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May 2004

Gossip, Reformed

I always feel guilty when I engage in reckless gossip or personal commentary, although I do love it so. This morning I wrote a long and chatty piece of fluff about my friend's, well let's call it a midlife crisis, shall we? After I posted it we went to buy some tomato plants. As I looked at the Jaune Flamée I realized what a jerk I was for writing about him. I proceeded to feel guiltier and guiltier until the car ride home had me screaming about the infernal racket of that beating heart. It seemed most appropriate to just delete the damned thing upon my return, so I did. The post now joins the ranks of that really disgusting X-Files' episode about the incestuous Peacock family that FOX vowed never to air again. Well, sort of.

I sometimes wish I was able to go back and delete conversations. Like the moment I announced to the family that Steve's sister's boyfriend had just gotten a vasectomy. What? Oh, was that a secret? Or the Thanksgiving my mother articulated how happy she was my brother never experimented with drugs and I rolled my eyes and reminded her that he went to UC Santa Cruz - the best we could hope for is that he wasn't actually a grower.

I am not a malicious gossip, I just delight in stories and I love to share them. If you haven't noticed, I have very few secrets myself and even the ones I do have I am hard-pressed not to shout about online (sometimes in blank verse.) This does not mean that a little reticence about the affairs (haha, excuse me) of others would not become me. It would. I will try to do better.

So with an eye towards leaving the gossip in the hands of the professionals I give you this: Gawker

Quick question, who ARE these people? Right, I know Seinfeld of course, fuck you, it is MINNESOTA not Pluto but... Is it a New York thing? Because it simply cannot be that I am a provincial. Oh. No.


Home Of The Beaver

Beavers will slap their tails on the water to signal danger and threaten predators. In our old house we lived vertically and it was almost impossible to get the attention of someone on the first floor when you were on the third. To communicate an urgent need we would pound on the floor with our feet and at one time we likened this behavior to that of the world's largest rodent.

[Ed. note: Apparently the beaver just thinks it is the world's largest rodent, having never visited South America and gotten its tail kicked by a Capybara. We know better.]

When my brother was visiting last Fall I wanted Steve for something so I smacked my foot down on the floor a few times. Steve came hurrying up from the basement and poked his head around the door.

"Was that a beaver call?" he asked.

My brother, who is apparently 35 going on 11, laughed until he choked on a peanut M&M and asked if we needed some time alone. Guffaw.

Men are so predictable.

And speaking of predictable male behavior, I am meeting a very close friend for dinner tonight. He used to be my boss, but we sort of shelved that hierarchical nonsense on his second day of command and subsequently got on like a house on fire. We haven't worked together in years and he has changed companies in the meantime but we try to see each other every two months or so. His wife, unfortunately, is not so wild about me or we would see them more often, I think. They live nearby and have a son younger than Patrick and a four year old daughter.

This weekend I got a frantic email from him, an electronic beaver distress call, saying we absolutely positively needed to see each other - STAT. He then called twice, which is unprecedented.

[Gossip deleted, but I might be willing to email you the missing paragraphs.]


Non Linear

HSG = good.
Procreative sex > Nonprocreative sex.
7 bottles of wine + 10(appropriate quantity of chicken) + 1 mocha mousse confection = A Pretty Good Dinner Party + Obscene Amount of Leftover Chicken/ 1 Crise de Nerfs When 5 Guest Arrived 30 Minutes Early


So I would like to get pregnant again. I can handle another miscarriage. I will let you know how things go.


There is a lot to be said for procreative sex, by the way. God knows it increases frequency around here. I realize that there are people out there, and we hate them mostly, who publicly vow that they will not let their desire to have a child warp their Hot Hot sexxx lives into something "mechanical." They assure themselves (and us!) that they will continue to get swept up by the moment and, in time, that moment will nicely coincide with the woman's casement window of fertility and hooray! Passion leads to Prudence, 7lbs 9oz. For Steve and me that insouciance lasted for about two months- FIVE YEARS ago. Ever since then (with an Ollie-Ollie-in-Come-Free Sexfest that coincided with Patrick's first year of life during which time we were NOT interested in conceiving and could have had sex any old time but were too tired) we have had sex on schedule. A generous schedule that closely resembles flight times from LA to LaGuardia, rather than the more limiting Schenectady to Santa Fe run, but still... there are expectations.


