone a check, s/he can cash it at any point, regardless of what date you wrote. Also: writing "do not cash until: x" on the memo line doesn't do a thing. For some reason when I mail my doctor's bills, the checks get cashed within two days, even though they're being sent to another state. My Netflix sure don't come that fast, and they're only coming from Richmond, an hour and a half away. Go figure. Here's the bald fact: if you don't have the money in your account when you write the check, then you are writing a bad check. And you have absolutely no recourse if and when that check bounces. Now everybody writes bad checks on occasion (at least most of us-- thank God for overdraft protection), but usually it's a mistake, some bad math, an oops. It's only the people who are knowingly, consciously, intentionally writing a bad check and think it's OK that drive me nuts. I had a kid come in awhile back who had run out of checks. I made the usual suggestion: let's order you some checks for future use and make you a money order for whatever check you need to present immediately. (Because nobody ever orders checks until they need to write one.) Problem was, he didn't have the money in his account to make the money order: he had planned on writing a check and post-dating it for when he'd have the funds. And he didn't understand why we couldn't make him a money order with the same concept: can't the bank give me a money order now and just wait until my account has money in it to charge me? Uh, NO.

This is why I grind my teeth in my sleep, honestly.

Friday, November 14, 2008


When I was young, my mom used to make chicken soup from scratch: homemade chicken stock, fresh (frozen) vegetables, fat egg noodles, identifiable chunks of chicken or turkey. Campbell's or Progresso, it wasn't. The problem with that kind of thing is that it spoils you for the rest of your life, making it neccessary to either develop those skills yourself, or marry someone who has them. Now Don is very good to me when I'm sick, he'll bring me soup, water, crackers, tea, run me hot baths and refill the vaporizer, but he can't make homemade soup. He might think it's a waste of time and space that I always make stock from our leftover chicken carcasses, since it takes all day and lots of valuable freezer space. But it is all worth it when I am as pathetically sick with the flu as I am today, and can make myself homemade soup in just a few minutes that's as good as my mom's. What was funny is that I tried to go in to work and got sent right back home (oops), so I went straight back to bed and woke up a few hours later completely forgetting about the whole went-to-work bit and thinking that I'd massively overslept and was hours late for work-- why hasn't anyone called me?!-- only to look down and see that I am still wearing my work clothes and not pajamas. The rest of the morning came back to me then. I think the fever is affecting my ability for rational thought, honestly. I'll probably come back and look as this entry and wonder what the heck I was on. (Chicken soup. I'm on chicken soup. hahahahaha) OK time to go back to bed now.

Except: has anyone else seen that Progresso commercial, where a guy is sitting down to what is clearly a bowl of Campbell's chicken noodle, when his wife replaces it with a bowl of Progresso and says, "the kids are gone, honey, it's time for the good stuff"? What is she implying, that it's ok to feed your kids crap and save the good stuff for yourself? It just seems so selfish... I mean she's talking about real food, not Halloween candy or something.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

MORE chicken blathering

I've been stealing bagged leaves from the curb in front of my neighbors' house. I think it's OK because they're just waiting to be picked up by the city anyway; I don't know if they're composted or just added to the dump. It still feels a little weird, though, to scurry across the street and surreptitiously grab a huge bag of leaves. I'm stealing them for my compost heaps, to balance out the bounty of chicken manure in there. I got the birds for essentially two reasons, the eggs and the manure... if they turn out to be as good at producing eggs as they are at shit, then I've really struck gold. I'm not expecting eggs for another six weeks at least, and not really much until spring (because they don't lay in the short, dark days of winter), so we'll see when the time comes.

We've had the girls for a month now, but somehow it seems so normal to have chickens that it feels like we've had them a lot longer. They just fit right into our lives and our backyard: we have a solid routine now, letting them out in the morning, back in at night, moving the whole contraption twice a week, mucking out the inside every weekend. I'm learning a lot about them. Today, for example, I learned that my toes look exactly like tasty, fat white grubs or something similar, and that my Birkenstocks are REALLY not the best footwear when working around the birdies. I thought chickens make more noise than they do; they're really quiet. Maybe when they get older and start laying? Right now they don't cackle or crow, just make little chirping noises. There's so much discussion in some quarters as to whether chickens are all right as urban, backyard pets (banned in a lot of cities, for instance) that I figured that they had to be more troublesome somehow, loud or smelly. But they're completely unobjectionable! Even cleaned only once a week, their house doesn't stink; the cat's litter box is much worse. It might be because they've got plenty of space, inside and outside; when people talk about chickens being smelly they're probably thinking about over-crowded chickens.

Sorry about writing about nothing but the chickens, but that's what's going on around here; everything else is business as usual. Work equals blech. Economy equals double-blech... if Don loses his job we're absolutely screwed. (Not that I think that will happen, it's just my main economic worry.) He's making good progress on the downstairs unit; the hole in the wall is gone. I'm hoping to have it ready to rent for January, especially considering that having rental income was a big part of the can-we-afford-this discussion when we bought the house and we've already made three mortgage payments without that. One thing at a time, though, right?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Boy, I wish I had something thoughtful and productive to say, but I'm way too busy running in circles, yelling YAYYYYY!!!!, occasionally punching the air with a "WOOT!!!" and poking people reminding them that WE WON WE WON WE WON!!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Kingsley Shacklebolt for Minister of Magic!

I mean, wait. That's not what I mean.

Go, go, Gryffindors! Gryffindors for the Cup!

No. Crap.


Ha. That's what I was trying to say!

You people in Texas think you're all fancy with your early voting. Sure, I had to wait until today to cast my ballot, Virginia being ass-backwards in this respect, but did YOU get a free cup of Starbucks for wearing your "I voted" sticker? I think not! hahahahahaha Also I'm in a swing state and you're not, nyah nyah nyah

It may not have been my first cup today either.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Harriet. The third one is Harriet.

Matilda, Frances and Harriet meet the Great Outdoors. They wouldn't go outside and I (desparately) needed to clean out their coop-- these girls are POOP MACHINES!-- so I finally just grabbed each one and sort of threw her out the door. Each made this awful *squawk* of fear or surprise, then went suddenly silent. I rushed around to the other side to see what they were doing... they had discovered the feed tray and were already eating. Got over the fear fast, it would seem. Tomorrow I'll open the door again and see if today's adventures have lessened the fear of the outdoor-part of the enclosure...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mah babies!

We finished the chicken house. We bought the chickens: three lovely, 7-week old Buff Orpington chicks. We are now proud... what? Chicken-owners? Chicken farmers? Parents? Sponsors? Co-habitors? I took this photo from an upstairs window, so it's not very good. They spend a lot of time huddled in the doorway like that, pondering the great outdoors. I hope that they soon make the Great Leap into the run, where they can experience grass and bugs and all that. They're already a lot less terrified of me than they were at first, which is promising. Oh, the bravest one is Matilda, the middle one is Francis, and the scaredy-chicken is as yet unnamed. They look identical to me, so I hope that either their personalities stay constant, or they don't mind switching names occasionally. For more about the coop, it's all on the other blog.

Edit: Frances, not Francis. They're all girl chickies... I hope.

