Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Inanimate Object Love

Mignon recently wrote that Target is her boyfriend. Keeping this same principle in mind:

My paper shredder is my daughter.

Caller ID is my son.

The Joy of Cooking is my lover.

Cute Overload is my pet.

On a totally unrelated note, I blacklisted an ENTIRE SPAMMING DOMAIN from my e-mail inbox this morning. I have never felt so empowered in my life.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Today's Post...

...will be short. I'm already having the kind of day that makes you want to trample on daffodils while tearing out your own hair.

Things I Have Eaten for Breakfast in my Lifetime:

1. chicken noodle soup

2. prenatal vitamins

3. cheese and crackers

4. whole wheat pita with "Garlic Lover's" hummus

5. leftover roasted lamb

Friday, May 26, 2006


Things I've Learned in the Past Month:

1. How to change a sewing machine needle.

2. How to adjust the tension on a sewing machine.

3. "Dry Clean" on a care tag is frequently just a suggestion.

4. Scars really aren't so bad.

5. Rosemary focaccia adds an entirely new dimension to a Croque Monsieur.

6. There is a wicked little man who lives inside the DVD player.

7. Lemon and grape go well together.

8. Everyone in the universe descends upon a specific local grocery store at a specific time on Sunday.

9. No matter how much milk I buy, it will ALWAYS be the wrong amount.

10. Staplers need to be treated with love.

Things I Haven't Learned in the Past 29 Years:

1. Always measure BEFORE cutting.

2. One simply cannot shower, shampoo, deep condition, and shave one's legs in 6 minutes.

3. Basil plants require constant attention.

4. Things that have to be charged are a pain in the ass.

5. All handbags will ultimately disappoint me.

6. My "things to be done" pile is not a magic pile that will simply do the things in it by itself.

7. Those little crunchy seeds on the bottoms of English muffins really do scatter far.

8. One should carry a pen at all times.

9. Cheap umbrellas are no bargain.

10. It is a bad idea to drink a glass of water right before bed.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Just Another Tuesday

There's something I've avoided writing about since I started this blog. A big, gaping something.

One day several years ago, I awoke to the sound of my alarm, slightly groggy. I had an early class that morning and was in a bit of a bad mood. I neglected to watch my usual morning news with my cup of tea, instead preferring the silence. Other than that, it was a perfectly normal day. I was caught up with my schoolwork, and things were going very well and getting increasingly serious with my boyfriend. It was starting to look like we might get married.

It was warm and humid that day, and I selected a blue short-sleeved sweater set to wear with black pants. I figured it would keep me cool enough during my commute to school, but warm enough as I sat in an air-conditioned classroom. Near the sweater set in my closet hung a red dress that I had recently purchased at an Express store in lower Manhattan. I had yet to wear it.

I arrived at school and waited for the elevator. Near me, two other students were discussing something about a plane crash. Singer Aaliyah had just died in a plane crash not too long ago; I wondered if another private plane had gone down while carrying someone famous. I promptly forgot about it and headed to class.

I sat in my usual seat, taking notes in my usual manner. Not long into the class--twenty minutes? Thirty?--a woman that I recognized from the school staff knocked at the door. The professor stopped his lecture and went to the door and spoke with her quietly for a few moments. She shrugged, and gave sort of a nervous chuckle. Then she left. The professor calmly returned to his podium.

He made the following announcement.

"Two planes have crashed into the two towers of the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon is on fire."

A friend that I knew from an extracurricular activity turned to me and said, "What is this, Independence Day?"

"I know, seriously," I replied. Nothing had yet sunk in.

A few moments later, there was an announcement over the loudspeaker, dismissing class. I can't remember much of what was said, other than the voice urging us to stay in the building and not return to our homes.

Like hell, I thought. Reality was finally starting to hit me.

My boyfriend had some kind of business meeting in lower Manhattan that day, I remembered. I didn't know where. Was he even still alive???

The students filed into the hallway, and I pulled out my cellphone. I couldn't get a signal. Another student asked me, "Arabella, is your cellphone working?"


