Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fictional schmictional. We all need a Bates. And a Pamuk.

I don't know about you, but engaging in idle speculation, no matter how frivolous or pointless, seems to be one of my favorite things.

This morning I was huffing and puffing as I put on my sneakers, and Betty asked if I needed some help.

I told her that the other day Nick had come upstairs to see if I was OK, because I’d been grunting and groaning like a stuck pig. He could hear me all the way from the living room. And I was all, “Oh, I’m just trying to put on my maternity tights.”

“Did Nick help you put them on?”

“He didn’t! You know what I need? I need a valet!”

(Of course, being all Downtonified, I pronounced it vall-et rather than the American vallay.)

Nick said, “You wouldn’t have a vall-et. You’d have a lady’s maid.”

“I don’t want a maid. I want Bates.”

“No you don’t. You thought he was pasty and squishy, remember?” (Trust my husband to remember that.)

“Oh, right! Yes! Right! But handsome in his clothes! What I really need is a Pamuk!”

Betty asked, “What’s a Pamuk?”

“Remember Poor Mr. Pamuk? The Turkish delight who died in Mary’s bed? Best looking man on the whole show.”

“Oh, yes. Did he have a heart attack?”

“I think so. Which, actually, is kind of sketchy, since he’d only be like 25 or so.”

“Maybe he had a heart condition?”

“Or maybe he was doing drugs.”


Nick broke in. “Maybe it doesn’t actually matter, since we’re talking about a fictional character?”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My intentions are good and earnest and true, but under my hood is internal combustion power

Nick sent this picture to me in an email the other day with the subject "We need to get this for Jordan."

Poo continues to dominate our household conversation.

"Jordan, would you like milk or juice?"

"How about..." little grin "...poopy water!"

And then of course you have to make a terrible face and exclaim how yucky that idea is and how we would never drink poopy water! And he's all kinds of delighted with himself.

Jordan still insists on coming to the bathroom with you, and he always says, with hope in his voice, "What are you making?"

If you tell him you have to pee, he'll say, "Would you like to poop?"

As if you're ordering dinner and he's offering you an appetizer. Like, you'll suddenly be all, you know, now that you mention it, I would like to poop!

He's inordinately pleased when you do. And he'll commend you on it. He'll report on your accomplishment. "Daddy had an EMORmous poop! You did a good job, Daddy!"

The most inconvenient part of this fascination, in my opinion, is the demand to show him the poop in his diaper. "I want to see!" Because let me tell you, it's both horrendously disgusting and not particularly easy to hold a diaper full of vileness up, tipped just enough so the reclining boy can get an eyeful.

And in this endeavor, Betty accidentally dropped Jordan's poop on him the other day. Plop. Right on his shirt.

I bought him this incredibly cute London bus shirt for Christmas. He was wearing it the day of The Incident.

For days and days afterwards, whenever he'd see the shirt he'd say, rather excitedly, "Nana dropped poop on my bus!"

Monday, February 27, 2012

Secrets, frozen eggs, chippies, and could you honestly not sleep with James Bond if you had the chance?

OK, so, I hadn’t thought about my definition of a secret until the other night.

And once I told him about it, Nick thought of it as a secret kept. Whereas I thought, since I hadn’t made the other decision – which would definitely have been a secret – that it wasn’t a secret. Just something I hadn’t shared.

Which is entirely different, I think. Kind of like if you have the opportunity to cheat on your partner, but you choose not to. Cheating and not telling would mean you have a secret.

Whereas you probably wouldn’t come home and say, “I didn’t sleep with someone else today.”

Unless it was oh, Daniel Craig. Then I think I would definitely come home and say that while I’d had the opportunity to have sex with James Bond, I didn’t, and THAT’S HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Except, sweet Jesus, how would you NOT sleep with Daniel Craig? So then you'd have to keep that secret to your grave. Except I'm a terrible secret keeper, so I'd just have to hope my marriage survived it.

Note to self: create one of those five celebrities you get a free pass with kind of list. Which is actually hilarious, because I think Barney Frank is the only famous person I've seen in years.

But anyway. Not having slept with the person isn’t a secret. You agree?

And this is nothing as juicy as all that.

Basically, here’s the deal. We were having this big contentious conversation the other night and I said, “There’s something I haven’t told you.” (Which is so not the same as a secret.) So he said, “Yeah, well, there’s something I haven’t told you, either.”

He made me go first.

Back when we were doing the IVF that led to my present state, Nick came with me when they sucked the eggs out. He kind of had to be there, really. Remember the whole Whorientals business? Plus the fact that I was seriously doped up.

But when they stuck them back in, I walked myself down there, and then cabbed home. It was kind of surreal. The doctor and I talked about Mardi Gras while he was injecting my potential future progeny into my uterus.

Nick really had no role that day. I mean, aside from potential moral support. Which is of course nice but not absolutely critical.


So when I was sitting under an electric blanket in the reclining chair drinking water to the point where they were satisfied that my bladder would be full enough to push my uterus into optimal position, they handed me some forms to fill out.

One of which was to tell them whether or not to freeze any leftover embryos. And who got what rights. I can’t remember exactly, but you chose the rights for each partner (basically: donate, use, discard). You checked different options, depending on the person.

