Thursday, September 1, 2011

The One with the Revelation.

I realized something the other day, and it was a revelation to me. An epiphany of sorts. Though my husband has been telling me this for years, I've only just now accepted it:

I cannot multitask.

See, in my work life I am incredibly organized. I work effectively and often quickly. I am a fast learner. So, I just assumed I was a great at multitasking.

Not so.

I confused multitasking (doing more than one thing at the same time) with prioritizing (figuring out in which order to do things). So, though I am shite at multitasking, I am stellar at prioritizing.

This new awareness may seem like small potatoes, but I'm telling you it's not. It's like I've been in therapy for years and I've finally hit that moment where all the puzzle pieces of my life have fallen into place and things make sense. Not only do I understand myself better, but I didn't have to pay a cent to a psychologist for it. Win/win!

Now, instead of making that urgent phone call while alternately cooking a batch of pancakes and downing my morning coffee only to dissolve into a pile of frustration because none of those things got done with any sort of accuracy, I will happily prioritize the tasks instead.

Phone call.

And? I bet I get it all done in less time and with an incredible amount of efficiency. IT'S LIKE I'VE BEEN GIVEN THE GOLDEN KEY, PEOPLE.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The One on my due date.

I started this blog back in December of 2010. My original concept was to chronicle my second pregnancy for my own sanity and for the entertainment of whoever may wander this way. After miscarrying the pregnancy, I decided to keep the blog going, and it has become an increasingly important outlet for me.

In the wee hours this morning I happened to notice the date is August 6th. I wasn't sure right away why that date rang a bell, but a few minutes later I figured it out: today was my due date.

I sat there stunned. It was only a few months ago we were preparing for a newborn's arrival. Our lives would change in ways we could only imagine, and I both longed for it and dreaded it simultaneously.

Now though? I can't imagine being at full term with a pregnancy - my belly huge and uncomfortable while I spend my time taking naps at every turn in an effort to steel myself against the barrage of sleepless nights to come.

So much has happened in the months since the miscarriage, and though my head tells me I should lament the loss again on this significant date, my gut tells me this miscarriage was a miracle in its own right.

The loss of this baby wasn't a loss, really. It was a gain. I gained a perspective I'd never had. It was as if my life was hazy and dim and the miscarriage made everything come into focus.

After many years of half-assing my life, I've begun making an effort. I'm healthier. I'm happier. I like the person I'm becoming.

I'm a writer. I'm actually getting paid to write. I'm busy working at the computer during the day and often I have more work than I can get to, so I'm staying up late at night. Honestly, I'm exhausted.

But exhilarated!

So, no matter what my head tells me, I'm not going to mourn the miscarriage I had in six months ago. I'm going to celebrate it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The One in the Hospital.

There are certain senses that elicit emotional responses, and in particular, trigger memories. I heard once that smell is the sense most closely tied to memory, and I believe it. 

I spent a couple of hours yesterday at a local hospital having a mammogram (which, thankfully, isn't nearly as painful as I imagined it might be before I had my first one. Awkward and uncomfortable? Yes. Painful? No). Not really knowing where I was going, I ended up parking at the exact opposite side of the hospital from where I needed to be (I'm really good at doing stuff like that), so I spent a good ten minutes wandering through the building on the way to my appointment. Through it all, and the further into the depths of the place I got, the stronger the hospital smell became and the more the memories came flooding back.

Back in 1997 I was 23. After three weeks of a fever I couldn't shake and swelling in my neck and throat, I was admitted to the hospital with the initial diagnosis of acute tonsillitis. On Day 5 of my hospitalization, my lung collapsed and a CT scan revealed a serious infection in my chest cavity that damn near took my life. I spent two straight months in the hospital, was on a ventilator via a hole in my throat, endured 10 surgeries and extreme medication, lost 35 pounds and, eventually, all my hair.

My memory is a bit patchy from the experience, but there are certain (occasionally random) bits that are burned into my brain - like the clink of the glass tubes as the lab technicians set down their equipment on the days they came to take a blood sample. For much of my stay, the curtain was drawn across the entrance to my glass-encased ICU room, and I spent what seemed like hours watching people's feet as they passed my way, inventing personalities and agendas to each set of shoes.

Sitting in the waiting room yesterday, gowned and watching some really awful daytime talk show, my instinct was to block out these memories - figuratively sticking my fingers in my ears and going, "lalalalalala." 

I don't often talk about my illness anymore, mostly because I don't often find a good segue for, "So, did I tell you about the time I was given a 50% chance to live?" But the truth is, it still colors my views and actions, and perhaps it would be easier for those around me if I did talk about it once in a while. With the exception of family, most of the people who knew me when I was sick aren't the people I spend time with today (a cross-country move does a lot to change your social circle).

I'm sure we all have experiences in our arsenal of past memories that we tend to sweep under the rug for one reason or another (surely, I'm not the only one, right?), but maybe it's time we consider taking them out, dusting them off, and sharing them with each other. 

I dunno, yes? No? Bad idea? Good idea?

See, I'm sitting here feeling like, "Oh crap, did I say too much?" just by blogging about it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The One about friendship.

I'm on vacation, and I'm doing a lot of nothing, which is amazingly enjoyable. Currently, while my husband sits in the kitchen trying to pretend he isn't working, I'm watching an episode of Sex and the City - a show that strikes a chord for me, for my generation, and probably for women in general. I particularly love the different friendship dynamics among the four main characters. They mesh well as a whole, yet they're also believable as individuals and in their individual friendships.

It got me thinking about my friends.

