Friday, July 28, 2006

Well, shut my mouth wide open!

I'm pregnant.

Update to follow a little later today.


Ok, here's the story: I found out last weekend, and then for sure this past week. It's very, very early; my period wasn't even due until today. Had I not tested, I never would have known; I feel very PMS-y, but otherwise pretty good. I am excited and thrilled beyond words and also terrified that something will go wrong. My doctors aren't messing around--I've got daily injections and a few other medications. I've decided to post weekly updates each Friday (although the day of the week may vary a little, according to my hormonal and other whims). Otherwise, I plan to keep the majority of my posts about other things in my life, because this blog has become a very important part of myself, and I want to make sure I keep a good balance of it as such.

Thank you all so, so much for your support, thoughts, prayers, friendship, and laughs along the way. They mean so much to me; they really do.

P.S. Can anybody (well, anybody other than Mom, Dad, Ty, and Mr. Lashes) identify the reference made in the title of this post? Hint: It's a statement made by a specific character in a specific film.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why I should be buying stock in search engine companies...

Arabella, on the phone:
"So, the doctor wants me to start taking this medication--it's a pill tha--"

Arabella's Mom:
"How do you spell it?"

...and Target...

Arabella, on the phone:
"I really need to buy myself some new sweatpants."

Arabella's Mom, two hours later, calling from her cell, sounds of commerce in the background:
"What size do you wear?"

Love ya, Mom!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Links and Asslaundry

You know how Mignon does those Friday Concoctions? In them, she often includes a section called "Links and Asundry." For some reason known only to my sick mind, I almost always read it as "Links and Asslaundry," and then actually have to go back and make sure that it says, "Asundry." It always does. But the "Asslaundry" always gets my Friday off to a good start.

Here, then, is a mishmosh post that I will dub my "Links and Asslaundry."

-Muffin Issue #1: My breakfast regimen, of late, consists of eating one English muffin every morning. English muffins, of course, come in packs of 4, 6, or 12, but never in multiples of 7. Ideally, I would like to buy one package a week, so that they don't turn hard and hockeypucklike in the refrigerator, and also so that I don't have to budget time for "English muffin procurement" in my daily list of things to do. But NOOOOOOO. Clearly, there is the same brilliant individual behind English muffin packaging as there is behind the disparity between hot dog packaging and hot dog bun packaging.

-Need fabric? This is my new favorite place to get it. So searchable! So pretty!

-Muffin Issue #2: My Lady Remington bikini trimmer finally died. I bought it circa 1996 for about $7, on sale. It was one of my best beauty friends. I am still mourning its loss. Those as-seen-on-TV bikini wands just don't compare. And they don't make me feel like royalty ("Lady Remington!") as I groom my pubes. (I think this definitely qualifies as "Asslaundry.") long is too long to go without a haircut? Just wondering...not for any reason, or anything. (And, just to clarify, I'm now referring to the hair on my head. Er.....I mean, my friend's head.)

-How on earth do you pick a peach? I find nectarines much easier.

-Did you know that the face of that CPR mannequin was modeled after the death mask of a real woman?

-And...last, but certainly not least.....

Happy Birthday, C.S.!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Perfect Sandwich Awards*

*With apologies to the creators of the Perfect Post Awards.

Hating mayonnaise and disliking mustard means that it is virtually impossible for me to order a sandwich in North America without launching into instructions that rival those detailing the proper operation of a space shuttle. Even when said instructions are delivered perfectly, there is still at least a 40% chance that they will be completely ignored, making it exceedingly difficult for me to procure a desirable sandwich.

"I'll have roasted turkey with Muenster cheese and lettuce on whole wheat, please, NO mayo."

"Roasted turkey, mustard, whole wheat, lettuce..."

"No,n--MUENSTER CHEESE, please. No mustard."

"You want mayo instead?"

"No, thank you, just plain."

So, then I wait about 15 minutes while the sandwich is made outside of my view, pay the current exorbitant sandwich rate (usually between $5.99 and $7.99 for two pieces of bread with some subpar meat and cheese in the middle), go off somewhere, sit down, unwrap, and take my first savory bite, only to wind up with a mouth full of mayonnaise.

