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October 2004
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November 2004



I just wrote this big ol' post (big. ol'.) and I accidentally deleted the whole damned wad leaving a mere lower case 't' in its place. MOST annoying. I thought about simply posting the 't' but I figured that you would not be interested in searching for the subtext of the gesture.

Now it is late and I have Langston Hughes to read, but I owe you something so how about a smitch from Saturday's party (the ultra-cool one that Steve and I loved so much that we never ever wanted to leave.)


Standing in the kitchen of the lovely old house, I firmly grasped a corkscrew in my left hand as I prepared to open a bottle of red wine. The man standing next to me said, "Can I open that for you?" Trust me, my fluffy internet penguins, I know how to open a bottle of wine. In fact, give me anything from those weird two-pronged pull thingies to a needle and some dental floss and I will get the wine out. But I am not one to take offense at the well-intended chivalrous gesture, so I just smiled and proceeded to extract the cork with the deft flick of the wrist that identifies the surgeon. Or the booze-a-dillo. Whichever. It was only as I tried to remove the cork from the screw that everything went awry and I managed to gash my knuckle on something sharp and pointy, drawing blood.

More from annoyance than pain I uttered a ladylike "Fuck me!" and looked up to find this would-be Lancelot, overgrown frat boy staring down.

"Was that an invitation?" he asked.

"Was I too subtle?" I countered.

He paused and then looked furtive, "My wife is on the porch. Can you meet me somewhere?"

I gently explained that he couldn't actually afford me. What a skeeze.

Later, I ran into my husband on my way to the bathroom. He said, "Hey! There's a guy around here who thinks he was this close to five minutes of your time in a parking lot somewhere."

"Oh yeah? Did you punch him in the nose?"

"No," my loving husband said, "I told him he couldn't afford you. I also told him you weren't worth it." 

Alright, now I owe you a GOOD story.

Be Back Later

Ok, ok, ok, I know. Yes. I am sorry. Stop looking at me so reproachfully. I am sorry I haven't written anything for days and days but I was busy. Really busy. 

First I had company and they were EVERYWHERE. They kept EATING and CLUTTERING and USING TOWELS and it was all I could do to keep up with the untidiness that threatened to plunge us all into anarchy. Then they left and Steve and I went to the best party I have ever attended (and that, my crumpets, is saying something) and then the next 36 hours were a little rocky (making this my second hangover reference in as many posts... Tra La La La.)

But now I am back and I missed you terribly and I have all sorts of things to tell you.

Well, ok, not NOW. Not right this second because I have a few things I must do around the house first, but tonight. I'll be back tonight and I will tell you stories.


The Day After That


And you people call yourselves friends of mine? NO ONE was willing to come over and stop me from drinking multiple kinds of... I cannot even write it? NO ONE had the grace to say, "Just a minute there, Saucy," and pry the bottle from my fingers in order to replace it with a nourishing mug of soup? NO ONE sought to protect me from the untoward advances of the lecherous inebriate with whom I share a property deed?

Well, thanks to you, I was three-quarters dead yesterday. No, no, it is too late to apologize. I hope you are happy in the knowledge that I woke up Sunday morning with my head split neatly in half just above the eyebrows, with my mouth feeling like the bottom of a birdcage, and with my clothes mysteriously strewn about the kitchen. 

So much for the theory that you will never again have time for such nonsense once you have children. And, for reference, Steve and I are sharply divided over our rum picks: I am all about the Gosling's Black Seal whereas Steve preferred the Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve. Once I found both my eyeballs again (the cats were playing with them on the hardwood floors) and screwed them into their sockets, I discovered that Nino and Karen have left two more rum recommendations on the post below. So the Great Rum-off continues, chez nous. I mean, once I can drink again. In about thirty years.

So what else is going on? Not much. Guest beds to make, bathrooms to clean, corn to cream... Why? Why do people request weird food for the holidays? Steve went ballistic when I suggested making a few minor changes to the traditional Thanksgiving menu, ballistic I tell you. However, it is BORING to make a traditional Thanksgiving. Where's the challenge? Where's the complicated souffle to add a touch of terror to the proceedings?

Personally, the only thing I feel is absolutely mandatory for Thanksgiving is stuffing. And it cannot be strange stuffing with oysters or sausage bits lurking in the recesses of bread, oh no. I like a nice normal bread stuffing with a little onion and a little celery and a lot of butter. Other than that I could care less.

