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February 2004
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April 2004

March 2004

Breaking News

We are seeing a reproductive endocrinologist tomorrow. Originally we were scheduled to go in on April 12th, but I am going to San Francisco instead so we had to postpone it.

Yeah... San Francisco...uh-huh... well... anyway...

The new appointment was for the end of May and I was cool with that. So much so that I went and got fitted for a diaphragm this morning (a story unto itself) in anticipation of another few months of nonprocreative sex. A diaphragm is sort of what-the-hell birth control. It doesn't work very well but, you know, it works pretty well so... at least you tried.

Late this afternoon the RE's office called and offered us a two-hour slot tomorrow. Steve (STEVE!) led the charge and got a friend to babysit Finkface so we were able to accept. Now I get to go wheedle because, you see, I have an agenda: get blessing on FISH analysis to determine the proportion of abnormal gametes per ejaculate (we-ee-l, that mess o' sperm is pretty fucked up. HOW fucked up? Gimme a number;) schedule HSG or whatever to determine existence (if any) of uterine scarring; establish willingness on part of doctor to get a little jiggy with the process. You know, have FUN with it.

I have zero expectations for this appointment. We shall see if the good doctor can meet 'em.

Thirteen Ways

On Tuesday mornings I take Patrick to communist playgroup. We sing The Red Flag and discuss ways in which toddlers can be given better access to the means of Goldfish production. Wow, can you imagine? No, ha ha, it's just run by the school district so they HAVE to let you be a part of the Mom's Club. They have to take everybody. Which is good for me, of course, because otherwise I would already have been given the old heave ho. I suck at suburban mom chitchat and they shun me. I stand around trying to look inconspicuous until I can leave, but I am certain that even so I am merely drawing attention to how gauche I am. Today's hot topic was how rude it is when people do not allow you to bring children to a wedding. The consensus was that exceptions should be made for family. "Fine, no kids," said one woman, "but that shouldn't mean no FAMILY kids." The group bobbled their heads in enthusiastic agreement as the midget wedding guests in question flung handfuls of brown paint around. I have always had a hard time conjuring up suitable wedding-related froth but I probably could have volunteered something. I might have mentioned that Judith Martin tells her gentle readers that the purpose of an invitation is to solicit the company of a desired presence, for example. Instead I slouched around on the outskirts and wondered if my feet could possibly get any wider. I am like a weeble-wobble, all base.

Meanwhile, I apparently have a weird under-performer kid. The teacher pulled me aside when we came in and asked, anxiously, "Does he EVER say ANYTHING? Any words AT ALL?" She then drove a figurative hatpin into my heart, "Like Mama?" Patrick, the little jerk, chose this moment to start making strange, high-pitched grunting noises while pointing wildly at everything.

"It's like he wants to say something," the teacher said, "but he just cannot produce any words." I thought she was going to cry over the pathos of it all. These wolf-boy transitions back to civilization are so hard on everybody.

I was torn. My desire was to say: he knows this word and this word and just yesterday he said Ap-puh clear as a bell when I offered him a Granny Smith and he can identify and say every letter and most of his numbers and colors and a lot of the parts of the body and while I know he is probably behind on speech I am seeing improvements daily and I am sure he is just fine, thank you. Oh, and I think he can recognize a few written words, which isn't bad for being less than two. I knew if I said any of this it would sound defensive and possibly delusional and I would feel like an ass. And, it isn't like I am unaware of the fact that Patrick seems to be a little slow when it comes to speaking. So, I told her we were aware that he might have some delays and were keeping an eye on things. This is when she gave me two books (bath books with one word per page) and told me she wanted me to "work with him " on them. Sigh. We do nothing BUT read books around here. We have more books than Vegas (was that obscure? you know, bookmaking?) Patrick loves books and we read them over and over again dozens of times a day. If reading to him was all he required to become conversant then HE would be talking to the 9/11 panel this week and Condoleeza could just go back to doing whatever it was she had originally on her calendar.

Despite my best intentions, I found myself feeling utterly humiliated by today's little talk. As much as I hate myself for reacting this way, I was unable to rise above someone telling me that my child is not as X as the other children. Maybe I DO need to read to him more. Maybe I am a rotten mother and am subconsciously thwarting his speech development out of fear that he will one day articulate this fact.

As I took Patrick upstairs for his nap he said, “Hi! Hi!” and beamed at me as he lounged in my arms.

“Say Hi Mama,” I urged.