We live in a world of cola with and without vanilla, black cherry, lemon, and lime, all available with or without sugar. Want an iPod? Choose among half a dozen different colors. Need white socks? There is an assortment of fabrics, heights, sizes, stretch levels, and brands. At your local grocery store, you can buy your milk regular, 2%, 1%, fat-free, chocolate, soy, organic, rice, etc. Why, then, WHY, is it so difficult to get a sandwich made with a condiment other than mayonnaise or mustard???

I have had a few truly memorable sandwiches in my life that were assembled with slightly creative condiments. I say slightly, because all of these condiments are readily-available substances. No rare-prized-black-truffle-and-saffron paste. No whipped caviar. Just made by "sandwich artists" with the ability to focus on more than two substances at one time.

Here, then, are my nominations, in random order, for the Perfect Sandwich Awards:

1. Smoked turkey, herbed Brie, and mesclun greens on sourdough with buttermilk ranch dressing;

2. Italian hero on sesame-seeded semolina with olive oil and red wine vinegar;

3. Turkey and fontina cheese on ciabatta with pesto (incidentally, pesto is never, ever, ever, ever, ever supposed to be made with mayonnaise, which is a piece of information that airport food stands everywhere should take to heart);

4. Smoked turkey, Brie, and sundried tomatoes on a roll (it's so delicious that no dressing is needed!).

EDITED TO ADD: How could I possibly forget about the roast pork sandwich that I ate in Philly, The Land of Great Sandwiches??? Moist, sliced roast pork with shaved provolone and sauteed broccoli rabe on a hero. Mmmmmmm. I thought it was even more delicious than cheesesteak. Mrs. Harridan gets extra points for recommending that sandwich place.

Nominations are open. So is voting. Basically, this is an anarchistic celebration of mayonnaise-and-mustard-free sandwiches.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Partying Like I Did in 1999

Last night, Ty and I went to see his friend's band. We were out late, and on a school night! We didn't even eat dinner until 10:45, and then it was at a trendy restaurant with a hopping scene! We felt like--well, we felt like rock stars. We even took cabs, so I was able to wear my new red wedge-style sandals (hopefully none of the hipsters realized they were from Aerosoles).

The venue, I have to say, was fabulous. There was ample cabaret-style seating! I could rest my beer on a table! The room was nicely air-conditioned and smoke-free. The band sounded great, and wasn't too loud. The volume, in fact, was ideal. The toilets in the bathroom were really clean and blessedly junkie-and-rapist-free! It was the perfect melding for my I-still-want-to-do-young-things-while-I'm-young-but-I-have-comfort-needs-like-an-old-fart sensibilities. I still have the morning-after remains of the hand stamp (though a shower with my favorite handmade, superfatted soap should take care of that).

And, for the curious, my mosquito bite had, thankfully, stopped bothering me around lunchtime.

Which, of course, paved the way for a "rock star" morning, if you catch my drift.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I had the same exhausting, frustrating, repetitive conversation yesterday with two different people, back-to-back.

The giant pimple on my chin is celebrating its one-month birthday. Complete with party hats.

I got a glimpse of my half-naked self in the Not Good mirror.

Guess where a mosquito bit me last night? Just GUESS. It must have been a vengeful mosquito who was upset about yesterday's post. And a pervert.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Stuff I Hate

It's hot, and I'm tired, and my hands are inexplicably itchy, and I gave everyone else an opportunity to complain a few days ago, so here I go:

1. Broken air conditioners.

2. When employers say to you, "Send resume and salary requirements to..." and thereby require you to bid against yourself. Can't they just say, "We're looking to pay $XK to $YK, with the possibility for increased compensation based on remarkable skills or experience"? C.S. and I wasted a lot of time perfecting the wording of her cover letter, only for her to be told, immediately, that the job paid considerably less than she was looking for. Would it have broken their hearts to have said that upfront?

3. Mosquito bites. The little fuckers!

4. Imperfect Internet and cable connections. There's a reason that I didn't post yesterday until the late afternoon, and that I wasn't able to watch E! News Live in the evening. Oh, how I wish I had other options! Competition would take care of this nonsense in a heartbeat.