Friday, October 10, 2008

So, uh, yeah. Everything's all crazy, somehow... stock market blah blah blah, election blah blah blah. Wow look at all that news. I keep switching between obsessively watching the news, and deciding that I CAN'T WATCH ANY MORE NEWS and turning to Futurama or The Office instead. I tried to watch the presidental debate Tuesday, but it was boring and McCain was annoying me too much to continue. "My friend" this and "my friend" that... Just saying it doesn't make it true, sir.

Speaking of which, this is a SUPER-FUN time to be working in the financial and/or banking industry, let me tell you. Not that I can tell you all that much, since I can't really talk about work issues, but not fun: not even at one of the good, stable banks. Then again, I suppose it wouldn't make much of a difference to be in an industry a little further removed, since everybody seems to be getting hit with the same stuff.

I'm getting my chickens on Saturday. Don has finished the chicken coop and it is lovely-- picture to follow soon, I hope. Everything is moving so slowly on the house, as Don and I try to squeeze things in on weekends; half the time he's working weekends, too, or at least part of it.

Friday, October 03, 2008

And I stayed up past my bedtime for this?

If Don and I had been but a bit more prepared to watch the Vice-Presidential debate last night, we could have turned it into a drinking game: take a swig for every time Sarah Palin said any one of the following:

"Darn right!"
"Moms and dads"
"Soccer" or "hockey"
"Kitchen table"

...Or, every time she dropped a 'g': gettin', makin', movin'. I mean sure, we would have been totally sloshed by the time the debate ended, but we're both willing to make that sacrifice for the sake of good politics.

Personally, I found it annoying and patronizing. Is this what "main-stream" (or is it "main-street") America wants: someone who uses the littlest words possible so as not to confuse the audience (or to keep from betraying the fact that she may not know the bigger words either?), talks as though nobody listening to her has the education or intelligence to comprehend the big issues? I know that I'm not "mainstream", for various reasons. But I can't be the only viewer (voter) last night that felt insulted by her attitude towards us, rather than warm-and-fuzzy. Either she's really talking down to the voter, or this really is "her": either insulting or terrifying, depending how ya see it. Don'tcha know.

Edited to add: We could have used 'maverick' for a chaser...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


First, thank you everybody who has commented on my blog recently-- Amanda, Rachel, MDC mamas, thank you. Your thoughtful words help me more than you know.

I know what I want. I've always known. I didn't just wake up one day at 25 years old and decide that it would be quite nice to have a baby; it's not because starting a family is next on the to-do list. I have wanted children always; everything else has lead up to getting to a place where it was finally practical to try. It's something that has been in my mind, in my heart, forever. The only reason I'm questioning it now is because it's been so hard, so unexpectedly difficult, to get started-- miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. So I have to ask, is it still worth it? Is it worth it to put myself through this, to put Don through this-- emotionally, physically? But it still is. I don't know at what point it wouldn't be, but we're not there yet.

And, it's not just 'a baby' that I want. Yes, I want a tiny, scrunch-faced, bright-red, nursing newborn, but I also want the toddler. The seven-year-old. The teenager. The adult (although it's hard to imagine.) I want our household dynamic to be less Mad About You and more The Burrow. I want a noisy, chaotic houseful of children... and eventually, for them all to leave and do their own thing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What we don't have

Some people seem to have a single goal, one task to accomplish, to make their lives complete. They think, 'when I _____, then everything will be perfect.' Weight loss is one example; I've known women (well, girls, back then) who believed that if they could get their weight to X pounds, they'd be happy. Everything would be great, everybody would love them. The fact that everything else in life would be the same-- same parents, same friends, same job, same house, whatever-- was always ignored, as though being skinny were a ticket to a whole different life. (If that were true, wouldn't all the thin girls they knew be endlessly joyous already, instead of having their own issues?) I've also seen it with school and work: once I get into this school or get that degree or get hired by this company or get that promotion, life will be grand.

I'm afraid, sometimes, that I'm doing the same thing with starting a family: thinking that once I have a baby (or the four children I wanted before I knew how hard this would be), life will be perfect. Because it's been so unexpectedly difficult, required so much effort and concentration and emotional commitment, it's made the whole issue my raison d'etre instead of the sideshow it started as. For at least a year, getting pregnant and staying pregnant has occupied an enormous amount of my psychic space and has become kind of a monomania: everything will be perfect once we have a baby... and by implication, nothing can really ever be OK until we do.

On the one hand, I'm worried that like so many others, I'll eventually achieve what I want, only to look around and realize that it was a hollow victory after all, and that life (and I) hasn't really changed, except now there's a baby, just like everybody that I know or have read about, who pinned all of their hopes on a single goal only to achieve it and still be unfulfilled. On the other hand, though, maybe it's because everything else really is OK, and the only thing wrong in my life is this whole infertility/ceaseless-miscarriages thing. I mean, I've been ridiculously, embarrassingly blessed overall in terms of parents, family, Don, health, jobs, friends, etc, and this is essentially the first time that I've had real difficulty with anything. I'm not expecting a baby to change anything else-- how people see me, how I see myself-- so maybe that's a difference.

Another thing I've been thinking about is this: a lot of the things I do right now, I do with the expectation that eventually this will all pay off re: babies. What if it didn't? What if I knew right now, that Don and I would never have a family-- what would I do? What would we do? I've been fairly unhappy at work for awhile, but I've stayed because I have my health benefits through this job, because looking for a new job when you're trying to get pregnant (and therefore possibly going to be leaving again soon) is silly. The health insurance is no small thing when you're regularly seeing a specialist, and the new-job-seeking isn't either, if you plan to quit should you have a baby. On a similar note, I've been fairly lazy about moving up even in the same company (it's just over a year now since my last promotion), for a couple of reasons. The first is that, as I mentioned earlier, the infertility stuff is taking up a ton of my time and energy and the thought of trying to master a new position at work is not a good one. The second is sort of bad but I'll come clean: I don't want to upset the income ratio. I'm afraid that if I start making too much more money, whether or not I should "stay home" would start coming under question and I don't want that. Stupid, I know. I didn't even realize that I was thinking like that until the other night. So you see, there are all of these decisions being made based on the theory that soon we'll have a baby. What if we knew we wouldn't? I'd quit my job, no question about that. Find something else, not worry too much about the pay or the benefits. Spend more, save less. Drink more wine, take fewer vitamins. I don't know.

It's just weird to have my life revolving around this center that isn't even a something but the lack of a something.

On a different note. I've been thinking about what the phrases we all insert into our conversations imply about how we feel. I have a friend that always exclaims, "...I'm serious, you guys!" when she's telling us something. Keeping in mind that we're not questioning it or laughing at her, I think it shows a real fear of not being taken seriously... She also uses the word "literally" all the time. I find myself constantly asking, "... you know what I mean?" or just, "... you know?" at the end of things, which rather hints that I'm scared of being misunderstood. Someone else, who consistently uses the phrase, "I'm the kind of person who ____" instead of just making a declarative sentence, ""I ___" What does it mean? That she needs to reassure herself that she's not alone in her viewpoints? Or that she doesn't have the self-confidence to just declare that she is x or y, or believes a or b. (I'm the kind of person who hates it when people claim to be the kind of person who...) I think we probably all have verbal tics that give away our social fears... personally I'm trying to drop the, "... you know what I mean?"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Completely Unrelated!