I grew up in a small town, and I have friendships that have lasted since kindergarten. Particularly, with my best girlfriend. We met at five years old. Though I don't recall the specific circumstances of our initial "best friends" label, it might have been something as simple (yet profound to a five-year-old) as sharing a cookie.

Growing up, we shared homework assignments, inside jokes, and college visitations. If she weren't a good eight inches taller than me, we might've even shared clothes. When our lives took us to different states for college and beyond, we maintained a connection, albeit occasionally sporadic, that felt like home each time we made contact. She was at my side when I lay, clinging to life, in the Intensive Care Unit in my early twenties. She also flew out for an entire week when my daughter was born, doling out maternal secrets with the perfect balance of love and tact.

Having lived in four different states in the past decade, I haven't been able to cultivate long-term friendships, so I've been taking solace in old friendships, even those I'm guilty of neglecting from time to time. When I was home for my high school reunion, I was excited to get to spend some time - in person! - with my longtime bestie.

So I was literally stunned when, during lunch with a few high school girlfriends, I heard my original best friend refer to someone else as her current best friend.

If my first emotion was shock, my next and more pervasive emotion was guilt. I haven't cultivated this friendship as it deserves. I have taken this friendship for granted. Over the years, I haven't invested in this friendship nearly as much as she has. I was naive in thinking even though we live 3000 miles apart and lead increasingly different lives, that our friendship would remain pristine and uncompromised.

Back at the table, I felt myself flush and I begged a minute away via a trip to the restroom.

I don't blame her for finding a new best friend. I blame myself for not maintaining a relationship that was once (and perhaps remains) the most important friendship in my life. And partly, I don't blame anyone or anything. I know it's normal and natural for friendships to evolve, and even though our friendship may not be the same as it once was, it's still an incredibly special relationship to me.

I'm sitting here making a mental note to contact her and apologize for my neglect.

I'm also left feeling an odd void. If I no longer have a best friend, who do I have? I have friends, certainly, but I don't have that one girlfriend I go to each day for advice, commiseration, support and shared excitement. Instead, I have a circle of friends with whom I share different bits of myself. As time goes on and friendships lengthen, I'm sure some of these current friendships will become less compartmentalized and more broad, intimate.

I do have a army of women with whom I share virtually everything. The only problem? They're literally virtual - it's a small group of mothers who convene in an online forum. In a way, this is fantastic - ideal, even - since working around individual scheduling can put a damper on real world get-togethers, but the truth is, I long for a real-life someone whom I can call without a second thought when something happens that is good, bad, or otherwise.

I guess I wish I had a Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte - a small group of women as varied in their lifestyles as they are passionate about their friendships. I think the impetus is on me, here, as there are several women in my life right now with whom I can envision that sort of bond.

Maybe I need to start sharing more cookies...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The One with my List of Five.

Back in The Day, I was a huge fan of the television show, FRIENDS (still am). In fact, I recall watching the pilot episode in my dorm during my freshman year in college. The dialogue was quick and witty, and it adopted the ever-growing idea that your friends could not only substitute for family - they could all but replace them. As I had recently moved out of state for school and had no family within several hundred miles, it was a theory I could relate to.

In fact, I'll admit that my blog titling is stolen from the show. As a film student I got ahold of a few FRIENDS scripts, and they were all titled, "The One...." starting with the pilot, appropriately called, "The First One."

So, it seems only fitting that I divulge yet another premise from the show that my husband and I have copied: Ross and Rachel's List of Five. You might recall...

I think it was before we were married that we each compiled a List of Five, and I will admit it's evolved for both of us. However, in the interest of time (and good taste), I'll only share my current List of Five and not go into the gory details and or all the versions this list has adopted.

1. Martin Sexton. No matter the version of my list, this guy's consistently held the top spot. You might be saying, "uh, who?" Well, he is a musician. Though he may not have broken through the ranks of celebrity, his fan base is wide and rabid, and for good reason. I've always had a thing for the short and stocky type, but outwardly he might not be everyone's cup o' tea. He's got a wicked sense of humor, though, (evident even on the short video clips available on If you're still not convinced just take a listen to his voice. My God, that voice. All at once dark and gravelly yet smooth and pitch-perfect, it alone could cause undies to remove themselves of their own free will.

2. Michael Symon. Unless you've been under a rock during the past decade (or two) you're familiar with Iron Chef. Originally, this show was a Japanese wunderkind, pitting accomplished chefs of varying cuisines against each other in food battles centering around key ingredients. This spawned an American version of the show, aptly called, Iron Chef America. As is our country's copycat way of creating television shows, The Next Iron Chef was born, and Cleveland native Michael Symon was crowned its winner. A man who knows his way around a kitchen is a huge turn-on, but Symon knows his way around many kitchens as the chef and owner of several restaurants. He's even a James Beard award winner (think the Oscars of food). This is all well and good, but it's his attitude that hooked me: he always seems to be having fun. That coupled with his unique, infectious laughter was enough to land him the number two spot on my list.

3. Matt Damon. Is there anything this guy can't do? After a few strong supportive performances, he burst onto the scene with a great little movie called, "Good Will Hunting". As if it weren't enough that he starred in it, he also wrote the thing and won an academy award for it. Acting chops aside, he's got boy-next-door good looks and a down-to-earth manner (as evidenced by his marriage to an everyday Jane: a waitress with a kid). In the Jason Bourne movie trilogy he got his action on playing the title character while still letting his portrayal of an amnesiac struggling to find (and accept) his identity while convincing the CIA to just leave him the hell alone for cripes sake take center stage. Plus, his mega-watt smile never fails to charm the pants off me.