5. Fake worn-out lines on the front hips of denim jeans. This is not an area that I'd like to draw attention to, thank you very much. And, a year or so from now, this'll look about as fashionable as acid-washed M.C. Hammer-style jeans.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ode to Sephora

So, you know how I buy practically all my makeup at drugstores and have this philosophy that it's basically the same thing as expensive makeup? And because I'd rather buy cheap makeup and artisanal cheese than Chanel and Velveeta? For this very reason, I have never really spent much time in Sephora.


Late last week, I got off the train well in advance of a certain meeting, and had some time to kill and the Sephora was right on the way, and it was so cool and air-conditioned, and, well...

For heaven's sake, why didn't you people tell me about this place??? It's like the biggest, shiniest, pinkest, powderiest candy store in all the land, except the candy all has double-digit prices!

And you can touch it! You can pick things up and hold them to the light and smell them and scrutinize them, which is really hard to do at department stores, where you have some lady standing over you and encouraging you to buy a $20 concealer "to remove some of that extra ruddiness" as you attempt to discern whether you like the lipstick that she has thoughtfully rubbed on her highly-tanned hand for you, and then, all of a sudden, you can't focus on your lips at all, because you're thinking, "Ruddiness? I have ruddiness? When did this happen?" And you feel bad because, really, she's pretty nice, and she probably has a couple of kids at home, and how much commission can she really be making off a single tube of lipstick, and, the next thing you know, you've got five really cute teeny-tiny boxes wrapped in pink tissue paper in a teeny-tiny little shopping bag, and you're $161 poorer, and she's on the phone with her amour, making reservations at Jean Georges.

But, oh, Sephora! It's like meeting a celebrity in person ("Oh, so THAT's what the infamous Nars Orgasm blush looks like!").

And everything is so cute and touchable that I had to coach myself, "Arabella, stick to the perimeter, where they have the perfume. Good perfume is an acceptable beauty expense; double-digit eye shadow is not" (because this is how my own crazy, twisted logic works).

Then I saw the small, travel-type sizes. HOW CUTE ARE THESE??? You can get an itsy bitsy bottle of high-end body wash for the price of three full-sized bars of Dove, or for 1/4th of the cost of feeding a child in a Third World country for a month!

Tiny little vials of Carolina Herrera perfume for $13!

I'm proud to say, I left with my dignity intact, and a single bottle of Givenchy Very Irresistible, which is a legitimate purchase, because it is a perfume that I have been coveting for at least a year.

And because I got the tiniest bottle they had, and it's SO. CUTE.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Wherein I get a teensy bit controversial, maybe

...or maybe not. Hey, I've got to stick my big toe in the water first.

Lately, a some of my fellow B-List blogging ladies have written about the difficulty of shielding their children from certain adult influences (namely, of the sexual and fashion variety, which are becoming increasingly intertwined). If you haven't read these posts, you really should, because these ladies are good writers. I have the highest respect for them and their talents and their blogs, and I've read enough of each of them to know that they surely must be excellent mothers.

Unless you are new to this blog, you probably know that I do not have children. Indeed, I am that woman at the restaurant who silently swears in her head when babies scream at dinner, all the while praying for stimulation of my own ovaries. Meaning, of course, I don't have empirical knowledge of the difficulty of raising a child. All I have is a strong memory of my own childhood, and exactly those things that bothered me and exactly those things that didn't.

I understand (well, at least I think I understand) how a mother wouldn't want her daughter constantly to see images of larger-than-life cleavage and smaller-than-my-wrist waistlines, and think that that's the way she's supposed to look. But I don't think that asking supermarkets to put the men's magazines away is the answer. Here are some reasons why.

