Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween 2006!


It's me.

You can be honest.

How many of you have already munched halfway through the bag of candy you bought for trick-or-treaters?

I have.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Desperate times, desperate measures

Effective immediately, the following offenses taking place in or near the Trattoria Breve are now punishable by death:

-excess junk-mailing or menu or flyer-distributing, particularly when the papers are left on the floor of the entryway so that certain unnamed pregnant women whose stomach muscles are taxed to the limit then have to bend down to pick up said papers;

-possessing a cellphone with a ringtone that sounds like anything other than a ringing telephone, and I don't CARE how repetitive I am when I'm bitching about this one. There's a place and a time for Swan Lake, "Bootylicious," and "Hava Nagila," and that place is OUT OF MY EARSHOT and that time is NOT EVERY FIVE MINUTES;

-showing up more than twenty minutes early for any appointment that one has scheduled with me. If one shows up more than thirty minutes early and/or while I am writing a blog post, then the method of death will involve great pain.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Week 17 Update

I think I feel the slightest suggestion of a kick. And a lot of buoyancy. It's pretty cool. And sorely needed by my wilted spirits.

Ty: "Where were you?"
Arabella: "I just went for a little walk."
T: "Oh."


T: "Sweetheart, what's in the shopping bag?"
A: "Oh, nothing..."
T: "Come on..."
A: "Oh, all right."

(Arabella pulls something out of the shopping bag.)

T: "What's that?"
A: "Well, it's...it's a tiny little Guy Smiley doll."
T: "Oh."


T, perplexed: "You bought it for the babies?"
A: "Um...well........no."

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

As If

You know what's not helpful?

Trying to do stressful work as a lawyer, as well as other at-least-equally-stressful work, and being unable to partake of either wine or a hot bath, or a solid night's sleep, yet having to partake of daily injections and a parade of horse pills marching down my throat, while having well-meaning people repeatedly grabbing at my stomach and/or telling me to relax.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Year in Review

Happy Blogiversary to me! I started this blog one year ago today. Since then, I’ve:

-amassed well over 200 posts
-gotten a new blog design
-sought and received diagnostic testing for infertility
-had surgery
-found myself thrilled to be part of an incredible community of people
-broken bread with FOUR other bloggers, whom I now count among my friends
-written some posts I’m really proud of
-written some posts that really suck.

And now, a little story…

In January of 2005, I was stressed out. I could be considered a generally stressy person, but, around that time, it was particularly bad. I was working on a very difficult project that I didn’t have all the answers to, and the phone wouldn’t stop ringing, and the work kept piling up, and I was generally just feeling overwhelmed. Ty and I decided to go away for the weekend. Not just to the country, or to another American city—no, no, no, we decided to go all the way to Europe. Specifically, Amsterdam. Why did we pick Amsterdam? Well, I’d always heard it was a great city, and I really like cheese, and I’m a native New Yorker and was somewhat interested in Dutch culture, and, last, but certainly not least, it was the dead of winter and the whole trip was very cheap.

The night before we left, I was sitting on the floor outside my bathroom, as is not at all unusual, going through tiny plastic bags and bottles full of travel-sized toiletries, and crying. I had a big meeting the next morning (we weren’t leaving until the afternoon), and I had to pack, and I was worried about the meeting, and about making the flight, and was probably doing something strange or vaguely scary, like counting the number of cotton swabs in the same tiny box over and over again. Ty came over to mutter some comforting words, and I exploded about how I hadn’t learned any Dutch, or cracked open any travel books, and I didn't own any long johns, and I couldn’t believe how much I had to do the next day, and I didn’t even want to go.

But go we did. Somehow, I dried my tears, got to sleep, got through the meeting, made the flight, and arrived safely at our hotel room, with dark-wood furniture and cream-colored upholstery. It was cool, modern, and soothing.