4. George Clooney. Speaking of charm, this man eats charm for breakfast. It oozes from his pores. He is our generation's Cary Grant, as at home in a tuxedo as my husband is in a t-shirt. As Doug Ross on the first several seasons of ER, Clooney won over virtually every American woman (including me) as an emergency room pediatrician. I mean, come on - a handsome doctor who works with kids? AND he prefers to spend more time at his Italian villa than in smog-choked Los Angeles. Uh, yeah. I could get used to that.

5. Antonio Ballatore. Yes, the tattooed Design Star winner with clunky black glasses and a stocky boxer named, "Chewy". He's the guy who stood his ground in the very first show of his Design Star winning season and insisted that hot pink spray-painted ducks fastened to a wall was the right way to go. While the rest of his team took relish in throwing him under the bus for the decision, the judges saw his genius (and though I'm no interior design expert, so did I). He brings a rock n' roll vibe to design, and his brash exterior is tempered with (yes, I'm going to say it) a heart of gold. For all these reasons, not to mention his unabashed love of his dog, he is securely set at number five.

And there you have it. After reading my list you may be wondering who is on my husband's list. I am too, actually (I told you the List is ever-evolving). I know at one point his list included Debra Messing and Genevieve Gorder, though I'm not sure either remain. The one consistent List-member is Mariska Hargitay from Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (not that he watches the show, but every time a commercial comes on he never fails to comment on how beautiful she is). 

It's a silly little thing about which some people may roll their eyes, but listing those (albeit unattainable) celebrities with whom we are "allowed" to have relations without consequence is just plain fun. Now, if you haven't already, make a list of your own (you've probably already started making mental tick marks either for or against my list, so go ahead and make one for yourself). Just be sure to share it with me - tit for tat, you know.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The One on the Eve of my High School Reunion

Twenty years, people. That's how long it's been since I graduated high school. It feels just like it was yesterday and light years ago at the same time.

I had a great time in high school. I grew up in a small town in Oregon, and there were only 60 of us in my graduating class (in the one and only public high school in town). You can imagine there wasn't much competition for extra curricular activities with that size student body, so I got to be involved in just about anything I wanted. I was on the volleyball team, on the cheerleading squad (don't judge), in the drama club, in both choir and band, in student government (student body president my senior year - oh yes I was), and I even played on the golf team for a year. I tried anything and everything that sounded interesting or fun, and I often, if not usually, succeeded (there was a reason I didn't play on the golf team a second year).

Since then, Life has thrown me a few curve balls, and sometimes I have a hard time finding the fearless and outgoing girl I used to be in my current, adult self. Occasionally, I fear she's just up and gone, leaving me inside the shell of a 37-year-old self-doubting pessimist. When I get to my reunion tomorrow, I wonder if the only thing my classmates will notice is that I've gained weight and lost confidence.

But lately, I've seen glimpses of my former self. Though I still sometimes wrestle with the selfishness of our decision not to have any more children, that was really the springboard for me to embrace the search for, well, me. The past few months has seen me become healthier and lighter, and while my writing career hasn't quite taken off yet, it's racing down the runway.

The person I'm becoming resembles the girl I used to be, but she's less naive and I'd like to think a bit wiser. Though I'm a good 20 pounds heavier than I was in high school, I'm going to walk into my reunion tomorrow hoping people recognize the old me - the girl with enthusiasm and wit, the girl who welcomed a challenge.

And I hope when I get back home I'll remain up for any challenge, because like I said, I've still got that 20 pounds to lose.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The One by the Swing Set

Our job as parents is to teach our children how to live - what's right, what's wrong, and all the tips we've gleaned during our decades of experience living life.

Some of the lessons are simple:

Don't talk to strangers.
Wear your seatbelt.
Use a napkin.

Others are a bit more complicated:

Look both ways before crossing the street.
Give it some gas with your right foot while letting the clutch out with your left foot.
Lather, rinse, THEN repeat.

And still others you never imagined you'd have to teach:

Don't use your safety scissors to cut off the cat's whiskers.
KY jelly is not for polishing dollhouse furniture.
You don't want to win a game called, "How many kernels of corn can fit up my nose?"

Perhaps nothing strikes guilt into the heart of a parent more than realizing you haven't taught your child a basic safety rule before it's too late. Case in point: when my daughter was just two years old we attended a birthday party for a five-year-old. All the kids were older save for my kid and the birthday girl's little brother. It was an outdoor birthday party, and there was a swing set. You see where this is going? My husband was busy helping kids into the bounce house, and I was across the yard when I looked up to see my tiny little girl getting kicked in the head - not once, but twice - as she walked right in front of the swing set as an older child was swinging.

Ever since, I've tried to avoid playgrounds.

But yesterday I took the kiddo to another backyard birthday party. From my vantage point in a patio chair next to the refreshment table I didn't notice the swing set at first, but the world went into slow motion as I watched her make her way towards it. I sprang from my chair and got to her while she stood contemplating the slide. I crouched down to her level and told her to be sure to walk around the swings when someone was on them. Then I took her hand and showed her the path she should take to get around safely. I breathed a sigh of relief when she decided to try the bounce house instead.

Later, while I was chatting up some of the other parents, I saw her out of the corner of my eye. I held my breath and white-knucked the arms of my plastic patio chair while she edged her way around the front of children's swinging feet on her way to the slide steps. A dramatic sigh left my lips, and my heart pounded.