Filler v. 2

The majority of the relationships portrayed on The Love Boat probably ended badly regardless of the fact that they left holding hands and promising to come back... on their HONEYMOON! Because it is very difficult to establish mutual respect forged by shared values and a commitment to joint goals when it only takes two days to get to Mazatlan. Gopher was able to patch up that innocent misunderstanding about the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders before they docked in Acapulco, but Gopher won't be there a decade later when she forgets to have sex with him for two years.

I'm just saying is all.

In other news my hcg level has finally dropped below 2. For those of you who goggled your way here with "hcg levels falling slowly after D&C" I will add that it took 10 weeks and you have my sympathy. For the "heartbeat seen miscarriage risk" crowd I say, Ladies, you’ve got the wrong damn blog. RUN! Don’t walk away from here.

My insurance company just rejected my initial claim for reimbursement for the FISH test BUT they rejected it on the grounds that they do not pay out of system claims for this service. Ha HA! I shouted, I have not one but TWO referrals for this from the primary physician and your approved RE respectively, so bite it. They said those referrals are not in their system and I smoothly offered to fax the copies I was clever enough to insist upon receiving. The insurer, having no doubt checked the fax for signs of forgery, is now grudgingly considering the claim again. Who wants to bet that they come up with a totally different reason for refusing it next time?

Ooh! This just in! I just got off the phone with Holly's sister and it turns out we wasted all that time freaking about Thanksgiving for nothing. OK, fine, you were not freaking but I certainly was.

She started the conversation by asking, "Do you have a 24 hour rule?"

And I said, "What would that be?"

And she said, "All guests must be gone after 24 hours."

So I laughed and said, "No, no rules. Were you planning on staying until Friday or Saturday?" [See! See how neatly I took your good advice?]

And she said they were thinking Saturday.....

I said I knew that her late brother-in-law's parents would want to see them and she said yes, that was why they wanted to stay an extra day and I said delightful and she said she was bringing her son's old bike for Patrick. And her own non-alcoholic wine. And pies.

So we are all going to be happy forever and ever. HOORAY!

Oh, and no,  I did not mean that to obtain a perfect roast turkey you do not open the oven at all. You put the turkey IN and then you keep the oven door SHUT until it is READY. Smartass.   

Take 117 Pounds of Geek, Add Hair And.... Voila!

The part of proletariat playgroup that I hate the most is when the moms get taken off to a conference room to be educated by a Parent Educator. There is always "sharing" time and then a handout and discussion of some hot toddler issue like Tantrum Management. It makes my eyelashes bleed- it is so earnest and boring and I don’t like to SHARE, ok? The good part, I have grudgingly come to realize, is that most of the other mothers think it is just as stupid and tedious as I do. They would rather pass the snack cakes around and tell horror stories ("So then I thought, well, what’s the harm in letting my mother-in-law take the kids for the weekend…") I hate to admit it, being famous for my reclusivity, but the other week I was so moved affection for these women that when I was ordered to "share" I blurted out that we should all meet for drinks.

Not the point, sorry. The point is that Monday’s topic was Toilet Learning and to get the conversational ball rolling our parent educator handed out cutesy xeroxed diagrams of a baseball diamond with a little bullpen to the side. We were supposed to mark where our child was on the playing field in terms of potty awareness, the bullpen being "Not Quite There Yet." I munched on a Danish and used a felt-tipped pen to draw a chain-link fence on one side of the bullpen. Then I drew a ticket booth. I put some people in line to buy tickets and even more people in line at the gate. Then I drew a parking lot with five rows of cars and in the very last row I drew Patrick sitting in a parked SUV. Because we are SO VERY Not Quite There Yet.

This is when the parent educator made us form groups to discuss the topic and I had to show everyone my drawing. And one woman punched me on the arm and said, "JULIA, you are TOO funny!"

And really it was the most flattering thing to happen to me all month, until I got this.

I have waffled all day about whether I should try to be supercool and pretend I am not utterly thrilled but… I dunno… DOOCE and CHEZ and me???!!! Omigod Omigod Omigod! Holy mother of pearl but I am flattered senseless. Senselesser. And since both La Grrl and La Dooce are going to rightfully crush me beneath their hallowed wheels in the swimsuit competition I might as well celebrate now. So, yay! Man, when I think about all those people in high school who said I would never make it as an amateur blogger... well HA!