We spent most of the weekend without a firm plan. When we were hungry, we got Brazilian grilled meats, or Indonesian rijsttafel (spicy assorted dishes with rice), or prosciutto sandwiches drizzled with fragrant extra-virgin-olive-oil, or a ham-and-cheese tosti (a hot pressed sandwich), and washed them down with handcrafted liqueurs. No one had told me that Amsterdam is a foodie’s paradise! When we wanted to see beautiful sights, we went to museums and looked at Flemish paintings. We walked everywhere. I didn’t even notice the cold or the dark. I was, quite literally, too busy gazing at the tulips, or watching boats glide down canals.

One afternoon, we flopped down on our hotel bed to take a short nap, right in the middle of the day, recklessly wasting the daylight hours simply because we wanted to. We woke up, looked at each other, and smiled.

That’s when my husband said something to me that I always keep in the back of my mind, often repeating to myself when things get too hard for me to bear.

“Sometimes,” he said, “You just need to feel like a person, with desires and appetites and senses to be satisfied. You need to eat and sleep and stretch out and look at pretty things. No one can go through life feeling only like a piece of machinery.”

I think that this is why I blog. Because, no matter what else is going on, it makes me feel like a person, like I have things to write and things to say, and things to read, that other people have written.

Thanks, everyone, for making my first year so wonderful.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Touché, Jeffrey

Jeffrey, you and I have had our differences, and now you have won Project Runway. While my initial reaction was a huge groan followed by several loud expletives, over the past nine hours or so, I have made peace with the judges' decision. Your sewing, by all accounts, was phenomenal (note to cameramen and/or editors: it would have been nice to see a closeup of the much-raved-and-speculated-about topstitching), and, while you and I have wildly-different aesthetics, I understand the reasons for your win. It's that whole mismatched, part-80's rock-and-roll thing that so in vogue right now. You're cutting edge. It's not a style that particularly flatters or appeals to me, and, frankly, I'm contentedly wearing simple, low-end maternity pants while just trying to ride it out until fashion conditions improve and I can once again wander into a trendy French-style coffee shop in Manhattan without being waited on by one of the Bangles, but I'll say this: at the very least, you've got charisma, kid. You were a good character and you gave us a good show all along, even when you were a jerk. Plus, we've got the Italian connection. I can't discredit that.

And I think Marilinda, your model, deserved her win. That girl's got attitude and a beautiful, non-cookie-cutter look. She rocked that yellow dress, even if said dress made me want to adjust the color and picture on my TV.

I admired Michael's and Laura's skills all along, and I think Uli's runway show was simply beautiful. Quite possibly the best of the four.


For me, the real hero of the show was Tim Gunn. Tim Gunn, articulately-voiced group mentor extraordinaire, liaison between the contestants and the judges, and attractive silver-haired, bespectacled fashion plate. Stern taskmaster with a heart of gold. Soothing in his coolness. I don't think it's overreaching to consider him part of a grand, classical tradition of minor characters with major impact, weaving through the story like fine metallic thread, affecting the lives of the major characters in ways both subtle and straightforward. Like, perhaps, the Nurse from Romeo and Juliet.

Or, as Ty said, Spottswoode from Team America.

Okay, so maybe not "classical." But grand, nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nausea Anew?

Caution: This post is bitter!

Certain highly-publicized celebrity foreign adoptions just aren't sitting well with me.

Case in point.

With all the desperate, orphaned children in the world who have no one and nothing, is it really necessary for Madonna to adopt a child with a living father? This isn't the small-designer-dog craze of 2004, where a celebrity picks a desirable puppy from a litter once it's weaned from its mother; we're talking about HUMAN CHILDREN. Children being taken away from the country of their parents. I'm not Madonna's bookkeeper, but I'll bet that in lieu of whisking his son away, writing a check to that boy's dad for about 50 grand or so would be hardly-felt on her end, and life-altering on his. Alternatively, how about simply funding local schools, hospitals, or community centers, and leaving it at that? How about spearheading clean water efforts or vaccination programs? Helping local residents build or buy houses or establish businesses? Helping other parents avoid the unimaginable heartbreak of ever having to be separated from their children due to poverty? Would we really rather whisk away to the West than help a child bloom where his family is planted? Are we that arrogant? Or that lazy? Or that cheap? Or that selfish? Edited to add: To be fair, Madonna has created a Kabbalah-based charity, Raising Malawi, whose website states that it plans to do many of the things I have listed. Certain human rights groups have raised concerns about Madonna getting special treatment during the adoption process by virtue of her having been financially generous to Malawi. I guess that time will tell how this plays out. I don't think that implementing these suggestions entitles anyone to receive special treatment while adopting a child, nor does it excuse said "whisking away."