Naturally, I gave myself free reign to do whatever I wanted, without a second thought.

And then, then I got to Nick. And paused. I know, I know, this sounds terrible. How could I even hesitate, right?

Except, think about it. If he’s making these decisions, it’s because I’m dead and he’s married some dreadful chippie. And I was all, I am so NOT giving Nick and the chippie full reign to use my eggs! HE just had to wank into a cup. I had to do days of shots in the stomach and egg-sucking-outing and all the rest of it.

And suddenly, there he was, bringing some overly made up tramp into our home, acting all like he could just walk over to the freezer all breezy and pull out those embryos and use them anytime he wanted? No sirree!

I sat in that warm chair and stewed about the chippie for a couple minutes. And then I remembered that chippies are, by definition, young, and she wouldn’t need my eggs.

Plus then, then I thought, but what if he marries someone totally age appropriate? Someone like me, against whom time and ovaries are working? She might be a perfectly nice person, someone I’d like, a good mother for Jordan. And they could totally use these expensive, hard-squozen embryos.

So I gave him every right to them.

See how it wasn’t a secret?

Also, he was totally lying. He didn’t even have a secret/non-secret.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The health edition. Plus, doesn't "flip a breech" sound like an album title?

Little Facey Face

I had a sonogram this week, because I have this extra bit of placenta which is, they assured me, totally normal but something they want to keep an eye on. And in my sonogram I learned that I still have the extra placenta, but it's all fine and good and she's all healthy and normal and not growth-restricted, which was their big (unbeknownst to me) concern.

In other words, my AMA placenta is doing a good job and she's growing great guns and onward and upward. Excellent.Apparently she was facing away from the camera and so the sonogram guy did a bunch of poking and prodding and this was the best he could do. But it's a real face, no?

Flip a Breech, or Ding Dang Heckfire
Less excellent sonogram news: the little head of cabbage or what-have-you of delight currently residing in my uterus has flipped herself back head up. So the midwife directed me to the Spinning Babies website and I'm now doing inversions daily and tomorrow I'm going to do a headstand in a pool. With help.

Also, I'm trying to talk to her gently and coaxingly when really my inclination is to swear and stamp my feet.

The midwife also suggested a version, which sounds painful. And scary because of the possibility of emergency C-section.

Have any of you done this? Was it successful?

Flu/Norovirus/Vomit Plague
Betty has been sick all week. We thought she had the flu. And then my midwife said the Norovirus is going around and that will make you puke and ache for a couple days straight and basically beat the stuffing out of you.

Which is precisely what has happened with her.

She just saw the doctor, who ruled out pneumonia (we were supposed to be worrying about pneumonia again?) and they're doing a blood test but odds are it's this stomach flu that's going around.

Lazy Eyes and Doctor Crushes
As a kid I had thick glasses and a patch for a lazy eye. It was, in fact, as cute as it sounds. I'll post pictures if you're interested. And Jordan's eye sometimes turns in, which prompted me to get a recommendation for a pediatric eye doctor.

So this morning Jordan and I went on a Big Adventure to Friendship Heights. He was all excited because: 1. We were going on the metro! 2. The Eye Man was going look at Jordan's eyes! (See how we avoided the D-word? Made all the difference.) 3. Then we would get a treat!

The Eye Man turned out to be tall and charming and Latino and super kid-friendly. Really just all around the kind of Harvard-educated doctor you might fall madly in love with IF you were single AND the focus of his "look at me."

Rather than, you know, happily married to the love of your life and also lumberingly waddly, and the recipient of his "Will your toddler still fit in your lap at this point?"

But most importantly: Jordan's eyes are fine. Borderline fine, but fine. The hope is that Nick's awesome perfect eyesight genes will prevail and Jordan will grow out of these Mama-gene inflicted issues.

We go back in six months for a follow-up. And the girl should see him at age two to make sure she's not following in my um, eyesteps.

The Eye Man had toys, and he gave Jordan cookies, and made things so pleasant that as soon as we walked out Jordan said, "I want to go back and see him!"

Best doctor visit ever.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Color opinions: Cliche or not cliche? Harmony? Boldness? Help!

So when poor old Jordan was born, we'd been in our new oldoldold house for two months.

Incidentally, Nick has taken to calling our abode Downtown Abbey. Because it was built in the late 1800s and, until we upgraded it, had plumbing and electricity of roughly the same era as the Downton series. It was probably very modern, you know, when electricity was first installed in city houses.

You know, back when they wrapped the electric wires in cloth. And made the pipes out of lead. Hand to God, we had both.

Anyway, Jordan. We chucked him in the room off of our bedroom, which was made to feel like the nursery only because it had a crib and changing table and some cute decals on the walls.

But the walls were still grotty and gross and cracked. Same with the window sills. And floorboards. And really everything.

He was wee, and he didn't care, of course. And I didn't have the energy to care, quite honestly, because we had things like a kitchen to build.

And then a year ago we moved him (and the awesome claw foot tub!) down the hall to another grotty room. Which turned out to have no insulation. And big gaps around the windows And so we ran an AC window unit all summer, and have had a space heater all winter.