Speaking of things Blog, I am taking down the links on the side in order to add some new sites and make it all slinkier. I also want to try to put up something in a virtual recipe binder since you asked me to and what is Fine Cooking going to do, really? Sue me? So it is not that I suddenly hate everybody or have gotten all puffed up with my own importance (see above,) I am just finding new ways to neglect my family and slack off on the housewifery.


Amended to say: I don't really know what a finalist is either, but it's got to be a good thing, right? I mean Finals are good. Everyone loves Finals. Also, I SWEAR I will put the links back up... well, not tonight because I have a date with my old boss, but tomorrow at the latest. I just need to smoosh 'em a bit so that I can fit a few more on. 

Don't Ask Why I Bothered With Punctuation At All

Steve left yesterday for The Dakotas…. Oh, I know what you are thinking- just go ahead and say it already! You are thinking Steve is obviously having an affair, what with the “tournaments” and the “hunting trips.” Then you are either thinking “Oh that poor Julia” or “I don’t know about penguin dick, you smarmy Liberal, but something’s getting sucked over there.” And you add a sigh or a chuckle as appropriate.

Well I won’t pretend I don’t see where you are getting this and certainly worse things have happened to better people, but you have to look at what Jeeves calls the psychology of the individual. To wit, I can tell you within one card the hand that Steve holds at euchre, simply by observing the quiver of his eyebrows. He is so transparent that we consulted specialists and all they could recommend was a bisque foundation followed by a healthy powdering of Sun-kissed Glow #7. Then there is his utter lack of creativity. If I ask Steve to tell me a story about a dog and a Ford Fiesta he will say, “OK. There was this dog once and he, er, saw a car. And that car was a Ford Fiesta. The end.”

So to assume that Steve could both make up a cover story and be able to tell it without turning purple… I dunno, the Magic Eight ball says Not Bloody Likely. Oh, and of course his strong sense moral rectitude and dedication to the family would cause him to be revolted by the idea of playing Three Times Around the Maypole with some flighty nymph. Of course.

Anyway, Steve left for a Dakota yesterday afternoon and before he made it all the way down the driveway I turned the heat up to seventy. There! I am indeed a two-dimensional cliché. But I have been so cold! You look at a house with your realtor (your realtor who hates you by the way because you have been looking at houses every few days for a year and you don’t care if you live north or south or really really far west of the Cities but you are absolutely certain you want something built in the 1880s unless you see something spectacular that is new and no, this won’t do but you’ll call him tomorrow after spending more time on the internet…) and you think all these windows are so so pretty but actually these windows are merely wafer-thin gateways to misery. There aren’t enough sweaters in the world to make me toasty and if Steve tells me one more time that I could be warm all over by getting sufficient exercise (as he does) I will take all of his money and move to the Seychelles. Which I should probably do anyway, the no-good cheater.

My hcg level on Wednesday was 9. I am 9 weeks post-D&C and I still have hcg in my system- criminey. Three weeks ago it was 25, so I suppose I should be reassured by the fact that it is coming down. Very. Slowly. For some reason, though, I find this irritating. It actually does not affect my reproductive plans, provided it continues to drop and is gone before I start another cycle. Grrl tells me she once had her hcg level linger at 16 for months. MONTHS. Horrors.

So I just started my second cycle since the D&C and this seems weird to me but ok, right, I get it, I will continue to be on the tiny side of statistical probability unless it is something good in which case I will automatically join the majority instead. Two periods, still have hcg... whatever.

We finally decided to do an IVF cycle at Shdy Grve. We concluded that we really don't know if our odds are significantly better in NJ (if they are better at all) but we are certain it will be easier for us to do whatever we need to do in DC because our families are there.

We were supposed to go to DC for Thanksgiving but I was able to use the IVF stuff as an excuse to side-step the trip. We are scheduled for a phone consult with the clinic that week instead. I was literally in the middle of doing the Hands-in-the-Air-We-Don’t-Have-To-Travel dance and planning the chicken enchiladas I would be making when Steve told me he invited Holly and her sister and her sister’s husband and their two children and Holly’s best friend from college HERE for the holiday instead. He pointed out, reasonably, that we were just going to be home anyway, so what’s the difference? I hope his second wife is able to explain to him that there actually is a difference between the three of us watching football for four days and having six houseguests for an unspecified period of time who expect to be fed elaborate meals at regular intervals.