For one thing, it's a free speech issue. (Oh, stop groaning and read.) People like looking at images of sex. We all do. It's just a fact. I remember being a child, crouched before the VCR, repeatedly pausing, rewinding, and watching the one split-second scene of naked breasts in Airplane! with my good friend, who happened to be a boy. I grew up to be a heterosexual female; he grew up to be a homosexual male (i.e., neither of us grew up to become adults who receive sexual gratification from the sight of naked breasts). We both manifested evidence of our adult selves from the time that we were very young children. Nevertheless, we were fascinated and spellbound. We were looking at something sexual, and something taboo! We were simply hard-wired to want to see naked people. The science of marketing had probably been in existence for all of 0.0018 seconds before someone figured out that you can make lots of money by showing naked people, precisely because we are all hard-wired to want to see them. These men's magazines are simply trying to make money by giving people what they want. And we live in a country that guarantees them the freedom to do so. As both bloggers and avid readers, I'm sure the relevance is not lost on us.

Since people like looking at other naked people, they will always find ways to do so. If your adolescent son can't ogle men's magazines at the supermarket, he will Google Image-search up some fun on the Internet. Actually, he'll probably do both, and lots more. I think that, in moderation, this curiosity is both healthy and somewhat important. It is how adolescents learn about bodies and sex without actually engaging in it. I don't believe that such nudity is a "gateway drug" to the world of sex, either. As a teenager, I voraciously read (repeat: READ) everything Cosmopolitan had to offer on the art of giving head, and, at my high school graduation, I was still a virgin who had never even seen a live naked man.

Men like looking at the women on the cover of men's magazines. Period. They always have liked looking at such images, and they always will. They enjoy it and it gets them aroused. They get even more enjoyment out of looking at women who look like that in real life. Virtually all men do--even the most faithful, loyal husbands, the best fathers, then men who would never even think of cheating on their spouses. It is about as important to them, though, as a $6,000 handbag is to us women. We look at it, we think, "Wow, that's beautiful," we are even more intrigued by it in person, we gaze at it for a few moments, we know we won't ever have it, and that, even if we really wanted it (which we don't), the sacrifices it would entail would be too great, and that other things are far more important to us. So, we simply walk away from it, forget about it, and get some lunch. This, too, is how men with a healthy perspective view Barbie-esque women, whether in images or in real life. Having such images around actually provides us with a stellar opportunity to gauge whether men we're interested in have a healthy perspective. If they tend to obsess over these images, or want you to wear your hair or your clothing like the women in the pictures, RUN LIKE THE PLAGUE. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200; for this is a man who is dangerously incapable of distinguishing fantasy from reality.

(So, what does this have to do with a six-year-old girl in a supermarket? Hang in there; I'm working up to it. We're almost there. This isn't that long. I linked to that Larry Kramer speech last week for a reason; it makes this post seem like a one-sentence blurb.)

Because men will always, always, always look at the Barbie-esque women, there will always be women who will go to great lengths to be the Barbie-esque woman. Even when they're washing their cars or buying frozen fish sticks. They will preen and strut and walk around wearing little more than dental floss. And there will always be merchants who are happy to sell them their breasts, nails, highlights, and string bikinis. And to show them, in graphic advertising materials, billboards, magazines, commercials, etc., exactly what they can buy.

More than anything, these women want attention. They derive their power from taking male (and female) attention away from other women and putting the focus on themselves. How, then, can one combat this?

By simply looking away. Like Kryptonite to Superman, simply ignoring such women completely takes away any negative power they may hold.

Go ahead; try it. When you take your 87-year-old grandmother shopping, and there's a fellow shopper dangerously close to nip-slipping, simply ignore her. Don't even look at her; she's not there. (The only exception to this policy is that the truly ridiculous may receive the appropriate degree of mocking with your companions-- "Her pants are so tight that they create cellulite! And you can see her pubic hair poking through!!! Can you imagine walking around in public like that???.") Otherwise, focus on the fine cotton fabric, the soft leather, or the cute baby. The hussylady will simply fade like a garment left too long in the sun. Any men with you will follow suit; they will get their three-second-glance jollies and turn their attention back immediately to the issue at hand. This works in almost any situation; parties, trendy restaurants, walking down the street, etc. The hardest part is learning to ignore such stimuli.

Unless we're taught to ignore them all along.

