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October 2005

Halloween Is Just The Day After

I just went to remove the chicken from the refrigerator (the better to roast it, my dear) and discovered the following sticky note attached to the bird: "Don't eat me! We are going out."

"Really, Gold n' Plump? You and I are hitting the town?" I asked with interest.

The chicken remained enigmatically silent.

"Ste-eeeeee-ve!" I bellowed towards the upper recesses of the house "I am receiving messages from the food!"

"Listen to the chicken," he yelled back. "Heed the wisdom of the chicken!"

"You and I and the chicken are going out tonight?" I asked.

"Well, you and I."

"You got a babysitter?"

"I got a babysitter."

"You made reservations?"

"I made reservations."

"Garsh," I said.

"I know!" he replied.

So in one short hour I will be ditching my child with that nice woman from the nanny service and going to a place that boasts page after page after page of delicious wine. And I shall choose not wisely but well and, considering it is my birthday in T- 7 hours, I must say I completely deserve it.

I like birthdays and I like surprises but I especially like MY birthday surprises.


Halloween This

After waking from a delightful dream in which I initiated and then culminated a torrid affair only to discover that he was a bore and that I was happier with Steve after all (very Metternich), the day has rapidly disintegrated. And it is only 10:45.

Patrick's class had a Halloween party today and the children were welcome to come in costume. We also had to bring "a treat" to share and do you want to know which asshole parent I am? I am the one who brought the jack-o-lantern shaped bubble blowers, one per child. When I was a kid I would have been disgusted: "Is this 112% sugar? Then what good is it?! Gimme some candy corn and a razor blade and a small mirror... NOW!"

Since we live an, ah, isolated existence I first had to explain to Patrick what a Halloween costume was. He thought I was insane. I then began suggesting costumes he might like to wear: a dinosaur, a teddy bear, a quidget... he categorically refused. When I pressed the issue, pointing out that it is fun to dress up, he damned my impertinence ("NO, Mommy, I said NO".) So, after a half-hearted attempt this morning to have him wear a hat and/or lipstick, I put an orange shirt on him and he went to school As-Is.    

Where he discovered a roomful of parents with cameras and every kid in his class in elaborate, generally enormous, costumes. Patrick was completely overwhelmed and horribly uncomfortable and he reverted to his non-talking, corner-standing self of yore. I lingered with him for a few minutes until he asked, pointedly, "Are you staying at school today?" and I started to walk out the door. But the two teachers were chatting with parents, and no one was paying any attention to Patrick who looked miserable and isolated. I came back into the room and asked if he wanted to do the alphabet puzzle (we all have our security items) and he was visibly relieved and said yes, yes he would, so I walked him over to the puzzle corner and left when he said, "Good morning, letter A! How did you sleep?"

I am annoyed at the teachers for not making an effort to engage him in something, anything, when he was so clearly ill at ease. And I felt like a fool for having the only child in jeans (really? I have the ONLY three year old in the world who found the idea of wearing fairy wings repugnant?) And I am a jerk for having it never occur to me in a million years to bring a fucking camera to Halloween Day at the preschool. And while I am on the subject of my failures, I noticed that all of the camera-toting parents seemed to know each other. How did that happen? I just drop Patrick off and then I pick him up again. When did they all manage to bond to the extent that Mother A was asking Mother B how her boss took The News about The Thing?

Clearly *I* am the outcast, the social misfit, the deviant, and that is why my child is so weird and won't have whiskers painted on his face for love nor money.

Damn it. I feel bad. I should have started crewel-working the letters of the alphabet and the numbers to quindecillion onto a sporty two-piece outfit right after the 4th of July. Then Patrick could have represented Knowledge. He probably would have gone for that.

Bleck. Feel free to cheer me up anytime here.         


T-7 Days

My mother has been visiting for a few days. Consequently, all of the toilet paper in the house now unrolls the wrong way. By which I mean it unrolls from the back of the roll rather than the front, leading to wrist strain and paper wastage. And don't try to tell me that this is the correct way to put toilet paper in the holder, because it isn't. And don't try to pacify me by suggesting that perhaps it is a matter of personal taste, because it isn't that either. And, for the love of all that is holy, do not point out that some developing nations have no toilet paper at all, because someone once did that to me in the middle of a very funny story about the dubious quality of the personal cleansing materials available at my inlaws' and it killed the joke. Killed it dead.