Why does Garfield hate Mondays? It's not like he had a job, had to get up and go to work. I don't even remember Jon having a job, really. A Monday to Garfield should be just like a Sunday or a Tuesday. It doesn't really make sense, they're just pandering to us working workers who would feel the empathy.

Plans to get chickens over the weekend fell through, which was probably a good thing as the coop isn't quite finished yet. Still needs wheels, a roof, and the window.

Saw a bumper sticker today that said, "Midwives, they help people out!" which just slayed me. Think about it, it's funny. I wonder if the car belongs to the midwife I talked to in February, before I knew I was a special case (and that I'd lose that pregnancy.) From what I can find, there are maybe four midwives here-- two practices-- so the odds are good, unless there are more around who just don't advertise their services.

We have finished an entire bottle of multivitamins for men, an entire bottle of fish oil, and almost all of the L-Carnitine, which means it's been sixty days since I put Don on all this stuff, which means that it's been more than two months since the last miscarriage.

I could possibly be pregnant again, it's too soon to know. I don't know how I feel about that, except that I feel I have no real choice, as I'm compelled to keep trying by a force stronger than rational decision-making. (Which may not be all that strong anyways, as neither of us are much known for our powers of the rational as it is.) So, wait and see. I have a different mentality now about the chances for each pregnancy. It's sort of hard to explain. Before, I was convinced that each pregnancy was IT, the one that would be our baby. Everything I read, everything the doctors said, reinforced the idea that the odds were in our favor. There's no reason, they said, why your next pregnancy wouldn't work out! Even now, after four miscarriages and no successful pregnancies, the literature claims our chances for a successful try next time are still better than 50-50, and that's not assuming any kind of treatment.

Now I feel like this: clearly, there's something that makes it difficult for me (or us) to hold onto a pregnancy. It may be just the progesterone issue, or maybe it's that plus something else, something the doctors couldn't find or didn't look for. I did the progesterone religiously last time, but to no avail: could be "bad luck" (the doctors' theory), could be some problem with the method (maybe I'm not absorbing it properly, or once it's in me, it doesn't act right, or something-- I'm no scientist), or maybe there's another issue, either in general or with just that pregnancy-- a bad egg or a lousy sperm or a bad implantation. I feel like there's a number out there, that describes our odds of success. The doctors don't know it, nobody does. Is it one-in-ten? One-in-twenty? Or one-in-a-million? I'm veering towards the lower end because there's so much that's not wrong, so much that tested clean. But there's no way to know: it could be impossible but how to find that out without trying again and again? Everything we do is to push those odds higher: the progesterone, the supplements, the specialists. Maybe this next time, it will work because of some little change; maybe all the vitamins I'm force-feeding into Don will make his swimmer straighten up and fly right... if that was ever a problem. Maybe my megadoses of folic acid will make some kind of difference. We don't know. Maybe it will work because statistically, it's just chance, just a million different things falling into place. If our odds are one-in-ten for a good pregnancy, maybe this time the dice will roll right. Or maybe it will fail again. But I think I can be OK with that, maybe. Because I'm no longer telling myself that this next time is IT.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


It seems that I haven't written here in forever. Oops about that. Nothing's wrong or anything, just a confluence of factors conspiring against the blog. It started with a few really hectic weeks at work, with me working overtime all over the place, as well as being really busy while at work. I hate to admit it, but downtime at work is generally when I write in here. Then the camera batteries died, and I really wanted to put up a picture of something... Now I can't remember what. Mostly, though, it's because I've been really struggling with the miscarriage thing (again. or still.) and it makes for such repetitive writing. In a novel or a movie, trauma resolves itself to some kind of conclusion; in a journal it just rehashes itself endlessly.

I didn't want to write much about (or think about) the last miscarriage, because it was awful. So I kind of dealt with it in the most minimal way possible, which worked until a month later when my period came, because that was awful too, and it was like some kind of freaky flashback thing. (Note to self: vocabulary. find some.) I didn't feel like working through that on paper, so to speak. So I just didn't write at all. Then Don and I were confronted with the approach of the Fertile Window and had to decide whether or not we were Trying Again this cycle. After four miscarriages it's become a grim decision, not the joyous one it was the first time, or even the second. I actually said to him, "We need to talk soon about whether to try for our next miscarriage this month, or wait another cycle"... without realizing what I'd said wrong. Well, no point putting off the inevitable; we're going to keep trying so we may as well try as soon as possible.

Good things have been happening, too. I mentioned that we'd done a good bit of work on the fence; now the chicken coop is almost done too. Don took that project over, as predicted, but is following my design pretty well. We were supposed to be getting the actual birds this weekend, but that's up in the air now. The weather's been great, lots of rain from the hurricanes, starting to get into my favorite season now. Got a little raise at work. Plane tickets booked for New Mexico in December; finally get a chance to hang out with my family there for a bit. It hasn't been all five of us since Big Bend 2006. So that's something to look forward to.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Working Relationships

Until recently, Don and I have been kind of bogged down regarding getting things done outside. Every time we went downstairs to work, we would end up wasting time wandering around, looking at everything, planning, talking. Generally about the same things that we'd already discussed, though, so not in a particularly useful way. So we'd trudge down the hill to start setting up the fence, only to get distracted by the Terrible Ditch*, start talking about the Upstairs Fence**, and end up trying to grub out a weed-tree with a hatchet. Every evening that we tried to work ended up being unproductive. One part of it is just that we're both really easily distracted. I won't say that he or I have ADD since that would require a professional diagnosis that neither of us have sought, but staying focused isn't an easy thing for either of us. Another part of the problem is that Don can borrow very useful tools from work, so instead of just attacking a problem with what we have, it becomes "tomorrow I could bring home ___ which would make this so much faster/easier/more possible"... and then the tool does not materialize the next day, or the next, and the project is delayed. Another part of the problem is that we communicate differently, and visualize things in a different manner. Since these are pretty large-scale planning projects, like Where Will the Fence Go and Show Me Where the Garden Is, being able to visualize them together is imperative. I am pretty good at drawing a plan on paper, and being able to visualize what it will be like full-sized and in three dimensions. It comes from years of practice, from a hobby of drawing scale floor-plans of imaginary houses, and from drafting and building a few pieces of furniture. So I sketch out our property, and describe it to him: "So OK, so here's the house, and this here's the driveway, and running along the edge of our lot is that concrete retaining wall next door. So this line I've drawn in is the fence, running along until here, then turning to go up along the drive. Then this squiggle is the gate in the fence..." and he always nods, uh-huh. But then when we get outside, says, "So show me where you want this fence you were talking about...", which I found incredibly frustrating, because hadn't we already been over this a few times? Finally he just flat-out said that he doesn't find the blueprints very useful and can visualize more easily by just staring around the place. So we have very different styles as far as that goes; I can't plan anything without the graph-paper, I have to be able to visualize it from above, while Don needs to see it head-on. At least now we both get that.

A week of two of frustrating slowness lead to a minor hissy-fit on my end that basically ended with, "... so let's just DO IT. Laser-focus! No distractions! Ignore the ditch, the walnut trees, the drainage problem-- focus on putting up the fence and NOTHING ELSE!" We*** went out and pounded all of the back-yard fence posts in, as well as hacking out several shrub-sized weeds, getting more done in an hour and a half than we had in the past week. Don kept the momentum going, and stretched the wire fencing around the posts the next day, finishing up this morning. Now the whole back-yard fence is done except for the gates. I can finally lay out my garden beds, the place is reasonably secure for the chickens I'm getting next month (or will be, once we build the gates), and the dog can finally hang out with me while I'm working outside. (She's a runner, one of the many reasons for the fence.) And the whole thing took maybe eight hours over three days.

