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April 2005

Why Am I Doing This?

Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

I HATE leaving Steve and Patrick. I just hate it. What if something terrible happens? What if Canada annexes Minnesota and refuses to let me back in until I admit that 'Strange Brew' was funny (it wasn't! IT WASN'T!) What if DC is finally granted statehood and I am elected governor during my visit and find myself perpetually torn between my family and my political career?

What if the internet fad ends while I am away and you guys are gone forever?


It Just Needed A Little Tact

Do you want to explain to me what dread disease is thwarted by the act of sluicing cool water over grapes? So I forgot to rinse the grapes after I arranged them in that darling little grape colander- big deal. I told Steve that I'll apologize when he gets Ebola but until then shut up (yes, sure, washing fresh fruits and vegetables is critical to maintaining the illusion of incomparable housewifery but do we really believe that a little splash of well-water does anything?)

Speaking of Steve, he is now fully cognizant of his utter utter failure as a multi-celled organism. As one of you so aptly put it, he thought it was going to be easier to ask for forgiveness than permission but man! was he wrong.

I lambasted him, my chickpeas, and then I slept in the guest room just to make sure my point was emphasized (o god how I love that guest bed; it is like sleeping in a warm cloud.) Then we made up while I sat and watched him clean the house really, really well (better than I do that's for damn sure; who cleans under the couch?) and all is sweetness and bliss again.

Saturday night we had the new neighbors over for dinner and it was so much fun that we accidentally drank four bottles of wine (hmmm, or maybe we drank four bottles of wine and accidentally had so much fun.) The end result was that we woke up on Sunday morning feeling like rancid ass and in our very own Scott and Zelda moment we camped on the couch with the baby while he watched video after video and we groaned.

By noon I was pretty sure I was getting, like, a migraine or something. Although I hated to abandon my hostessing responsibilities and leave poor hungover Steve with all the work for his BBQ, well, my health must come first, of course. So I retired to an upstairs guest room with a stack of books and vial of laudanum and Steve made my apologies. Eventually he brought me some Gatorade and a little soup and I asked how he was doing with all those piles of raw red meat he had to grill. He turned green and tottered out to face our houseful of guests again.

That'll teach him.

In other news my recurrent aborter blood panels came back and I am a heterogeneous carrier for either Factor V or MTHFR, I forget which, but one of those genetic mutations. So, on a survey of the more obscure possible causes for recurrent miscarriage I can now check two (2) boxes. I rock the Underworld.

In addition to failing to ascertain just what it is that I have or lack, I also neglected to ask whether my homocysteine levels were high, largely because I hadn't googled it ahead of time and therefore would not have known a homocysteine if it bit me on the fanny. Apparently, though, it (they?) is (are?) the thing(s) that make(s) the other things relevant. All I know right now is that the hematologist put me on baby aspirin every day until I die plus a prescription-strength folic acid. And when I get pregnant again (hear that ring of confidence! look at my brave smile, squared chin and jaunty hair ribbon!) I will get injections of something or other until something or other happpens.

I'm sorry to be vague, but I just didn't think to ask. They drew more blood today and when those results come back I'll be primed with better questions, like: huh? come again? and how are those homosistinechapels looking?

Oh and I HAVE A GENETIC MUTATION.

I am so ashamed. I confessed the terrible news to Steve after the phone call and he couldn't even look at me, he was so repulsed.

No wonder my feet are so fucking wide; I am practically amphibious because I am a mutant. It is all so clear now...

Thanks, by the way, for helping me punt Steve back to Christmas. He and I sat here reading your comments after the dinner guests left (at 2am) on Saturday night and we laughed until we cried. Granted, we were as drunk as frat boys, but still, you guys were very funny. Steve asked me to point out that just because he says I do need psychotropic drugs it doesn't mean I DON'T need psychotropic drugs, if you know what he means. Which I totally do not.

And on that lucid note I'll leave you, as I must go pack for my trip.


One Angry Woman

Ladies and gentleman, last night I was sorely tempted to beat Steve to death with one of my wide, womanly shoes.

Although I would have admitted to the act in a becoming and forthright manner, I would have pled for clemency on the grounds that the extenuating circumstances had driven me past a point of reasonable endurance.

I ask that you consider the facts and tell me, as fair and just people, whether my justification was indeed valid.