My hypothesis is that these images need be nothing more than a low-grade annoyance to mothers. A six-year-old girl, if she notices these images at all, would probably merely point them out to her mother (this communication is very good), and look to the mother for guidance as to how to respond to this tantalizing visual. I'm honestly not sure exactly what I would say, but it would not be an angered response. It would probably be something like, "Yep, that lady is wearing very little clothing." I might possibly add, "Isn't she silly?" before changing the subject to something like, "Will you put the organic basil on the belt? It smells so nice. Organic basil is so good. It was grown with only natural ingredients, and later we will use it to make a wonderful sauce. Would you like to hear what we'll put in the sauce?" I really believe that giving such minor distractions too much attention strengthens their importance in the mind of a child.

But children are easier than adolescents. Adolescence is the time when people become conscious of their bodies. For my kids, I plan to point out beautiful attributes of my friends, who will all be real women with unique faces and figures, many of whom I expect to be in wonderful relationships with men who adore them. I plan to try to expose my adolescent children to couples with genuinely loving relationships so that the importance of perfect appearances becomes minimized. Perhaps a few European films with non-cookie-cutter actresses would help, too. I recall seeing a foreign film a few months ago in which the "sexy young" heroine was actually a little bit chubby, and her breasts weren't particularly large or well-shaped, and her hair was kind of messy, yet she was tantalizingly cute. Nice to see.

Ok, I'm spent. Commence venting or praising, please.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Kicking Yelling and Screaming

Today's regularly-scheduled post will have to wait, as I have a meeting this morning at which I will likely be yelled at by several people about things over which I have no control. I am hoping my spiffy suit will deflect some of the criticisms, like magic.

Would you like to help me thicken my skin? Go ahead; use the comments section to complain to me about whatever's bothering you--as long as it's something over which I have no control.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Blink of an Eye

As I've mentioned before, Ty is twelve years older than me. We first started dating when I was in my early twenties. At this time, we were subjected to a decent amount of ribbing from our friends over the age difference. I didn't mind; most of it made me feel like a catch.

A year or two later, C.S. and I were sitting together on the subway, facing each other, deep in conversation. In the midst of our chatter, she paused, and pulled a long silver hair from my head. My first gray. A different kind of ribbing ensued, and I had a mini-mid-life crisis that day.

A few years after that, I went to, shall we say, a specialty doctor for, ahem, a certain kind of blockage that had never before affected me. He reassured me that it was nothing serious--"it's just that, well, you're not as young as you once were, and these sorts of things start to happen as you age."

I was recently invited to a party. I contemplated it; it sounded cool, and I thought about what I might wear to it, and then it occurred to me:

I will probably be the oldest person at this party.

We spend so much of our lives wanting to be older so that we can drive, and vote, and get the special privileges granted only to those of a certain age. Once we're there, we basically have around five or six years of real youth in the midst of being of age. It's the blink of an eye. I guess I was a bit cognizant of it at the time--whenever I was debating whether to do something fun and mildly selfish, my catchphrase was, "You don't get these years back"--but reality started to hit me pretty hard in my mid-twenties. I really wasn't going to be that young forever. Already, there were sexy starlets, in magazines and on television, that had been born in the 1980's. Unbelievable.

As I've gotten better and more experienced in my work and better and more experienced in my writing, I've started to enjoy getting older with significantly more gusto. There is a lot to be said for being taken seriously. I enjoy being asked for advice by younger men and women. I've become more conscious of my body and my health, and have started taking better care of both. So, I now have to add fiber-gram consciousness and sunblock-spiked hand cream to the list of things to think about, instead of just toenail attractiveness and removal of unnecessary body hair. It's not so bad.

My advice to young twentysomethings is this: Enjoy your youth. Take care of your body. Nurture your skills, so you have something wonderful to focus on as your body starts to get older. But, don't be scared. Things don't start to suck. They just become good in different ways.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Chalk it up

Things I never thought I would do:

1. Adore fat-free half 'n half;
2. Crave raw fish;
3. Make love to my husband while wearing a Queen Helene Mint Julep Facial Masque.