For the rest of the afternoon she carefully navigated her way around the swings, and I sat watching her, amazed and grateful that she took this lesson to heart. No sooner did I let my guard down than she came running towards me, tears streaming down her face. She hadn't walked in front of the swings. In fact, she had gotten on a swing by herself, but she forgot to hold on to the chains as she took her first big swing forward. The poor thing toppled backwards onto the ground like a weeble-wobble. (Wait, "weebles wobble but they don't fall down...") Well, anyway. You get the idea.


Add "hang on to swing chains at all times" to the list of lessons I've yet to teach her.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The One Where the Kid Turns Four.

Tomorrow the kid turns four years old. I can't help but think back to what was going on exactly four years ago. Right about now, I was 5 cm dilated and realizing the pain medication that was administered through my i.v. was not cutting the mustard. I would go on to request and receive a blessed epidural and after pushing for 30 minutes, our six-and-a-half pound girl emerged at 9:58am.

I'm amazed how she's changed in just four years. In less than the time it took me to graduate college, my kid has basically gone from a helpless loaf of bread to a fully-functioning human being. She's learned to walk, talk, count, and stop crapping her pants. She can draw, ride a tricycle, get her own snacks, brush her teeth, and dress herself. She loves playdough, the outdoors, and Scooby Doo.

She is made almost entirely of yogurt for the sheer amount of it she ingests.

She makes me laugh daily - like today, when we ran out of ice cream bars. Without missing a beat she asked in all seriousness, "Can I have some dog ice cream?' (we buy Frosty Paws, a canine ice cream treat for our dog).

She hates to have her hair brushed, and she eats meat so seldom it prompted my mother-in-law to ask me if our kid is a vegetarian. My reply? "No, she's three."

But she's not anymore - she's FOUR. Which, again, just blows my mind. For all the complaining I do over the challenge that is motherhood, I cannot be more proud to be this kid's mom.

Happy birthday, sweet girl.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The One on Mother's Day.

Four years ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and by doing so I have earned the right to be one of the many women who receives an annual holiday in honor of her motherly duties. It's a holiday that celebrates the blessing that is family and our contribution to the upbringing of our kidlets. My husband falls into the category of men who want to make this day, "all about the Mom," which is incredibly sweet and thoughtful, and yet another reason (among many) that I consider myself oh-so lucky to be his wife.

So, why is it that on Mother's Day the only thing I want to do is to get as far away from my family as possible?

It started last night, really. My husband is quite in tune with his body and can pinpoint the very moment a little sniffle becomes a full-blown cold. As so it was, last night, just after we got the kid to go to sleep that he sneezed and all bets were off. The Cold had made itself known.

This morning when our daughter woke up at 6:30, I somehow convinced her to lay back down and sleep a bit more (a parenting triumph), and when I found her, 45 minutes later, at my bedside saying, "It's good morning time!" I decided to get up with her and let my husband and his cold sleep in.

The morning came and went with little fanfare. After lunch, the kid and I spent a couple of hours outside in the gorgeous sunshine while my husband wallowed indoors. Once back inside, I attempted a nap. I will confess I got in a good hour before my husband came into the bedroom to tag out.

It took me the next two hours to watch a single episode of House Hunters International for the number of times my child, who was supposed to be napping, interrupted me.

She wanted a snack. The she wanted a drink. Then she wanted me to cover her with the blanket. The she needed to pee. Then she heard some thunder. Then she needed to poop. Then she wanted a magazine to read on the potty (I'm not kidding). Then she didn't want the kind of crackers I gave her, but a different kind. Then she was cold and needed help putting on a sweatshirt. The she didn't want to wear pants. Then she wanted to play with the iPad.

Then I put on shoes, told my husband I was, "going away," and I left, computer in tow.

Fortunately for both of us, the kid did something insanely cute and endearing each time I was about to go over the edge. Like when we finished putting her (hooded) sweatshirt on, she promptly pulled up her hood, took off her pants, and waddled back down the hall to her room in her underwear. She looked ready for a snowball fight from the waist up and a seaside beach from the waist down.

The thing is: being a parent is hard. It's just so. much. effort. I remember telling my husband when we began talking about such things as family and the future that I wasn't sure I wanted to have children. As the years went by, I felt a primal urge to procreate that I cannot explain, but perhaps my friend, Abby, put it best when she stated, "Motherhood is falsely advertised."

When I think about it, parenthood really isn't all that heavy on the payback. You have moments of heart-swelling love for sure, but the daily grind of parenthood can be vicious and soul-sucking. And no matter how much love and care and organic food you put into it, at the end of the day there is no guarantee that your children are going to turn out to be happy, successful, well-adjusted people.

The fact is that I can't focus on that stuff. The future is going to be what it's going to be. In the meantime, I'll do my best to recognize the moments of wonder amidst the tediousness that is Motherhood. And occasionally I'll escape to a coffee shop. That'll be good, too.

Happy Mother's Day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The one that sucks.

So, I had an idea for a story. This is notable because I don't often have ideas for stories. I know what you're thinking, "what kind of writer doesn't have ideas for stories?" Well, me. I learned in graduate school that my writing talents lie more in the construction of a story - putting sentences together and organizing the scenes. Some are "Idea People", and these are the people who tend to have endless story ideas. When it's time to flesh out the story and actually WRITE it, though? That's where I come in. I'm fine with this time-proven fact about my writing; I've long since accepted it.

Which brings me back to why my having an idea is notable.

I ran my idea by my husband - a great idea guy. He actually liked it (other story ideas I've had over the years, though few and far between, haven't fared so well), and he proceeded to make suggestions about the storyline and plot. I nodded and added the appropriate, "mm-hmm" when applicable all the while my mind was racing with the possibilities.