To use the parlance of her adopted land, permitting Madonna to skip the normal adoption channels and "jump the queue," in my opinion, is shameful. Non-celebrity parents go through rigorous screening processes and wait YEARS for their adoptions to come through. This process is designed to protect the adopted children. Throwing it out the window for someone with clout and deep pockets is inexcusable.

There are excellent alternatives, even for us "regular folk."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Week 15 Update

I'm at that strange middle point in pregnancy. A lot of my questions have been answered (Will the daily injections continue? Yes. Will the nausea, at that level? Thankfully, no. Will my pee-free increments keep shortening? Yes.), and a lot have yet to be answered (i.e., the sexes of the babies, whether they have too many or not enough fingers and toes, etc.).

I'm really quite lucky, so far. Nothing, at this point, is horrifically wrong. Nevertheless, I have come to the conclusion that, if I were a juror on a murder case in which the defendant was a pregnant woman, I would strongly have to consider acquittal on that basis alone.

EVERYTHING pisses me off. A loud motorcyclist who rears his motor as he passes me leaves me with an urge to reach for a nonexistent gun. Barking dogs. Slow-moving selfish people walking in groups of four on crowded city streets. Menus and flyers left littering my doorstep. Construction. Ordering tea in a restaurant with a bunch of coffee drinkers and never receiving it. This is all stuff that always pissed me off, true, but never at this level.

On the bright side, I am finding cute infants that much more endearing. Yesterday, while procuring delicious sandwiches at a local place that I plan to revisit extremely soon, an adorable little boy with a strong resemblance to Ty looked up at Ty from his stroller and said, "Dada! Dada!" Under normal circumstances, I would find this situation frought with humor and possibilities for jokes, but, there, I just smiled at the cute kid.

Who promptly called me "Dada," too.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Common-Sense Business Etiquette 101

Good morning, class, and welcome once again to Common-Sense Business Etiquette 101!

I have graded your papers and there are a few things I would like to discuss with you as a group.

First of all, McAfee, you must never, ever, ever use the fact that your product is installed on a person's computer to your own advertising advantage! Your customers consider it rude and insulting when they are starting up their computer, intending to dive right into an important file, and a little pop-up window comes up and says "Save 62%!" and forces them to click either "Tell Me More" or "I Want to Continue What I Was Doing" before they can even access their own work. AOL IM, it's bad enough that you do it, but at least your software is free! McAfee, there is really no excuse for this. Particularly when the window pops up on the machines of customers who switched to another antiviral service months or years ago!

Next, we have Verizon. ENOUGH with the phone calls at home, already! Again, you are taking advantage of your access to your customer's machine, and, in many cases, your former customer's machine! Whatever you have to say, put it through the mail, so that your customer will only have to retrieve it, open it, discern whether it contains any personal information, shred it, and recycle the shreds properly, which should only take about 3 to 7 minutes out of the customer's life that he or she will never, ever get back again, instead of coping with a shrill, urgent tone that forces one to stop in the midst of whatever one is doing just to MAKE IT STOP ALREADY.

Ok, on to FedEx: you are aware that UPS (by the way, you're next, young man!) notifies its customers when subsequent delivery attempts are made? This is the only common-sense thing to do before shipping a package back to the far corners of the earth! Now, I realize that you can probably get another shipping fee when the customer finally realizes that you have come and gone with little more than a breeze by way of notification, but it's only a matter of time before this rudeness catches up with you and businesses start to drop you as their preferred carrier.

All right, UPS: You simply MUST instruct your delivery people that they needn't depress the doorbell with the entire weight of their body, and for the amount of time it takes to sit through a symphony. They awaken children and frighten the elderly. And when a customer grits her teeth and says "Thanks" anyway, they MUST respond, or, eventually, someone is going to be clobbered with the biggest, heaviest festive pumpkin lining the walkway.