Do you know Ollie-Ollie-in-Come-Free, by the way? I called it out to Steve the other day and he came in from the yard at once. When I was growing up we would shout it to indicate that a big outdoor game (like Hide-and-Go-Seek with all the neighborhood kids) was either over or temporarily suspended due to injury or the presence of a parent looking for their offspring. Steve actually grew up about 10 miles away from me, so I guess it isn't so surprising that we would know the same childhood things. Although, now that I think about it, I remember a spectacularly drunk evening in college disintegrating into hand clapping games ("Miss Mary Mack" springs to mind) with people from Louisiana and Oregon and we all knew the same words and gestures. And it isn't like Schoolhouse Rock or something. We are talking about oral traditions here, people. Well, I think it is fascinating. So do you know either Ollie-Ollie or Miss Mary Mack?


Gimme An H-S-G! Now Gimme Some Cash

The HSG was a breeze. I can see why it might hurt, and to those of you who wrote to say it did I am sorry, but I didn't have a problem. Either because I have had a child, or because my uterus and related tubing are as clear as a mountain stream, or because advancements in technology no longer require them to use a garden hose I know not. It pinched when they inflated the balloon and then I was standing in the parking garage with my panties in one hand. Well, practically. In and out in fifteen minutes, which was good because those minutes were among the most socially awkward of my life.

You're thinking that the radiologist was, in fact, my neighbor, but this is not the case. I had some other radiologist on board, which should have been a relief but this guy was a freak show. I don't know what his deal was. He walked in and tried to introduce himself but stumbled over his own name and then starting blushing and I don't know what the hell else. There were peals of nervous laughter and weird hand flailing. I just stared at him. Did you ever see Amadeus? He reminded me of Wolfie. When he had to get up close and personal with my cervix I thought he was going to die, I really did.

"Ooops, Ha ha, SORRY! I touched your foot! AIE! I did it again! Ha Ha! You paint your toenails? I mean, you do. I mean, that's good. Ha ha ha."

Good grief. If this was the East Coast, or even Chicago, I would guess that I had slept with him at some point and he was terrified that I was going to mention it but- nope. I would have remembered this one.

----------------------------------------------------------

You know who they should have looking for Osama Bin Laden? My university's Office of Annual Giving, that's who.

They are the reason I knew the phone was hooked up in the new house. Where the hell is that ringing coming from? The dish box. Oh... it's you again, chirpy undergrad telephone solicitor. How did you find me and wait! This isn't even plugged in! Amazing.

Today's appeal for money notes that one of "our own biochemists" (I have a biochemist? Cool, but what I need is a cytogeneticist) won the Nobel Prize. They think this fact should encourage me to cough up some cash, but frankly shouldn't they be asking him? I mean he is the one who unexpectedly came into some money and they obviously had no scruples about borrowing his prestige.

Nah, I love me some Blue Jays. Just kidding, you crazy ugly eggheads. Check's in the mail, I swear- stop calling and please please stop sending the magazine. I don't know how to tell you this, but I don't fucking care.



Everything Else Is Trivial

cake

 After a little more whining and wringing of the hands over this weekend’s dinner party, I am now looking forward to it. It helps that I made a cake. The haphazard frosting and unexpected tilt let people know that it was made with love and also verify that my small-motor skills continue to be lousy. You can’t tell by looking, but it consists of a frozen mocha mousse sandwiched between two layers of flourless chocolate cake. And the glaze that appears to have been slapped on by monkeys is actually a Kahlua-chocolate ganache. That plus the case of shiraz I just reserved should see us through nicely. Oh, and a Balsamic Rosemary Dijon chicken recipe that converts its own marinade into a delightful sauce. Maybe some couscous. A big-ass salad. We’ll have a good time. Something everyone should know about me is that I don’t like to eat once I start drinking. This causes all sorts of hilarious mishaps, none funnier than when you are a guest in my home. Imagine my consternation when someone timidly reminds me that we were going to have dinner, too, and here it is – eleven o’clock already and I’ve been kicking ass at euchre for almost an hour. Whoops!