I decided the idea would lend itself best to a short story, and I even went as far as to outline the plot points and general scene order. I must tell you - it was thrilling. In recent years when I've gotten up the gumption to write I insisted on doing it all free form - no outlining a plot or story idea. In some cases, all I started out with was a main character whose only attribute I'd decided on was whether it was a male or female.

Having been one of those geeky students who loved homework, outlining a story is right up my alley. I felt much more grounded and, dare I say prepared, before I even wrote a single word of the story.

Then today I sat down to start writing. You know how the saying goes, "It's just like riding a bike..."? Well, that totally doesn't apply to writing. At least, it didn't apply to me today. I felt like I was writing a Joy Fielding book for how fitfully and elementary the words were coming out of me ("This is Jane. She is a girl. See Jane wear a dress. Nice dress, Jane.")

My fingers are rusty.

It's going to take a while to get back into the swing of things, so to speak. I don't know why I thought the story would flow out of me perfectly on my very first stab at it (but let's face it, I kind of did). For a few minutes I let myself be a little depressed. I sulked around the living room and ate a rice krispie treat to quell my disappointment.

But then, I decided it doesn't matter if the first draft sucks. In fact, first drafts are supposed to suck - isn't that a rule? So, I gave myself permission to suck. And you know what? I wrote almost three pages. Three pages of crap, but three pages nonetheless.

I consider that a win.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The One with the underwear showing.

At the risk of sounding like a bad Seinfeld stand-up routine, I just cannot hold my tongue any longer:


Just yesterday, I was driving home from various errands, and I saw a young man (20-ish?) walking down the street wearing some colorful plaid boxers... oh, and he had a pair of pants around his thighs. I drove by, shaking my head and rolling my eyes. When this fashion trend (and I use the term loosely) began surfacing, I thought it might last a season or two, at best. But here we are, countless seasons later and yet I continue to see boys' underwear at seemingly every turn.

I have so many questions.

1. How do you manage to walk around with pants sagging around your thighs? Either you're forced to pull them up every three paces or you've cinched a belt so tightly that you end up walking like a penguin. Honestly, it looks like serious effort, and it seems to me you're getting zero payoff. Women are no strangers to challenging (and even painful) fashion trends, but at least stilletos make a chick's legs look longer and her ass look higher. Sometimes they even win you a free dinner.

2. Do I really need to see your underwear? Are they super special somehow? Do they glow in the dark, have pictures of jolly rogers or arrowed hearts on them? Were these underwear a gift, and you're simply trying to show your appreciation? Did someone make them for you? If you're that keen on displaying them, why not just wear them on the outside of your pants?

3. How is pants hanging off your ass attractive? HOW? Is it supposed to accentuate your ass? Your underwear? Make your legs look shorter? Make your shirt look longer? I just DO NOT get it.

4. After trying out this... "look", why continue with it? I will admit I've tried a few fashion trends that were ill advised, at best (as my junior high school photos will atest), but I've moved on. I beg of you to do the same.

My very own nephew, I'm afraid, suffers from the dillusion that the pants-hanging-off-your-ass look is The Thing To Do. I finally got up the courage to ask him about (berate him over?) this fashion choice. When I asked him, simply, "Why?" he offered me the pat answer, "I dunno." When pressed further, he just shrugged.

And then it hit me: perhaps the throngs of boys and men who are wearing their pants like this simply don't realize HOW pants are meant to be worn. Maybe they've never been taught what the numbers on the manufacturer's tag are for, yes?


That first number there? Is the size of your waist, which is actually where the top of your pants are supposed to be. What's that? Don't know where your waist is? Find your belly button. Your waist is right around there - maybe a few inches lower.

Yes, way up there.

No, I'm not kidding.

So, next time you put on a pair of pants, try - just TRY - wearing them snuggly in that general area. You'll be amazed how much easier it is to walk around.

You're welcome. (p.s. you look like an idiot.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The one on vacation

This is the first vacation we've taken in three years. I hesitate to call it a vacation, really. We're visiting family, and though I've been amassing a vast arsenal of lovely memories (not to mention a full sd card of photos), visiting family isn't always relaxing. We've got to juggle spending time with family while trying to make time to see friends as well. Navigating family dynamics, particularly when we haven't been privy to them in several years and have forgotten when to bob and weave around certain ancestral mine fields, has proven to be a bit tricky.

Overall, however, it's been a fantastic time. We've been fortunate to spend time with people I didn't think we'd get a chance to see, like my sister and brother-in-law, whom I adore. They drove almost six hours (each way) to visit us, and I will be forever grateful for their efforts. My daughter, their niece, will be four years old in just over a month, and this was the first time she and my brother-in-law had met. Despite my daughter continually forgetting his name and calling him simply, "the boy", they got along smashingly.

On the second leg of our trip we've been visiting my husband's family, which has been equally satisfying. We've gotten to see many of his old friends (dating back to junior high and high school) as well as spend quality time with family. Perhaps the most heart-swelling moments have been watching our daughter enjoying the company of her two cousins who are incredibly sweet, talented and beautiful girls.

Now though, after two weeks away from our home and routine (not to mention our dog), we're ready to head back. It's been a long trip, but a great trip, and one we won't soon forget. But if we do, at least we'll have the photo documentation to prove we ventured west.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The One with the glass half empty.

Have I mentioned I'm a pessimist? That may sound like a complaint, but it isn't necessarily. As a pessimist I have a deep well of cynicism at my disposal; I draw out sarcasm and self-deprication by the bucketful. I mean, it's fun to be pessimistic, right? Some of my favorite comedians are pessimists: Woody Allen, Janeane Garofalo, Lewis Black, and the list goes on, so at least I'm in good company. I confess I enjoy looking on the dark side of things sometimes; my rose-colored glasses were sold in a garage sale at some point in my early 20s, and I've never thought to replace them.