Time Warner Cable: Have you thought about a new line of work???

Ok, students, that brings this class to an end. Next week, we will cover "How to please your customers in such a way that they never write satiric pieces about you on the Internet."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hello 12, Hello 13, Hello Love

When I was just shy of 13, my aunt gave birth to her first child. I was ecstatic. Though I had always loved and adored my brother, I was only 5 when he was born, and I hadn't yet formed an adult appreciation for the miracle that is a baby.

The way I see it, some instinct kicked in with the onset of puberty. Hormones pulsing through my veins, I longed to see and hold babies. I wanted, more than anything in my life, someday to be a mother.

I carried around pictures of my new cousin in my wallet, made a baby-themed hook rug for his nursery (yes, I seriously did this), and relayed cute anecdotes about him to anyone who would listen. I signed up for parenting classes that involved lugging around a sack of flour and calling the teacher at prearranged times to let her know we were doing our "late-night feedings." Such classes, naturally, were designed to show us how much work it was to care for a baby so that we might be less inclined to become pregnant as teenagers. I had no intention of becoming pregnant as a teenager, but, for me, the classes did nothing but add fuel to the fire of my interest in all things baby, which probably lasted at that strength until I hit college age. I recall thinking how, if I were born in the Middle Ages, I most likely would have become pregnant at around that time in my life, and perhaps that was how nature had intended it all along.

Even recently, while attempting to read about the various crib-drop mechanisms currently in use, and different kinds of breast pumps, and finding myself bored out of my skull and longing to find a rerun of Curb Your Enthusiasm on one of the HBO channel variants, I recalled that earlier time, that time when I was so enthusiastic about babies and everything that had to do with them, and briefly wondered if maybe modern society had made a mistake in not structuring life in such a way as to capture this youthful baby-loving energy among would-be mothers.

Here's the thing, though: at 13, I loved babies and had an insatiable curiosity about them, but I had absolutely no idea how to raise one. Sure, I could keep one alive and out of trouble for a while, and make funny faces and get laughter, but I didn't know anything about encouraging language skills, teaching object permanence, ways to introduce new people into their lives, the right things to say in response to difficult questions, etc. Essentially, I was a good, loving babysitter. I was nowhere near being ready to be a parent.

Now, my energy is more limited. I'm not squealing with glee at the prospect of getting out of my cozy, cozy bed so that (two!) babies can feed from my body and then I can remove the resulting poop from their skin. I couldn't care less how the crib mechanism works, as long as it's safe.

Yet, I have revised my earlier opinion. Energy levels and enthusiasm aside, I think modern society has really gotten it right.

This past weekend, I was at a tag sale with my parents. The busy woman in charge had a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter that everyone was oohing and aahing over. While her mother tended to a customer, I successfully navigated her away from an all-too-appealing rusty weathervane by asking her to show me the (much smoother and rounder and safer) concrete frog right nearby. She did so joyfully, pointing to two concrete frogs that sat, side-by-side. She went back and forth between the two, and seemed to know that they were different, but wasn't sure how.

"Big frog?" I asked, pointing to one. "Little frog?" I gestured towards the other, while also blocking the sharp edge of a hanging mirror with my body. I repeated myself and listened while she tried her hand at speaking these words.

"You've got it, Arabella," my mother nodded approvingly, reassured that I probably wouldn't be leading her grandchildren, by hand, into a pit of fiery snakes. "Distract, protect, and engage."

Much more important work than enthusiastic and sweetly-intentioned hook rugs and encyclopedic knowledge of breast pumps, don't you agree?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Revenge Fantasy for a Friday

While I generally do think that democracy is the greatest form of government, every once in a while I think of that vocabulary word from long ago, the one I don't remember and am too lazy busy to look up, the vocabulary word that describes a form of government that is run by a small group of smart people who tell everybody else what to do.

(Naturally, this would only work for me if I were one of the small group of smart people.)

