Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Everyone's a Critic
Okay, fine, I'll take a turn bashing these poor little infant boys up there singing on stage for American Idol. Everyone else is doing it, and I've always just been so very susceptible to peer pressure.


Contestant #1, Phil Stacey, Mr. Sings in the Military and Probably in the Shower Too: If your shirt has a little detailing around the collar, a little tie or button or whatever, that's fine. But when the detailing is so unattractive and weird-looking that it gets embarrassed and starts to creep away, and in fact makes it almost all the way to your left shoulder before the end of your performance, then it's probably time to meet with the wardrobe folks again. But, nice idea, taking a very raspy-voiced original song and singing it, you know, melodically. I'd start examining the discography of Rod Stewart and Bryan Adams now, too.

Contestant #2, I can't remember your name but you're really pretty: It's a little bit creepy to dedicate a song to your parents and then sing "Let's Get It On." You know? Really.

Contestant #3, A.J. Whatshisname: I can't remember you, but you have a wide smile and somehow your eyebrows make me think of Howdy Doody. That can't be good.

Contestant #4, Sanjaya Malakar, with the Really Big Toothy Smile: If you could see what those yutzes look like, fake-dancing on the balcony up behind you and pretending to cheer you on, even you would get a big mean frowny face and kick some ass. But you can't see them while you sing, so instead you just keep looking younger and younger, despite dressing like a grown-up this week. And I would like it known that, as Willem is my witness, I said it sounded like a high school talent show at least two full minutes before Randy said it.

I bet they make Paula Abdul walk through a metal detector before she sits down. I don't think she independently possesses the self-restraint necessary to leave the boxcutters at home. Not because I think Simon Cowell actually is that infuriating or whatever, because I don't - just because I think she's hovering right on a very fine line between 'roid rage and crystal meth withdrawal, though I'm willing to accept it as gospel that she is not on drugs. Just because she says so, and she's so darn nice it must be true. No?

Ah, Contestant #5, Chris Sligh of the Big Puffy Hair and Potential Sense of Humor: Please stop clapping and dancing in the background. I've clued Sanjaya in, so you're on notice. But, oh, my goodness, what a cute guy you were in your wedding photos! Until I saw that, I just thought you had a face made for radio. Now I know it's just the hair. You sang, "I've been saved by a woman," on national television, to your cute blonde wife, thereby guaranteeing that you will Get Some Tonight.

Willem has informed me that if he went on this show, he would dedicate a song to me: "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw."

Contestant #6, Nick Pedro of the How Many Times Can I Quit and Come Back: Willem doesn't like you. When he imagines failure, he pictures you. Sorry. Okay, now you're singing. You are not black, not soulful, not female, not charismatic, and not sexy. Any one of those things would suffice, but in their absence - Do Not Sing "Fever."

Is this the first year that Simon has seemed so wildly uncomfortable with any vaguely homosexual reference? Which leads to, is it a new thing for him, perhaps a bad experience in prison in the off-season? Or is it just a newly-discovered weak spot because Ryan Seacrest's version of humor stopped developing about the time he was allowed to choose between music class or an extra study hall?

Contestant #7, Blake Lewis, cute grin and I'm just not cool enough to grok the beatboxing: You look a little like my OB. My very cute OB. The OB I was willing to shave my 8-months-pregnant legs for. I'm just saying. You're singing Jamiroquai. I would be so inexpressibly impressed if you figured out a way to walk around the walls and ceiling, a la the music video.

Three left. We can do this.

Contstant #8, Brandon Rogers, who happens to share a name with the son of a coworker, though I never would have guessed that there was that much soul in her house: Um, dude, you're so not Cyndi Lauper. But, okay, go ahead and sing her song, that's okay with me... as long as you promise to Start. Using. Consonants. Seriously. All those T's and K's and L's and stuff, those have a place in our great language. Often, at the beginning and end of words. Look into it.

I'm waiting for Randy Jackson's ad campaign with the ASPCA, "Dawg," to come out. He'll find a way to endorse things in strong words without ever actually voicing an opinion.