“Hi Ma-ma,” he replied for the first time since the sun was born. I suspect he may be fucking with me.

Oh My Freakin' Ears

A few months ago I bought Patrick a super-cheap CD set entitled "102 Full-Length Classic Children's Songs." If this was a radio station and I was the drone planning playlists in a city far, far away, I would say that these CDs are in light rotation around here. The woman's voice is not exactly pleasing but neither does it make me want to throw myself off the roof, so I was ok with 50 minutes of her singing once a week or so. Patrick is quite adept at turning his CD player on when he feels like a little music (Play with blocks, play with blocks, play with blocks, pause, hmmm, maybe some tunes, toddle, poke CD player with one finger, toddle back, play with blocks.) He can also turn it off when he recognizes the ineffability of silence. What I am not sure about is whether he puts certain songs on Repeat Play by design (the design being to drive me completely around the bend of madness) or by accident. Whatever the motivation, it will frequently dawn on me that I have been listening to the same song for an unconscionably long time. Today I realized that a tune had been playing over and over again for like 40 minutes and THAT was why I was reaching for the tequila before noon. It was only as I was climbing into the playroom to smash the CD player with a hammer or something that I recognized the song as "The Marine's Hymn." You know:

From the halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We will fight our country's ba-a-ttles
In the air, on land or sea...

We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun...

Now, I am as fond of the United States Marine Corp as the next girl. Semper Fi, motherfuckers, as yet another ex-boyfriend (one who knew what it meant to serve, nudge nudge) was fond of saying as he recalled his Parris Island days. But... classic children's song? No. Um, no. When I saw that the very next song on the CD was "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" I began to wonder who put this compilation together in the first place. The Pentagon?

We are back to Raffi.


Administrative note: Effective immediately, the cryptically titled blog "Julia" will dedicate itself exclusively to the publication of small-venue concert reviews.

As my date for the evening observed shortly into Monday night's Blue October show, "It is very refreshing to see a rock performance so completely innocent of any irony." It was true, you know. There was no sense that the frontman was wearing black eye-makeup and a studded leather wristband because he was being coy. Oh no, he was a rocker and these were rock emblems, and as for those theatrical hand gestures? Well I have no doubt whatsoever that they sprung, perhaps during an earlier rehearsal, from utterly sincere emotions that could not be contained. Twenty years ago (ok, eighteen) I would have been enthralled. Ten years ago I would have been amused. Now I was merely bored and a little embarrassed, so the ex-boyfriend and I took our buckets of aging cynicism and headed off to the bar. I still love the album, but they were ruining it for me with all that live in person earnestness. Ruiners.

My ex-boyfriend World Tour is continuing nicely. In Chicago I was fortunate enough to secure the company of a very old friend. Ha! Part of Gregg's initial appeal, apart from the towering intellect, was the fact that I was 16-going-on-17 and he was 44. No, no, I jest. Every time I talk about him I add another 2 years to his age, poor guy. It makes better copy though. Let's see, ok, his birthday is in February… add 6… I guess he was only 22. It was still enough to impress the high school crowd. NOT that I cared about impressing anyone, of course, being too cool for all those chumps who had yet to experience la nausée but having a boyfriend at Georgetown did add a certain élan (whoa, let me grab a croissant here as I go completely French) to senior year.

After driving all afternoon (why aren’t there cowboys in Wisconsin? There are plenty of cows. Do dairy cows not need to be herded? What if they turn vicious?) I was pleased to be in Illinois. You can take it from me, Chicagoans know how to fucking drive. After Wisconsin, where every schoolchild is underwritten by speeding tickets and you had better watch your ass over 72 mph, it was a relief to be in the Land of Lincoln where no one cares if you wrap yourself around a minivan going 120- Illinois has opted for tolls. I hooked up with a very nice guy in an Audi (wearing what I first took to be a cowboy hat [thus leading to 20 miles of cowboy related musing] but later recognized as the fetching fedora it was) and we moved along quite briskly. He would slam up behind dawdlers in the passing lane and I would set the pick for him to the right. All very cozy and a heartwarming example of interstate cooperation.

Then dinner, part of the show and pints of Bass at the bar until the wee hours. Back at the hotel I finally drifted off around 4 only to be awakened at 7 by the goddamned alarm clock. Here’s a travel hint: ALWAYS check to make sure the alarm is turned off before you retire for a restful, baby-free night, no matter how much beer you have consumed. In fact BECAUSE of how much beer you have consumed. I fell back asleep again but it wasn’t the same and to the previous occupant of room 310 all I can say is fuck you.