"Then the phones are all down," she replied. I looked around; everyone was trying, fruitlessly, to get a signal so that they could call their loved ones.

I ran out of the building and started to run home. Sirens wailed everywhere. It was total pandemonium in the streets of Manhattan. I had no idea what to do. Businesses everywhere were still open, yet cops were all over the streets. I stopped and bought a newspaper, thinking, in my state of shock, that it would tell me what was going on.

Somewhere along the way, I learned that both towers had fallen.

When I got back to my South-facing apartment, a huge cloud of gray smoke was visible in the window. My answering machine was blinking with at least half a dozen messages. I called my mother and told her I was ok. I called C.S.; we were both crying. I couldn't reach my boyfriend.

I didn't know what to do. I ran to the grocery store; there was an ATM there. I tried to get a lot of cash. The ATM said something like, "Try again, but ask for less money." I did, and got some cash. I put some canned soups in my shopping cart and headed for the aisle with bottled water. Two women were standing at the end of that aisle.

"What do we buy?" one asked the other. Her face was blank.

"Pretzels," was her reply. Her face was blank, too.

So I bought pretzels.

I went back to my apartment. Soon after that, Ty showed up. He hadn't yet gone downtown.

"Thank you, God," I said, as I hugged him. He left soon after that; he had to see for himself what was going on. When he returned, his suit was covered with dust. He had seen the unspeakable.

C.S. came over. We ate sandwiches. The air started to smell like fire.

I spent that night on my couch, crying and clutching a blanket, with the news on in the background. No sleep. I pulled out my visitor's ID from the time I had gone for a job interview in Tower 2, and remembered how stringent security had been. I remembered how I had admired paintings in the office. That building was gone. Those paintings were dust. I looked at my red dress; the Express store had been in the World Trade Center complex. It was gone. I wondered who I had known who was now dead.

For months afterwards, I, and all the other New Yorkers that I knew, got nervous whenever we heard sirens. We could all be sitting at a nice brunch at a nice restaurant, drinking mimosas, but the minute a siren started to wail, a wave of knowing fear would wash over everyone's face. Conversations would momentarily stop.

I had flashbacks to the way the World Trade Center buildings and complex used to look, and the places I used to walk around. Occasionally, I still have them. I'll wake from a dream and picture a sign, or a corridor, or the Borders bookstore, or emerging from the subway station and crossing the street to Century 21.

I was lucky; no one that I loved had perished. I had only lost a few tangential acquaintances. A woman from my church. The brother of a guy I used to know. They could just as easily have been people that I really knew and really loved.

I still have the page from the 2000-2001 Manhattan phone book that lists Windows on the World. I still have the promotional literature from my job interview in Tower 2. I still have the red dress; I can't bring myself to wear it or part with it.

Nothing will ever be the same.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ten B Things--A Sort-of Meme

Elizabeth gave me the letter B for this list.

1. Babies: Hmmm. Nothing to say that I haven't already said in 45,673 other posts. Moving on...

2. Berries: I really love them. I just wish they washed themselves. Several years ago, I purchased this product called Fit that resembled a jug of laundry detergent, but was actually a fruit and vegetable wash. I used to use it to wash my strawberries, and, you know what? It really did produce the cleanest berries I've ever tasted. I wonder if they still make it. I really should pick some up.

3. Bellybutton: I am obsessed with mine lately, constantly checking it throughout the day and rubbing the generic version of Mederma all over it to encourage attractive healing of my surgical scar, lest I wind up with a bellybutton that no longer resembles tortellini, which is a terrible fate for a food-loving Italian woman.

4. Bark: The obnoxious neighborhood dog seems to have been rather quiet lately. Good news indeed! However....

5. Birds: Don't get me wrong; I love spring and all it means. However, sometimes it would be nice to sleep in on a Saturday without all the chirping. What's going on out there, the avian equivalent of Plato's Retreat? (Plato's Tweet-Tweet, perhaps? Sorry; I couldn't resist it.)