Contestant #9, Chris Something, whose face looks totally new to me and I realize I didn't pay attention to him at all before: Willem likes that you're dedicating your song to your grandmother, and he wants you to sing "I'm Too Sexy." Instead you're singing a song that those of us in the uncool-30ish-sweatpants-wearing set have never heard of. But it seems almost as inappropriately sexual as Right Said Fred would have been, in re: Grandma.

We made it.

Contestant #10, man am I glad I didn't do this last week because they were boring then, Sundance What Kind of Name is Sundance Head: You look, every time I see you on my television, like you're waiting for someone to kick you out. That makes me sad. And, okay, guy getting verklempt about missing his newborn son's smiles, that wins points. Back when I lived closer to home, my mom and I would go out and listen to live bands, and they always played "Mustang Sally," and I would drink illegally and pretend like I was loose enough to dance in public. Now I don't live close enough to go out, I don't drink, and I could dance in public because I'm not self-conscious enough to protect my friends and family from public embarrassment... so, whatever, thanks for the memories.

Amen. I don't pretend to be a music critic, but now you know what it's like in my living room a few nights a week. Only I'm much thinner and more eloquent than your mental image.
Well That Bites.
In good news, I woke up without a headache this morning.

That cheer and happiness lasted right up until I crossed the threshold into work, when Irritating C, the busybody to end all busybodies, greeted me at the door with, "That client you saw last month? She died this weekend." Great, thanks, how about I take off my coat and sit down first?

So, she's my first. The first client I've seen that has died "suddenly at home." I don't actually think it was suicide; we won't get the medical examiner's report for another few weeks, but it sounds like an accidental overdose. She never threatened suicide to me, she was instead very focused on getting benzodiazepines - Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax, whatever. The ones that you hear them talk about on medical shows when someone has a seizure or flips out and needs to be chemically encouraged to sit down and be still. In lower doses, they're good for anxiety, whether it's an ongoing nightly thing or a semiannual dental phobia. In much higher doses, like everything else, they'll kill you. I believe this woman had an addiction, and I think that addiction killed her.

The horriblest part of it all, even worse than the fact that she was less than a year older than me and in good health and should have had her whole life in front of her, is that she had three kids. Her oldest is similar in age to Emily, there is a 4ish-year-old, and the baby is about 8 months old. How often do you suppose the word "poor" is going to be applied to those kids just this week, alone? And now they're left with a family that is chaotic - stealing each other's drugs and threatening each other on the weekends, to start - and a mother who was never really there for them before and now can't fix that.

Just horrible. Overwhelmingly horrible.

And yet not. I'm here at work, no tears, no new headache, no guilt. I don't feel any personal responsibility, because I did my very best to reach that woman and she would not be reached. I'll go home at lunchtime and chat with my husband, and I'll play with my kids tonight, and my life will go on. If I let this actually be as horrible as parts of my brain want it to be, I'd be on a steep slope toward a place I don't want to go. Sometimes part of being human is not being human all the time.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Personality, Interrupted
You may have noticed that I've been somewhat uninspired, or maybe just plain old boring, blogwise, of late. It's not intentional, and it's not for lack of wanting to be unboring. It's because I am into my fifth day of a screaming vertiginous headache, and somehow that does very bad things to both my literacy and my sense of humor. Not to mention my ability to focus on a computer screen. Or to not eat my family members.

This is the third time in my life that it has happened, when a headache has rolled in and taken up residence. The other two were at relatively innocuous moments of my life, not at any major crossroads or decision-point; really, the same as this time, although I feel like there's a case to be made that the not-internship thing could be contributing. I've been getting intermittent migraines since I was 16, and despite any number of charts, 4 different prophylactic meds and 10 different abortive meds, nothing has really worked consistently on them. The only consistent pattern I've been able to pinpoint is that, often, I'll get a bad headache immediately after some major source of stress goes away. The week after I graduated college, barely and by the skin of my [insert body part more sensitive than teeth], following some major health crises and family dramas and relationship angst and who knows what-all, it was like a little switch went off in my head. "Okay!" announced the Migraine Goblin, "That's done! You've graduated! Now, lay down and whimper for three days. Got it?" Yes, sir.