Now that's multitasking.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pins and Needles

I'd better hurry up and write this, because while my Internet connection is perfect when I spend forty-five minutes Googling "Rely tampon," it tends to cut out the minute I decide to engage either in blogging or in real work. (As an aside, how did people spend their leisure time between the days when you had to hunt for all your own food and the dawn of the Internet era?)

(As another aside, is that Lori Loughlin in the boat? (Scroll down.) What would Uncle Jesse say???)

So, I recently tried acupuncture, ostensibly for the fertility thing, but, really, because the idea of acupuncture has always intrigued me. I've often had a headache and thought to myself, "If only I could just have knowledgeable person put a pin into my flesh right here, I think the headache would go away."

For my first session, I went and met with this woman, recommended by a friend. First, there's a brief interview regarding your symptoms, and an opportunity to ask questions. My biggest concern was the cleanliness of the acupuncture pins. Fortunately, they're disposable, as I learned towards the end of the interview. With that, I was led to the room to strip down. Having no other worries to fixate on, it dawned on me that, in just a few minutes, someone was going to be sticking pins into my body.

The acupuncturist came back in, and proceeded. The pins get inserted pretty quickly; they feel kind of like a tiny punch. Not a fist kind of punch, but a punch like when you punch a button. Some areas of the body hurt a little more than others, but the pins aren't what anyone would call really painful. If anything, it's more unpleasant. And once they're in, you're fine. Trust me; I'm a big baby with stuff like this.

Once all the pins were inserted, the acupuncturist turned out the light (I had to consciously avoid writing "shut the light," which is how you say it in New Yorkese), instructed me to relax, and said that, hopefully, I would fall asleep. I did relax, and breathe deeply, but I didn't fall asleep. I was too busy speculating about her personal life, the personal life of her previous client, who left as I came in, the personal life of her next client, who I heard arrive as I lay on the table, and the personal life of the woman who had sold me a T-shirt earlier that day at the Salvation Army. I left, feeling like my body was pretty active even though I was very relaxed. Really, my body was pretty relaxed; it was my mind that was active.

The day of the next session, which was last week, I had had contact with many fewer people, and didn't really have anything to speculate about. Instead, I came up with a mantra, a phrase I've heard often and that has had an indirect influence at key points in my life. It doesn't really have anything to do with babies or fertility, and I'm not quite sure why I chose it, but I considered other mantras and dismissed them all, knowing that this was the one. I'm not going to tell you what it is, because I suspect that I need to keep it to myself in order for it to keep working as a phrase I can focus on, and meditate on, undistracted, but suffice to say it is a phrase from Catholicism. I repeated it over and over to myself while on the table, and did, eventually, fall asleep for a brief period of time. The next day, my sinuses were noticeably clearer.

Yesterday, at Mass, the choir began to sing a certain song. I hadn't heard it in a very long while, but knew it immediately.

It was the song that is based on my mantra.

At another point in my life, I might have looked up on this occurrence as an omen, an indication that I will get pregnant this cycle. Now, I don't think it is.

But I do think that it is a sign. That I know what I need, I know what I want, and that I'm moving things in the right direction. Someday, somehow, I will be a mother.

I feel good, I really do.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Infrequently Asked Questions, Part I

Q: Why don't you have any pictures of yourself on your website?

A: So that when I tell you that I resemble "a young Sophia Loren," you won't be certain that the proper response is to fall out of your chair, laughing.

Q: You call yourself a "food snob." Don't you enjoy any lowbrow foods at all?

A: Sure I do! I enjoy processed cheese and Marshmallow Fluff as much as anyone else. I just don't delude myself into thinking that they're "good." In truth, it's usually pretty easy to make most combinations of fat, salt, and/or sugar taste good, but it's the food analog of a cheap trick. I have much higher respect for the sophisticated marriage of interesting flavors and textures, or the pure beauty of fresh, delicious blends of simple ingredients.

Q: I simply don't have the time or energy to make my own pasta sauce. Can you recommend a decent commercial brand?

A: Acceptable brands include Classico, Victoria, Rao's, Barilla, and Patsy's. Brands made with organic ingredients are generally a good bet, as they tend to focus on quality. Steer clear of cartoon grandmothers, and of any brands that mispronounce Italian words in their commercials.