What is weird about the toilet paper situation, chez moi, is not that my mother does not know how toilet tissue is properly installed (I love the woman and I am grateful on a daily basis for her existence but she is not infallible) but that she had occasion to change every single roll in the house. Did she purposefully remove partially finished rolls and switch them around? Did she just happen to be the last person with a dying roll in every bathroom in the course of three short days? Both scenarios seem so unlikely. And I will never know the answer because, of course, the Code of the Hostess prevents me from inquiring into the personal habits of my guests, no matter how closely related. It will remain a mystery, just like the head of William Wirt and that bookstore owner.

Patrick somehow, miraculously, started sleeping in his bed at night. A week ago he said he wanted to sleep in there and I said, ok, but he would have to stay in his room until we came to get him in the morning and he said, ok. And that was it. The child who has never in his entire three years slept with any part of his body touching a blanket and who rotated in his crib like the hands of clock now sleeps like a normal person. You know, small head on pillow, sleekit body under quilt, arms wrapped around Bear, face angelic in repose, all. night. long. It is incredible. Actually, it IS incredible, so I have started sleeping with the baby monitor under my pillow, just in case he tries to make a break for it in the night (although we have one of those door knob things on his side of the door to prevent this; I think there is some internet-witch-hunt reason why we are not supposed to do this but I am not sure what it is and besides, Patrick calls it "that thing on the door that keeps me from leaving my room when I should be sleeping" so I doubt it is causing any psychological trauma, if that is the worry.) With the baby monitor in place I now get the benefit of Patrick in glorious Dolby mono a few feathers away from my ear drum, bright and early each morning. If it keeps up I think the continued shock might be the end of me. Seriously, if you are wondering why I look so haggard and pale I attribute it entirely to waking abruptly to Patrick's loud and tuneless (the child cannot sing. at all. very sad) rendition of "Five Elephants something-something On A Spider's Web" three days in a row.

So Patrick is kinda out of the crib. And he's only three! And a Quarter! He did ask to take a nap in his bed after sleeping in it all night but that wound up being more like a frat party than anything I have seen since my school days (minus the beer and plus a whole lot of magnet letters) so I put my wide foot down and for now he is continuing to take naps in his crib. Because when he does not take a nap he is a complete pain in the ass by 4:00 and that, my friends, makes ME a complete pain by 4:01.

So on my parental checklist of Things Child SHOULD DEFINITELY Be Doing By Three*:

*checklist composed entirely from my own neuroses

Sleeps in bed - Check! Except for naps

Dresses self - Ha. No. Ha Ha HA. Patrick has never uttered the words "I want to do it!" in his life, unless he is talking about typing on my computer. Our petit Louis XIV will actually follow me around after washing his hands (after having ME wash his hands), dripping paws flapping uselessly in front of him, plaintively saying, "Dry these for me!" rather than pat his own hands off on a towel. Or even his pants. True.

Potty trained - Um, mostly. Except he uses a diaper for naps and bedtime. And he will only pee in the potty, if you follow my meaning. But he hasn't had any accidents at school since that first week. Of course, he had about 12 while my mother was here.

Feeds self - Of course! Although he refuses to drink from anything other than a sippy cup. And he dislikes silverware, preferring to eat everything but yogurt with his fingers. So, yes, but with a touch of Helen Keller before that nice Annie Sullivan slapped her hand at the dinner table.

As for swimming lessons, Patrick climbed out of the pool on Wednesday and actually pumped his arms in the air and said, "Yeah! Wooo-HOOOO! WOOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I wrapped him in a towel and laughed and said, "What are you so excited about?"

And he said, "I jumped in the pool, Mommy, and my face got wet and I was great!"

So I pushed my luck and asked, "Wasn't it fun?"

"No."

I think Patrick is a bit of a pill, frankly. Also, we will continue swimming lessons until the Holidays and then probably pick them up in the Spring. And so on. Off and on. Until he clinches that Rhodes.

++++

On yet another unrelated topic I took my temperature today to determine where I am in this post-miscarriage cycle. Something you might not know or have forgotten or do not care about is this: Steve and I tried for 14 months before we conceived the first time. I know! Crazy, isn't it, when you consider how many times I have gotten pregnant since then (10, pay attention.) But in the beginning we tried for over a year with no luck at all, so I started charting like a good TTC'er and I have continued to do so on and off for the past six years. This is how I know that before I ovulate, regardless of the time of day, my body temperature is usually in the 97 F range and after I ovulate it is around 98. Not foolproof, of course, but it sort of gives me an idea of what is going on. Do you want to know what my temperature was at 1 o'clock this afternoon? 95.7. I tried two different thermometers with the same result. I just took it again as I was typing this and it has crept up to 96.1. I practically have hypothermia in my own goddamned kitchen. No wonder my hands and feet are always so cold. But my question is: is this normal? I need to go see my internist about my chronically inflamed and pulpy right tonsil anyway, but should I tell him that I think I might be slowly freezing to death? Or will I look stupid? I HATE going to the doctor with meaningless symptoms.   