6. Bag: I am currently using a particularly small handbag. While it's easy on the shoulder, it's too small for me to reach in and just pull out that which I need without significant rummaging. It's only a matter of time before I go back to one of my big bags, which I will carry around until I get sick of the weight, and then the whole cycle will begin anew.

7. Bath: I have some minty new salts, and I plan to make good use of them in the next few days.

8. Book: I have been invited to join a book group by a relatively new friend. I look forward to my first meeting. I've never been in a book group before, and I do miss discussing novels with others, the way I did in college classes.

9. (Chef) Boyardee: You can pretty much guess my thoughts on this subject.

10. B-LIST BLOGFEST!!!!!!!! It's coming soon, and I can't wait! I'm already going through my wardrobe and deciding what to pack.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fluff and Fold

When I was a little girl, I saw a television show about people who sort through the charred remains of fires and try to piece papers and important documents back together. The people who were profiled were quite good at their work. I recall one of them using a pair of tweezers to sift through a pile of what looked like gray dust, but was actually burned cash. The narrator explained how a really skilled person could make sense even of this pile of dust, and that the proper procedure was to sift through the pile and look for the largest pieces first, as they would contain clues that would help one put the rest of the pieces of the puzzle back together.

I had this principle in mind this morning as I pulled a particularly large load of clothing out of the dryer. With Ty and I being the urban yuppies that we are, about 99.99% of our socks are black, with just a few pairs of white cotton ones thrown in so that we can delude ourselves into believing that we are athletic. When I let the laundry slide a bit, it is like searching for clues in a big pile of dust to try to match the various black socks, emerging from the great big sock orgy, with their proper partners. I look for size, materials, wear patterns--anything that will provide clues.

What exciting forensics do you participate in?

Friday, May 19, 2006


There's an episode of I Love Lucy in which Ricky, Fred, and Ethel challenge Lucy to tell only the truth for a set period of time. According to Ethel, not only does she tell the truth, but she winds up telling all her friends exactly what she thinks of them--whose hat is silly, whose decorating scheme is horrible, etc.

I often wonder what my readers think of me. My comments are almost always of the nice, supportive variety, and for that I am very grateful, although I suspect you readers are generally too kind and polite to say anything rude, even if you think it.

A few of us bloggers will be meeting up soon for our B-List Blogfest. I am looking forward to this tremendously, thinking about it every day, and anticipating days filled with jokes, hilarious conversation, and yummy food. A tiny part of me is worried, though, that the other blogging ladies won't like me.

In the spirit of kissing up honesty, and as a tribute to Lucy, I've decided to share some of my honest, POSITIVE thoughts about the other bloggers I will be meeting soon, along with a link to one of my favorite posts from each of them. Every word is truly how I feel.

Mignon, Thought Concoction:

I imagine that Mignon is like that girl that everybody liked, who could be friends with anybody, who was vaguely self-deprecating and all-around great. She's probably the kind of person you could call up when you're having a bad day, and she'll "get it" right away. Her children are beautiful. Her creative writing is terrific, and I admire the way she makes herself write something every Wednesday. It upsets me that I seldom have the time to read it that day in the way that I want to. I am glad she posted links to her previous Writin' Wednesdays, so that I can print them up and read them all at once. One of most inspiring things about Mignon, though, is the way she balances writing about her children with writing about herself and her thoughts about society. She's obviously a devoted mother, yet she hasn't lost herself. She's managed to keep her own interests and ideas. In doing so, she manages to quell many of my anxieties about having children.

Mrs. Harridan, Mean Girl to the Rescue!

Perhaps it's a little bit unfair to list Mrs. H with the others, because, not only have I actually met her in person, but she's rapidly become one of my best friends. I was very nervous before meeting her, but when we got together, I was instantly reassured. There is a soulfulness to her that came through to me even in our early conversations. She is strikingly beautiful--one of the most beautiful women I know--and dresses well and carries herself well, yet is completely devoid of any trace of haughtiness. She is honest about her own vulnerabilities without being remotely weak. She's had many interesting experiences, yet is perfectly content both to partake of simple pastimes, such as craftmaking, cooking, and gardening, and to discuss them. She says she is mean, but I think that's probably only to bad people. :) She's a good friend to have on your side.