So even though I wasn't consciously feeling a big load off, weight off the shoulders, task scraped off my plate, whatever - perhaps actually having the date pass and having no chance for a last minute change-of-heart was noteworthy for me.

Or maybe I'm just unlucky. Whatever. This hurts.

And now that I'm rolling into Day 5, I'm noticing my personality start to change. I'm less amused by stupidity, less able to roll with the idiosyncracies that normally seem endearing, less able to act like I care about things I do not care about. So far I've tried not to bark at my children or husband, though I'm sure that yesterday morning's episode of standing in the kitchen weeping because I just couldn't think of anything else to do did not go a long way toward reassuring them that Mama can handle this.

I'm well enough to be at work today, but the thought of eating is disturbing to me, and I'm sitting in my little cubicle with the shades drawn - I opened them on my first day here and had never yet closed them again - alternating between various tasks for as long as I'm able to sustain them. I get a sort of migraine-induced ADHD, but it's really more in line with an anxiety thing... I stare at the computer too long, and I worry that I'm starting to see another aura. I knit for a while, and the texture of the yarn makes me nauseous. I try to do paperwork and the letters start to jump and dance like a six-year-old on Halloween.

Seriously, I'm not in the running for World's Sanest at the moment. I recognize the stupidity and inanity of my symptoms, but being irritated at them doesn't make them go away. Trust me, I've tried.

I'm going to go in a little while to pick up a new round of medication, and I'm waiting for a referral to a new neurologist. You may remember that the last time I tried to see one, it was not a success. I'm not having lofty hopes for this one, either, but my primary care doctor doesn't know what else to offer me and I don't know what else to ask for, so a new audience can't hurt. Well, it could hurt, but not any more than I already am.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Overheard, Hospital Version
Irate wife of an irate man who was earlier complaining of imminent plans for suicide and/or homicide but now is bored and wants his nightly three tokes, and who says marijuana is harmful anyway: If you don't get my husband out of here right now, you're going to have a psycho on your hands.
Nurse, who has been dealing with the same family for 12 hours and is No Longer Amused: Apparently I already do.

Oh, I was tired last night. Four hours of sitting in the same chair, with a headache too intense to allow me to play online or even have the overhead lights on, waiting on a single phone call signifying Marijuana Man's admission into the state hospital, was not my ideal way of spending a Friday night. I was so glad to watch the nurse snap a little and lose a bit of her public service persona; I really needed the reminder that I was not the only human in the place.
Friday, February 23, 2007
A Profound Lack of Profundity
As of whatever-time this morning, it's official: I did not get a psychology internship, will not be completing my doctorate within the next few years. This is okay. Really. It's fine. It's what I was hoping for this time around, given the weird-badness of the one interview I had, and my basic decision that I've changed my life plans and goals and hopes and aspirations, and the idea of working 60-hour weeks in order to get one more diploma is not right for me. Maybe it will be someday... but not now.

What is going to drive me insane about this is people's insistence on feeling sorry for me, pitying, sad, disappointed, whatever. My mother, my former classmates, even my husband have made sure to tell me that they're, in some form or another, not thrilled at the direction my life has taken. Which is fine, they can feel however they need to feel - but most of them are insisting on feeling bad FOR me, as though somewhere deep within my soul I must be weeping and wailing, and I'm just putting on a brave front now. So they're feeling sorry for me, and I'm not being cooperatively miserable. I've stopped trying to convince them that I'm content, even happy, with the turn of events.

So, that's that. I'm a little frustrated at my inability to effectively put my thoughts and feelings into words about the whole situation, but otherwise I'm fine. It's nice to have confirmation and an end to it all. Last year, I went through what's called the Clearinghouse, which is basically when all of the sites with empty intern slots and all of the interns without placements jostle in a chaotic and demeaning manner to get something, anything. I found it more stressful than any other part of the process, and I didn't get a placement anyway. So I won't be doing that to myself again. I'm just done. Amen.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
And the ESPY Goes to...
At work this morning, I spent several minutes in the kitchen preparing a fruit salad because Perfect J likes us to celebrate people's birthdays whether they want them celebrated or not. Sanctimonious P's birthday was last week, so bring on the snacks. Fine, whatever, I'll be a good soldier and hack up a pineapple. I discovered that it does good things to my morale, bringing a sharp knife to staff meeting. I may start a new habit, whether I'm making a fruit salad or not.