The Defense: We have just gotten back from North Carolina. On Monday I have communist playgroup in the morning and a dental appointment in the afternoon. Tuesday Patrick has speech and Wednesday I am leaving to go take care of Steve's sister and her newborn. Tonight, Saturday, I had already agreed to have the new neighbors over for a dinner (at Steve's behest.) Dinner, may I add, will be a lovely roasted chicken in a lemon-balsamic-rosemary sauce with individual mocha souffl├ęs to follow. Nice, right? 

So late yesterday afternoon, as I was making last night's dinner and finishing the souffl├ęs for tonight's dinner and trying to work on writing something that is important to me and scraping the playdough off Patrick's face, Steve told me that he had invited four adults and four children to our house on Sunday for a BBQ. And when I looked at him like he was crazy and said, "Are you OUT TO GET ME?" he said, "I knew you would say no if I asked you first. Which is why I didn't ask you."

Thus, I fucking lost it with him after Patrick was safely tucked in his wee bed and covered with kisses.

Fucking. Lost. It.

Am I to get no rest, no peace, no time to myself? Am I to have people showing up at my door whether I wish for company or not? Am I a goddamned serf?

The Prosecution:

Steve said he would:

1) plan what to serve [burgers! and brats! ye gods]

2) buy it

3) make it

4) clean up before and afterwards

He added that yes, I had to be there, and yes, I had to be nice despite the fact that, no, I would not go out of my way to share a lifeboat with any of these people regardless of how fast the cruise ship was sinking.

Further, he said that my social anxieties are clearly out of control and I should consider medication. I said that my social anxieties are quite under control, thank you, provided I don't have veritable strangers falling out of the fucking sky and landing in my kitchen every five goddamned minutes. Then I bit off his thumb.

So, it is in your hands. Do you think one co-habitating partner gets to invite people to dine without first consulting the other co-habitating partner? Is the offer to do all the work a mitigating circumstance? Or is he a cocksucker? [hey! how about that Deadwood on DVD, huh? pr-e-tty classy stuff!]


Mostly Patrick

You guys are so nice to me.

I probably should have mentioned that my real problem with flying next week was caused by my desire to catch a flight at the intersection of Spoiled and Cheap. I wanted to fly Northwest direct to National (spelled N-a-t-i-o-n-a-l, by the way, not R-e-a-g-a-n) and was miffed that they were not willing to let me do so for $300. Hence the chest-heaving and the quivering lip and the throwing myself on the ground. It was all very unattractive, actually, and I apologize.

So, YAY, with your help, I did find a flight that I can live with and I am going to go snoogle a newborn and produce freezables for a few days. Also, apparently, I am going to be canonized in recognition of this trip. So, that will be fun, as Patrick says all the damned time.

He is so amazingly cute, have I mentioned that? I love how much he is talking and how fun (and funny) it is to get his opinions on things. For the most part he is an overwhelmingly positive little person and the phrases he uses most often are all like that: "That will be fun!", "You did it!", "Great Job!", "The cats are happy!", "Hooray!", etc...

When he is playing by himself he keeps up a running monologue of self-praise that is really sweet, although I worry that he will write greeting cards for a living. Not that there is anything wrong with writing greeting cards, I hastily add. I should be so lucky that I could be paid to write anything, let alone "Happy Birthday" or "ConGRADulations!" Speaking of which, would anyone like to read my children's novel? Anyone? HELLO? I just need to write the last 30,000 words give or take but the first five chapters are all ready to go and the outline is there and I just... HELLO? 

Humph.

So Patrick is a total joy to live with all the time.

OK, most of the time. I admit that it is a little wearing to live with his unshakeable aversions to: the potty; sitting in a chair that has a towel on it; naps; keeping his breakfast, lunch, and dinner on (or even near) the table; and every food that he has traditionally liked in the past.

Steve and I go around saying, "No. Don't l-y-ike it" in imitation of the firm little voice Patrick uses to end a discussion. Do you remember that scene in "All-of-a-Kind Family" when one of the girls refuses to eat dinner so they just leave it there for her and her father says she has to take a bite before she has anything else and then she breaks down and eats some? In that situation Patrick would eventually wind up a little skeleton sitting at the table in a plain blue shirt (Patrick will not wear anything with a pattern or logo on it, nice huh? do you know how hard it is to find clothing in solid colors without a trace of merchandising?) Stubborn. The kid is stubborn.

Oh, and today he made masks for himself out of playdough that covered his eyes completely. He balanced them on his face by tilting his head up. Then he would start running and, SURPRISE, he would smack into a wall or door or bookcase almost at once. And then he would cry and I would say, "There there, let me kiss it" but I was thinking "Well, duh, cherub." 