With This Life Preserver Ring...

Within a day of meeting Steve I decided I wanted to marry him. As I was, sort of, involved, maritally speaking, with someone else at the time, there was an understandable delay before the union came to pass. In addition to the conflicting obligation elsewhere, I was also slightly hampered by the fact that Steve, as far as I could tell, was not equally certain. As I remember it, he wanted to get married someday to someone and most likely to me as to anyone he had met thus far but... he was hard to pin down when it came to specifics. I was more amused than anything by this waffling (ha! I thought. just wait! although once a month or so I would drink four glasses of white wine in rapid succession - white! I used to drink white wine. who would've thought - and yell at him until I cried and said he just didn't love me. whereupon Steve would say most unsweetly, "Well, I certainly don't love you very much right now. You were yelling at me and now you are whining and you reek of alcohol. I cannot think of anything I would rather do less than marry you." You can see, of course, why I am his devoted slave.)

Negotiations on the subject dragged on for two years in fits and starts, during which time we moved out of the apartment that he shared with a guy named Tom and that I had moved into without really being asked, and got our own place. Then we decided to move to Minnesota together because.... god, I have no idea why we decided to move to Minnesota. I remember two cocktail napkins with cities that we would be willing to live in written upon them and the first place that matched up from both our lists was Minneapolis-St. Paul (ranked about eighth on each, I think.) So we moved.   

Although I had established that Steve was generally open to the idea of having children shortly after learning his name which was shortly after I asked him to scoot over on the bar stool to make room for me, I had not gone into the subject very closely at the time and afterwards I was so busy trying to con him into making me his designated beneficiary (in the most romantic possible way, of course) that I never got around to it again until after we got engaged. He did, by the way, finally ask me to marry him, although he is fond of pointing out that it was only after I shut up about it for a few months. Ha ha ha ha.... not. Soooooooo offensive.

Anyway, I finally asked him how many children he wanted as we looked at reception sites and he said, "One" and I snapped, "Don't be absurd!" and he said, "OK. Two." And I said, "With the possibility of discussing a third left open?" and he agreed.  I was reminded of this just tonight when we were sketching ideas to remodel part of the upstairs and I asked if he thought we would ever manage to have three children and he, quite gently, responded, "Well, I would love it if we could, but let's not plan on it." Which was sweet, but not the point of this story.

After we had established a desired number of children I asked if he had anything particular in mind for raising them. Any philosophies on child-rearing to which he violently subscribed. Cold baths? Home-schooling? Raise a few vegetarians but the rest as omnivores?

He thought for a moment and then said, "I think it is important to always have dinner together."

"Me too!" I shouted.

Then we were both silent for a couple of minutes until I said, "And I think kids need to learn how to swim when they are three."

"I agree completely."

And that was it. That was all we came up with. Our two sacred tenets of parenthood.

Thus, we always eat a proper dinner together and Patrick started private swimming lessons at the Y, two days a week, beginning in September. The first class he cried the entire time while I bit my nails in the lobby and was soothed by more elderly people than I have seen assembled since the last funeral (have you been to the YMCA on a Monday morning? I am easily the youngest person in the lobby by forty years.) The second class he stopped crying and merely looked glum. We have now been going for six or seven weeks and wow! he is amazing. He monkeys. He alligators. He floats with floaties on his front and he floats with floaties on his back. He kicks and he scoops. He purposefully puts his face in the water, if only for a second. I actually have a hard time getting him to leave when it is over. But this is not to say he loves it; he doesn't. I don't even think he likes it. But he is a rather single-minded child and when he decides he needs to jump into the deep end (all  three feet of it) six times in a row he. will. jump. into. the. water. six. times. in. a row. He goes through his swimming class with a grim determination, Sidney Carton of the Pike Set. I occasionally see him smiling out there but more often he is listening and frowning.

When Steve makes a big fuss over him when he gets home, saying, "Hi Patrick! Hi! How was swimming? Did you have fun?" Patrick will look him dead in the eye and say, "No. No, Daddy I did not have fun." And then he will turn to me and say, "I don't like it. But I did a great job, didn't I?" And I say yes, you did a REALLY great job. And he says, I know, I know I did, and goes off to tell the cats how much he missed them and how great he was at the pool.