It's really interesting, because we've been together for eight years. Married for one, but living together for the last seven. It's not like we aren't familiar with each other. But working together so closely is fairly new. Yeah, we've painted rooms, built furniture, done patio gardens, but the scale and scope of these house-and-garden projects is bigger, and more important. It's a weird feeling, to feel like I'm getting to know my husband better after so many years. I was originally going to post this in the new blog, but realized that it's not about the fence, but about us.

* At the far corner of our lot, between the downstairs driveway, the next-door lot and the (site of the future) kitchen garden is an awful ditch. It is bordered by the street, has the stabilizing lines of a telephone pole anchored in it, and technically most of it belongs to the city. It slopes from street-level down to the level of the garden. It is filled with weeds, woody brush left over from pruning other parts of the property, and stuff people tried to get rid of-- cinder blocks, bird baths. We are going to build a retaining wall, then just fill it with dirt, pack it down, get rid of the weeds, and plant some kind of ground-cover over it. Right now, though, it's an eyesore.

** We've got two different fencing systems going on here. Downstairs is welded-wire fencing, like the kind used in rural areas for keeping livestock. It's actually pretty common here, too, and is really useful. For one thing, you don't have to dig post-holes; the steel fence-posts are just pounded into the ground and the wire fencing is tied to the posts. Very utilitarian but not unattractive, at least not to my eyes. It's much better looking than, say, chain-link, especially as it starts to blend into the background after a little while, as the shiny steel oxidizes a bit and loses its brightness. But we're switching to a wooden picket fence for the front yard, just for how it looks, mainly. Actually I guess three fences. Because the picket fence becomes a privacy fence as it runs along the main road.

*** Let's not get carried away: Don drives the fence posts and does most of the other manly grunt-work. I design, direct, encourage, help stretch the fencing taut, and retrieve the tools that he is forever dropping on the ground. I did drive one or two posts just to prove that I could, but hell. As Don keeps pointing out, isn't this why I married a handy, hard-working guy? Chopping out the bad weeds with a hatchet, though, is surprisingly satisfying, and not as hard as it looks.

Monday, August 18, 2008

schadenfreude, or sympathy

One of my friends is pregnant. It happens to be someone who has said repeatedly that she never intends to have children, and that if at some distant point she ever changed her mind, she would adopt. She's a bit bowled over by this obviously unexpected event. She was kind enough to tell me before anybody, and preface it well. (I think she said something like, "you're going to hate this", or "don't hate me" or something.) Of course part of me is questioning the powers that be, "really? she gets knocked up? Is this fair?" but mostly I feel for her. I can't really imagine what a truly unexpected pregnancy would feel like since I have always, always wanted kids, but I can guess and it isn't pretty. I'm guessing that she plans to keep the little critter, but I think I might mention that Don and I have NO problems with interracial adoption, just in case...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


It is mid-August, and the high today is 79 degrees. Unbelievable. Where I'm from, that's October weather. This is the time of year that I start jonesing for fall, just can't wait. It's my favorite season, absolutely, and I can just feel it hovering. There was something in the air this morning, not just the coolness, that felt autumnal. Certain bird-sounds? Smoke? The direction of the wind? I have no idea. It's a heady feeling because the arrival of fall always wakes me from the usual summer stupor and energizes me in every direction, but I'm already charged with so many projects happening. I feel explosive but not in a bad way, just that there's not enough hours in the day to do everything I want. Work seems to get in the way, a waste of the best part of the day. But how else can I finance my projects? A necessary evil. Trips to Lowe's and Southern States have to happen between work and home. Dinner is quick to make and eaten late, once the daylight is fading.

Monday, August 04, 2008

blue shutters

When Don and I were house-hunting, weekends took on a new pattern; searching online, taking long drives to see houses and measure distances, having long discussions about what we wanted in a home, what we could do without, how far from town we could live. When we decided to stop looking, weekends resumed their random, peaceful pace.

Since buying the house, though, we have a new pattern: Lowes/ Home Depot. Work on house. Make house plans. Sears. Work. Plan. Repeat. Suddenly, there isn't enough time to do everything we want-- we're looking forward to weekends not just as a respite from our jobs, but as the time we need to get all these things done. I guess we have a new couple's hobby, called House, and it turns out to be fairly effective about keeping my mind off of other, less joyous stuff.

It's almost overwhelming because there are so many things that we've wanted to do 'once we had a house'. I've been gardening in containers for years and years now, putting very little if anything into the ground. Now, I can plant a real, in-ground vegetable garden out back and flower garden to the side... I just need to decide how much garden I can handle. My idle ideas about keeping chickens and bees are suddenly a real possibility. Inside, it was always, "if we owned this place, I'd put a vent-hood over the stove/ add wainscotting in the kitchen/ rip out those carpets"-- and now we do own this place. Where to begin? Which plans were fantasies (the skylight in the kitchen) and which are we actually going to do? So we're making concrete plans and jumping into about six projects at once, and life is suddenly a bit chaotic, but in a fun way. I've started a new blog to keep track of everything re: the house and garden, so that I can keep it mostly separate from this one. I just can't wait until this weekend, this autumn, and next spring!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hot Mama

A guest of my next-door neighbor propositioned me this morning, as I was walking Alice. This is wrong on so many levels: from the fact that he seemed fairly inebriated for 7:30 on a Monday morning, to-- hello! married woman from next door, not fellow drunk girl at club--, to the fact that I'd forgotten that it's possible to feel utterly awful inside, and still look normal outside. I'm still physically wrung out from the miscarriage; I'm pretty sure that I've developed both an iron deficiency and a uterine infection. The way I feel about my body right now is crap, it has failed me again and again; the very essence of my feminity is trampled and defeated. My usually-more-than-generous sex drive is MIA. Plus, I'm still depressed as hell and kind of at an emotional loss. Essentially, I'm so far from my usual healthy self-image that the idea of someone else finding me attractive (even in the basest hey-you're-hot! kind of way) just seems incongruous. Everybody should be able to see the mess within, seemingly, and it's startling when they can't.


Last autumn, Don and I had a pumpkin on our front porch table; just for decoration (or possibly it was for pie but I just forgot to bring it inside). It sat there until it got kind of soft, and a windstorm blew the table over and sent the pumpkin sailing into the yard, where it burst pumpkiny guts all over. Apparently my clean-up job wasn't perfect, because right now we have a few enormous pumpkin plants taking over the yard-- anyone who's grown pumpkins, squash, or zucchini knows what I'm talking about; these vines could swallow a Volkswagon. We have huge orange blossoms but no pumpkins as yet, and Don has sworn to leave the plants until we get fruit, even though they're close enough to the sidewalk and porch to threaten passersby.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Note to self:

The next time (God forbid) the doctors offer you a d&c, for the love of all that is holy, TAKE IT. Remember this.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

If you can't segue, then bullet point

-- My miscarriage is finally starting. One-half relief, one-half crushing disappointment. Plenty of pain and blood to go around. Once I know that a pregnancy isn't viable, then I just want it gone... knowing something that my body hasn't figured out yet is hard. I want it over with so that we can just get started on the next one. (I almost took the doctors up on getting the D&C, but my body is so good at miscarrying naturally that it seems a waste not to.) Except, there's always a tiny part of me that hoped that the doctors and their machines were wrong... that maybe there was a healthy embryo tucked away in there somewhere and we just couldn't see it-- maybe my uterus has a hidden corner or something. (Except that since I had the hsg done I know my uterus is exactly normal-shaped.) But still. I can't help but hold out a tiny bit of hope until my body gives up and the bleeding and cramping begin. Thank you, uterus, for recognizing the concept of weekend and holding out for me, and sparing me the trouble of miscarrying at work. I appreciate it, I do.