TB, Soul Gardening:

How cute is Teebs? I mean, really! She's like a pixie. A sophisticated, thoughtful pixie with incredible taste in music. Have you heard her voice? It's on her site today. It's adorable and mature at the same time. She is incredible about offering support and kind words. I always feel like she has my back, and she hasn't even met me yet. Even when my posts are boring and/or tedious, TB always has something sweet to say. I get the feeling she's had a difficult life and has worked hard to be the extraordinary lady that she is today. She's probably one of the most diligent bloggers out there--she really posts almost every day, and she never phones it in. Her posts are universally thoughtful and well-crafted. I can't think of anyone who is more caring about her fellow bloggers.

Wordgirl, Half of the Sky:

I think artistry comes through in everything that Wordgirl does. Her photos of hand-painted projects and her mosaic fireplace are breathtaking. Her writing is incredible. She chooses universal themes for her posts, and the way she explores them touches something deep within you. Her whole family is gorgeous; if I were a vitamin manufacturer, I'd want to use a photo of the five of them to sell my product. Did you see the photo of her boys wearing Osh Kosh B-gosh when they were babies? I shared it with my mom, it was so cute. She shares my enjoyment of fun retro stuff, from Easy-Bake Ovens to Wacky Packages, and finds good photos to illustrate her posts. She strikes me as having a very good long-term marriage that is still full of interest; it's an excellent model. I admire the way she lives in the midst of people whose views on a variety of issues differ from her own, and yet there is peace and friendship and respect among them.

Thanks, ladies.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tales of the SiteMeter

Some recent search terms that led people to my blog:

"mouse poop in dishwasher"

"lisa gastineau thong"

And, last but not least....

"ping pong pussy"

These stood out among the various people Googling "trattoria."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Local Goes National

Yesterday I went back to the doctor for a post-surgical follow-up. Basically, almost nothing is wrong with me. I'm just not getting pregnant.

If I'd like, I can move on to the next step. "The next step" consists of daily injections for about a third of my menstrual cycle, coupled with getting up ultra-early each morning to go in and have my blood drawn and have people rummage around in my cooter. Yes, daily. I know. For at least a little while longer, I'm going to pass, and just Give Sex a Chance. But that's no reason not to buy myself lots of presents. Since I need to save my money in case I have to pay people to do extraordinary things to my poor little eggs, I've been investigating Stuff I Can Buy that is Cool and Doesn't Cost a Lot.

Like-minded Mrs. Harridan turned me on to a wonderful website: Etsy. It's essentially an emporium for handmade items. My favorites are of the variety that smell good. A lot of the sellers are moms running home-based businesses. A lot of the stuff is great. It arrives quickly and packaged nicely and often with personal touches, such as notes or samples of other products.

I'd like to think that this is part of a larger trend, that the Internet has made it possible for more and more men and women to have their own businesses, often home-based and with fairly low start-up costs, and to reach potential customers in new ways. It's common for the owner of the business also to be the one who packs and mails your products; the personal attention is unbeatable.

As a city-dweller, I find that customer service comes at a price. It's very common to be ignored or treated poorly at low-cost stores in New York. I try to support local businesses, both to encourage them to prosper and because I like being treated nicely, and buy lots of foods and household items and pharmacy items from small businesses where the vendors smile and chat with me. I'm simply not willing, though, to spend $300 on a skirt from a small boutique, or $40 for a jar of handmade cream, or $20 for a bar of natural soap, kind though the vendor may be. It's just not in my budget. And, frankly, some local vendors are jerks. Why should I pay a premium for their rudeness, when I really want to salute them with my middle finger and say, "support THIS"?

With these home-based businesses on the Internet, I have been able to purchase eau de parfum samples, handmade with natural oils, for $3, gorgeous-smelling natural soap for $4, hand-beaded earrings on sterling-silver French wires for $5, and a whole gift-packaged kit of assorted full-size natural products made from domestically grown lavender for less than $20 (I found the lavender vendor, Owl Creek Lavender, through an ad on Dooce, who herself has created a business of sorts). I have received two handwritten thank-you notes, a kind e-mail, several free samples, and beautiful packaging, and, believe me, all of that nicey-nice makes you feel a lot better than surliness when you're treating yourself to stuff because you're nursing surgical wounds instead of a baby. Plus, many of my purchases are helping parents make money while staying home with their kids.