After admitting that he was running into walls all day I suppose you will wonder why I wound up reading an essay on gifted and talented children this afternoon. Right? Well, he is DRIVING ME CRAZY with this book he has about a robot building a robot dog. Each page tells the child to identify another set of shapes (Can you find the blue half-circles? Great!) and Patrick has this book down cold but it has led him to a never-ending series of questions on the subject. Like, "That's a half circle but what is a half square?" and "What is that?" when we see a blob or a multi-sided shape that is neither a triangle nor a square nor a rectangle. He carries the book around and points to the weird shapes and asks about them OVER and OVER again.   

So I was trying to find a book for children that shows angles and polygons and hexagons et al (largely so he will shut up already, I mean learn from it) and as far as I can tell such a book does not exist (unless you know of one? I would be grateful for recommendations. Also, a book that shows how different colors come together beyond the normal ones. Patrick is always asking what green and yellow make, or orange and black and he is tired of me saying "brown" and "browner".) Where was I? Oh, yes, I was googling "advanced shapes book young children" and I wound up on a page where someone had compiled parental descriptions of their gifted children at a young age.

And, like everyone would since all kids are gifted at something, I thought Hey! That sounds like my child!

So I took some crayons and a ruler and Patrick and I went through line, angle, triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon and octagon. And he was fascinated and got it all so completely and I drew more and he identified them and told me how to draw them and I was like, oh my god, my son is BRILLIANT! He will be able name shapes for the richest kings of Europe and they will shower us with their gold! And we did a little polygon dance.

Then Steve came home from running and I asked Patrick to identify fancy shapes for Daddy and he got every single one wrong. Every single one.

Whereupon, he put playdough on his face and ran into the TV.


Another Raincheck

While in North Carolina I drank Dom Perignon (the '85, god rest its soul) and ate pickled eggs. TOGETHER.

See what I mean? Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Unlike RC and moonpies (I love RC, by the way, but moonpies? no) I do not think this pairing is indicative of native tastes. It seems to me that eating a pickled egg while drinking champagne is more like the drunkard's canary in the coal mine. Does this sound like a good idea? Really, it does? Then PUT DOWN THE MAGNUM AND GO STRAIGHT TO BED.

For the record, never tell a Southerner that you love absolutely anything pickled and will be more than willing to ingest whatever pickled product they put before you. Apparently Down South this can be interpreted FAR BEYOND the realm of what God ever intended to be put into brine.

No offense meant, of course. The South is inhabited by a weird and sugary people but their collective heritage is one that I am (mostly) proud to also claim as my own. We might not pickle snakes and eat them, but both sides of my family got their asses kicked by the Yankees during the Aggression and if you rummage in my drawers long enough you will find that I am a member of both the D.A.R. and the D.A.C. Some girls turn to heroin to upset their mothers during their teen years... I joined elitist (largely elderly) social clubs and simultaneously started attending Catholic mass. My mom almost flipped the fuck out, I swear. Thank heavens I discovered bars my junior year of high school, that's all I can say.

On a completely unrelated topic, do you ever have those moments when you find yourself making kind, almost saintly, offers? And then they get accepted and you think oh damn it, now I have to actually fly to DC and take care of my sister-in-law and her new baby next week?

Steve's sister had a little boy on Friday, via c-section. The world's longest induction (four days) ate up a chunk of her husband's vacation time and she is going to be home alone before she is even allowed to drive again. It all sounded so pitiful that I impulsively offered to fly out and be her housekeeper/nanny/chauffeur for a few days. I told her to think about it. She just called about an hour ago and said, yes, please.

So now rather than tell you stories as promised I have to see if I can actually keep both my kidneys and get an airplane ticket for a week from tomorrow. It does not look promising. $700 to fly to Baltimore! BALTIMORE! Good grief.

Hey! Have you guys ever used Hotwire? Is it any good? Do they divert you through Peru first? Seriously, if you have any insight on cheap travel let me know, would you?   

More later.


Back And Brief

I'm back! And I missed you all terribly.

Touching briefly upon the subject of the elusive Bad Blowjob, I told Steve that the consensus seems to be that such a thing does not exist. That it is, in fact, the Abominable Snowman of the bedroom.

To this he replied, "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha," and not in a rollicking, jovial way either. It was more like: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Get the difference? Hear how hollow that second laugh was?