I wonder how his affair is going and how soon he’ll be able to move in with her?

Dattuh Nees Heesh Hadadee

We finally took Patrick for his speech evaluation today. As we went up the stairs Patrick glanced at the ceiling and then bellowed at the top of his small-but-mighty lungs, “Mama o na hah ah!” and I blushed scarlet because, yikes, what the hell was that? Mama turn that fan on? Are you kidding me? Somebody get that boy into speech therapy, STAT! Oh. Right. Ok then. Good.

There is actually a little story attached to where we wound up this morning and, although it is not interesting, I am going to tell it anyway because it Teaches An Important Lesson.

Way back when we all agreed that Patrick should get evaluated I called the number my pediatrician had given me. School districts are required by federal law to provide services for children under three, including speech evaluations and therapy. So I called the number for our district and spoke to a woman who promised a different woman would call me back within two days to discuss the specifics. That was on a Thursday. Monday came and went with no call, then Tuesday, then the whole week passed. I took this as a sign from Alexander Graham Bell that we did not need to get Patrick evaluated after all. I mean, oh well, I tried.

The following Monday the phone rang at the questionably appropriate time of 8:03 am. As I was asleep I let it go to voicemail. It was whatshername, the second woman, and she was calling “to arrange Patrick’s intake.” Intake? Yeep. What a friendly word that is. You know who else does intakes? Prison wardens, that’s who. I sort of balked and let the day go by without calling her back. That night, at NINE, she called again: “Just wanted to get this taken care of,” she said breathlessly into the answering machine. The next morning she called at 7:41. 7:41! She left another message saying we really needed to speak and was there a better number to reach me and she doesn’t understand why we hadn’t connected yet. Three phone calls in twenty-four hours- I ask you. I felt annoyed and flustered and went back and forth over what to say when I called her back, a process that left me no time to actually make the call. She then called AGAIN that night (late) and left ANOTHER message about how urgently we needed to get something set up.

Just so we are all on the same crazy diary page, my initial call to the district said, “We think our two-year old might have some speech delays and feel it would be appropriate to have him evaluated by a professional.” Got that? Nothing about people chasing us around the house with knives, nothing about how my out-of-control drug use makes me fear I am harming my baby, just a little suburban speech angst.

So I thought, my god I don’t want to deal with this pushy person who calls when I am asleep or having sex but I DO want to make sure that Patrick can deliver his valedictory address… what to do, what to do?

That is when, duh, I called our health insurance company and discovered that they cover private speech therapy. Which brought us this morning to a lovely, very old brick house full of mellow sunlight and packed to the rafters with caring, competent, one-on-one speech pathologists who all elocute beautifully. Ours is called Shelly, a name that regrettably contains only two sounds Patrick can manage: uh-ee. Hi uh-ee.

Oh, you got the moral, right? The Important Lesson is don’t call someone four times without giving them adequate time to respond or you will come across as a scary assloofah. Oh, and never call me before nine in the morning.

Anyway, I really liked the speech evaluation. I liked her and I liked their offices and I LOVED the fact that when I mentioned Patrick is a big fan of the alphabet she instantly rummaged into her cupboard and produced a big wooden alphabet puzzle for him to play with as we talked. She said his speech issues were really unusual. I liked that, too, because I felt like she had paid attention when I talked about his weird sound substitutions and his elaborate, totally incomprehensible sentences. She said it was interesting that he manages all of the syllables and his intonation is perfect but most of the sounds are missing. She also said it was interesting that he is so consistent in the sounds he makes and those he substitutes. She said that he seems very very bright (he adds AND subtracts and can read a few words when written for him, his mother notes with modest pride.) And Shelly observed that he has a surprisingly small range of sounds he can make, which I guess makes him, like, extra delayed. She said we would figure out if there is a specific diagnosis, like apraxia, as he goes through therapy.