Now we are insulating and fixing Jordan's room. And putting up a wall in the room in front of it to make into the girl's room. Initially she will sleep in the old nursery, but now the elevator runs through it and also that means we can't get to our bathroom, both of which make it less than ideal.

We're also redoing the bathroom between the two rooms, because it turned out that those soft spots in the floor were, uh, holes in the wood. So when you pulled up the tile you could see daylight below.


See, I love pink, I do. But very strong pinks - like fuchsia and magenta and such. And I love them with orange.

But our girl's room, it is small. And dark. There is one window, and it is opaque, because the view is of the neighbor building's fire escapes and garbage cans and piles of crap.

So, while I would like Spring Bloom (and if you click you can embiggen the photos), I think it's too dark. Betty and Nick like the lighter pink, but it seems kind of cliched, doesn't it? How do you feel about Weeping Wisteria?

These are the same colors on the wall nearest the window.The Bayou blue is the color I think I am going to paint Jordan's soon-to-be done room.

But then what for the bathroom? There's very little wall, and mostly white of course I am tempted to turn it lime green or ORANGE! or something extreme. But Nick and Australian Builder think it should probably harmonize with the two rooms. Particularly since we have so many other colors going on in the house.

These are a couple possibly harmonious options. I didn't lighten the photos, so you have a good idea of the lack of light we're dealing with.

I don't have baby colors or a theme, or really anything I have to work around. I'm considering peacock decals, but those could be any color.

In other words, it's wide open and I have to decide soon, particularly on the bathroom and girl's room and I don't know what to do.

What do you think?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Two and a half

Jordan my sweet,

You are now two and a half. People weren't kidding when they said the time goes so fast. Pretty soon you'll be three, and then 12, and then suddenly, out of the blue, you'll be done with high school.

And I bet they'll still be doing construction on 18th Street.

This month you started labeling yourself with things you like. It's whatever the enjoyment of the moment is. For example, you started with "I'm a treat boy!" And then you got more specific. Now you'll say, "I'm a cupcake boy!" When you learned the joy of M&Ms, you immediately tagged yourself "an MumM boy!"

One of the things you really are is an adventure boy.

Your dad started taking you on Saturday and Sunday adventures months and months ago. Anything can constitute an adventure. You love the fire station. But you also love Home Depot, which, somehow, you've conflated with Old Hippo in The Little Gorilla, and so you call it Cold Home Hippo.

Adventures have defined components: a walk or a car trip to get there. Then time spent at the place: the marina, the airport, the train station, etc. And then, then hot dogs and french fries and some kind of treat. Usually ice cream or a cupcake.

These are all important pieces of the adventure.

On Saturday we all went on a Big Adventure to Fort Washington. I'm not particularly interested in American history, but your dad loves this sort of thing and it was a beautiful day, and lots of fun to walk around.Well, lots of fun for some of us. You, however, wanted to be carried. And NOT, I repeat NOT on Daddy's shoulders.You are so much like your father, although he says he was quite bold as a kid, which I can well imagine, and you are more cautious. Not at home, not in places you know and are confident. But in new situations.

But it's a joy to watch the two of you together, because the same things appeal to you. We were walking down a big hill, and your dad dropped to the ground and started rolling. You thought this was hilarious. Whereas I was thinking, ew, grass is itchy.

You both love to look at things like boats and planes and trains. And cannons! Oh, you like cannons! And I like going along as part of a family outing. But I'm never like, oh, wow! genuinely excited about the size of a cannon. Naturally, I can fake it. But it's not like if we were at a Nordstrom shoe sale or something.Last weekend your dad took you to the fire department, and you two got there just before they got called to a fire. Apparently they came sliding down the pole. And Dad was all, "Hey, cool! You guys really do slide down the pole!"

I don't actually think anyone ever grows out of firemen, to tell the truth.

I had to take this picture of you in your little scooted-up sweatpants and stripey socks. Those pants always scootch up your legs, and it bugs you. And you don't know how to say pull them down, so you say, "Close my pants! Close them!" And then we pull them down to your ankles and they scoot themselves right up again.You've always been very much your own little person, but I feel like in this past month you've become an even better conversationalist, and really, quite good company.

I mean, yes, sometimes you ask the same question over and over and overandoverandover until I'm pretty sure my ears are going to bleed. And sometimes you whine incessantly. But just as often now, you make really interesting or hilarious observations. You're endlessly fascinated with what can fit into what, and sizes and shapes.

You're starting to ask why about things. Of course, sometimes the why is you dumping your milk on the table and then asking, "Why I did that, Mama?"

I love you so much, my biggie boy.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Cause there's nothing, there's nothing you can teach me that I can't learn from Mr. Hathaway

So I've hit 30 weeks. And Amy Winehouse's Rehab song keeps playing in my head. I ain't gonna spent ten weeks...

Although of course I am. And I'm hoping it's ten weeks rather than 11 or 12.

At last week's midwife visit, the girl was head down (yay!). The prior visit, they told me to start visualizing her getting into head-down position. I pretty much suck at visualizing (in the same way that meditation is hard for me - I get distracted) but I started regularly singing "Put your head down. Put your feet up."