Right now I feel great. It was lovely to be in the City of Big Shoulders and now it is lovely to be home. Patrick is adorable. Steve is adorable. I am GLAD he left all that laundry for me to put away because it gives me the chance to be useful around here. I am whistling as scrape yesterday’s breakfast off the kitchen floor (wow- applesauce is like epoxy when you leave it overnight, isn’t it?)

Refreshed. Rejuvenated. Yep.

Striking the Sexist Blow

Welcome to my Gandalf moment.

I was about to grace Steve's office in order to tell him something, something mordant no doubt, but encountered him in the doorway as he was exiting. Steve actually picked me up by the shoulders until my feet were dangling off the floor and moved me out of the way. Mouth still open to deliver that interesting thing I had been about to say, I barreled around and placed myself in front of him again.

"YOU... SHALL... NOT... PASS!" I bellowed, arms flung wide.

"Shouldn't you have a staff or something?" Steve asked.

Switching genres, I wiggled my famous eyebrows, palmed his package and said, "I've got my staff right here, baby."

"That's MY staff," he informed me, "and it doesn't give you any powers whatsoever."

Yeah, sure it doesn't.

Bona Fides of March

Over dinner tonight Steve suddenly said, "Tell me five things you love about me."

This is the thanks I get for letting him have a glass of my super-delicious new Shiraz. He got all punchy.

"I love how silly you are," I replied calmly while I nudged a cat off the table with my foot and went back to feeding Patrick with one hand and drinking deeply with the other.

"WRONG!" shouted Steve. "Now I am going to go write all about it in my blog." Then he laughed for five minutes until I dumped the rest of his glass into my own.

Speaking of Steve, we have a little ritual we go through every year. Each February 14th I lovingly nudge Steve and whisper, "You know what day it is?"

"Thursday," is his invariable response and once every seven years he is right.

"No," I giggle, "It's VALENTINE'S DAY! And do you know what that means?"

"About four weeks until March Madness?"

"YES!" I holler as I pump my fists in the air and jump up and down.

I love the NCAA basketball tournament. I love it so much and I am not sure why. I am not exactly the sporty type and sleeping with athletes does not make me athletic. Maybe it is just the gambler in me. I am allowed one trip to the track a year (it’s like a fucking prison around here I tell you) and I am not allowed to go to casinos anymore (following my first and last visit to a casino during the Great New Orleans Christmas Incident.) I’ll tell you about it sometime, remind me. Three years ago Steve and I started a pool for everyone in the office – both of us. The following year my brother joined (and won, prompting an investigation by Steve into whether this guy was actually an employee of ours.) This year the office pool has swelled with the addition of my mother and her gentleman friend. Stakes are high, tensions are rife and I AM DOMINATING. 8 for 8, thank you very much. So Heather, yes, I am running a bracket and yes, I have Xavier picked for an enormous upset in the second round but North Carolina will prove too much for them. You heard it here first.

Speaking of winners, Jo, our delectable Leery Polyp, instantly recognized the immortal words of Shelbyville Manhattan (Manhattan! HA! Manhattan surprised Florida today- but not me!) Why would we want to marry our cousins? Because they are so attractive.

I Know My Name Is Julia


Last night I ordered something off the Internet. Actually, Steve did, but it is a present, a very nice present, for me. Why is Steve buying me nice presents? Um, because I am so attractive? [Simpsons reference - prize offered] I don't know. My mother, in response to my girlish enthusiasm over the impending bauble, actually shrieked, "No! Put him on the phone! I need to tell him to stop rewarding your bad behavior." I told her he was busy.

This morning the e-tailer called. I had been selected for identity verification. Was I about to be the jackass who gives the con artist her social security number? Actually it was kind of cool (have you ever had that moment at the airport or wherever when the smooth mechanical voice directs you to move away from the curb and you realize that it is just like Buck Rogers?) Using your name, address and, yes, last four digits of your social security number (what do you guys do in Australia?) they create of a series of multiple choice questions. She stressed that I, and I alone, would know the answers to these questions. I got all excited and puffy because it was obviously the long awaited Wodehouse/Sayers/Trollope Double Jeopardy round and I was about to start kicking some serious ass.