-- We've decided to do this just one more time. For anyone new to the game, this is my fourth miscarriage since last March-- what is that, sixteen months? It's hard physically, but mentally, (emotionally? sanity-wise?) I'm afraid it's pushing me over the edge. I'm losing the emotional stability and rational perspective that has always been one of my more advantageous traits. (Be honest-- you thought that stealing-a-baby-from-the-grocery-store thing was a joke, didn't you.) We can not just keep getting pregnant only to lose the pregnancy, ad nauseum, until we're both bitter, sad, shells of human beings. So we'll try to get pregnant again after the mandatory waiting period. We'll each take our amazing collection of supplements, the selenium and vitamin E and folic acid. I'll take my progesterone religiously, again. But if we lose the next pregnancy too, then that's it. That would be five, a nice round number to stop at.

-- At which point we'll start looking into adoption and etc. ("Etc" being fostering, theft, and those Law and Order: SVU episodes that start with a heavily pregnant woman getting kidnapped. Just kidding. Mostly.) But I've got a bone to pick with the general world about adoption. Don't get me wrong, I have no issue with the concept in general, but as soon as people find out about what Don and I have been going through re: trying to have a baby, they jump on the adoption train. Why don't we "just" adopt? Did we know there are lots of babies out there that need loving parents? Well you helpful people, did YOU adopt your children? Perhaps a better question is, why do you see adoption as the last resort of people that can't seem to have genetically related offspring? Don't stand there holding your self-birthed child and mouth cliches about adoption, as though we have no right to even try to have our own like you did. Because we are having fertility problems, suddenly those "unwanted" babies are much more our problem than yours. Why do I have to defend my right to want to get pregnant, when you didn't? Because we need help? Because our attempts at conception are so obviously intentional and can't be written off as thoughtless reproduction? As it happens, I have reasons for wanting "my own". Some of them are selfish. All of them are human. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not ruling out adoption. It may become our salvation. And of course we've thought about it. Find me a couple that's been through what we have that hasn't spent hours going over the idea. I just don't like the concept that us wanting to do what everyone else seems to do almost without thinking, is not okay. (Worst sentence ever, I know.)

-- Random reasons for wanting to conceive own offspring: I want to feel what it's like to have a baby move inside me. Want to waddle down the street, hugely pregnant. Want to give birth. Want to breastfeed-- maybe for a long time. I am a mammal, dammit. I want what every hamster, bat, blue whale and grizzly bear--as well as most female humans-- want, on the most instinctual, animalistic level imaginable. It's a primal hunger, a force. I want to send my own genetic material into the future, for unimaginable, untold generations. Every living creature lives to do that, from the E. coli in your colon, to those blind fish that live in caves, to the morning glories climbing over our front porch, who busily make flowers and seedpods every day. I want to see what my children would be like. Would any of them have my green eyes? Would we be able to trace traits to my parents, my grandparents? Perhaps I'd have a child that more closely resembles-- in looks, or personality-- my brother or sister than me. "You are so much like your uncle, did you know that?" Would they have our intelligences? Our stubbornness? Or perhaps they'd be completely different. Sometimes the apple does fall far away; we all know someone that is completely different than either parent. That would be cool, too.

--I play with Mendel, trying to figure out statistical likelihoods. My paternal grandfather, a Russian Jew, had blue eyes. (If you don't know, that's fairly unusual.) Because of that, even though my dad has the much more typical dark, dark eyes of his mother, he carries a gene for light eyes, so marrying my green-eyed mother made it possible for me to have her green eyes, and my brother to have (our grandfather's? Or something from our mother's side?) blue, and my sister to get his deep brown. Meanwhile, my dad's sister, who of course also had dark brown eyes but was carrying the recessive gene, married my uncle who has the standard dark eyes, and they had three brown-eyed offspring, my cousins. But any of them could be carrying an unexpressed blue-eyed gene, which has manifested again in my cousin Robin's baby; even though both she and her partner have brown eyes, this dark-eyed, dark haired couple has a baby with blue eyes and (so far) red hair. My long-deceased grandfather's blue eyes have shown up again, two generations later. Because I married someone with beautiful hazel eyes, it's certain that our children would have light eyes-- blue, green, or hazel. That stuff fascinates me, and I always assumed that one day I'd see it carried out into the next generation. Yeah, I know, it's a stupid reason to have kids. But tell me that you didn't spend hours wondering (when you were pregnant, when you were trying, or just whenever) about the same kinds of things. Hoping that some defining trait of a well-loved relative would manifest in your own offspring, wondering if the baby you carried would have your height or your husband's non-height. The first thing a family does upon seeing a new baby, is to start arguing over its features. Mothers will inform anyone who is listening that so-and-so (usually the dad) looked JUST like that as a newborn. It's a cliche, and yet the fact that it's a cliche demonstrates that it's not just me who has this selfish desire to see my own traits, my husbands, and my family's, be re-born.

So before you write me off as selfish for trying so, so hard to get pregnant (and stay that way), you had better have adopted your own children-- and not as a last resort when nothing else worked. Only then can you prove that you didn't have the exact same reasons-- or ones just as silly-- for having your babies the traditional way.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different

... in which I talk about work. Well not really about work, but about banking. Or banks. Or something. I know I bitch and complain about my job here occasionally, and (believe me), I am still annoyed by one million things about my position, my manager, my coworkers, etc. Right now, though, I'm kind of relieved that I work for this particular financial institution, which of course I can't name here but if you know me you know what it is. Let's just say that if banks were in high school, mine would be voted "Least Likely to Fail". If banks were a reality show, it'd be the Last Bank Standing. Finally, all that conservatism--the caution in making loans, the none-too-great interest rates-- is paying off, so that in a time when it really kind of sucks to be working in the financial industry, at least I don't have to worry about scandal, bad press, getting laid off, or the FDIC stepping in and taking over. Considering that I applied for jobs at a lot of banks and it was sheer chance that I work for this one, I consider it a lucky break.

Monday, July 14, 2008

In keeping with the "why me?" theme, also known as the "it never rains but it pours" motif, or perhaps the "universe is fucking with me" idea...

I am covered in poison ivy. Head to toe, mostly on my back. I realize that an itchy rash is hardly on par with losing another baby, but that combined with everything that happened last week (i.e. the whole truck-getting-towed, me-getting-stranded saga), added to the fact that I just spent over three hundred dollars getting the air conditioner in my car fixed only to have it NOT working any better than before, and I feel like throwing in the towel. Can't I just crawl into bed with my cortizone cream and my benedryl, and stay there a week or two?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

When the going gets sad...