Q: Is it true that sewing is therapeutic?

A: Absolutely! Just not in the way that you think it will be. Forget those visions of blissfully humming as you sew by an open window with flowing drapes, the sun streaming in and warming a plush velvet cushion upon which is perched a soft, purring cat. The reality is more likely to be you, cursing a blue streak as you break YET ANOTHER needle or remove YET ANOTHER tangle from the bobbin case, until your spouse comes in to make sure that everything's ok, because he hasn't heard you swear like that since, well, EVER...and then you force out a quick smile so that you can return right to work because SO HELP ME, I will figure out how to use that stitch that makes the fucking decorative stars if it takes me all night, and....wait! Wait! I've got it! It's perfection! Whew!

Q: When you have a day to yourself, what do you do?

A: Make elaborate plans over my morning tea. Highlights of the day include finishing all my chores in a mere fifteen minutes, followed by museum jaunts, window shopping while dressed up a la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's with unheard Mancini music playing in the background, baking a souffle, and lounging on my couch with a good book. In reality, I log onto the Internet, and by the time I log off, I have just enough time to shower, run errands, and eat something.

Any REAL questions you'd like me to address?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mmmmmm.....canned worms.

There was a time not too long ago when very, very few people were reading this blog. I speculated that, if I ever did get comments, they would be of the negative variety.

Now, several months have gone by and I am blessed--truly blessed--by a wonderful community of readers, several of whom I have had the good fortune to meet in person. I get comments on a regular basis and they are almost universally positive. My one negative commenter was swiftly dealt with by a torrent of loyal readers, and has not returned since then.

I may regret saying this, BUT.....always one to enter the room of a sleeping baby, I have to wonder, aloud, whether you all like my posts as much as you seem to.

Take yesterday, for example. Halfway through writing that post, and recalling those "all victims of AIDS are innocent" posters from the '80's, I wondered if I would get flak for explaining everything I had done "right" during my fertility struggles. I didn't. I even got a comment from a new commenter, Suebob at Linkateria, who linked to yesterday's post.

I was totally psyched to get a link--I am, after all, something of an odd exhibitionist, as is manifested in the fact that I discuss so much of my thoughts and feelings on a public webpage. I am also extremely grateful for all the compliments I received on my post yesterday, both in public comments and in my private life. But I feel like I'd be doing everybody, myself included, a disservice if I didn't confess that I think it is important to talk about how people become afflicted with illnesses and conditions, if only because I am a firm believer in prevention. Just recently, in fact, I have been reading a great many articles and opinion pieces regarding the "25th anniversary" of the AIDS epidemic. I recall wondering aloud a few days ago how so many educated, informed Americans could have become infected with HIV through unprotected consensual sex in recent years, in light of massive, massive AIDS awareness campaigns in this country. Don't get me wrong--I have tremendous sympathy for those afflicted. Even so, I still wonder this. And I'm not alone. It seems that this is a hugely controversial topic, particularly in the gay community--witness this Larry Kramer speech and its attendant controversy.

I tried to communicate the fact that I naturally delve into speculation about others upon hearing of their diagnoses, and that this is something that I struggle with, especially now that I'm on the other side of the judging. I knew at the time I wrote it, though, that I didn't communicate all that I wanted to in yesterday's post. For that, I apologize.

A while back, Mignon wondered aloud whether her readers would still read her blog if she wrote not only about sunshine and flowers and happy, silky ponies (ok, so I'm paraphrasing a little), but also expressed potentially controversial opinions and rants. As she put it--this still makes me laugh--"If you were my boyfriend, could I fart in front of you yet?" (Yes, Mignon, if you're checking site stats, that was me searching your blog for boyfriend fart to get the URL for that post.) I guess I'm basically wondering the same thing, six months later and less humorously and not as well-written. Would you tell me (respectfully, please!) if you disagreed with me? I have to admit--I sometimes read things that I don't agree with, and I simply refrain from commenting, or comment on some other aspect of the post, because I am a big chicken and I myself haven't been able to do this thing that I'm asking. Am I opening a huge can of worms that none of us have the time and/or energy for? Will it upset the happy, positive dynamic we seem to have set up in our little blogging community? Will you still respect my food-snob opinions?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Soapbox Wednesday