Steve and I feel bad. We assumed he would like swimming class. I mean, after he got used to it and once he was comfortable with his instructor. He has always liked splashing in a pool. He likes the ocean. But I believe him when he expresses his distaste for it. You will notice that I rarely put my face in the water when I swim, and I infinitely prefer baths to showers what with all the splashing in my eyes and water getting in my ears and whatnot. What I do not know is whether I should just sympathize and keep sending him until we are fairly certain he is at least partially safe from drowning or if I should stop sending him. What to do, what to do?

On the one hand, I think it should be fun to be three years old ALL THE TIME. On the other, hell, people, right after love honor obey and sex every day whether we need it or not: AND OUR CHILDREN SHALL BE WATER-SAFE BY AGE THREE. It was practically in our vows. What's next? A dinner consisting of Pop tarts for everyone in front of three different televisions on three different floors of the house?


I Am Trying To Post More Frequently

See, this is why I ask you these burning questions. Would you believe it never occurred to me to simply swap out the objectionable duvet cover on a seasonal basis? A spirit of compromise not being fundamental to my nature, apparently. So, like Persephone, six months of the year I may sleep with the Dark Lord under his bedding of despair but the rest of the time I will endeavor to be covered with the gossamer wings of fairies and butterflies. Preferably in red (feel free to direct my attention if you see anything.) My days of arising to a subconscious "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" are numbered, thank you.

Personally, I liked the idea of floor-to-ceiling bookcases but Steve thought you were crazy. I assured him that I have it on highest authority that the eye "reads" bookshelves like a wall but he just sneered. He believes it would make the entry to the bedroom feel even more claustrophobic (that is not right. and yet I always use it in that context. claustrophobizing? claustrophia-inducing? can you think of something better?) Of course he has no vision. He suggested instead that we get all playful and simply continue the decorating theme from the other side of the wall. Ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, sorry, you wouldn't get that, would you? The bedroom wall in question separates the, um, well, the bedroom obviously, from Steve's office. Steve, as I have mentioned in the past, greatly enjoys taking his little bow and arrow out into the autumnal woods and tracking deer like the least of the Mohicans. Once every three years or so, an ill-fated whitetail takes the wrong turn on the wrong morning and thwwwwwwaaaaaacccckkkk! he is off to meet his ancestors. Whereupon Steve jumps up and down with glee and.... *it is best not to ponder this part too deeply*.... eventually we wind up with the head of another majestic creature of the forest. Since I will see him in hell before I have a deer head (well, any kind of severed head, really) in a living space I actually use, the herd is limited to display in Steve's office. So the joke was: Steve was suggesting that we mount a few deer from the neck down and dangle them in our bedroom as if they had, you know, leapt through the wall and stuck there. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, he's a funny one.   

Before you conclude that we are going to divorce over this and about time, too, since he is nothing but a no-good murderer, I will tell you that after we finished squabbling over the bookshelves and the dearly departed, we happily settled on hanging a rug there. We love rugs. We cannot seem to stop buying rugs. Just this morning Steve actually brought a few rugs home from our dealer (that was supposed to be cutesy but actually the allusion to expensive addictions is becoming more and more apt) to try in the downstairs playroom and the front hall. Because what room o' toys and playdoh would be complete without a nice salute to the Orient? Anyway, rugs play well here. And yet it would never have occurred to us to hang one from the wall in our bedroom. Never. Because we are narrow and suburban in our outlook. So, apart from the dangerous precedent this will set (we were running out of uncovered floor space, and yet! so many beautiful rugs still to buy! what to do?) I give thanks, ye of the rug/quilt/tapestry ilk, for the suggestion. I was also quite partial to the niches, and the collection of similarly framed prints/photos, and the wallpaper and the accent wall and the mural and the mirrors (oh, come on, people, LIVE a little. just imagine the multi-tasking one could accomplish with a mirror next to the bed) and changing how the door swings (Steve pointed out that this would completely block the light switches and the intercom system and the security panel- I said good riddance, let's just live simply like the prairie dwellers of old) and everything else. I could squint and visualize each and every suggestion and they all were a marked improvement on MushroomLand.

As I said, this is why I ask you things. You always know the answer. I went back to my request for book recommendations for the last IVF vacation (I sighed a bit as I thought how much easier it would have been if some Sarah O'Connor among you had simply said, "Don't do it! It will only end badly! Stay home!") and pulled out a whole new crop of things to read. I took Nancy Mitford to Boston and have now committed myself to about six years worth of Angela Thirkell. If you like gentle English novels run, don't amble, to Angela Thirkell. So far she is like a warm bath, although it is 1935 and I am afraid a war might be about to break out. I hope not.

Hey! We went in to measure the wall a few minutes ago and I casually (oh so casually) said, "Depending upon the rug we get, we might have to do that again," and I nodded to the disgusting purple and teal bed. Steve just said, "Uh-huh." As in "Uh-huh" = "Yes".