The sad bake cookies. Damn good cookies.

Some people use their whiteboards for grocery lists... mine is for vows.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


OK, well, so I'm back. Yeah. Many things to write about now. I'll start with a confession, because those are always fun. When I announced that I was taking a break from posting, it was because I'd just found out that we were pregnant again. My plan to get knocked up on our first cycle of trying again was fairly successful, making it our second time for a first-try pregnancy. If that makes any sense. I lost the desire to discuss the pregnancy here, though, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, my parents and brother were coming to Virginia to visit us, and I wanted to wait and share the news in person, for once, rather than over the phone; somehow dishing about it here several weeks before telling them didn't seem right. The main issue, though, was just that we've been through this so many times now, that my thoughts and emotional patterns have become repetitive. I couldn't stomach posting daily about how I was scared. Excited. Scared again. Hopeful. Worried. It's the same every time.

My family came to town, we told them our news, and all was joyous. Our ultrasound was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, and I decided that if it looked good, I'd come back here with the sonogram pictures and announce the pregnancy. If it was bad news, I'd come back to sob about another failure. Well, there are no sonogram pictures here today*. I am in that lovely span of time where I get to wonder whether I'll miscarry naturally again, or have to have a D & C. Did I mention that Don was on a business trip when I found out? And that I had to call him and tell him that we weren't having a baby after all? He had wanted me to put the ultrasound off for a week so that we could be together for it, and I demurred... I needed to see in there and see what was happening so badly that waiting another week seemed impossible.

Even though this is our fourth loss in a row, the doctors are adamant that it has nothing to do with the other three. Seriously. This one is random, couldn't have been helped by anything, just plain bad luck. You know how most women that have a miscarriage just have one, and it turns out that there's nothing wrong with them, and they have healthy pregnancies afterwards? This is that kind of miscarriage. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea, that after three other losses, we get the "random bad luck" miscarriage that is an anembryonic pregnancy, more commonly called a blighted ovum. It seems like more than our fair share of bad luck, like the universe is fucking with us. But since when is life fair, right? Things could be worse. They can always be worse. We had a second ultrasound this morning, just to make absolutely sure there isn't anything in there-- no missed twin, nothing like that-- before making the decision to stop the hormone treatment, since doing that would end even a healthy pregnancy. I did ask the doctor about Don's side of the fertility equation**, given the substantial age difference between us and the decades of hard living, but he essentially pointed out that as Don's gotten me pregnant four times in sixteen months, his sperm is not really to be questioned. But he gave me a list of vitamin and mineral supplements for the man, so I just spent a week's pay at Whole Foods for things like selenium and Vitamins C and E. It's interesting what we do when we have no control over a situation, isn't it? Oh, and I'm still infatuated with this RE practice. After the feet-in-stirrups part of a visit, they have me get dressed and come into an office, so that we can talk across a (round) table as fully-dressed adults, rather than continuing to talk at me while I'm still on the table, naked from the waist down and wrapped in a sheet. The added dignity is nice. Plus, I was twenty minutes late for my appointment (remind me to tell you that story some time, it involved our new truck*** getting towed from the parking lot at work, leaving me stranded with no ride, no cash, no debit card) and they were very gracious about it. Then they made a special appointment for today, a Saturday, for the followup since it's so hard for me to get out of work. If we get pregnant again I wonder if I could stay with them the whole time (assuming that is longer than a few weeks) instead of transferring back to the obstetrician.

P.S. Oh yeah, and we bought the house. It is ours. Or more accurately, 20% of it is ours, and the other 80% we will slowly buy back from the bank over 20 or 30 years. So at least one definite, constructive thing has happened this year, which is nice. Before, I was joking with Don that in future years, we will look back and remember 2007 as the year we wed, 2008 as the year we became homeowners, and 2009 as the year of the first baby. It is not entirely too late for that, since this one would have been due in February, but I am having a hard time believing that we'll ever successfully sustain a pregnancy.

*Interestingly, they still *take* the pictures for a failed pregnancy, they just don't give you copies for your fridge. I think that's probably a good idea, because otherwise I might go around showing people, "...and here's where there should have been an embryo, and yet look! It's not there! That's called an anembryonic pregnancy! Isn't that an oxymoron? Because you'd think the definition of being pregnant would be that there's an embryo inside you!" Instead, the photos get stapled to something in your file. My file is starting to look impressively thick.

** The only test they've done on Don so far is a chromosomal analysis to make sure that he doesn't have any genetic abnormalities.

*** We bought a new truck a little while ago, I don't think I ever mentioned it here. Although it's half mine (I paid for half of it and my name's on the title too) I think of it as Don's truck because it's replacing his 1993 Ford Ranger. This one is *exactly* the same truck, except that it's a 2006 and a beautiful dark red color instead of silver.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Brief hiatus

I've decided to take a few days, maybe a few weeks, away from here. Partly because I'm tired of writing mini-updates confirming that nothing is happening, or that lots of things are happening too slowly to observe-- I'll come back when I can report real news. Partly also because everything else is hectic right now; at work we're moving into the busiest time of year, plus the home-buying stuff, the fertility stuff, the my-parents-are-coming-in-a-week-CLEAN-THE-HOUSE stuff. Much to do, little to write. Be back soon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dinner: 30 minutes, MY ASS

Here's the problem with "30 minute meals": it's easy to whip up dinner in half an hour if you're starting with a perfectly clean kitchen and a fully stocked pantry-- including lots of fresh goodies in the fridge. Ever notice that Rachel is always pulling fresh herbs and salad greens out of that cool retro refrigerator? That stuff only lasts a day or two. How do daily runs to the supermarket figure into the half-hour meal plan? It generally takes me 45 minutes to get to the store, get what I need, and get home, if I go there straight from work. (It takes that long because I work the typical 9-5, so I'm hitting both the roads and the grocery exactly at their busiest time if I do that.) I suppose dinner is the only daily meal created in that studio kitchen, but in real life, who doesn't come home to breakfast dishes, the remains of a smoothie, or a dishwasher still waiting to be run and unloaded? Nobody's perfect and we all have to get to work on time in the morning. Not to mention that I've rarely seen a kitchen in real life that is as large and well-laid-out as that one. Every time I see that show, I think-- yeah, dinner's easy when everything's ready to go. Try rushing to the store after work, then coming home to a kitchen that needs some TLC... and by the time it's time to cook, you're already exhausted and considering takeout. Actually cooking dinner-- not from a box, a bag, or the freezer-- is admirable, but doing it regularly requires a lot of behind-the-scenes labor: meal planning, shopping, cleaning, organizing. Rachel rarely admits to the rigorous planning-ahead that these apparently spontaneous meals require.

Recently, we've (I've) been trying to make more dinners at home, from scratch. Mostly to save money, but also because they're healthier--I tend to cook much healthier food than I order, plus portions are saner. I had a three-pronged plan last week that I'm carrying over to this week: eat dinner at home (scratch) every night but one, bring my lunch to work every day, and only go to the grocery store once in that time. We did pretty well, only derailed one night when we had to eat out with friends. Going grocery shopping just once per week should save me a lot of money, time, gas, and sanity. Impulse buys are a per-trip expense, so going just once means that whatever the impulse-- fresh berries, a magazine, a Heath bar-- it won't happen again until next time. The time and trouble of driving out to the store is a major discouragement to cooking at home, so it's great to have a week's worth of food already there. Gas is obvious... I spent $50 on Friday filling up my tank; I know that's nothing compared to some folks, but I want it to last as long as possible. One thing that's helping me immensely towards driving less is the fact that the AC in my car is broken-- amazing how little you'll drive when it's miserably hot and you have no air conditioning. Hence the sanity-savings.