When I hear of someone I know and care about being diagnosed with some kind of awful illness, it shames me to admit it, but the very first thing I do is search my memory banks for a behavioral explanation for the illness. ("Well, of course she'd get diabetes--look at her diet! It was only a matter of time.") This is not because I am a complete and total bitch--rather, it is because it is scary to hear about illness striking someone close to us. But for random chance, it could have been us. When we look for a way to blame the victim for her predicament, we mentally distance ourselves from the possibility of a similar fate. I think this is why society, in general, has such a fascination with hearing the stories of how people became infected with the HIV virus (well, this, and also because it often has something to do with sex). It's simply human nature.

Admittedly, this strategy often brings temporary comfort. One problem with it, though, is that blaming the victim for her or his own illness puts terrible stress on sick people, and generally adds to the societal suckiness of being sick.

Another problem with it is that it prevents us from fully accepting disease as an unfortunate part of life. When we ourselves are stricken with some malady, we must undertake an elaborate coping process that often includes extreme anger and denial, at a time when we need our outlook to be as healthy as possible in order to maintain our well-being.

The truth is, people DO get stricken with cancer, diabetes, lupus, Alzheimer's, and countless other maladies through no fault of their own. Even when behaviors associated with the maladies are a factor, none of us have crystal balls that enable us to see a direct link. And, as stated, looking for a connection is a dangerous business to get into, anyway.

Since discussing my fertility struggles with others, I've heard countless opinion statements and pieces of advice. I'm fortunate in that every single one has been well-meaning. None, however, have been appropriate. I've taken them all in stride, and most without anger, because I understand where they're coming from.

And I know exactly where I'm coming from. And exactly why I'm coping with infertility. It's because some people JUST. DO.

It just happens. At random. Often for no reason. Sperm and egg just don't meet up. The same way some people get pregnant immediately, when statistics are against them, some people don't, ever, even when statistics are working in their favor.

So, for the record:

I am a mature, informed, intelligent woman. I am not having sex "the wrong way" (you mean you're *not* supposed to remove the semen from the vagina with a turkey baster and then apply it to your eyelashes with an itty bitty brush while standing on your head and singing "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog?"). I have no conception-impairing diseases (i.e., I am not a "disease-riddled whore," because I guarantee there is at least one reader out there who was wondering). It is not a psychological problem. It is not because I'm not "relaxed," or because I have "mixed feelings" about being a mother (by the way, show me ONE extremely fertile woman who doesn't.)

I may use too many word-embellishment techniques in this post, but...I am not too skinny. I am not too fat. I know how to track my cycles--probably better 99% of the other women in the universe. It is not because I'm too old. It is not because I'm too young. (I'm 29; I started trying when I was 28.) It will not happen simply because I make the decision to adopt (and if it happens at that time, it will be a coincidence). It is not because I eat too much fish, or my bed faces the wrong way, or I wear the wrong kind of underwear, or I had the wrong kind of marriage ceremony, or because of my politics, or because of my dental fillings, or because of past birth control usage, or because I eat too many of the wrong things or too few of the right things.

If I decide to use medications to stimulate my eggs, please don't caution me that I shouldn't because I'll have "too many babies" or I'll "get cancer," based on one anecdotal story about a woman you heard about who died in her forties and "must have" used fertility drugs because she had a multiple birth. I heard of a woman who got punched in the nose because she was a bitch to the wrong person, but you don't hear me cautioning you, do you?

Please, let's get out of the business of second-guessing other people's life choices, shall we? Reasonable minds can differ. Most of us are quite informed. There are many different decisions to be made and not much consensus. If ever there were a time for a cliche, it is here: No one can judge anybody else without walking in his/her shoes.

What, then, is the proper response when someone says to you, "I'm battling [insert malady of choice]?"

"I'm so sorry. That sucks. Would you like me to bring you some dinner?"