A few years back, I was a law student who missed my English-major roots and wanted to do a little pleasure reading. I found a copy of some classic and notoriously-difficult piece of literature at a used bookstore. It wasn't Ulysses, but it was something like it, so for the sake of the story, we'll maintain the fiction that it was Ulysses. My memory is shot right now due to lack of nourishment--after choking on a horse-pill-sized vitamin, I puked up all of last night's dinner, and then, some time later, I inhaled some irritating particle and had a coughing fit that resulted in my also puking up my subsequent dessert. On the bright side, I didn't have to get up to pee EVEN ONCE during the night, as I had already surrendered all my liquids.

So, anyway, I had procured a copy of Fake Ulysses, and I sought some help with getting through it.

Enter my old pal, Cliff.

Just so we're clear, I have never, ever, ever, not even once in my life, relied on Cliff Notes instead of actually reading an assigned book. Books were the assignments I most enjoyed throughout my entire academic career. However, there were many, many moments when the realization set in that I had read the same paragraph at least 15 times in a row, and I knew that it was important, and critical, and that we would be discussing it the next day in class, and, due to lack of sleep, an excess of work in other subjects, general teenage angst, and not actually being a person who was living in the 1780's and was totally down with the lingo, I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what the hell the author was talking about. That's where Cliff came in. A quick consultation with him, and I would be able to develop some rough idea of the bizarre metaphor in which the author was indulging. I'd also find Cliff useful when one work referenced a previous classic work that I hadn't read and didn't have time to read at that moment, yet wanted a base knowledge of in order to develop my understanding of the referencing work.

So, even as a teenager, my opinion of Cliff was very clear, and I always likened adults who hated him and wanted to ban him to the kinds of people who wanted to ban drugs with proven medical benefits to many because some chose to abuse them.

Fast-forward back (is that an oxymoron?) to my law school days and Fake Ulysses. I entered a regular chain bookstore, found my Cliff companion, and waited on line to pay. The woman at the register was maybe five or ten years older than me. Maybe. When it was my turn, I handed over my little yellow-and-black friend, and her canned smile turned to a scowl.

"Are you buying this so that you don't have to read the book???"

I stopped taking shit sometime in 2005, so if this were to happen now, I would say something like, "I graduated with a degree in English from Prestigious College, and they gave me one of those little gold keys when I graduated. Now, I am pursuing an advanced degree in a different field and am making this purchase to enrich my reading of this classic in my limited spare time. None of this was accomplished by shirking my work, like you are doing right now by trying to engage me in conversation instead of ringing up my purchase. Now, kindly check me out so that you can get back to a busy day of gossiping with your friends and pushing the membership card." Naturally, what I said at the time was, "No."

If my fellow smart people, however, were running the show, she would have had to appear before us to justify her rudeness. We could have given her a taste of her own medicine, and accused her of all kinds of behaviors on the basis of no evidence. And then we could lock her in a room with a copy of Silas Marner, and no yellow-and-black assistance other than a buzzing bee.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

100 More Things About Me, Part IV

46. I may be a food snob, but I really, truly enjoy a good hot dog.

47. I have developed a sense of humor about virtually all things bodily.

48. I occasionally clean household stuff with baby wipes. It's just so convenient!

49. I am a pack rat.

50. I am not perfect. I say this by way of covering myself, because I'm not going to check my previous lists to see if I already included some variation of "I am a pack rat." Life's too short.

51. I think that, by now, someone should have invented a better, easier way of enabling us to sharpen our own kitchen knives at home.

52. I suspect that (face) toner may be a waste of money.

53. I use it anyway.

54. My individual hairs sometimes make little knots at the end. When I'm bored, looking for the knots can often provide me with a few moments of entertainment.

55. I get sick of a given brand of toothpaste by the end of the tube. Then, the cycle begins anew.

56. I miss the way Sesame Street used to be.

57. I would like to learn to make my own gelato.

58. I miss my waist.

59. I can't believe how much good stuff hasn't been released on DVD.

60. I own far too many travel-sized beauty products.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Same Words, Different Life Circumstances

Recently, Ty was standing by the window, looking out onto the street.

"Whoa," he exclaimed. "Look at HER!"

I glanced up from my magazine to see the back of his head. His gaze was still fixed intently on the scene before him.

"She has one of the nicest double strollers I've ever seen!"