So, just like that, you have collectively solved my major decorating woes. One blog, one million miracles.


Step Into My Boudoir

Before I forget, I should tell you that I unfairly maligned those Asian Ribs. Although it is true that the five spice powder caused the kitchen to smell like pie for a few days (not bad, just not porky), the flavor in the finished product was not nearly as overwhelming as I had feared. In fact, they were acceptably delicious. So that, coupled with the useful enchilada hint (to make corn tortillas pliable enough to roll, simply arrange them in a single layer on baking sheets, spray lightly with cooking spray, and then bake in a low oven for five minutes), enables me to give Cook's Illustrated Cover and Bake my qualified stamp of approval. I am adding the qualification because I have only tried those two recipes and it is possible everything else in the book sucks. If so I shall issue a prominent retraction.

I managed to get our network back up again (after installing Panda Virus, remember?) although I temporarily wiped out Messenger and Explorer in the process. Also, Steve was unable to access a few work files blah blah blah whiner fine, pay someone to do your IT work why don't you, blah a few eggs are always broken, you know. Anyway, and more importantly, observe the ease with which I can now slip undetected on to Steve hard drive to grab this photo. Doorway_2This is the doorway into our bedroom and the blank wall on the left is driving me mad. The perspective in the photo seems off to me, so to give you a sense of scale the wall is about 18 feet long. In the two years we have lived here I have tried covering this space with 1) a ginorjumbo antique map 2) several smaller paintings 3) low bookshelves. Nothing has really worked and I cannot figure out why. It always seemed odd to walk into the room and have a profile of something right in front of you. However, once I am inside the room it seems odd to have nothing on the wall at all. Do you see the problem? Decorating, as I may have mentioned in the past, is not my forte. So what can I do? A bench? A thin table? The space between the wall and the bed is, um, seven feet if that helps. And the walls are a mushroomy beige that the people who built the house chose. Perhaps if we just painted the walls a warmer color it would look less glaringly empty? I will accept any and all suggestions with cowering gratitude.          

Oh! And while we are on the subject, although this is more of a marital issue than a design problem, but it is tangential, can you see the corner of the duvet cover there? The purplish, tealish, goldenrodish thing? Yes, well, Steve had this batik fabric that he loved (LOVED) so we had it made into that cover. And he dotes upon it. But I hate it. HATE it. It reminds me of Nagel and Cyndi Lauper and shoulder pads out to hee-yah. Something about the color scheme.... anyway, any thoughts on how to go back on an agreement with ones spouse? I originally thought I could live with it and approved the project, but it turns out I cannot. I tried to gently tell Steve that I was afraid, perhaps, maybe, the cover, was not, exactly, a pity, but no? He merely looked shocked and reminded me what we had paid the seamstress to make it. Like, that settles it.

So is it nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of an unfortunate textile or is it better to take arms against the sentimental and financial attachment of ones bedmate and, while opposing, rend it? That is the question: should I suck it up or accidentally shred it?

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. How are you by the way? Good?

PS I should probably apologize for the cat paintings on the far wall but I will not. They were done by a folk artist named Wendy, um, Press-something (house paint on board, how whimsical) and I like them. I do, however, know that people who have four cats should not have pictures of still more cats on the wall. It leads other people to then give them cat spoon rests and cat coasters and cat trivets etc. and it prohibits them from bitching about it. Because, you know, aren't those PORTRAITS of cats you do not even know in your bedroom? Who are you kidding?   


And The Cabots Speak Only To God

I slip out to Boston for, like, five seconds and what happens? Steve spectacularly fails in his parental responsibilities, that what happens. Namely: he neglected to keep Patrick safe from Disease and Contagion and now the poor little thing is so congested he can only breathe through his ears. Packy spent most of last night whimpering pitifully in my arms, his hands twisted in my hair and his wet, gross nose pressed somewhere near my right eyelid. I was vividly reminded all night long of my post-college vow to never, never again share a single bed.

Bleh. And, damn I am tired.

Boston was, um, what's that word that conveys a notion of having been thwarted at every turn and yet a great sense of hilarity prevailed? Well, that. It was that.

Cab drivers dropped us* miles from our expressed destination, leaving us shoeless (literally) and drowning (figuratively) in the pouring rain. Bartenders blithely asserted they had already rung last call... at 10:15. Waiters blew ass in every possible way but the good one. Doormen failed to open doors, secure cabs, or tell the truth when asked for the loan of an umbrella. In sum, le Service de Boston, it was poor. It was incredibly fucking poor. And, as our goal was to wallow in luxury for a couple of days, the bewildering and comprehensive suckitude of everything was keenly felt. We felt it keenly. We keened. 