Last week I saved about $30 in lunch money, and lost two pounds without any other effort. Not too bad for one week. I hit up Whole Foods and our farmers' market over the weekend, so... here's to Week 2!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Poultry at Large

Want to update, but nothing to report...AKA, the story of my life. The buying-a-house process seems to be moving agonizingly slowly, even though I know that everything is actually happening on or ahead of schedule. Termite inspection, house inspection, house appraisal. It's just that our landlord is pretty desperate for the sale, and as first-timers, Don and I are wee helpless babes calling our loan officer every day. Speaking of appraisal, does anyone know what we want the result to be? Seems to me that anything higher than what we're paying for the house is a bad thing, since property taxes are based on it, but my coworker is convinced otherwise; something about resale value. But I am pretty sure that resale value is completely market-based; nobody is going to pay more for a house than it's market value just because the bank says it's worth x. Yes? No? We seem to have a closing date, however, so unless something goes wrong we'll be in our house* by the 3rd. Which, incidentally, is the day my parents and brother are coming to visit us for the weekend. I really, really want to be able to say "Guess what WE just did!" I'd also like to be able to say,"... AND we're pregnant." But that won't happen for a couple of reasons, not the least of which being that if I get a positive pregnancy test, I tend to call my mom within hours or days, not weeks.

I tested this morning and got a negative, but it was too soon. Essentially I wasted a test knowing that even if I am, it's too soon to tell. At least it was the free test that came with the ovulation kit. I shall test my inner strength by not testing again for awhile; after all, I'm already doing everything I'd do if I knew I were pregnant, e.g. the progesterone, vitamins, aspirin, etc. It's not like last time when I had to find out as soon as possible... Unfortunately, I've always disappointed myself when it came to the inner-strength resolve of not testing early.

I have looked up the city regulations, and there is nothing keeping us from having a small flock of chickens in our yard, or beehives. We may not keep pigs or sheep, however, unless intended for immediate slaughter, and goats are never allowed. Additionally, no poultry can roam the city "at large", unless it is a trained carrier pigeon. I love The Law. (Alert, we have Poultry at Large at 14th and Main... that's right, a chicken right in the street. Ack, it can fly! I'm going to need backup!) Do people still keep homing pigeons? THAT would be a fun hobby, it's almost like owls and you could pretend Harry Potter.

*In our house is a funny way to look at it, since we're buying the place we currently live in. No moving into a new home, no shiny new keys. I wonder if we should have some sort of ceremonial re-entry, as in 'we leave for the last time as renters, and reenter now as owners'? With sage?

Friday, June 06, 2008

...Part Two

I'm in that lovely period of anticipation known as the Two Week Wait, those days between when one might have gotten pregnant and the earliest one could find out if this is so. Doubtful that this is our month, due to an unscheduled reappearance of Don's Terrible Neck & Back Pain (those pesky discs). This leads to dialogue like this: "What do you mean, you're in incredible pain? Do I care? FERTILIZE ME NOW!"-- that is thankfully internal. My mouth actually said things like, "poor baby", and "I'll go get the Advil." Still, we have a chance. And every time that we've gotten pregnant, I was previously convinced that it wasn't going to be our month, so I don't put too much stock in that feeling now. I am popping the prenatals, the aspirin, and the progesterone-- or I would be were it an oral medication. I guess "gingerly placing the progesterone" would be more accurate. What's bad is that I've had constant headaches lately, possibly due to this insane heat/ humidity, or to the stress of applying for a home loan. No Advil allowed in the two week wait...

We are officially preapproved for the loan, and nothing on their list of requirements is out of our reach, so things are looking good on that end. The termite inspection went well. But there are a lot of things that could go wrong, so I'm not overly excited (with a 'c'!) so far. My brain hurts, so must go now.

Monday, June 02, 2008

If you want coherence, go read a novel

Project House: still waiting for loan application to be approved. Because THAT'S not a nerve-wracking few days, is it? Signed a bunch of paperwork with our landlord (aka the Seller, aka the Agent. He wears many hats.) that would usually not be signed until after he sees our pre-approval letter. Huh.

Project Baby: AM OVULATING TODAY. Got the simpering digital smiley face on Clear Blue Easy's ovulation kit this morning, backed it up with the more prosaic two-matching-lines kit from Accu-someting. They agree with each other. I've been so wrapped up with peeing in a cup every morning (I've gotten REALLY GOOD at that-- no splashing, no overflow!), testing with two different tests (what if one of them DOESN'T WORK?), taking my vitamins & etc, that I almost forgot that in order to get pregnant, we'd still have to have sex at some point. Thank goodness Don had the presence of mind (or something) to remember that bit.

Project Sister Coming to Virginia to Take Back the Dog We've Been Caring For for 9 Months: complete, amid much heartbreak and sadness. Our place is too quiet now. Alice seems a bit lost. Don may or may not have cried. We miss you, Cocomo! Come back any time!

Thoughts: that smiley face is pretty damn condescending. I mean, we are presumably intelligent, well-educated women. We do not require a flippin' smiley face to say, "yay! you're ovulating!". Seriously? Stop infantilizing the fertility-challenged.

It really sucks to realize that your zipper is down at the grocery store, where you've gone straight from work. And subsequently realize that you haven't used the bathroom in hours. How many people noticed that zipper? HOW MANY?

It is surreal to hand the rent check to the landlord and have him say, "If this works out, I'll be giving half of this back! Not to mention your damage deposit, the downstairs tenant's damage deposit, and half of her June rent!"

The bank has a website where you can check the process of your application any time. I hope they don't track how many times an applicant checks the site, or read too much into that. Every 2o minutes is normal, right?

It seems that Don doesn't really enjoy being woken up by having pee-soaked tests thrust towards his face. I can't see why-- I mean, smiley face! Right there! Exiting news.

Friday, May 30, 2008


So. Don and I have an opportunity to buy the house we're living in from our landlord. I think we're going to try to do it. I am FREAKING OUT over here: so much stress and anxiety over this spur-of-the-moment decision. It is sort of a now-or-never deal because if we buy directly from him, we don't need to get real estate agents involved, and can save some money on both ends. He's selling either way, so if we don't (or can't) buy the place, he'll be listing with an agent: random people will be wandering through our apartment, and--eventually-- we'll have to move out and find a new place. Argh. So many different issues to address, I don't even know where to begin.

There are two apartments in this house; one that's the upper level (where we live), and a smaller apartment below. If we buy it, we'll become landlords ourselves, having this second unit to rent out. The current tenant (who's lived there for eight years), is moving soon, so we'll have to find new tenants and all that jazz.