My husband has been telling me I'm a pessimist almost since we met, but I didn't take him seriously for a long time. It was only a couple of years ago that I began to realize he was oh-so right. We were our way to visit a friend overnight; my husband was driving, I was in the passenger's seat, and our then one-year-old daughter was sleeping blissfully in her carseat. The drive was only two hours, but from the get-go I began considering the worst. I sat quietly imagining an impending car accident in which my husband and I both perish. I lamented the fact that we hadn't drawn up a will and fretted over what might happen with our daughter in the event of our demise. I went so far as to imagine how long she might have to wait amongst the wreckage until the arrival of the fire department or ambulance, all the while calling, "Mom... Dad..." in the direction of our lifeless bodies.

(I know, right? AWFUL.)

At this point, my husband interrupted my imagined horror to ask if I was okay. I confessed my concern and began spewing all my fears in gruesome detail until my thoughts were spilled out like an upturned bowl of tomato soup.

"Holy shit, Honey," my husband responded (and rightly so). I immediately went on the defensive and spat back, "You're telling me you haven't worried over a single thing about this trip?" He admitted that he had, but when he told me his general concerns were in the realm of, "What if one of us forgets a toothbrush?" I shut my mouth.

Thus began my attempt to drop the pessimism a few notches in favor of something else - if not cautious optimism, at least buoyant apathy. Exactly where this tendency came from, I'm not sure - nature or nurture? I don't know, and really, it doesn't matter how or from where it originated. I'm doing my best to curb it to a manageable level these days.

Though I've made strides, my mind still veers off into the dark forest more than I care to admit. Now, however, after only a couple of minutes of leaving the good behind in favor of harping on the bad and the ugly, something inside me screams, "Stop. Just, stop." And amazingly, I do. Simply recognizing and acknowledging my pessimistic instinct has been surprisingly helpful. I realize I probably won't ever be someone who dots her "i"s with perfect tiny hearts, but I've stopped dotting them with hostile "x"s, so that's a start.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The One with the valentines.

It's Valentine's day. Funny how this holiday seemed so significant when I had no one to be my valentine, but now that I have someone to love today doesn't seem like much at all - just a reason to allow myself to eat candy, really.

I decided not to buy valentines for my daughter in favor of making valentines for her preschool classmates. I dutifully folded and cut up multi-colored construction paper cards and steadily wrote, "Happy Valentine's Day" on all of them. I set them out on our dining table with heart stickers, glue and sequins, puffy paint, and other assorted craft bits for my daughter to use as decoration. I was excited that I'd summoned the creativity to present such an entertaining project to my daughter, and I'll admit I was feeling a bit superior - ready to strike appropriate guilt into the hearts of those preschool parents who'd simply purchased ready-made valentines or worse, no valentines at all.

The first kink in the works was my daughter's refusal to decorate a single valentine. Not one. She decided she would rather adhere stickers to her shirt and to our dog. No matter, I simply put them aside and decided to try again over the weekend. Only I forgot. And I didn't remember that I'd forgotten until Monday morning when we were on our way to preschool. I calmed myself into the realization that since it was a Monday, most of the other parents had probably forgotten, too. The preschool didn't make any mention of it, and I bet almost no one paid attention to it whatsoever.

When we got to her room, however, my daughter's cubby was already filled with four valentines, all attached to some sort of sugary goodness. I gave her a kiss and hug and raced home. I opened a diet coke and flipped off my boots in favor of my oh-so comfy slippers. After all, this was serious business. I dug out the construction paper cards, stickers and markers and forged my daughter's artistry.

Oh yes I did.

I stuck stickers, scrawled shapes and scribbled lines. I made sure each card had just the right ratio of stickers-to-markers adornment before I stacked it neatly and moved on to the next. In the end, though the cards didn't boast some kind of take-home treat, at least they had been lovingly handmade (or so I hoped everyone would believe).

Next thing I knew, it was time to pick up my daughter. I hopped into the car and raced over there. Once I arrived and was on my way through the parking lot towards the building I realized two things:

1. I'd forgotten to bring the valentines, and
2. I was still wearing my slippers.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The one with lots of vegetables.

I've been eating lots of vegetables lately. And fruit. And nuts. Prior to this, I'd been shoveling all manner of crap into my face, and my body was done with it. So, I've been eating a partially raw diet for the past eight days in an effort to cleanse myself and jumpstart a healthier lifestyle.

See, that whole motivation thing that kicked in a few weeks ago? That has seeped into the part of my brain that been in charge of procrastination (a frighteningly large portion, truth be told). I've been telling myself for years that I'll get around to achieving a handful of goals someday. Now, it's like I woke up and realized "someday" is today, and one of those long neglected goals is to finally get this body into shape.

I know most people suggest making modest changes when you're planning to ease into a health kick, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, not going back for seconds at dinner, or cutting down on caffeinated beverages, but not me, sister. I'm more of a balls-to-the-walls kinda gal - if I'm going to make a lifestyle change, I need a huge kick in the pants to make it stick; hence, my new (albeit intentionally temporary) diet.

Basically, I'm eating "raw" all day except dinner, which means I can eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Oh, and I don't cook anything. For dinner I eat whatever the rest of my family is eating. We had grilled cheese sandwiches tonight, turkey dogs while watching the Super Bowl, and so on. Amazingly, I haven't been having late night snacks like I used to.