While I was there, I was accosted by Lame C, one of the front-office staff. She's not quite a receptionist, and I just hope that she knows what her job is, because I certainly don't care know. She had 10 uninterrupted minutes to talk at me, while I decimated strawberries.

The unique thing about Lame C is that she is one of the most Boring people you'll ever meet in your life. This woman is a serious, studied Borer. I believe she has a master's in Boring, if not a Ph.D. Rumor has it that she spends her summers in Europe, Boring there, so that she can maintain her amateur Boring status for the 2008 Beijing Olympic trials. ESPN has done one of their little SportsCenter blurbs on her ability to Bore people for miles around, all while juggling the demands of a full-time Boring job and a household full of Boring children. It's a family tradition, really; her father was a weekend Borer with the local youth league, and her grandfather Bored professionally out of New York. There is talk of creating a new ESPY category for her, accompanied by a special gold-plated awl to represent her achievements in Boring.

Once I revived from my Boredom-induced coma, I went on with my day. Everything just seems so much more interesting now, in comparison.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Massive Vowel Movements
I had a confession to make, here, in public, in front of all y'all: I watch crap TV.

This is a big step for me. Growing up, I, like many other Americans in the '80s, lived with my parents. This sharply curtailed my TV-watching adventures, because my father has always been more of a computer guy, except when he's ignoring the news or the live fake court shows but God forbid you change that channel, and my mother views television as the work of ... well, what's worse than the devil? Because I think she has a healthy respect for certain works of the devil. A work of Walmart, perhaps - that's far, far worse, in her eyes.

My mom belongs to a certain class of media consumers who cannot understand the value of watching crap for crap's sake. "Why would you want to watch so-called reality shows? They're not even realistic! And commercial television just caters to the lazy, unstimulated brain. It doesn't make you think!" In my mother's perfect world, I suspect, there would be no channels but PBS, no movie theaters with stadium seating and cupholders, and no books that didn't expand the mind and enrich the soul. She likes Art Theatre fare (faux British spelling intact), books with titles that include words like "soul" and "deep," and no TV shows at all. She takes great pride in scoffing at television as a weakness.

And, for many years, I bought into this mindset without a backward glance. I have vague memories of watching e.r. back when it was lower-cased and featuring George and Noah, probably in the spirit of exposing me to some form of pop culture and watching cute doctors do brave things. Slowly, even that was deemed unworthy. I still watched TV by myself, late at night, but always in a mildly guilty sort of way. Like I could get away with it, but I wouldn't do it in front of anyone else. If I was Catholic, I'd probably have brought it to confession.

Through college, I owned a television set but couldn't afford cable, so we rented a lot of movies. When I moved to Boston to get my first (two) masters degree(s), I didn't even bring a television along with me. Just as well, because my apartment had about 12 square feet of floor space, maybe 13. I took a snotty sort of pride in my televisionless lifestyle, and pretended not to sneer at all those people who passively relied on the boob toob for entertainment and stimulation. It's not like I spent my non-television-watching time attending museum exhitbits and live theaters and Zen retreats; in fact, now, I can't even remember how I spent my evenings. But it wasn't watching TV, that's for sure.

Then I moved in with Willem, and started joining him in the living room while he watched sports on his little 13" TV in the corner. I tried watching a new show, Wonderland, and was brutally and mercilessly cut off when it became clear the show was too intense and realistic for prime time and got yanked. I started to feel those old guilty feelings again, like I was doing something shameful. What kind of mother was I, sitting there a few months pregnant, allowing my baby to be prenatally exposed to the mind-numbing qualities of commercial media? Even if it was A Baby Story, which was clearly educational and enriching and tear-jerky and for the sake of the baby?

Time passed, and eventually, one night, I was sitting at home while my husband was at work and my by-then-three-year-old daughter was asleep. I turned on the television, and somehow landed on Temptation Island.