If you're looking to treat yourself to nice little stuff, I recommend checking out the businesses on Etsy and Ebay. If you know of any other sites, please post 'em; I'm all ears.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Everybody's Talking at Me

Last week, I was at an evening meeting when a man with a Southern accent called my home and asked to speak with me, calling me by my first name.

"She's not here," Ty responded. "Would you like to leave a message?"

"No, thanks, that's okay, I'll call back."

I spent the next several days wondering who this mysterious "gentleman caller" had been. Was he the long-lost gay friend with whom I had traveled through Europe? A former colleague? A wrong number who, by coincidence, had asked for the right name? A first husband I had forgotten about because I got amnesia, a la a Lifetime movie? But for the big surgical incision on my stomach and my lack of interest in having strange people stand near me or talk to me, let alone touch me, Ty probably would have thought I was having an affair.

The mystery was solved a few days later when the guy called, again at dinnertime. I answered, and he told me I had been specially selected to take part in a survey. Much ado about nothing! I was so disappointed that I was tempted to tell him all the various scenarios I had envisioned, how much psychic energy he had cost me, and, if he was such a gentleman, he should have known to refer to me as "Ms. ______," since he and I had no prior acquaintanceship. I may be a rude Yankee, but I would never call him up and say, "Is Bob there?" when his wife answered! Instead, I just told him I wasn't interested and I hung up.

In response to such incidents, Ty and I have taken to dramatically lowering the ringer volume on our telephone at strategic times during the day. We often "forget" to increase it later, which, so far, is working out just swimmingly. It can, occasionally, be disconcerting when we don't hear the phone ring and then, all of a sudden, we hear Uncle Jack talking in our apartment, leaving us a message, but that's far, far more pleasant than the cable company, the phone company, and certain pseudogentlemen intruding into our pan-seared loin of pork with sage.

If your telephone has an adjustable ringer, my tip of the day is that you make good use of it. It may be the best quality-of-life change you've ever made.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Buncha Questions Meme

Mrs. Harridan tagged me to do this meme, and she's so cool that I pretty much do whatever she tells me.