 I talked to my RE today. I can’t decide if my reproductive endocrinologist is a miracle of accessibility and reliability or if I have so effectively relegated this part of our lives to the murky margins that any contact at all is an unexpected delight. This was the second time he called this week. As you may recall, our next step with the RE was to have a FISH study done on Steve’s sperm. This will tell us, statistically at any rate, how bad our chances are in general and whether IVF with PGD could work for us in the future. My RE is in the process of changing to a new PGD lab and, to sum, we are in limbo. He called today to tell me that they will get something for us in the next few days and either the embryologist or the lab manager will call me before the end of next week. He seemed like he was on top of things, so fine… fine.

We have already decided (have I told you this?) to try again at least one more time without any intervention. One more roll of the dice, as it were. Provided that tomorrow’s HSG goes well (see below) I expect to be trying to have another baby (remind me to put up an Ebay link for this gross of condoms) shortly thereafter.

It’s funny. Well, not hilarious, but interesting to me at least. All of the sudden I realized that I can do this again. Not have a second child, we knew we were ready for that, but the strong likelihood of another miscarriage weighing against the slim possibility of another baby surprisingly seems ok. For months I thought “No way” and now, I like those odds just fine. Sixes? Double down!

 I am having an HSG tomorrow at 1. This procedure checks for uterine scarring, which is a very real concern after one D&C let alone four. A more effective way to look for scar tissue is a hysteroscopy. I discussed both options with the Pillsbury DoughB (get it? OB? You should see him) but he is so certain that I have no problems that he convinced me to go the less invasive route. If anything looks weird then we can always go back.

I have two concerns about this procedure. The first is that it will hurt. They told me to take 800 mg of ibuprofen before coming in, and I have heard that some women found the whole thing excruciatingly painful. My best friend, for example, lost consciousness during hers, although the nurse said that had never happened before. And she always was a wuss, even as a child.

My major concern, though, is that the radiologist will actually come into the room. And that some scheduling nightmare will ordain that this radiologist will be the head of radiology for the hospital. And I will promptly die of embarrassment. For he, my crumpets, is our next door neighbor. I know we are all grown-ups and he is a professional etc., but the idea of lying in a dimly lit room while some wand monkey manipulates the dildo-cam and Mark (Mark!) nods and points at the screen…

“Hey! I see you guys got the pool open. Fabulous! Yeah, we are thinking about putting one in over past the driveway… yikes! that’s the cervix!… So, are you free for the vertical party in July?… Oh, three D&Cs and then there was the second-trimester abortion at the Minneapolis clinic… Kids doing well?…”

Gak.

Please tell me a) if I should take something stronger than ibuprofen and whether I can drive myself home and b) if there is the smallest chance that I might actually see a radiologist because then I am DEFINITELY taking something stronger than ibuprofen and he can just drive me home.


What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

I was just warming up the string section for a rehearsal of my favorite number "I Have Nothing To Look Forward To, AGAIN" when Steve broke in and said, "Nonsense. There is dinner on Saturday."

Dinner on Saturday? What fun! Where?

Here.

"The Ryds are still trying to find a babysitter, but everyone else will be here by 6:30. All twelve of them."

I fainted, but fortunately was spared from serious injury by the pile of cat-hair and lemon rinds in the center of the room.

Wha... what? When did I agree to a dinner party for 14 this weekend? Seriously, do you remember that? Yes, I did try to placate an irascible Steve by offering to throw an impromptu gathering two Saturdays ago, but no one was available at such short-notice. That was the POINT. It is called a GESTURE. Did I say we should reschedule? Aw, damn it.

I actually like having people here (well sort of) once they are on my couch, but the hassle of cleaning this Augean Stable and figuring out what to make and then making it...

It's like housewife mid-terms.

Because Steve is out to get me (can you think of another reason?) he failed to remind me of the impending hordes as I consulted with him on the week's grocery needs. He did, however, make it abundantly clear that he would like me to this week make the shrimp pasta of which he is so fond (that sentence actually pulled something - how awkward.) As we endeavor to please, I put it on the list. Since I prep cook dinner while Patrick is napping, the shrimp was thawed (note: you might as well just buy frozen shrimp unless you net it yourself, as they freeze it on the boats anyway) and the onion was chopped when I mentioned to Steve that I was making his shrimp pasta tonight. I don't need him to jump up and down and say "Oh huzzah, moon of my delight!" but I guess I would have liked a different response. Do you know what he said?