Because I've been thinking, oh, you, my little friend, you are not going to be breech after all this pursuit of VBAC and following the midwives' dietary guidelines and putting all that money down for a doula...No no no. You are going to stick your head down there and cooperate.

But, of course, mostly I tried to channel happy warm rainbow puppy thoughts about how much more fun it would be to have her feet up.

I love having my puffy feet and ankles up now, and so it was kind of a soothing thing to say. I'm not saying I got her to turn. But I'm happy about it.

Of course, when there seems to be a lot of activity in there, particularly activity that involves lots of poking with elbows and knees, I always imagine her putting her head back up, all, I'm sick of this upside-down shit! You're not the boss of me!

We'll see.

The night before last, Nick saw me lumbering up the stairs and said, "I don't mean this unkindly, but I don't know how you're going to do this for ten more weeks."

No fucking kidding. Get me a palanquin.

I can't get comfortable, particularly at night. I'm hot, so I throw off the covers. Then my skin is itchy, so I put on lotion. Then my hip hurts, so I roll over, with great difficulty. Then my other hip gets sore. Then I readjust the pillows. Then I'm thirsty. I drink water. Then I need to pee.

Etc. Ad nauseum. Blah blah blah. And so on and so forth.

And yesterday we were walking to work and Nick said something that pissed me off. It wasn't anything egregious, but it just flew all over me.

I was immediately enraged, and in my head was all, who is this fucking asshole and how in hell did I wind up married to such a douchebag?

And thus, and I let him have it.

To which he responded, "Could you dial back the sarcasm by about 50%?"


My friend Kaysha told me that her boss said I looked tired. And Kaysha said, "Yeah, we were wondering if Lisa would find anything pregnancy more enjoyable this time. And she doesn't seem to be."

No, I certainly don't, do I?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It never rains in southern Downtonfornia, for example

Last night we caught up on last Sunday's episode of Downton Abbey.

In case you've not seen it, I'm going to warn you now not to read further. I thoroughly enjoyed the episode, as over-the-top as it was. They could perhaps have added an earthquake, Banquo's ghost, and a plague of locusts, but aside from that, I can't think of anything.

Nick said, "You know, this is pretty unrealistic."

"I know. They live in fucking England, and they wear sleeveless dresses and it's always sunny."

Seriously. The two times I've been in England that it was warm and sunny for days in a row, they were experiencing major drought. But anyway.

Also, I covet their dresses. I truly do. Not, you know, how repressed women were back then. Just the pretty pretty outfits of the very rich.

The truth is, I'm not looking for realism in my entertainment. I don't care that Mary, Edith, and Sibyl never age, even though it's been, like, seven years since the show began. Or that Matthew felt some tingling (when he first mentioned it I was all, tingling? down there?) and then all of a sudden stood up and lo, without really any rehab, was walking!

I don't even care that the evil characters are so nearly purely evil. Although once in a while you do see the glimpses of humanity in them. And as one of my gay friends pointed out, Thomas is gay in the early 1900s. Think about the lack of social acceptance and the amount of self-loathing he must have.

Which helped me loathe him marginally less.

Nonetheless, we need him, and we need O'Brien. Which is why he can steal from them and dabble in the black market have pretty much everyone including his employers hate him, and still keep living there because suddenly he's helpful in a pinch.

The evils keep the level of intrigue high and move the plot forward.

And we need Sir Richard just as self-serving, hateful, and smarmy as he is. Personally, I think he killed Mrs. Bates. There's no way she committed suicide. She's a Voldemort. Plus, wouldn't it be a tidy way to get rid of him down the road?

As for Lavinia - was she seriously that selfless? And did the Spanish flu make people gasp like that? I know that tons of people died from it, but did they sound all consumptive as they were giving up the ghost and choking out their final wish for their fiance to find happiness with another?

My ass, is all I can say about that.

Also, why wasn't she buried in London?

Oh! And Nick wants to know - doesn't Sir Richard ever need to work? Personally, I think that his empire to the point where he doesn't actually have to. Plus they have the modern telephone. He can telecommute if necessary.


All this said, I do not care. I eat the Downton drama up, and I wish it would go on and on and on.

Life has plenty of realistic grimness; I don't seek it in entertainment. I like my dramas dramatic, my romances romantic, and above all, I want a happy ending. I don't care how contrived it is. When all is said and done, I want it all wrapped up in a shiny red bow.

Which I thoroughly expect from Downton in the very very end.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine memory lane: I'm counting on a heart I know by heart

I'll give credit up front: this is an imitation of this New York Times piece.

Except where she is concise, my post, oh, it is long. It's just that once I started writing, it felt so good. It's been a very therapeutic process, writing this one.

Sorry about the length. I could've included about 14 or 37 more, but then some of you would fall asleep and others would think I was a trollop.

6th Grade Crush
You were the only African American in my 6th grade class, and so I suppose you stood out for that. But we’d just moved to the US a year prior, and I’d always been in the minority and not thought about it. I had the biggest crush on you.

You were so funny, gregarious, charming – popular. And I was so very shy, with my big glasses and lack of understanding of American culture.

You called me once to ask about homework – and I thought it really was about homework. You asked me if I thought I was pretty, and of course I said no. At our 6th grade graduation, you signed my autograph book with “P.S. You are pretty.”