1. First name? Zarathustra II.
2. Were you named after anyone? No.
3. Do you wish on stars? No, but I do wish on shed eyelashes.
4. When did you last cry? A couple of days ago.
5. Do you like your handwriting? Yes, when I'm writing slowly and deliberately. I'm not such a fan of my own "quick" handwriting.
6. What is your favorite lunch meat? Sweet sopressata. Actually, that would make a good exclamation of surprise, wouldn't it? "Sweet sopressata!"
7. When is your birthday? In the Aries zone.
8. What is your most embarrassing CD? How much time do you have?
9. If you were another person would you be friends with you? Yes.
10. Do you have a journal? I have a writing notebook. I jot down ideas for blog entries and stories, as well as phone numbers, odd appointments, and stuff I need to pick up at the grocery store.
12. Would you bungee jump? No. The window in my life in which I would have done that has closed.
13. What is your favorite cereal? It changes with the wind. Right now, Oatmeal Crisp with Almond's fifteen minutes are nearly up. I guess I'm a bit partial to Frosted Flakes.
14. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Yes, although most of my shoes are slip-ons.
15. Do you think that you are strong? Yes, and getting more so all the time.
16. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Ben and Jerry's Coconut Almond Fudge Chip; it's pretty hard to come by, though. New York Super Fudge Chunk is a close second.
17. Shoe Size? 7 1/2 to 8.
18. Red or pink? Red!
19. What is your least favorite thing about yourself? The fact that I find it really hard to answer questions like this.
20. Who do you miss the most? My moving-across-the-country best friend. My deceased pets.
21. Do you want everyone you send this to to send it back? Aha, this was originally an e-mail! Sure, if they're into it and fairly interesting.
22. What color pants and shoes are you wearing? Soft cotton pajamas, white with colorful little shoes all over them, and purple beaded Chinese-style slippers.
23. Last thing you ate? I'm sipping tea right now. Last night, I snacked on some strawberries before bed.
24. What are you listening to right now? The sounds of traffic.
25. If you were a crayon what color would you be? Probably purple.
26. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? My mother-in-law.
27. Fingers or toes? Toes. An artsy friend of my parents' told me long ago that my toes are indicative of ancient Egyptian royalty. I thought that was pretty cool.
28. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? Eyes and carriage.
29. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Very much.
30. Favorite Drink? Plain, ordinary Tetley tea with milk and sugar. Alcohol-wise, I've just recently gotten into Kir Royales, introduced to me by a European friend. They rock.
31. Favorite Sport? People-watching.
32. Hair Color? Darkest Brown Ever.
33. Favorite office supply item? Certain really cool pens.
34. Do you wear contacts? No.
35. Favorite Food? Oh, please, that's like asking a mother to pick her favorite child! Among my favorites are ice cream and artisanal cheeses. And I could eat pizza every day.
36. Last Movie You Watched? Seven Beauties.
37. Favorite Day Of The Year? Lots!
38. Scary Movies Or Happy Endings? Both.
39. Summer or winter? Both.
40. Hugs or Kisses? Both!
41. Favorite dessert? Cupcakes.
42. What's On Your Mouse Pad? My fingers.
43. What Did You Watch Last night on TV? The E! Channel.
44. Favorite Smells? Clean laundry, bakeries, French toast.
45. Favorite Sounds? Cooing--NOT screaming--babies, and little puppy whines and kitty meows.
46. Stones or Beatles? Beatles.
47. What's the furthest you've been from home? I'm too lazy to get out the map; the Netherlands? Italy?
48. What books are you reading? A book of freelance-writing advice, and--gee, this is a bit embarrassing--a true-crime book about the Darlie Routier case.

I'm tagging ... hmmm, I never actually tag anybody....ok, that'll change today. Mignon and Tink.

Friday, May 12, 2006


This morning, while adjusting my shirt, I accidentally yanked off the last lingering bit of adhesiveness in the tape over the incision on my navel. The tape that's acting as extra insurance in preventing me from splitting open my incision and having a big gaping wound on my stomach and getting blood all over my shirt. Do you know how much my dry cleaner would charge to remove a blood stain? Not to mention the fact that, you know, I'd have a GIANT OPEN WOUND ON MY STOMACH. The tape is supposed to fall off on its own after about a week; it's been four days. Apparently, this tape is quite precocious.

So, I pretended that I was inspecting the surgeon's handiwork on Dr. 90210 and stood in front of the full-length mirror. I have to say--and I honestly never expected to feel this way, being both fond of martyrhood and slightly vain--I am pretty proud of this scar. Aesthetically, it's not too bad. It's very neat and, so far, is healing well. I'm proud of my body for healing in this way, and I'm proud of myself for resting and doing what I needed to do to get better. The scar is physical manifestation of the fact that I've been to low depths in the world of infertility and am still here, and still persisting. It's something my children may ask me about someday--"Mommy, why do you have a scar here?"

Then I can tell them how badly I wanted them, how Daddy and I prayed and prayed and watched and waited and hoped for them and dreamed of them, and how Mommy's doctor looked inside her tummy to make sure that everything would be all ready for them to grow, and now they're here, and I get to hold them in my arms!

Or is that weird? That's a little weird, isn't it? But in kind of a sweet way. Listen, you work with what you've got. Some kids were "surprises," and some kids were born on the other side of the world, and some kids were planned and arrived right on schedule, and some kids took their sweet time, and, in the end, none of it matters. It's what you do with what you have.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Don't Avoid the Noid!

Remember him, from Domino's Pizza? How about the talking Chicken McNuggets puppets, or the L'eggs Eggs? Or the old-school milk commercials, pre-mustache, with people standing in front of curtains and talking? Or "forgotten foods," like Bonkers candy or Hostess Choco Bliss cakes?