Steve and I both went to this appointment and we left feeling good about everything. Don’t get me wrong, she definitely thinks Patrick needs therapy and we will be taking him twice a week for the foreseeable future but I think it will be great for him. Or, as Patrick might say, “I go up ah boo ah wiv da. Mama hits dah. Nets go! Hi uh-ee. I nah high-vuh ma hah-ees?” (I go up in the blue car with Bear. Mama sits down. Let’s go! Hi Shelly. I read five more stories?)

Bless his garbled little broccoli-hole.

I Am Back And Paler Than Ever

I'm back! Did you miss me? Did you? Did you? Huh? I missed you terribly. Well, the internet in general but you in specific.

Florida blows.

OK, not fair. Florida was hot and sunny and the sand was like confectioners’ sugar and the water was warmish and calm. We had a balcony overlooking the beach and were able to observe with the naked eye (many! times! a! day!) that the man-thong is an affront to god, especially with a spangly diamond patch over the coccyx. Seriously, what the hell is up with that? My sensible sage green one piece might not be setting the world on fire but at least it doesn't HURT people.

Patrick loved the ocean and barreled into it without the slightest regard for bagatelles like death by drowning. This forced me to break my cherished vow that I will never again enter water that falls below 85 degrees (Bora Bora or Bust) although it is hard to hold a grudge against someone so very short and so very full of glee. He would frolic in the water and then death-march me half a mile down the beach to frolic some more. From sun-up he never stopped moving and always it was in the direction of something that could kill him. Steve being an excellent example of a hazard, what with his dangerous Throw Patrick In The Airs and See If Patrick Can Floats. By evening I was a boneless heap, reliant upon vast quantities of red wine to pull me together like nerve tonic.

Oh, and we did get to go to one of our favorite restaurants, cleverly disguised as a hole-in-the-wall strip mall joint next to a Kash and Karry. For the love of all that is holy, if you ever find yourself within 100, no 200, miles of Siesta Key get thee to Selva Grill. They have the best tuna-watermelon ceviche in the known universe and what they do with lemongrass should be illegal.

So really, what with the food and the wine and the happy family I don't know what I am complaining about. Other than the fact that yet again we spent 30 October in Florida and yet again I returned a year older.

Yes! My birthday! Happy b to me! I love my birthday and think everyone should celebrate it, perhaps by donning fancy dress the next day and handing out candy to strange children. Wouldn't that be a lovely tradition? Steve gave me the nicest birthday present but you'll have to take my word for it unless you appreciate how difficult is was for him to buy the complete collected works of Janet Lambert, Maitresse de the 1950s Story for Girls. Fifty-four (54!) books, all out-of-print and most out-of-print for over thirty years. It was so sweet that I have almost forgiven him for whatever it was he needed to be forgiven for this time.

Oh yeah, IVF. He is completely undermining my IVF plan with his "Whatever you think is best, Julia" and "I'll do whatever you want to do, Julia." How dickish of him not to be all masterful when I am wobbling with uncertainty. He gets pushy with his ideas fast enough when I suggest buying the merest little scrap of Kazak carpet to go in front of the new window seat (sure his point was well taken but just think how much longer a rug lasts than a car, really.)

So, here is the question that is plaguing me. Ceaselessly. Do we do IVF here in Minnesota where I already have done the preliminary appointments and they think they can fit me into January, or do we do an IVF cycle in DC where they did the FISH testing?

Pros for Minnesota being that we are here and it will ultimately cost, oh I don't know, two to five thousand dollars less. Cons being that they have done MAYBE 20 PGD cases ever.

Pros for DC being that they have done a couple hundred PGD cases and just flat-out do more IVF in general. Cons being that it will be an expensive and annoying undertaking to get me and Steve and Patrick to Washington for two weeks in various configurations at various times. And I am not ultimately convinced that it will matter, as both places say their PGD success rates are about 25%. So......

Intellectually I know that we should use the best place available for our specific issue, which I believe would be neither Shady G (no, no, that's too obvious, let's call it S Grove) nor the local place but St. Bs. However, I cannot, I simply cannot face the possibility of north central New Jersey with no place to stay and sky-high pricing and nothing to do but shoot-up and think of brighter days. Which leaves us with convenient, questionably competent Here or inconvenient, questionably more competent There.

What do you think? I would love to come up with some reason to just try a cycle here other than personal laziness and a horror of being discommoded but I keep coming up short. Steve is of no use so as always I turn to you. Here is a cookie, now what do you think I should do?