I assumed we'd go to the same junior high, and I hoped you'd be in my classes. I never saw you again.

The Marine
We went out for about three months the end of my senior year of high school. You looked beautiful in your uniform, and acted with such authority when you stopped my friend Kristin and me in our attempt to see if we could get a broken cassette tape all the way around the inner loop of the embassy. We’d grown up in embassies; how did we know we weren’t supposed to run through the halls?

After not having a boyfriend for most of high school, you felt like such a prize.

You were gorgeous, and 21 with a job! So grown up! You weren’t allowed to date me until the day I graduated – one of the prior marines had caused a scandal with an ambassador’s daughter – and the funny thing is, the bulk of our relationship consisted of you coming over to our house and sitting with me in my parents’ living room.

You married young, and divorced young – I know this from reconnecting with your ex-wife, a high school friend of mine, at the Delhi reunion. You were sweet and kind and lovely to me, and I hope life has treated you well.

The Southern Trophy
After two and a half traumatic years at UNC, I came back from a semester in Rome skinny, happy, and determined to clench my teeth and get through my last fucking year of Chapel Hill. We met one of the first days of class, and you pursued me hard.

You wouldn't have noticed me earlier in college, when I was heavy and miserable.

You were tall and handsome and oh, so Southern. You were fascinated by the War of Northern Aggression. You took me to Old South wearing a Confederate uniform – and all I focused on was the fact that I felt beautiful in a hoop dress.

I’m not proud of myself from back then. I was hanging on by my fingernails. Maude later said you were my Southern trophy - proof that I could finally fit in.

I moved to DC and so did you, and we talked about getting married when we were 24, at which point we’d be grown up. Ultimately, I broke your heart in a million pieces. We had nothing in common, once we were out of NC. It was for the best; we’d have been divorced within a year, tops.

The Marine Biologist Mountain Climber
You were so intense, so outdoorsy, and so different from me. You weren't my type, but you were cute and you pursued me intently. And you made me bagels and taught me that sex was magic, despite my insane uptightness.

Your grandmother had, for some reason, given you a tremendous stash of condoms and Mentos, and we tore through both at a ridiculous pace.

We traveled by bus (after bus after bus) from Ecuador all the way down to Santiago, where we parted ways so you could do a stint as a white water rafting guide. We didn’t talk about marriage, but we did talk about opening a guest house for backpackers together. You made me a mixed tape that I still have.

I loved you intensely, I really did. I was just young and immature. Plus, I still cannot imagine spending my life with a man with no footwear beyond hiking boots and Jesus sandals.

The Gay One
I was 24 and lost and and scared of getting old (seriously) you were 28 and had a great career, and acted like you always knew what you were doing. I was a little in awe of you. I was in the Peace Corps and lived three hours away, which is maybe one of the reasons you chose me, although I’d like to think you were actually attracted to me in some way as a person.

I thought we had really boring sex because you were Catholic.

We went out for a year, and though you were very good to me, I broke up with you because I just didn’t think you loved me enough – and you didn’t. I spent six months certain I wasn’t smart, pretty, accomplished, whatever enough. I was so relieved to learn that it was my gender.

I’m sorry I went through your private photos and papers when your maid, who is the one who broke the news to me (Why didn't you ever tell me?), offered. I really had just come over to collect the detritus from when I’d left abruptly. You were fine with me coming by; I'm sure you never imagined Lourdes actually felt closer to me than you.

But I have to say, you were clearly having more fun as a gay man than we’d ever, ever had. And I know you were struggling; Catholicism didn't do you any favors.

And no, I didn’t know that your CD of Liza Minelli collaborating with the Pet Shop Boys should’ve made me suspicious.

The German

You won a Green Card in the lottery and promptly moved to San Diego - your life dream. I'd moved to San Diego to escape myself, and surprisingly enough, I hated myself just as much on the West Coast as in DC.

I’m sorry that I hadn’t already had a shit-ton of therapy and a bottle of antidepressants when we met.

You were and still are smart and funny and incredibly stable. I loved you. I loved your family - particularly your mom - despite their Teutonic rigidity. For a while I genuinely believed that we'd get married in the centuries-old church in your childhood village.

I saw you all the summer before I got married, and it was clear you've married someone who suits you well. You have a beautiful family, and you all seem happy.

When you dropped me off at my hotel, you asked if I thought we'd have gotten divorced if we'd married, and I said, very honestly, "Back then, absolutely. Now, I think we'd be fine."

I apologized to you for making you so miserable when we were together. You said, "It's OK, Lisa. It's not like you were having fun and coming home and trying to make me unhappy."

I'm so glad we're still in touch. I'm hoping our families get to meet this summer.

The One Who Was The One Until He Wasn't
We met through mutual friends, and then re-met six weeks later. I suggested you kiss me around midnight. You drove me home past noon the next day.

My dad was in the hospital following a suicide attempt at that point. Several weeks later, he got out, and then tried again. The night of our one-month anniversary, you drove me around to various motels in Falls Church, waiting for a call from my brother saying they'd traced a credit card charge.

The first time you met my dad, you and a large policeman and I all arrived at the motel door at the same time. He opened the door, in his underwear and T-shirt, loopy on whatever he'd just ingested, and I introduced the two of you.