And I watched it. Every single episode, all season long. With a deep, abiding fascination for the way people behave in front of a camera or ten. After a while, I got brave enough to admit to Willem that I, the mighty I, was watching a TV show.

And with even more time, I got over myself, realized that there is a place in my life for crap, for completely useless and brainless entertainment, for passive background information to flow over me while I do other things. I can't quite sapire to be a true couch potato, because I get too jittery just sitting there - I have to DO something. I used to do crosswords, but now I knit. And I don't have the patience for commercials, but now that we have DVR I can record far too many shows every week and zip through an hour-long show in 42 minutes. Blissfully.

As for the passive entertainment, the not-thinking... you're darn RIGHT I'm not thinking! My brain is tired. Worn-out. Full of insanity from work, and sometimes even from my clients, and details about the kids, and a brazilian other things. I need a break, but I'm not ready to be unconscious.

So, last night, I sat and happily watched American Idol, and learned that if you're a cute 20-something, you, too could join a singing competition in which consonants are unnecessary, and you could warble a long string of musical vowels on stage. Enunciation is superfluous! Even key, pitch and rhythm! Who cares? Just sing, and wiggle it, just a little bit.

I can't wait for tonight's series of vowel movements. But don't tell my mom.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The Thrill of Victory... and the Agony of Defeat
This weekend, I had the perhaps unique experience - unique for me, anyway - of spending some time at both extremes of the parenting spectrum. On Saturday, we had friends over for dinner, one family with a 4-year-old and the other with a 1-month-old. I got all Martha Stewart on their heads, made spaghetti sauce from scratch (a phrase which never fails to gross me out a little... I promise, I scratched nothing to make that stuff) and meatballs and sausage with my new food grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid - which, I realize I previously failed to mention, cost me $35. Thirty-five. Dollars. Hah.

Anyway. I made a good dinner, my kids behaved themselves, my husband behaved himself, it all came together. I held the newborn for a long time, and having kept two of my own progeny alive past infancy has let me feel a lot more confident when holding other people's babies, so I didn't have that holding-an-eel-covered-in-soap posture that lots of people seem to adopt. It was all good. And later I got an email telling me that I make it all look easy. Which, to be perfectly honest, it kind of was - in the moment, on Saturday, it was all easy. But only because I've put in endless hours toward teaching my kids to be non-annoying people, learning how to cook and serve a meal, blah blah blah. Whatever, I was Queen Mom for the Day, I'll take it.

Besides, it all canceled out last night. This week, Emily is on school break, so we arranged for her friend D to come over for the night. D's mom and I have been friends since were pregnant with the girls, who are about six weeks apart in age. So the girls have sort of been forced into friendship based on that, but they enjoy each other. We live about an hour and a half apart, so we try to do sleepovers when we can because day-trips are exhausting. So, D has been to our house a bunch of times, and there have been moments of homesickness and "I miss my mommy," but never anything unmanageable.

Until yesterday.

We met at a mall for the trade-off, and that went fine. I loaded D and my two kids into the minivan, and that went fine. We drove home, that went fine. Then she crossed the threshold and something clicked, and not in a good way. Crying, "I want my mommy, I want to go home," pacing, generally very unhappy. And she's 6, so she's old enough to resist any of my feeble efforts to distract, cheer up, or otherwise redirect that particular train. It was heartbreaking to watch, and, for the first time in my memory as a parent, I had absolutely no idea what to do.

This is a big deal. Sometimes I SAY I don't know what to do, but what I really mean is, I know what to do but I don't want to, or I know there's something but I haven't figured it out yet, or I know what to do but I want someone else to do it, whatever. But yesterday, I literally did not have a thought in my head. Just lovely, flat, white blankness inside my head.

After a while, I started to feel like I was on a Hostage Response Team, dealing with a particularly strong and unyielding negotiator:
"I want to call my mom. I want to go home."
"Okay, let's have a snack and then we can call your mom."
"I want to call my mom now. I want to go home."
"Okay, let's draw her a picture to bring home with you."
"I want to call her. Now."
"Okay... can I offer you some illicit substances? Maybe a puppy? A circus act?"
"I want to call my mom."