He said, "Oh, I have practice tonight. I'll be out until 9:30."

Let's see how he feels about tomorrow's fifty eggs...


Thy Will Be Done

Steve and I had our wills drawn up when Patrick was about six months old. Specifically, we spent almost seven hours discussing our deaths (mutual or consecutive) on December 31, 2002 which was not only New Year's Eve but also our fourth wedding anniversary. Can you think of a better way to celebrate a union and ring in the new year than by insuring that every possible death-related contingency is foreseen (Steve dies. I inherit. I remarry. New union is blessed. Patrick's patrimony is now at risk of being squandered to the advantage of my new issue! Is there a way to prevent this? Why, you bet your sweet ass there is...) Yeah, I was also able to think of quite a few things I would rather be doing on New Year's Eve.

Like drinking champagne.

Ostensibly, despite my yelping about how inconvenient the timing was for us, this was the only afternoon in a five year period that it would be possible to gather the necessary people (our attorney, the estate planner, the other inheritance tax guy, our accountant, Steve, me and a buxom paralegal) in the same room during the full moon. I believe that they all just wanted to ratchet up those billable hours before the year ended. I can forgive them for this. What I cannot forgive them for is thinking that when I reluctantly agreed but added that there had better be champagne they thought I was joking. Do YOU think I was joking?

It was a dry, a very dry, meeting.

The first thing we covered is what would happen to Patrick in the event that Steve and I shuffled together off this mortal coil.

"He goes to my brother," we announced in unison.

"Which brother?" asked the attorney, licking his lips and looking at the clock.

"Oh, hers," Steve clarified.

Strike One.

Then we set up a zillion trust scenarios for Patrick, in none of which does the poor kid actually get any money until he is about 40.

"You think you are getting a convertible to wrap around a tree just because I am dead?" I asked the baby who was on a blanket under the conference room table. "Not fucking likely, Finky, and you better believe Uncle Mark is going to make you get a job in college."

The estate planner appealed to Steve. "Isn't this a little extreme? Couldn't he get some of the principle at 21? Young men, you know, big dreams..."

"No." Steve returned.

Strike Two.

It became clear that the reason all of these people had to be present was to insure that someone was instigating a quarrel between Steve and me at all times. One or the other of us would answer a question and then the whole room would pivot and ask if that was REALLY what we BOTH wanted.

Since almost everything centered around Steve's death (my own passing being regarded as sad, of course, but financially inconsequential and my insistence on bequeathing my Wodehouse collection was a frank irritation to everyone including the paralegal) I didn't have a whole lot to say for most of it.

Until we got to the Living Will stuff. The Health Care Directive they wanted me to sign stating that I do not want heroic measures in the event that I am horribly horribly ill or unimaginably injured.

"But I do," I said as my pen hung in the air over the signature space.

"You do what?"

"I DO want heroic measures. I want George Clooney pouring sweat and screaming Live, damn you, LIVE! I want machines that beep and drugs that do whatever they do best. I want tenting and multiple surgeries and 24 hour care. What," I paused and started tapping the page with the pen, "what the hell is this?"

It was standard. It was in my best interest. It was recognized by the state. It was in the best interest of the family. It was the right thing to do. It was getting late...

"Do you really want Patrick and I to be bankrupt as every cent is poured into keeping the shell that is you alive in a vegetative state?" Steve asked.

Yes. Yes, I do. And I will prefer to be called a "shrine" rather than a "shell," and "sleeping soundly" to "vegetable" thank you very much.

"Look, look honey, I'm signing mine."

Strike Three.

However, I was able to wave that Do Not Resuscitate order in Steve's face this morning and tell him he had exactly five seconds to get out of bed and stop dramatizing his stupid head cold or I would be putting him out of his misery.

He had been very clear, I reminded him, swatting him in the head with his phonebook of a will. He never wanted to become a burden to me. DNR, baby, DNR.