Instead of running, you loved me all the more fiercely. For years I would say you saved me. You were my superhero.

We fell so immensely, crashingly in love, and if you'd asked, I'd have married you in the first month or two. I believed you were The One. You and my dad were very similar. You got along so very well.

After a year, we broke up. I initiated it, but I still loved you. We got back together. We broke up. We couldn't let go. I didn't want to be apart, I wanted it to work - I just didn't know how to even start a dialogue, and we weren't happy.

I angsted much of it out early in this blog; no reason to rehash here. I don't even know how long we were officially together, but it lasted for over five years. And by the time it was over, I was shredded. Devastated. Dysfunctional.

I still dream about you. I want so badly for you to love me, I work so hard for it, and you are always just out of reach. I awake with a sad ache. I believe you actually represent my dad in these dreams.

The Dementor
We dated for a couple months, not more, which is bizarre considering your impact on me. We continued to see each other after you moved to New York, and in fact, when I saw you last year, we realized we'd known each other for six years.

We weren't in love, and weren't together very long, but it was intense. I won't deny you made my skin feel like it was covered in red hots. And I will never see abs like yours in person again.

But the truth is, it was your damage that locked me in. You have deep brown eyes, and they are smart, and they are angry. You've lived through hell. And nothing surprises you.

You and I can both be very judgey, but we never are where family is concerned. We have shocked people who have overheard our dinner conversations - my dad's most recent suicide attempt, your sister's stint in jail.

My friends felt sympathy for me; you could actually empathize. And give really helpful advice.

My Husband
By the time I meet you, I'd had the shit-ton of therapy I'd been needing. I'd actually processed and learned from mistakes and traumas. I had enough self-worth to believe that someone wonderful could actually love me.

From the very start, you made me feel safe - something I desperately need. People can make you abjectly miserable, but nobody else can make you happy. And so, I wouldn't say you make me happy; I'd say I'm at my happiest with you.

You look and sound like a big, conservative Southern gentleman. You have a seersucker suit that you wear with saddle shoes, for Pete's sake. I love how you look in your pinstripe suits. And yet you're so very liberal in your politics and your world outlook.

This is an irresistible combination for me.

You loved me from almost the beginning, and you were so steady and certain - and I was not. I'd been burned; I was scared. You made it clear you weren't walking away - ever. I still adore and envy your certainty, your ability to make quick decisions without wavering or second-guessing yourself.

You make me laugh. You think I'm funny. I am never, ever bored when I'm with you.

When we fight, it is ugly. We've had a couple come-to-Jesus moments. And still, you have never question that we are meant to be together. And even though postpartum I was mentally dividing up furniture, and I can't promise it won't happen with the next baby, in truth I cannot imagine myself with anyone else.

You are physically and emotionally one of the biggest people I have ever met. You have the broadest shoulders, which is lucky, because you've taken on more than I know you ever imagined with me and my family, and sometimes it must feel like a Sisyphean task.

You also have the hugest heart. And I'm so very lucky it is mine.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I have to call room service a lot and tell them to charge it, please and thank you very much.

After spending three days there last week, I say without hesitation, reservation, or caveat: I could happily live at the Waldorf-Astoria.Now, my stint was much more in the role of hired help than spoiled guest, as we were running a conference. But seriously, even if you have a maid's room with a view of other walls and windows, you're still a guest there, and the Waldorf is charming charming charming.And not that I tasted them, because of course I am on this appallingly straight and narrow no sugar no processed anything no fun midwife diet, but they have these cookies that are pretty much like crack. Gooey, chocolatey, marshmallowy, warm crack.

Also the decor is lovely. I would've taken a million more pictures, because everywhere you look there is some exquisite detail. Except that my tourist moments were numbered. I was more in the role of "This way to the luncheon" and "It's in the third floor ballroom."

And the service. The service is delightful. Friendly, polite, prompt. Used glasses and plates get swept away immediately. As do break foods. Because God forbid your pastry not be warm. Seriously.

Not to fixate on the cookies or anything.

Their flower arrangements are so perfect you touch the orchids to see if they're real. And I'm sure I left nose prints on the fancy shop windows.

I'm not a money-focused person, or one of those people who feels like they just need the finer things in life to be happy. I'm really not. I don't even think I'd like many of the 1%-ers as human beings. Honestly. If I had the money, I still wouldn't be hob-nobbing with high society.

It's more that swanky places are just so pretty. And comfortable. Kind of like how more expensive shoes just feel better.

One of our hotel staff guys was talking about events, and how friendly we all were, and how nice to work with. He didn't say that anyone else was unfriendly. He just left it at that.

But listen to this: they have weddings there that cost in the millions. It is a giant hotel, and they only have one wedding at a time. Some people pay to have them remove the ballroom carpet, put down carpet of their choosing for their event, and then re-install the Waldorf carpeting.

That's some money, no?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Apartment: The lovely-seeming potential tenants decided they didn't want to settle for Edith, and so they wrote to tell us that while they liked many things about the place and liked the idea of Nick as a landlord, they will soon be moving into a Mary apartment.