She's tough, I'm telling you. I finally gave in and called her mother - and to clarify, I never mind if kids want to call their moms, but it was pretty clear that this was going to be a "Come and get me" phone call and I generally operate under the assumption that if you can get them through that initial anxiety/homesickness thing, they'll start to play and relax and actually, dare I say it, enjoy themselves. But D was just miserable, and I was helpless, and I also felt like this shouldn't be my decision to make. We can handle crying and angst, but on the other side of that coin I don't want a sleepover at my house to be some sort of endurance test, an emotional gauntlet that strengthens character at the expense of several years off your life.

Moral of the story is, her mother decided that she really wanted D to get through the night if at all possible. So I took them all to Chuck E Cheese, filled them up with ice cream and sugar, and then got 'em into pajamas in a low-lit room and let the sugar crash take them away.

So, if, on Saturday, I was Queen Mom for the Day, then yesterday I barely deserved the title of Resident Provider of Cheerios. Such is life.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Britney.... Krenwinkel?
I feel bad for Britney Spears, I really do. How easy can her life be, and how much worse is it to know that it's all her own fault? I feel worse for her boys, because who needs that kind of chaos before they've taken their first steps?

But her latest 'do has solidified a vague suspicion I've been entertaining for a while.
Britney Spears...

From TMZ.com and KABC

Manson girls at trial...

from various news sources

Now, I'm not trying to imply that Britney brutally slaughtered anyone, or is following Charles Manson, or even realizes that Charles Manson and Marilyn Manson are not actually closely related. Just that she seems so lost and confused and malleable, that the only thing that would truly shock me would be if she were to stand up, get her life together, and lead a confident, un-insane lifestyle.

Edited to correct the name... I had my Manson girls mixed up. Linda Kasabian never shaved her head, Patricia Krenwinkel did. I'm so ashamed of myself.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Coinage of the Dental Sprite
I could give you far to much information about my past few days, but it can be summed up by this morning's shopping trip: I had to choose a self-checkout grocery store so that I didn't have to struggle with the embarrassing eye contact while purchasing certain embarrassing products which I was masking with a large package of paper plates and a 12-pack of soda. Just... well, any sort of Preparation, and I don't care what letter it is, is not my favorite thing to shop for. Nor are those little tiny Band-Aid looking things that I just paid my doctor a $20 copay to tell me to go buy for myself and then cover with duct tape. I have spent money happier on trips to the dentist.

Speaking of which, I also got to take Emily to the dentist this morning. I tell you what, nothing says "Mother of the Year" like bringing your kid to have a molar extracted because it's got an abscess and chronic infection, in her head, near her brain. While there, in the room with Emily, I got a call from Willem, and I suddenly remembered that the Tooth Fairy in my house brings Sacagawea dollars but I wasn't sure that I had any of those laying around the house. So I asked, "Hey, on your way home, can you stop at the bank and get --" whoops, she's right there! Don't ruin the Tooth Fairy myth already! "... uh... get some coinage of the Dental Sprite."


Husband activates mental thesaurus.

Continued silence. Then - "Oh! Right! Coinage of the Dental Sprite! Got it!"

So the myth can continue. What a relief.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Valentine's Day Postponed, Rescheduled for Later Date

Big storm, blah blah, chaos, destruction, woe, chaos, ice, gnashing of teeth, etc. New Hampshire is effectively closed with our first storm of the season. In February. And yet we have the audacity to be surprised and shocked that the weather is so bad.

Can you hear the wailing and angst simply pouring out of every teenage girl and newly-relationshipped individual in New England? The vast unfairness of not being able to get to school to ignore your teachers, not being able to go to work to gaze lovingly upon your dearest's emails, has created a sting that time, quite frankly, may never heal. Alas.

I know, it's the new cool thing to do, to be cynical and anti-Valentine's Day... but I take pride in knowing that the last time I "celebrated" Valentine's Day was when a semi-boyfriend, Derek, gave me a tiny pink teddy bear. When I was 16. I was cynical long before it was cool, with my standard line being, "I'd rather get flowers on some random Tuesday than have you feel proud of yourself for remembering a made-up holiday which has been shoved in your face on a daily basis for the past six weeks."