Instead she told me to identify which of the following counties I have lived in:

Des Moines? No. (That was easy, particularly as she pronounced both s's and NO ONE has EVER lived in Dessss Moinesssss county. Trick question.)
Cook? (Um, yes, Chicago right?) Yes!
Pratt? (Pratt? Is that Cleveland? I don't know. Baltimore. Is Baltimore in Pratt County? No, Baltimore has a Pratt Library.) "Baltimore has a Pratt Library," I told her. She skipped that one.
Hennepin? Yep.
Washington? "Washington DC?" I asked. "No, Washington County," she replied. "Oh, DC isn't in a county," I informed her, "because it is a fucking colony."

She ignored my attempt to educate her and asked again if I have ever lived in Washington County. I didn't think so. Steve drifted by, so I asked him. He gave me a long long look before telling me, "We are in Washington County right now."

Can you fail your own identity test?

Live! Morning Update

This was supposed to be about basketball but Patrick just bit my finger.

Faults on both sides, since my finger was in his mouth at the time. It went in after a piece of something that was obviously a choking hazard and equally obviously not what I want a relative of mine eating. Take my word for it that nothing you find on my floor is delicious. A few moments earlier I had noticed that Patrick had an unidentified object in his pincers as he toddled the center-island kitchen loop. If I was a marginally competent maternal presence I would have leapt to my feet to investigate at once, but I was reading this article forwarded by my friend Fernanda and feeling wistful. I popped a handful of Bubble Yum Original bubble gum balls (why? what's in your desk drawer?) and brooded upon the fact that everybody knows everybody but me, so it took a moment to recognize that suddenly Patrick's paws were empty but his mouth was full. Thus this lopsided exchange:

Patrick what is in your mouth? Do you have something in your mouth? Let Mommy see what is in your mouth. Is it cat food? Is it a bug? Crayon tip? Show Mommy. Open your mouth.

Chew. Chew.

Eureka! Cat food. Well, at least his coat will be glossy. I cannot think of the last time I swabbed around inside someone else's mouth with my finger. I vividly recall the last time someone bit me. It was Patrick and he grinned just as demonically on that occasion as he is grinning right now.

Damn it! He now appears to be foaming at the mouth. Rabies? Hmmm, no. Ah, he has retrieved his sippy cup from the kitchen counter and is swishing milk into a cappuccino-worthy froth before spitting it out on the floor. Why is no one watching this kid?


French Knotting the Loose Ends

This is a hodgepodge related mostly to a handful of recent comments.

* My grammar is terrible. I know this and I blame everybody but me (grammar joke- alert- grammar joke.) My spelling, though, is quite good and I am quietly amused by some of the more common spelling errors that one sees in certain corners of the Internet. Namely, the miscarrying crowd seems to "loose" a lot of babies. Because I am evil I always get a chuckle out of that. Was I able to wear white to both of my weddings because my virginity had been merely loosened?

* Loose ends! Tee hee. Anyway, Patrick's digestion is improving nicely, thank you for the sympathy and suggestions. He cheerfully ingested two days worth of something prescriptive- can't recall the name but it mellifluously and discreetly incorporated the root "lax" in there somewhere. He is now back to a no-nonsense, high-fiber morning routine. I eat Honeycombs and he gets to scarf bits of the box. Ha ha! I am joking, of course. I don't get up that early.

* I did, indeed, buy the sex-pants, I mean the low-rise Gap jeans, and sure enough they are so fabulous I probably would not ever remove them if it were not for the fact that they keep getting ripped from my body (because, you know, yo.) I have taken to wearing my delectable new jeans but wielding an umbrella to protect my virtue.

* Actually, I AM a cheap date and I am looking for one in Chicago on the 22nd. Blue October (see sidebar) is playing Schuba's and it occurs to me that I could just, you know, go. What's a six hour drive when you live in the middle of fucking nowhere? This is how I see the day going: feed Patrick lunch, kiss husband and child (remove husband's hands from pockets of new fantabulous jeans,) drive to Chicago in the fast car, eat three dinners at my three favorite Chicago restaurants, rock, confess to band that I am a suburban housewife who has just driven six hours to see their show, drink with band until bars close at 4, explain that I couldn't- couldn't possibly- go on tour with them but thank you, stay at the Drake, drive home with a McMuffin. What do you think? Are you in?

* Second child, second child... I feel like I took a lot of pressure off a sore tooth when I realized that I do not absolutely positively HAVE TO have another baby. The sense that life would be meaningless without Patrick deux was driving me to keep trying month after month, miscarriage after miscarriage because if this one did not work then that one would- so, go go go. Right now I am taking a procreative sabbatical. It feels great.