On the plus side I have not laughed as hard as I did last weekend since that time in REI with the tiny boots, thirteen years ago. The company was magnificent (well I thought it was). Our mistake, we concluded, was ever leaving the safety of the suite and the warm glow of the collected bottles therein. Or, I suppose, our mistake was trusting people when we asked for directions or when we instructed a cab driver to take us to 123 Main Street and only discovered after he had zoomed away that he had actually opted to leave us at the intersection of Atlantis and Hell. I am sure I am not the first person to say this, but next vacation we are definitely going to Delaware.

Now I have to go bathe in carbolic before Patrick wakes up and covers me in germs - again. Back, you know, later.     

*I am quite certain that I did not obtain her express written consent to go blabbing all her business (which I am remarkably prone to do) but I have the vague impression that I did secure her implied oral consent so... yes... Julie and I battled Boston together. She was the one in the pink flip-flops. Boston won. 


J'Ai Failli Attendre

I give the enchiladas a B-, although I fully acknowledge the fault was mine for injudiciously altering the suggested spices and subsequently blowing the top of my head off. "Spicy" being one thing and "masochism" quite another. Yow.

I am now making the Asian Spiced Pork Ribs with Noodles (ibid.) and have only just remembered, tragically late, how much I loathe and despise Five Spice Powder. Why do I even have it in my cupboard, I ask myself? It is just too sweet smelling to pair with meat, as far as my unsophisticated palate is concerned. Alas, nothing to be done about it now but glower at the Crock Pot for another 6 hours.

Sooooooooooooo, the doctor's appointment and related miscarriage were both such non-events it is hard to even write about them without dozing off. However, there is a housekeeping aspect to blog writing that dictates one cannot just jump from one exciting event (Patrick has an ear infection!) to another (I made chicken enchiladas!) without providing a narrative framework (then the doctor said, "No way!" and I was all, "Uh-HUH!" and she was like, "Shut UP!" and I said, "No you shut up!")

The miscarriage proper was cake. CAKE, I tell you! It was so easy I just wish I had taken it for credit.

Observe:

Thursday - Spotting; Friday - Bleeding; Saturday (am) An Hour of oh-damn-it painful cramps; Saturday (pm) More bleeding; Sunday - Less bleeding; Monday - Am I even still bleeding?; Tuesday - Spotting; Wednesday/Thursday - Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnd allllllllllll done.

So, physically, it was a big notsobadatall. Emotionally, well, I have to admit that I feel happily giddy. Giddily happy. Giddappy. I am walking on sunshine and shedding bluebirds like lint. We have known since the moon was born that this was not going to work out and there is something so repressive about slogging along with a growing-but-doomed pregnancy. You are as far from having a baby as you can possibly be and yet there is nothing to do but kick the curb and wait. So I think of the miscarriage as a very good thing indeed, a harbinger of more hopeful things to come. A flag bearer for Possibilities. Of course, I am well known for my irrepressibility, so I am perhaps not the hundred year mark for this sort of thing. You, for example, might find a miscarriage really fucking depressing. And that is ok too.

At the end of last week I wondered aloud why my doctor was bringing me in again on Monday and I have decided that it was just to chat and see how I was feeling. Isn't that thoughtful? I have had OBs threaten to get restraining orders when I suggested some sort of post-miscarriage follow-up so I find this doctor quite refreshing, what with all of her "compassion" and "concern for my health."

Our conversation went like this:

Did I want to check my hemoglobin levels as I had been bleeding all weekend? No.

Did I want to check hcg? Yes (91 on Monday!! Yay!! Down down down!)

Did I want to have another ultrasound on Thursday? Yes (changed to No after the hcg levels came back, as it is obvious that things are winding up nicely on their own.)

Will we be trying again? You bet yer sweet ass we will.

Will we do IVF again? Um, no thanks! I can miscarry for free.

What about the blastocyst we have in the ice cream chest in DC? We will try an FET (frozen embryo transfer) in the Spring if a) I have not conceived on my own by then [uh, our own] or b) I have conceived but have miscarried again. If the planets miraculously align etc. and I actually get pregnant AND it actually works then we would try an FET in the distant future and (wait, I am laughing so hard my fingers are shaking) try to have a THIRD child. Hoo boy! Maybe we'd better put in another bathroom upstairs, just in case.