Anyway, Steve reminded me about... about this friend of mine. Apparently she tends to treat the delicate member much as one might a stamp. I mean, before stamps went all self-adhesive and lick-lick-dab-oh-for-fucks-sake-aren't-you-done-yet-let's-just-screw-until-you-pass-out postage became a thing of the past.

A. Hem.

Soooooo, we are back! Yes, indeedy. And I made a friend!

But you will have to wait until tomorrow for stories. SOMEBODY, no doubt all strung-out from years of inadequate oral gratification, scheduled us on a 6:30 am flight and I am in dire need of sleep and popcorn (the popcorn has nothing to do with the ungodly flight times, I would just like to eat some.)

Speaking of vittles, prize to anyone who can acurately complete the following sentence: While in North Carolina, I drank _____ and ate _____. TOGETHER.

Here's a hint, ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.


We Never Made It To Speech Therapy

I was driving Patrick to speech therapy today when the tire blew out. And I am not referring to a genteel flattening, a subtle lessening of pressure marked by the almost imperceptible sssssssssssssssssssssssssssst. No, the tire essentially exploded with a resounding Blammo! and I expect they will be picking up the shreds as far away as Missouri.

Things I Was Doing Wrong At The Time:

1. Driving 75 mph (it was the interstate!)

2. Driving an SUV in the first place (it is Minnesota, people, and we are rural) 

3. Talking on the cell phone to my mother

4. Wondering why the car was suddenly driving all funny

5. Forgetting entirely that I had called Steve on Tuesday and told him that the car was driving all funny and that he had told me that the rear tire might have a nail in it, so remind him to take care of it

It was actually pretty scary and I had a hard time getting enough control of the car to get over to the shoulder. Well, to get over to what one would expect to be the shoulder except there wasn't one. Just a grassy slope, really.

Humiliating Things That Happened Afterwards

1. The state trooper had to tell me to turn down The Killers CD because he couldn't hear me

2. I discovered that I do not know where the jack is in the car

3. Ditto that on the reflective safety thingies and the, uh, spare tire

4. I further discovered that I could not figure out how to use the jack once I had located it

5. It did not matter anyway because I was not strong enough to get the bolt off the spare tire (UNDER the car! who knew?)

6. I am no longer (like that? the implication there?) hot enough to bring trucks screeching to a halt at my distress

7. My husband had to come rescue me

As I waited for Steve and listened to Patrick repeating, "What happened to the tire? Why are we stuck in the dirt?" I contemplated the things that I am not very good at, despite extensive practice.

I compiled the following short list:

1. Driving

2. Loading the dishwasher

3. Directions: giving them, taking them, or improvising them in the event of a wrong turn

4. Blowjobs

5. Styling my hair

6. Cooking boneless skinless chicken breast

I am going to be gone for a few days, like I said, and I just hate it when I come back to a dark and quiet blog. So, if you would be so kind, would you leave a comment indicating what you do badly but often? It might help me to feel less *sob* ALONE.

Much obliged.


(The Devil We Know)

So, well, yes. And thank you.

The only times in the past that we have found out the sex have been by accident, and I always wanted to chew my ears off after I heard it. I can understand how you might take consolation in knowing, how there might be something peaceful in that knowledge, but it always just seems to make me sadder. Sadder-er.

And yeah, oh my god, how about that unbalanced rearrangement of chromosomes one and four, huh? Come on, everybody in unison now, on my three.

1... 2... 3...

FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The "Fuck" heard round the world.

As I said to my OB, but... but... we could have gotten that particularly abnormal embryo at home for FREE. We don't have to ride on a plane or spend $20 grand, we've got the whole World's fucking Fair of mutations right in our own backyard.

I faxed the results off to Shady Shady with the mem. that I am now ready to talk to the good doctor. It seemed pointless to discuss anything with him until we knew the cause of death (was it drowning as we had first suspected? why no! genetic roulette, again, of course) so I did not call him back after the last ultrasound. Actually, it still seems pointless to talk to him since we will not be high-tailing it back to DC anytime soon, but I don't want him to think I am sulking. I mean, he DID tell us that there was a 1 in 10 chance that an embryo can test normal but be abnormal. Fair's fair.

On the bright side at least we don't have some totally new thing to worry about. It is beyond irksome to contemplate how utterly and completely wasteful that IVF cycle was for us, but what if the embryo had been normal and still died? Can you imagine?? [I am sure many of you can easily imagine just that and I am so so sorry] I would have evaporated with pain and frustration, really I would have.