Bottle of pee: As you know, I've been varying my route so as not to get kidnapped, and so I hadn't walked by the scene of the pee-bottle for a while. But I did, and it is gone.

Tupperware: You don't know about our ongoing Tupperware struggles, but basically Nick and I each came into the marriage with assorted food storage containers in varying states of terribleness. And then Betty moved in with a ton more, also from about the year of the flood.

Tupperware seems to be like socks, but somehow even easier to misplace half of. And so we had a maddeningly increasing number of bottoms but no tops, or tops with no bottoms and storing leftovers had become infuriating.

Nick's hair practically caught fire every time he had a mismatched set to contend with.

And so, one day he ordered a new set and went on a Tupperware-tossing rampage and now we have all shiny matchy BPA-free containers. It's somehow quite satisfying.

Not sure what this says about how prosaic my existence is, but there you have it.

Pregnancy: I somehow got mixed up and thought I was already 28 weeks and heading into 29 but it turns out that it's 28 this Thursday. Somehow, this realization was tantamount to being sure it was Friday and learning it was only Tuesday. Crushed!

Downton: I am itching to write about it but Nick hasn't seen the most recent episode and I don't want to ruin it for him.

The dread skin itch: Is in fact much better since taking several of your ideas and ordering like a fiend off the internet.

Also, I am hoping the thyroid medicine will help with my dry dry skin, but let me tell you one of the things I've been doing. At the suggestion of a reader, I ordered a giant jar of organic coconut oil. I take my makeup off with it. I put it on after I shower, head to toe. And I love it.

It's totally economical, and you can eat it, so I feel fine slathering it all over my lips. AND I walk around smelling faintly of macaroon.

I choose to believe it lends me an air of tropical mystery.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Crabby kid, crabby mom, and choosing from 735 varieties of weird. At least.

Last night I asked our across the street friends and neighbors if they would be up for trading Jordan for their adorable French bulldog, just for a couple days.

I was kidding. Sort of. Anyway, that's how they took it.

Although very candidly, and I know this will make me sound dreadful and hateful, this weekend I was totally fantasizing about a kiddie kennel/hotel. If I had somewhere to send Jordan for a month week couple days where I knew he would be totally safe and happy, I would do it.

I just want time to do nothing in the evening, without feeling guilty, because it means someone else is picking up the kid slack. Last pregnancy, I laid in bed and ate frozen yogurt and read the Twilights. It sounds like the epitome of luxury to me at this point.


Jordan was sick last week and Thursday morning Nick took him to the pediatrician, who said he didn't have another ear infection (yay!) but to watch him. And then Friday I came home early because he had a 102 fever. (He was up and down all weekend but has kicked it and is back to fine, thankfully.)

What I have now realized is this: Jordan, much like my dad, is very sweet and docile and malleable when he's really sick. It sounds terrible, but my dad was at his most agreeable when he was particularly feeble. It was always the nice respite after big trauma.

And Jordan, when Jordan is all feeble he will snuggle against you and cuddle and ask you to read to him and it's so deliciously sweet. And you don't want him to be terribly sick, of course, but it is delightful to have a very calm little snuggle-boy.


When he's not really sick, and improves to the point of feeling sort of bad, as far as I can tell, he's kind of a belligerent asshole. And neeeeeeeeedy. Oh, needy. Cannot play with toys without you being RIGHT THERE. And at his beck and call every moment. And screamy cry-y when you don't do his bidding immediately.

My mother keeps reminding me that he's two and I'm the adult. And I try to be all take a deep breath and silently intone SERENITY NOW MOTHERFUCKING SERENITY NOW but...I'm not great at it.

Because apparently, I'm not much older than two.

AND: this all coincided with my starting a new medication. Because, while I don't have gestational diabetes (thank you, JesusBuddhaMahavir!), my thyroid turns out to not be working as well as it should. While apparently common in pregnancy, it has implications for the baby - like possible stillbirth, lower cognitive function, and such.

In other words, as soon as they called in the prescription on Friday I sprinted over to CVS.

My midwife said I should expect to feel kind of weird in the beginning. "Weird how?"

Because I know full well from experience that there are more than 735 official kinds of weird. And I was just wanting to be a little prepared for which kind of weird I might need to embrace.

"Just...different. It's a foreign substance your body has to get used to!"

So I took it as directed on an empty stomach Saturday morning and waited for the weird.

Mostly, it makes...very agitatey. I was extra-crabby and tired all weekend. Which initially I attributed to the kid being particularly needy and trying and also sort of sucking the life out of me.

But at today's midwife visit, when I told her I was all agitated and exhausted she said, "Yes, probably."

Which is an annoying kind of weird, but I guess better than, I don't know, a toe growing out of your neck or something.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

But of course a moon colony and taking choice away from women and school lunches away from children are much more important than health care for all

Let me start by saying that I do have employer-provided health insurance. And this issue is being resolved.

But this situation made me stop and really pay attention to medical charges, what's covered, and what health insurance does for you.

And how screwed you could be without it.

OK. So back in November, I had an amnio. I paid my copay, they did their thing, and except for fretting about the results, I didn't really think about it again. Until I got a notice saying that if I didn't provide my insurance information, I could be liable for a $1,500 Labcorp bill.