Check out RetroJunk. They have tons of old commercials from the 70's, 80's, and 90's, as well as some movie trailers and TV clips. Just be warned, before clicking, that you probably won't get anything productive done for the rest of the day.

Back in this post, I referred to VICI the robot from the television show Small Wonder, and Kate recalled talking about this show with someone who didn't believe it had been on the air. Indeed, it was, and RetroJunk has a clip of the opening credits to prove it! Just do a search for "Small Wonder." It was kitschy even then!

Have fun!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Buon Viaggio, C.S.

C.S. is, ostensibly, leaving on Thursday for her grand cross-country excursion and ultimate settling in Los Angeles. Though I've been preparing for this for months, I've been in denial for the past two weeks, spending my time navel-gazing (to be fair, I've been checking out my incisions, not just staring off into space).

Today, I'm wearing a sweater that she gave me while going through her closet and paring down her wardrobe. It's soft, cozy, green, free of offensive clothing tags, and a bit too loose for me in the chest; in other words, the prototypical C.S. garment. She also gave me jeans, black pants, and a pair of sneakers. I've done well by her closet.

In MY closet is a scarf that I've been knitting for her for the past two years, now complete. I had wanted to give it to her before she left. I wanted to give her this gift, something that I saw on television that I thought she might like. I wanted to take her to dinner. I've done none of these things. For this I am sorry. I feel like if I don't really say goodbye, then I won't really have to.

I just can't imagine not seeing her after each new haircut, not having the occasional brunch together, not having her watch my belly grow with time if I become pregnant anytime soon. I worry about her safety, driving so far with only one other person. I worry about her temperamental back. I worry about her never wanting to return.

To face my demons, C.S., I am writing this post in your honor. A farewell post for you. I'm sorry I didn't do all the saying-goodbye things that I wanted to do. I will mail you the scarf, if you'd like (if not, I will keep it here for when you return, next to the present that I still have for your nephew's first birthday, even though the kid is now three). I will come visit you in California and take you to dinner. I will, hopefully, e-mail you some belly photos.

Above all, I'll be here, thinking of you, no matter where you go, how long it takes, or whether you return. My friend, I love you.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sweet Fulfillment

Remember how, last week, I was on a restricted diet prior to my surgery? On Monday, I could only eat carbohydrates. No dairy.

So, naturally, on this gorgeous, sunny day, the ice cream man decided to park himself right smack on my block, the canned jingle taunting my ears like those sirens in The Odyssey.

"ICE CREAM! ICE CREAM!" shouted happy, adorable children, no doubt conceived easily and quickly through normal sexual intercourse not involving copayments and sharp instruments.

Instead of making lemonade and procuring for myself a simple ice pop, I went home and fumed.

On Saturday, three days after my surgery, I ventured out for my first tentative walk, and ran right into an ice cream vendor.

The sensible adults in line with us were buying bottled water. Silly adults. I was debating: ice cream sandwich or Toasted Almond bar? I made my decision, and Ty bought me the biggest, fattest ice cream sandwich I've ever seen, let alone eaten. I couldn't even finish it. We sat on a bench, sharing the sandwich, while, all around us, people jogged and chugged their water.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Growth Spurts

Many women feel that they truly become adults when they become mothers. I feel that I've truly become an adult by trying, unsuccessfully thus far, to become a mother.

Last Wednesday, the morning of my surgery, I woke up and showered, as instructed. I ran my hand over my navel, birth-perfect for the last time. The largest incision would go there.

I washed my legs, and noticed how strong and muscular they had become. I had started a vigorous exercise regimen in preparation for the surgery. (I believe it paid off, in that my recovery was smoother than I had anticipated.)

I groomed and dressed, and arrived at the hospital actually smiling. I laughed at the OR team's jokes. I breathed calmly as I drifted off to sleep.

I awoke, feeling tired and crampy, but otherwise ok. I sat, alone, reconnecting with my body, until my family was able to join me again. I saw my husband enter on the other side of the recovery room, and waved and smiled to him.