And, finally, did we want to try to do genetic testing on this pregnancy or was it a moot point? No, and yes. We had already decided that we would not have the products of conception tested this time around. Mostly because there is no finding (genetically normal; genetically abnormal but not Steve's translocation; genetically abnormal, Steve's translocation) that would change what we will do next. I have already been tested for everything for which there is a test, so if I have miscarried a normal embryo the only thing we could do differently next time would be Heparin/Lovanox to address the single gene MTHFR mutation*. If it was genetically abnormal but the rearrangement was unrelated to Steve's little issue well... that happens, actually. Rather a lot, if you must know. Sometimes embryos are just frelled. C'est la mort. And, if the embryo did carry the same translocation that PGD was supposed to test for but failed to find (again)... ok. So what? PGD is obviously imperfect for translocations (case in point: Me) but it was never presented to us as anything else. Last time this occurred the DC people offered us a vastly reduced price for a second cycle. We will not do IVF again, so that is out. And what else is there? A refund? To be perfectly frank but vulgar, we do not need the money and I am not angry enough to fight about it. In fact, I am not angry at all. We tried it and it did not work for us. Good to know. Time to move on.

Besides, the whole question of genetic testing became irrelevant when I decided to forgo a D&C. Although it is reportedly possible to collect the products of conception for ones self (one's self? onesself? one elf?) and deliver them to an appropriate licensed testing facility there was never one moment during this brief and uneventful miscarriage that I could state with any certainty, "AhHA! There it is! THAT is the product of our conception!" I mean, there was a quantity of gross stuff but it all looked exactly the same and none of it looked remotely test-able. Do you have any idea how small a 5 week gestational sac is? Well, maybe you do, but I don't and as far as I am concerned mine just vanished like Wildfire. So ultimately it didn't matter if we had wanted testing or not.

* The two partners in my doctor's practice (mine is merely their associate) are very hot on immune testing and subsequent treatment if mutations are found. Anecdotally, they feel that they have managed to bring women to term by being more aggressive in their management of potential problems with clotting factors. I met one of the partners a few weeks ago and she suggested that we go with injections of Heparin/Lovanox (I don't remember which) as soon as we start trying again. She admitted this is not standard but also pointed out that we have nothing to lose. My doctor (who was a genetics counselor before med school) is skeptical about calling anything that is present in 50% of the Caucasian population (like the single gene MTHFR mutation I carry) a disease state but said it is up to me. If I would like to try blood thinners with a future pregnancy she will support that. So although I do not really believe that any of my pregnancies failed because of blood clots, I decided what the hell. Why not? Injections are not fun, but after you ride the ART pony it is hard to just dig in the spurs, drop anchor on some windy atoll, and say, Whoa, Nutmeg, hoist the jack-staff. I mean, just have sex? No shots? How very twentieth century.

I am off to Boston tomorrow with bells on my fingers and rings on my toes, so I expect to have music where'er I go. The plan is to spend the weekend cramming my quattro formaggio hole and getting sloppy drunk with "a friend" (she blogs. perhaps you have heard of her. in fact, I'll bet you have. and yet, did you know we were on such terms of intimacy as to share hotel suites? no, no you did not. and why? because I am a very close and guarded person, that's why. because I am totally secretive. honest, it's true. Johnny Tightlips, that's me. yessir.)   


Strange, But True

I am, as we speak, trying a new chicken enchilada recipe (courtesy of Cook's Illustrated Cover & Bake, which in its turn was the courteous cookbook recommendation of someone - for which I thank you.) As I chopped the onion and the garlic and hummed tunelessly I realized that I kept repeating a Spanish-sounding word in my head: ban-DAY-ho.

Huh, I thought.

Ban-DAY-ho, my head repeated. Ban-Daaaaaaaaaaaay-ho, like that, like a Scooby Doo ghost. Over and over.

Weird, right, so once I got the onion browning I shimmied over to my computer to see if this might be an actual Spanish word [although I once spent a longish chunk of time in Honduras the only Spanish I know to this day is "quisiero uno bose de leche" (oh, and I am illiterate, in case you could not tell)].

So I wrote "bandajo" into babel fish and it returned- nothing. Then I typed "bandejo." Still nothing.

I frowned and thought about it again and realized Ah-HA! the word must be pen-DAY-ho, with a 'P'. Puh puh puh. Pen-DAY-ho. My accent always was abysmal.

Pleased with this linguistic detective work, I typed in "pendejo" and, as this pile of jalapenos is my witness, babel fish quickly returned the translation.... "asshole". Apparently I have been standing here in my own kitchen unknowingly calling myself an asshole for the past ten minutes.

Sooooooo....... my subconscious speaks Spanish. Also, it hates me.

Back later, post-enchiladas, to give you the 4-1-1 on my parts and bits.   