As you would, I faxed them my insurance card.

About a month later, I got a Labcorp bill. For $1,500.

I started by calling the doctor's office, who said, "Oh, they clearly charged you for the entire amnio procedure, and they didn't process it through insurance. This is a mistake."

So I went to our HR person to ask who I should call next. Blue Cross? Labcorp? And anyway, what the fuck? She suggested I hand it over to our insurance broker, who would handle it for me.

Our insurance broker. Who is a very nice person. But it seems to me is also a reason why our insurance is expensive. Because her company is a layer between my office and Blue Cross. Which of course adds cost, no?

But she got involved very nicely. I gave her a copy of the bill, the fax, and the explanation of benefits that I'd gotten from Blue Cross. Which was for $1,200. But for the same day and the same doctor.

But you know how they break all these charges into parts? So you don't really know what's what? You've gone in for one thing but there are 15 different billing codes?

Yesterday she told me that actually, my explanation of benefits and my bill were for two different things. The $1,200 bill had been paid. The $1,500 second bill had never been processed by Blue Cross, but they were doing so now. I'd get an explanation of benefits in the mail soon.

Second bill? What second bill?

Here's the deal. My doctor's office charged my insurance $1,200 for their piece of the amnio. Genetic counseling, the sonogram, and the actual amnio, which was about five minutes of the doctor's time.

$1,200. What my insurance actually paid them was just under $500.

Now, Labcorp is charging $1,500 for their piece of the puzzle. Cell culture and so on. I don't know what all is involved, so I can't speculate on time, although holy hell, $1,500 seems like a lot to stick some cells into a culture and wait for them to grow, doesn't it? I also don't yet know what insurance will pay them.

What I do know is this: if you don't have an insurance company that has cut deal with doctor's offices, you are fucked. Seriously - you'd be charged $2,700 for an amnio.

I realize it's an optional procedure - not like having your leg reattached or something - and I don't know what we'd have done if we had to pay full charges, out of pocket.

But if you are in a non-optional leg-reattachment situation and you don't have insurance...what do you do? Forego the leg? Wind up going bankrupt because of astronomical fucking cost of American health care?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

And now Downton Abbey has become our yardstick for, well, everything

So, two things which are backgroundy but necessary for the actual story, which in itself is rather brief.

One, Nick and I have both gotten completely and utterly sucked in to Downton Abbey.

Nick's taste runs to the Office, Archer, 30 Rock, the Simpsons, and Family Guy. I watch so little TV that he's in charge of the Netflix. And I had been badgering him to put Downton in our Netflix queues for ages.

And instead he kept ordering films about cowboys and dwarves. Not together. I was annoyed. I mean about the not-Downton. Not about the cowboys and dwarves not being in the same movies.

Anyway. So he was humoring me in ordering this Masterpiece Theatre period drama. We finally started on Downton and he was hooked from the first episode.

We started one season late, and caught up on Netflix, and it is just delicious. I love it and I want it to go on and on. I don't care if it's a soap opera all dressed up in gorgeous early 1900s outfits. Nick is equally riveted.

Our TV room is becoming a kid's room, and so we got rid of our behemoth television. So last week Nick, Betty, and I all piled onto her bed to watch.

And this past Sunday I was in NY for work, and because I was out for a work dinner, I missed the first 20 minutes. I haven't yet had time to catch up, and it's kind of like knowing you have dessert waiting.

And in fact, speaking of NY, I stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria. I'd never been there before I called Nick, "It's so grand!"

"Like Downton?"

In fact, yes!

So that's Downton.

The second thing is that our English basement tenants, who we adore, are leaving us. Well, one has already moved out, and the other leaves the end of this month.

Personally, it makes me very sad, because we like them both, and we like each of their dogs as well. And mortgage-wise, it's not an ideal time to rent, and we need it rented. They kindly gave us ample notice, and we have been actively looking for tenants for March 1.

So Sunday, when I was gone, a lovely couple came and looked at the place. They need to move mid-March. Nick liked them a lot, as did Betty.

They love the location, the fact that our apartment is big, quite new with new appliances, a washer-dryer in the unit, and lots of security bars. When we moved in, one of the first things we did was convert the scary murder basement of death into a separate, safe, and nicely done apartment.

It is nice. But it's an English basement. There are lots of windows, but they are ground level. This is just a fact.

So Nick has been corresponding with the potential tenants. They have some time, and they are looking around. They liked our place, but have reservations - mainly the lack of natural light. Which I totally understand.

So Nick forwarded to me the most recent email, in which the guy asked Nick to let him know if we had another tenant we were considering.

Nick called and said, "I understand them looking around. But they might just not find a place they like better. They could still choose us. Because in 44 days they're going to have to move."

"Yeah, but we don't want someone who doesn't really want us. That would be like wanting to marry Mary, but having to settle for Edith."

"We're not Edith."

"Well, we're not Mary."

"Maybe we're Sibyll."

"Oh, we're not Sibyll! Sibyll is exquisitely beautiful! With tons of natural light!"

"Fine. But we're NOT Edith." He sounded insulted. "Her problems go far beyond lack of light. We're definitely way better than Edith."

Hooked, I tell you.