In the succeeding days, I let my mother mother me, aware of the paradox. How is it that I felt more of an adult by accepting that I needed my mother to care for me the way she did when I was a young child?

My belly was rounded and swollen from the surgery. I wore soft pants that sat low on my hips, like a pregnant woman. During these days, I was, and still am, very conscious of my stomach.

Several months ago, my good friend Mrs. Harridan brought me a gift: an avocado pit that she had cared for and planted. I watered it and watered it and sunned it and watched it and waited. When nothing happened, I confessed to her that I thought I had killed it, and my avocado pit would never bear fruit. Nevertheless, I kept watering it and waiting.

Ty and I had basically given up hope for the avocado. Then, one day, I noticed an almost-imperceptible purple shoot. I wasn't even sure it was a proper plant; could it have been a weed, or maybe even a fungus?

No. Ty confirmed it was the avocado. We kept nurturing it, more cautiously than ever. It has grown and grown!

Thanks for all your thoughts, wishes, prayers, and comments. I am going to go now, before I beat this metaphor to death. Oh, and if this post started out promising given the material and then went steadily downhill, it's not because of my abilities as a writer. It's, um, the pain meds. Yeah, the pain meds.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Just Another Dinnertime Conversation

Last night at dinner, as I solemnly ate my inoffensive carbohydrates, I said to Ty, "So...I'm filling out this health care proxy so that you and my parents will know my wishes in the event that something goes wrong during the surgery. Basically, if my mind goes, I don't want to be kept alive by machines."

I was being sober and grown-up and responsible, I told myself. I was protecting my family and making it easier for them in the event that I became unable to make my own decisions. Serious issues called for serious discussion. No sense upsetting my husband.

Ty paused and chewed on his pasta, which he was eating without freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, in a show of solidarity. At last, he responded, "Don't worry, sweetheart. If you go into a coma, I'll bring in a puppy and say, "Arabella, look at the puppy! Look at the puppy! Wake up! The puppy is here to see you! Oh, why didn't I let you get a puppy when I had the chance? Why? Why? Why?" He lapsed into fake uncontrollable sobs.

With that, my sensible carbohydrate meal migrated into my nose as I collapsed into a fit of laughter. This is why people partner up.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Arabella, The Opera

Care for a rundown of my week?

It's allergy season. 'Nuff said.

My best friend has now vacated her apartment, which was near mine, and, shortly after Mother's Day, will be embarking upon a cross-country journey, in a tiny car, that will terminate approximately 3,000 miles away, where she will settle.

I am having surgery on Wednesday. ON MY REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS.

The pharmacist refused to fill my prescription for pain medication, citing a new law that just took effect that requires prescriptions to be written on a certain special kind of paper. Okay, okay, I admit I procrastinated a little bit in going to get the prescription filled, but I was a bit distracted, what with getting work and personal things in order prior to the SURGERY THAT I WILL BE HAVING ON MY REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS. Do you want to know what strong, serious, special pain medication we're talking about here? MOTRIN.

In my refrigerator is Humboldt Fog cheese, some other fancy kind of soft cheese that's all buttery and was washed in beer and is absolutely delicious, fresh grapes, fresh strawberries, hot and sweet sopressata, smoked Norwegian salmon, and flourless chocolate cake. Today is the first day of my pre-surgery diet: I am to eat only pasta, breads, crackers, and canned fruits and vegetables. Tomorrow I get only Jell-O and liquids.

My husband is sick. He asks me every five seconds how I am feeling, for fear that I will catch his cold, develop a lung infection, and proceed to surgery anyway to avoid having to reschedule and drag out the agony and will die on the operating table.

Tell me something funny, please. ANYTHING. I will wait, patiently, while I eat my canned fruit cocktail for breakfast.*

*Just kidding. Arabella doesn't do canned fruit cocktail. I will be eating a sourdough English muffin and Mandarin orange segments packed in their own juice.

*UPDATE: The Mandarin oranges were packed in water, not in their own juice. I now understand why most Mandarin oranges are packed in syrup. Doh!