Money. Money money money money. That's what it's all about, right? Hmm. Has anyone else ever noticed that it's impossible to figure out how much a house will cost per month? Sure, you can run mortgage estimates to get an idea of principle and interest, but that's assuming that you know what interest rate you can get: the difference between 6% and 7% for the figures we're looking at is almost one hundred dollars a month. It's hard to estimate the home owner's insurance and property taxes that are rolled into the monthly payments as well. From my rough estimates, I come up with these ideas:

The mortgage payment will be more than what we're currently paying in rent. What we're paying, though, is really low for the area, so if we have to move to another apartment, our cost of living will go up anyway. If, however, we can get (and keep) the lower apartment rented out, we'll actually be spending less on housing than we currently are. It is imperative that we be able to afford the entire mortgage, independent of tenant rent, but I think we can. The asking price of the house, incidentally, is exactly the highest figure we were willing to consider back when we were actively house-hunting. That was assuming, of course, that we'd be responsible for the entire mortgage. With me?

We know perfectly well that house prices are falling, and aren't likely to recover any time soon. If we buy this house, we have to be prepared to hang on to it for several years, or face losing our investment. So, if we still decide to move away from Charlottesville in the next few years, we'll be looking at renting out the upper apartment as well. Oy. This is a college town, with more houses occupied by renters than owners, but we're pretty far from the school-- not walking distance. I don't know how easy that will be.

The house doesn't seem to need any work for now. (We should know, having been living there for the past 18 months...) It's structurally sound, the roof is good, the foundation. Still, Don and I are both nuts for house projects, and I imagine our homey ambitions combined with years of frustrated desires will cost us a lot of money, that will probably never be recovered.

We could finally fence the yard. Paint. Garden. ARggh, I just don't know. Can we do this? Do we want to? Could the timing be any worse, what with trying (AGAIN) to start a baby? My study would make an adorable nursery... We're still walking-distance to down town, and Don's work. Why don't I own a Ouija board, or at least an 8-ball? Who can answer these questions for me?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


If only I'd been able to live-blog the entire journey, to really give an idea of the crazy that is camping someplace twelve hours away, with the entire 'family', in a small car. My mind is so full and tired, that all I can offer is snippets...

Like getting pulled over on the interstate in New York, going through the whole license-and-registration rigamarole, and finally:

Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Don: Honestly? No. No idea. (We weren't speeding, see, because the were police everywhere due to its being Memorial Day Weekend.)
Officer: Don't laugh, but I saw your dogs moving around in the back seat, and thought that they were kids that weren't buckled in. Now I see that I was mistaken. Sorry about that.
And so we were let back on the road, our "kids" still loose in the back. Too bad that the next time we were pulled over-- about four hours later, in Vermont-- it was because we were speeding, and resulted in a ticket.

There were lovely meals with friends we haven't seen in years... Friends that should come with a label: Do not be afraid of the vegans, they still eat pizza* and drink beer, and they don't sneer at your omelet! Friends that are coming down to visit us next month, at last!

"Camping" within the city on a holiday weekend was a new experience for us; we usually aim for off-peak times and out-of-the-way places, hoping to get a little peace, quiet, and privacy. This time, we were sort of treating the campsite and tent as a very cheap hotel room; not a 'getting away from it all' time so much as just a place to crash after being in town all day. Good thing, too, as it was pretty crowded and loud. The cat was wonderful; twelve straight hours in the car, two days in a tent, and another day back in the car doesn't phase her at all. She is the best road-trip cat imaginable**. Sometimes she's so quiet in the car that I have to check to make sure she hasn't slipped out somehow, but she's always just sleeping under the passenger seat. Alice loves it, too. We've taken so many trips (and moved cross-country) so many times in the eight years we've had her, that she seems to think spending days in the car is perfectly normal.

Cocomo, the sister's dog, was less relaxed. She is not a fan of the road trip, but that's one of the reasons why we took her; my sister is coming up in a few days to collect her and drive her back to Texas. We were hoping this trip would normalize the experience of being in the car, and I think it helped. Mainly, though, we just wanted to enjoy our last week with her:

Vermont is still awesome. We sort of spent the entire weekend saying, "Why did we leave this place, again? Why aren't we still here?" and reminding each other of the six-month winters. It just doesn't work, though, because who can think of snow, in the face of this:

Or this:

That picture encapsulates so many things that I love: my husband of one year, two days; my baby with the floppy ears; the neice-dog; and Speeder & Earl's mochas, of which I have been suffering withdrawal pains for four years. It's been too long.

*hummus, no cheese, tons of veggies. Looked yummy.

** I don't know anyone else that takes their cat on road trips, so I'm just guessing. But she handles it like a pro!

Friday, May 23, 2008

To think, for some people it's free

OK, so I was all exited and smug because a jumbo, nasty bill came from my infertility doc's office, but it had all been covered by insurance, (thank you!) leaving me only fifteen dollars left to pay. (Which really makes me wonder-- why? Do human people ever actually look at these bills? Why cover over nine hundred dollars' worth of procedures and etc, but leave the last 15? Anyways.) You know how you're supposed to read through those bills to make sure you're not getting charged for stuff that wasn't done to you? Nothing like seeing, "catheterizing" on that list and going, "yup, yup, sure do remember that catheter! At least my bill's correct!"

Right now I'm less exited, having been informed that the twice-daily progesterone supplement that is my future offspring's only chance for survival, is NOT covered, for the stupidest reason involving how it's billed or something. It's going to cost me sixty dollars a month until we conceive, then $120/ month for the first three months of the pregnancy. (Hopefully.) AND, I have to use ovulation-prediction kits every month to pinpoint exactly when to start the hormones; I thought those would cost about what a pregnancy test does, seeing that they do the same trick of analysing the chemical content of urine. They don't. So, a couple of those kits every month, also until we conceive again. Essentially, trying to concieve is going to cost over a hundred dollars a month until we get lucky. I ran all this by Don, with the inevitable conclusion: conceive ASAP, save $$! It's going to be a busy month...

But first, we get to go camping* with not one dog, not TWO dogs, but two dogs AND a cat**! This is going to be super, super fun. Or, at the very least, give us good vacation-from-hell stories for another few years.

* What, isn't that how everybody celebrates their one-year marriage anniversary?
** She gets LONELY if we leave her behind! I know I swore she'd never come camping with us again, but it will be different this time. Really.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When Bank Tellers PMS

Reasons why people come into the bank to do transactions that could be done at the ATM:

1. They need specific denominations: two fives, a roll of quarters for laundry, anything the machine can't handle.
2. Or too little, as in: I only have eight bucks in my account, can I take out five?
3. Or, conversely, too much: nobody wants eight hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills, it makes the wallet all fat and awkward.
4. They want the money from an account that isn't connected to their ATM card: not the primary account, in others words.

Those are really good reasons. Less-good reasons include:

5. They don't know about ATMs/ are afraid of the freaky technology embodied by this "cash machine". (Seriously.)
6. Variant: all plastic money is the devil, including ATM cards.
7. They crave human interaction, and don't have enough friends/ acquaintances/ bartenders/ barristas/ random people on the street, to fulfill said need.

It's not like it's my business, really. If you want to wait in line for ten minutes behind people doing cashier's checks and address changes, whatever. Personally, I'd use that shiny ATM by the front door... But then again, I'm an antisocial, PMSing, time-valuing technophile, so what do I know.

You know what's weird? I can never, ever spell "particularly" right on the first try. No other words give me such trouble.