So, let it snow. The emotional scars can start to heal tomorrow, once the cruel separation has been relaxed. Or maybe Friday, if the weather stays bad.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Worth the Risk
First off, I'm grateful to the support and interest and empathy from all y'all who commented.. note to general public: comments are good, they make blog authors happy. Especially when they're supportive about heavy and uncomfortable topics (though I'm always up for a good debate, or just to make you look stupid, if you're feeling argumentative).

Miscarriage is one of those deep, dark taboo topics that we don't talk about in polite company, but once it happens, it really takes over your whole life for a while. Somehow it gets less attention, less validity, than other losses, such as the death of a post-natal family member, the loss of a relationship, the death of a pet, for God's sake. I understand, cats are important, dogs are friends, whatever - but it always shocks me a little to wander down the Hallmark aisle and see sympathy cards for pet death but no corresponding card for the despair, the self-doubt, the inadequacy, the loss of hope associated with miscarriage.

Yes, sure, maybe it was meant to be - or wasn't meant to be, depending on your perspective. Maybe there was a genetic problem too great to support life, or a chemical imbalance, or a bad phase of the moon, whatever. And I have worked hard, usually successfully, to create a life that is not characterized by regrets. I'd love to erase certain experiences and knowledge from my life, but I'm a firm believer in the "Change One Thing, Change Everything" philosophy. If I hadn't had some trauma with a side of PTSD through high school, I wouldn't have been so desperate to go away to college and wouldn't have skipped my senior year. Then I wouldn't have met Willem, wouldn't have dealt with his good guy/bad behavior stuff, probably wouldn't have moved to Boston. And so on with the house-that-Jack-built which is my life. Likewise, if I hadn't had the miscarriage in 2003, I wouldn't have had Jacob in 2004. I might still have had a baby, and chances are good that I'd have been fond of it, but it wouldn't have been Jacob, and I could have gone the rest of my life with an absence in my heart that I could never quite define.

But. So what if it was an accident of genetics or God's will, or something in between? It still was a tremendous loss - not of a child, I don't pretend that having a miscarriage is a fraction as traumatic as it would be for me to lose one of my children now, but it was a loss of hope, and plans, and confidence in my own body.

And it was also a loss of wide-eyed innocence, and I'm not exactly overburdened with naïveté to begin with. The comments that people would make, which in most cases were, presumably, intended to sound supportive and helpful, often came across as crass and thoughtless.

"Were you trying to get pregnant?" asked my neighbor, when I answered the door the day after the surgery looking just exactly like I felt. "Because if you weren't planning on it, then this could be a good thing!" Oh, yes, now I feel bright and sunshiny, thank you.

"Oh, you'll get over it, don't worry about it," interrupted the head teacher at Emily's Montessori school, as I tried to have a quiet discussion with Emily's teacher because I wasn't sure how much she'd picked up on and how much she understood about it all. "I've had four miscarriages, and now I have three kids, and you just have to shake it off and get over it." From the Dog-Out-of-a-Pool School of Grief Counseling, apparently. And by the way, your kids are poorly-mannered oafs without an ounce of social grace. Neener neener neener.

"This is the problem with early pregnancy tests," from a source near and dear to me who should have known better. "A few decades ago, you couldn't test so early, so you never even knew you were pregnant. You just thought you were having a late period." Well, but I did know, so it does matter, and by the way I had the miscarriage at 13 weeks. Seems like even a few decades ago, someone might have noticed being that late.

"Obviously something was wrong with the baby. You should be grateful not to have to deal with a handicapped child," from a professor at school who felt obligated to approach me based on what he'd heard through the grapevine, despite having no personal relationship with me. Which, first of all, shut up; second of all, you're a psychologist and should have been trained better even if you didn't know better to start with; and third of all, I have a sister with a disabling illness and my life has only been enhanced and improved due to my dealings with her. And fourth of all, shut up.

And so on, and so forth.