Since You Asked

First up, Cassettes to CDs - A Primer:

You Will Need -

1. 1/8 male-to-male audio wire (Buy this at Radio Shack. I suppose some other retailer must carry this sort of thing, but I'm damned if I know which one. They will ask if you want mono or stereo. Go with stereo.)

2. Cassette Player

3. $9.99 (US) to purchase...

4. This software called RIP Vinyl. This was the first that I found that offered a way around the one long track problem and it is very easy to use. If you find other software (preferably freeware) that works, too, feel free to share the link here.

Download and install RIP Vinyl. Then plug one end of the audio wire into the cassette player (Line Out or Headphones) and the other end into your computer (RIP Vinyl will detect your sound card's input possibilities- pick one.) The software will start a new track when it detects silence for a determined period of time. You get to establish what constitutes "silence" on a given cassette and how long the silence must last to indicate a new song. Play with it a bit. 

This will create a series of WAVE files on your computer. Use your burn software of choice to then transfer the files to CD. Voila.

Rock. On.      

I have not yet tried it with my beloved records but my understanding is that the turntable will need some sort of an amplifier or the recording levels will be too low. I was planning on going through the stereo receiver and I will let you know when I try it.

Caveats:

As Giddy instantly pointed out, tapes were 90 minutes long and CDs are only 80. How did I solve this problem, she asked? I, uh, cut 10 minutes of music from the original when I burned the copy, that's how. OK, it is not a PERFECT system, I admit it, but I never really liked the Blue Oyster Cult at the end of the Breadcrumbs mix anyway. I know it was meant to be campy, but it always creeped me out... so, anyway, that was my solution.

Sound quality is pretty lousy but that is the tape's fault. Certainly not mine, if that's what you were thinking. 

+++

Second up, bulgogi is a Korean dish that, at its simplest, is beef marinated in soy sauce and then grilled.

My recipe goes like this:

Marinade -

1/2 c soy sauce

1/4 c rice vinegar

1/3 c chopped green onion

2 T sugar

2 T minced garlic

2 T minced ginger

1 T sesame oil

1 t chili sauce

Whisk together the marinade ingredients and reserve 1/4 of marinade to use later as a sauce. Marinate steak (anything boneless- I like strip steaks here but flank works too) for at least 30 minutes. Grill to desired doneness and then slice VERY VERY thin. Use a sharp knife and watch your fingers, but the steak needs to be THIN. Got it? THIN. Place the wafer-thin steak in a bowl and pour reserved marinade over it.

Then you take a few strips of beef and top them with a zingy fruit salsa (make your own by tossing apple and/or mango and/or peach and/or pineapple chunks and/or whatever with lime juice and chili sauce, maybe throw in some tomato and cilantro and red onion, too, if you like; or just buy one) and wrap it all up in a lettuce leaf (Bibb and Butter lettuces being my favorites) and eat it.

Messy but delicious.

+++   

Third up, Thursday's ultrasound showed a gestational sac and yolk sac that looked precisely as they did two weeks prior, measuring 5 weeks and 3 days. Since I am, uh, twelve weeks today that is, you know, pretty definitive.

Fortunately, finally, the spotting kicked into high gear and I now seem to be actually miscarrying. About fucking time, if you ask me. And it is no big deal. I woke up at 5am Saturday morning because I was in too much pain to sleep (unpleasant cervix-related cramping) but Steve brought me a fistful of Tylenol and I dozed off again and that was the worst of it so far.

I called my doctor on Friday (by which I mean I left a message on the Nurse Line) to let her know what was going on after the ultrasound and to see if she wanted to give me a call (or not) to discuss follow-ups. Then I went to the grocery store. In my absence a nurse called back and left a message saying that the doctor would not be able to call personally as she was seeing patients all afternoon but she (the doctor) had asked that I come back in 2-3 weeks, go to the emergency room if I soak a pad in less than an hour, and call them if I needed anything else. Then the same nurse left a second message saying, actually, my doctor wanted me to come in at 11am Monday morning and if that did not work for me I should call and they will squeeze me in somewhere but she definitely wanted to see me on Monday.

I was highly amused because the first message the nurse left was rather snippy (the Yes, Yes You Are Miscarrying, Natural Process, Very Common, Nothing To Be Done, What Do You Want From Us Type) and she must have felt like a total fool when she actually spoke to my doctor (as opposed to intuiting what my doctor might say and then repeating it as fact) and was given completely different instructions from what she had already told me. To be fair I am with the nurse on this one (why come in on Monday? I do not see the point) but it is nice to have an OB who is always eager to see me. A girl likes to feel wanted.

So, did I miss any questions? Probably. I always do.