There is a whole movement and lifestyle supporting raw eating - and as you can imagine, there are many health benefits. The serious raw foodists make incredible dishes that simulate other foods we Americans are quite used to - spaghetti with marinara sauce, chips, tacos, and the list goes on.

I am not a serious raw foodist.

Though I applaud their dedication and I sympathize with their movement, I know myself, and I know I wouldn't be up for maintaining a raw diet indefinitely. But for now and the foreseeable future (a month, maybe? or two?) I will continue munching my way through green beans and red peppers, heaping sliced avocado onto multi-colored salads, and snacking through nuts and dried fruit towards a healthier self. Once I'm off the raw food bandwagon I plan to adopt a healthy diet, one that includes lots of fruits and vegetables.

Oh, and also? One of the by-products of ingesting copius amounts of raw foods has been the flushing out of my innards. There is a reason a friend of mine dubbed this the "Shit Yourself Thin" diet.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The one in the wee hours.

It's after 1:00 am and I'm still awake. I've spent the past two weeks working furiously (and excitedly!) on my new pursuit of a writing paycheck, and I feel incredibly happy. Crazy, stupid happy, like I found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow kind of happy.

My husband and I have talked a couple of times about the future, and we seem to be leaning towards not trying to get pregnant again. He is (almost irritatingly) easy-going about it all - he is "happy with whatever decision we make" about trying again or not, which makes me feel the weight of our eventual decision like a barbell across my chest.

And yes, I know we don't have to make a decision right now. I know we can let it ride for quite some time, technically. The thing is, I've spent much of my life hemming and hawing over making decisions, and I don't want to live the next several months (years?) wondering whether we should or shouldn't expand our family, making lists of pros and cons and changing my mind a thousand times in the process.

Truly, I've felt fine over the miscarriage these past two weeks - so much so, in fact, that I've begun to worry there is something wrong with me - maybe I'm just a heartless bitch? I've been embracing my newfound motivation to write, and the idea of doing something to diminish the amount of time I'm able to spend doing that (like, say, having another baby) isn't terribly appealing. Other things that aren't appealing? Sleep deprivation, managing day-to-day activities around the needs of a newborn, dividing my attention and time between two children and dealing with the inevitable push/pull that goes along with that.

Selfish. That's how I feel just typing that; I fear I'm offending throngs of women by admitting that out loud. How dare I suggest that having a beautiful newborn baby would be anything but a glorious miracle? Then there's the other end of the spectrum - the one in which I think back to when I was younger, much younger; when having a family of my own was just a twinkle in my eye. I used to imagine (if you can believe it) that having four children would be the ideal number. One, I used to reason, wasn't right because he or she would need a sibling. Two was fine, but that still made for a small family. Three was definitely not going to work - I grew up in a family of three children, and the odd number of us always made for a two-against-one mix (and I usually ended up being the one), so logically four was the ideal number.

It might take me a bit of time to get used to the idea of having an only child, if that's indeed the decision we make. Let me state right now that any preconceived ideas I might've had about only children being lonely and socially-starved has been thrown out the window long ago. Thinking back to my childhood, I don't recall knowing anyone who was an only child. I could easily be wrong, but even if I am it obviously didn't make much of an impression on me. These days, I know plenty of fantastic, well-adjusted, intelligent people who happen to have grown up as only children, and I realize it can be a really great scenario for the child and the parents, too.

Then there was last night. We went to a small party where there were a few other couples with children. One of the couples has a baby. So far, being around this baby (and any other) hasn't had any effect on me whatsoever - no emotional pangs or welling up of tears. Nothing. But last night, as I was holding this impossibly happy baby on my lap, my daughter came over to asked if the baby could sit on her lap. After okaying it with the baby's mom, we set up my daughter on the couch, and I put the baby across her tiny thighs. An emotional pang came over me seeing her carefully balancing this beautiful baby while I began imagining her as a big sister. As the night progressed so did my emotions. Eventually, I found myself retreating to the restroom to have a good cry. Even as I was crying all I could think was, "where is this coming from?" I've been fine this whole time, and all of a sudden, BAM, with the tears.

After I composed myself and came out of the bathroom, I ran into the party's host - herself a mom of two adorable girls. Suddenly, the tears overcame me again, and I found myself leaning on her shoulder crying into her sweatshirt. She was incredibly compassionate, which made me want to blabber all my conflicting thoughts out loud to her looking for answers or closure or... something.

And so now I sit back at home, half watching House Hunters and half wondering how I'm going to feel in the morning. Even just a few hours later I feel securely back in my original camp where having an only child seems like the thing to do. I can't deny, however, that something inside me (my ovaries, maybe?) seems hellbent on convincing the rest of me to try again.

Despite my desire to make a decision about this in order to gain a sense of finality, I will reluctantly suspend the decision-making process for now. So, deciding not to make a decision is sort of a decision, right?


It's decided, then.

Or something like that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The one with all the motivation

So, it was a week ago today that we found out my pregnancy was ending in a miscarriage. Now, seven days later, I feel.... fine, pretty much. Every once in a while I have one of those moments where I'm suddenly reminded of all that's happened. Like yesterday, I was doing some filing and I found a post-it note onto which I had begun to write a list of things we needed to buy for the new kid. Those moments are like reliving the very point in time we knew for sure it was a miscarriage, but to a lesser degree. They're not upsetting, really, but kind of... jarring. One of those, "oh... yeah," kind of realizations. Almost like remembering a vivid dream.

Now, the question is what to do with a blog titled, "How to grow a human," when there is no longer a human growing inside me.