This is the devil we know and while we don't like it, we have definitely learned to live with it. It gets a stocking at Christmas and when you call our home the answering machine says "You have reached Steve, Julia, Patrick and the dread demon Genetrion. Please leave a message." Beep.

Right, so, that's the bright side.

There is also a New Plan.

Namely: 1) as soon as I start a new cycle I will get (do? have?) a sonohystereoscopy to make sure that the last D&C left my uterus in the pristine condition in which it was found; and 2) we did a kick-ass antibodies panel yesterday to rule out all sorts of obscure blood conditions that cause recurrent miscarriage (ELEVEN vials of blood, I thank you.) Although it would be unlikely for the embryo to have been offed by both the unbalanced translocation and something else, just look at Rasputin.

What? Oh, legend has it that Rasputin was first given enough arsenic to kill an elephant. When that failed to do anything permanent, his assassins stabbed him repeatedly. Then they threw him into the river in which he was finally drowned (speaking of drowning.) So, I guess it happens.

Anyway, my new RE (I have a new RE. We met her on Monday. She is so local she practically lives in our basement. In fact, we might just invite her to do so.) asked for the panel and the sonohystereoscopy (SURELY there is an acronym for this?) to rule out any other issues before we move on to... something! What exactly is still TBD (Ha! acronyms in da house!)

I made a suggestion. She made a suggestion. We agreed to further testing and then we will reconvene after I start a new cycle.

So, yay! Onward! Upward! Never Backwards! And always twirling, twirling....

If you are wondering why we are going to try anything, at all, ever again, when clearly we are just not meant to have any more children (one of these days you bad apples are going to make me take down that email link, aren't you?) you can blow me. If you are pleased that I seem to be in better spirits, well, yes, I am, thank you. I just needed to spin the genetic results a bit before I could get all chirpy about them.

Tomorrow night we are flying South for a few days. Last time we made this trip we wound up drinking moonshine. MOONSHINE, I tell you. *chortle*

Oh, and I just asked my brother this question tonight when he was being nice to me and I was becomingly modest: do you think you can consciously choose to be happy?

I'll tell you what he and I concluded before we go. And I have no idea why there are so many paranthetical thoughts in this post.


Girl, Corrupted

I saw my OB today for a post-D&C appointment and was greeted with this:

46, XX, add (1) q(41)

Apparently the genetic results for the pregnancy are back, how nice.

Karyotype translation:

The embryo was female and she carried an unbalanced version of Steve's translocation. You know, that little genetic jigsaw we went to such lengths to avoid.

I have no idea why it hurts me more to have this information. I already knew that we are not going to be having a baby in October, why is it more painful to know that we are not, specifically, going to be having a daughter?


It's Like Our Own Little Book Fair

My intention was to write something thoughtful about speech therapy but I just realized that Steve is hanging doors in the basement.

This is relevant because I have recently started playing a new PC game (Pirates!) and I am enjoying it tremendously (hello, I get to be a PIRATE) but I can only play it on Steve's computer. Since HE has a snazzy 26 inch flat-screen television monitor for his office and I just have this midget LCD dealie, not to mention a crappy video card for jerks.

So if I am going to terrorize the Carribbean at all tonight I am going to have to wrap this up much faster than usual. Steve is so boring about letting me use his office during the work day; I must set sail and pillage whilst I can.

But I was planning on writing something and I am sitting here so, a propos of nothing but oh so quickly, I give you the books I loved very best of all as a child:

The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace (quite possibly one of the reasons we live in Minnesota and most definitely the reason that the first house we bought was from the turn-of-the-century.)

The Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander (you know, The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron... have you read it? huh? have you? well go read it RIGHT NOW.)

Constance by Patricia Clapp (Sigh. And then, at the end, when she... sigh.)

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by, um, urrr, uh (apparently I had a thing for those Puritans. Speaking of Puritans, did you know that they actually encouraged premarital sex? No, I am not kidding. I just saw a book review on a book on the subject, which is practically the same thing as knowing something about it.)

The Great Brain series by John somebody (I loved the Great Brain. What a dick that kid was.)

Ballet Shoes and Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (My tragic lack of talent was the only thing standing between me and my destiny: Broadway Star, but otherwise I TOTALLY would have been the heroine(s) in these books.)

The House With The Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs (I still get scared by this.)

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (This book is so smart it makes me cry. Why aren't I as smart as this book?)

So that's my short list of the things I have read over and over again for the past 20+ years.

How about you?

(Yo ho ho. Arrrggggghhhh. Avast me hearties....)