He's up.


So I Am Flirty

As I suspected, it is fun to get dressed up and go to a fancy wine dinner with your devastating-in-black-tie husband. It is fun to have people with trays full of drinkables urge you to have another glass while you browse the silent auction tables. It is fun to have that same husband encourage you to bid on exotic and obscenely expensive wines and even more fun to actually win the Duxoup vertical of Syrah (one magnum each of six successive years from the same winery - fun fun fun fun fun fun.) And while no one specifically offered to tickle my feet, I met a rather attractive man who suggested we go somewhere else for a drink.

What I should have said, repressively, is "My husband is expecting me back at our table, thank you."

What I actually said, while tucking a strand of hair behind my ear and glancing up at him, is "Somewhere besides this Winefest Gala Wine Dinner for a drink? What, do you not like wine?"

Then I had to scurry into the ladies room and hide out until I was sure he was gone. I knew as I was looking him in the eye and playing with my hair that I was sending out Yes Yes Oh God Yes signals but truly all I was thinking was that I needed to go to the bathroom and wondering whether Steve's cold was getting worse. Despite my shrouded-in-mystery weakness for a certain San Franciscan ex-boyfriend marketing director who will remain nameless (what? Oh. Oh, right, Julian, yes) I am madly in love with the wine-buying yet wine-hating father of the year I married. Not right now, of course. Right now I cannot stand him because his cold was getting worse and he has spent the past two days in bed, trying my patience and exhausting my goodness, but in general. In general I am madly in love with him.

Doesn't mean it wasn't nice to have a strange man suggest that he would like to, well, you know, go for a drink somewhere.

Yep. Nice and fun.



Again With The Feet

Tonight we are going to the "Winefest Gala Wine Dinner" (who wrote this invitation?) and I am all a-twizzle.

Quietly all a-twizzle, though, because I am waiting for my toenails to dry. My fun party shoes are slides (see below) buttons so people will be able to play with my toes between courses.

I mean, I am assuming that I will be so adorable in my new party dress and shoes that total strangers will want to play with my toes. I picture them saying Aw! and asking my husband how old I am before tickling my feet. I may be wrong, but operating under this assumption I have painted the toenails a festive Cranberry.

Hmmmm... now that I am watching them dry, I have to admit that this was an unfortunate color choice for me. Something about this particular hue gives my toes a distinct bluish tinge that can best be described as morgue-y. If you saw these toes poking out from under a white sheet you would not assume that Winefest had gotten me laid, oh no. More like laid out by a heavy blow to the temple. Pity.

Maybe some wine will pink them up....


It's Late

I am 5' 3 ¾”. In the fancy new shoes that just arrived to complement my fancy new dress I will be 5' 5 ¾" this weekend. So get out of my way, Pediatrics Foundation- I might crush you.

Originally I was much shorter. Say about 20 inches or so. Then I grew, but not a whole hell of a lot. For a while there I was the shortest kid in every class. I am also not very coordinated. These two facts make it even more endearing that my big brother not only took me everywhere with him, but insisted that I get to play basketball too. Really insisted. "If she doesn't play I am taking the ball and going home" insisted. Not only would I get to play, but Mark would pass me the ball every chance he got.

"You can do it, Jules! Take the shot!"

And I would glance up at the net, poke my tongue through my lips in supreme concentration, and hurl the ball as hard as I could, about two feet off the ground.

"Good try! A little higher next time," would be Mark's only comment while his friends groaned and mentally added basketballs to their Christmas/Hanukkah lists.

I didn't care. My older brother thought I was great and I could do anything.

Ideally I would wrap this story up by telling you that I went on to lead our girls' basketball team to the State finals while my brother cheered from the stands. Unfortunately, I suck at basketball. Once, one time, I sank a lay-up during gym class and that was it. If you ask my brother, though, if you called him up right now and asked him, he would say that I was pretty good with the net. I just need a little coaching, but I can contribute. He would also tell you that I am the smartest person he knows. That I am beautiful. That I am the greatest writer, best statistician, funniest storyteller... and it is not that I am a bad driver, I just need a little more practice.

I love my brother.

Patrick needs a brother.