A funny thing has happened to me since the miscarriage. Suddenly, I find I'm motivated to accomplish a goal I've only been dreaming about for years. And when I say years, I mean it. Since... college, at least? High school, maybe? This is the dream of writing. Well, let me clarify: the dream of writing on a professional level. The dream of getting paid to write.

This is something I've allowed myself to daydream about - probably too often. But when it comes to actually doing something about it? I've done nothing, really. Oh, I've written some things. If you delved into my hard drive you'd find a folder entitled, "Writing", with some subfolders inside. It's the publishing for payment part that I've completely neglected.

Why? I've been intimidated, I guess. There are probably as many wanna-be writers in this country as there are wanna-be actors. Maybe more. So, the competition is fierce even when you factor in the schmucks like me who do nothing to further their writing passion. Until now, that statistic alone (supported by absolutely nothing) has been enough to render me immobile with fear and complacency. But now?

But now.

I'm not sure what about my recent experience has changed my mind, but it has, and I'm going with it. Suddenly, I find myself full of this... thing. This new, what, emotion? State of mind? State of being? I've not completely identified it, but it seems to be very much like confidence.

So, instead of growing the human inside of me, I'm going to try and grow the human that is me (I'm sure you all saw that coming). It's been an eventful week, for sure. What the coming week will bring, I'm not sure, but I think I'm game for just about anything.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The one where we lose the baby.

# weeks pregnant: 11 weeks, 4 days
estimated weight: 156
currently: in shock

Two nights ago I started bleeding. Not much, but enough to give me pause. That coupled with some light cramping made me dial my OB. The on-call doctor advised me to call the office as soon as it opened to make an appointment for an ultrasound. When I woke up the next morning, I found I had bled through my pajamas. During the ultrasound, there was no heartbeat. They said the baby stopped growing between 7 and 8 weeks.

I'm shocked. I was just three days away from the 12-week mark, which for some reason seems like this magical point at which the threat of miscarriage vanishes completely. I thought I was past the danger zone; I had lulled myself into a false sense of security, I guess. Even as the ultrasound technician was squeezing the goop onto my belly I still thought we'd see... something. I even wondered if there might be twins, and maybe the bleeding was just because of that fibroid they discovered during my first pregnancy. Maybe it was dislodging or rubbing against my uterine lining or something.

Instead, all I saw on the ultrasound screen was a black circle. At one point there was something else, but there was no movement. When the ultrasound technician said, "I'm sorry, but I can't find a heartbeat," my husband squeezed my hand.

We spent the rest of the day taking it easy. I opted to continue letting my body miscarry naturally instead of scheduling a d&c. My husband arranged to take the rest of the day off, and we had a quiet lunch and sat on the couch holding hands while we caught up on some of our TIVO'd shows.

The thing is, I feel okay. I don't feel like it was my fault or anyone's for that matter. Logically, I know this just happens sometimes. I'm surprised, actually, at how I feel this morning. Aren't I supposed to be grieving? It's like the grief I assumed I'd feel is next to me - I can see it, but I don't feel it. Maybe it'll catch up to me tomorrow or next week or next month. I don't know. I hesitate to admit this, but there's even a part of me that feels a sense of relief - not because I didn't want the baby, but all those questions marks that I was already worrying about no longer exist (will the baby be healthy? how will we cope if the baby isn't healthy? will the baby have colic? will I be able to cope with sleep deprivation again? what if the two kids don't get along? etc.).

This morning I hopped onto a forum for women who've experienced miscarriages. I was surprised by how devastated most of the posts sounded. Many of them referred to their miscarriages as "angel babies", but no matter how I try, I cannot seem to relate to that level of grief.

I guess there's no right or wrong way to feel after a miscarriage, and maybe I should be glad that I'm not experiencing heavy grief and attachment that some others might feel. Mostly, it just feels odd and unexpected. Though I certainly have lost something, I cannot deny my excitement over the realization that I could have a large cup of coffee this morning. (Oh, Coffee - how I've missed you!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

The one where we go public

# weeks pregnant: 10
estimated weight: 155
currently: wavering between regular and maternity clothes

With my last pregnancy, we followed the crowd and decided not to tell anyone sans family about the pregnancy until we hit the 12-week mark. Why 12 weeks? It is commonly known (assumed?) that the chance of miscarriage decreases to a very small margin at that gestation. I've been finding statistics recently, however, that support the most significant decrease in miscarriage percentage is much earlier - more like 6 to 7 weeks. The percentage decrease between 7 and 12 weeks is minimal.

No matter. Even if it isn't so, we've gotten tired of keeping the secret, so here it is:


Everyone is welcome to be in the know.

I'm happy to report the nausea has all but subsided. The only thing I began doing differently is taking my prenatal vitamin and Unisom/B6 combo after dinner instead of waiting until just before I go to sleep. *shrug* It may just be a coincidence, but I'm going with it. I was happy to find my weight this past week is holding steady at 155, and my OB said all looks kosher and on target with my uterus. Nice.

Next up? Some genetic testing we've opted for. We're going to have a nuchal translucency screening which assesses our chances of the baby having a chromosomal abnormality. With my last pregnancy, we opted for no testing whatsoever. Now that I'm a bit older, we're interested in doing some genetic testing. I realize testing is a hot button topic, and I'm hoping not to open a can of worms by bringing it up. It's simply what's going on.

Our daughter has gone from asking for a baby sister, to insisting she's getting a baby brother, to saying simply, "we don't know if it's a boy or girl yet." We're planning to take her with us to the ultrasound appointment wherein we might find out the baby's sex. My OB said they've never (NEVER!) been wrong in their assessment of gender. Pretty impressive odds, I'd say.