So, it's a hard topic in the first place, and then people react like well-meaning imbeciles, which is just so much worse than the deliberately hurtful imbeciles because somehow I end up feeling guilty for not liking their words. It's not that big a surprise that we don't talk about it.

But when we do, more often than not, it turns out to have been worth the risk. People often rise to the occasion, if you let them, and talking about bad stuff might cause the mouths of the idiots to open and let words fall out, but it also allows the good eggs in life to speak up and offer their support or wisdom or presence. Like my husband, picking up the reins of the household despite working more than full-time out of the house, and not trying to solve the problem but just letting me work through it. Like my mother, driving 9 hours in a day just to take me to an appointment. Like the online community that I sought during my months on bedrest in Jacob's pregnancy, people who have become as close as any friends I've ever made away from the computer.

So, thanks. And even a thank-you to the idiots, who have made the rest of the world look that much better, by contrast.
A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma
I just don't understand my coworker, Curmudgeonly J. Or maybe, to be more accurate, I don't want to understand. He approaches life with a taser and a big heavy shield, as though every interaction, from passing over information from the previous shift to ordering coffee at Dunkin Donuts, has not only the potential, but the likelihood of hostility and personal insult. And rather than sit around waiting for that hostility to actually materialize, Curmudgeonly J will strike out preemptively, which, of course, ignites hostility, so he has the unique pleasure of being right while he is being attacked. At the same time, he feels that he knows best about ev-ery-thing, and feels personally responsible to make everyone else do their jobs to his specifications.

It just seems like an exhausting way to live.

The worst are his interactions with Perfect J, because they've worked together for the past two or three hundred years, give or take, and they both have an overflowing boatload of preconceived expectations of how the other will act and what the other will do in any given situation.

Curmudgeonly J: I have this form that one of the psych hospitals is asking the emergency room nurses to use, to relay information. We should all use it, because there have been so many screw-ups lately when those stupid nurses overstep their boundaries and try to talk about the patient's psychiatric symptoms and they're directly contradicting what I just said.
Perfect J: Well, but, I don't want to tell the nurses what to do. I feel like they're doing the best they can already. I don't mind using the form, but I don't want to fight the nurses about it.
CJ: What do you mean, you think they're doing the best you can? Are you willing to accept mediocrity? What's wrong with you?

And degeneration from there.

I don't get caught up in the same cycle, partly because I haven't been working here so long so I'm not tied into the same dynamics and misery, and partly because I have very little ability to give two hoots (or even one) about one middle-aged man's finger-pointing combined with a way overdeveloped sense of responsibility combined with relative powerlessness. Sorry, Curmudgeonly J, but what matters to you just doesn't matter to me.


Monday, February 12, 2007
February - For Real This Time
All those words and I never actually got around to why February is an odd time of year for me. Okay, then, to continue...

We went to New York for Thanksgiving, to spend it with Willem's parents and brother. Not because they wanted to host it, particularly, but because his mother was jealous that we spent so much time with my family and so she got competitive and impulsive. She wanted us there for the holiday, and the fact that she hates to cook didn't present itself to her until after we had agreed to come out. She ordered the entire Thanksgiving dinner pre-cooked from the local grocery store, sent Willem's brother out to pick it up at 11:00 in the morning, and then left it on the kitchen floor until 2:00, when she picked it up, plopped it on the table, and served it to us.

We stayed in a hotel, because... well, have you never read this blog before? His parents were - are - not good hosts. In the sense that Iraq is not a relaxing place for a tropical vacation. We made use of the hotel, both to sleep unaccosted by his mother's personality-disordered cats and to celebrate the end of the six-week abstinence imposed after the miscarriage. (Which spawned another inside joke - then-3-year-old Emily was sound, and I mean sound asleep, so we thought we'd risk a moment or three of carnal knowledge, and were well into the throes when she sat bolt upright in her bed and said, "Daddy, what's that noise?" He replied, as calmly as one might offer the time to a stranger on the subway, "Oh, that's just me twitching my foot." She said, "Oh, okay," flopped back on her pillow, and fell back asleep. We interrogated her the next day - she has no memory of this. Still, occasionally, I'll ask if he feels like twitching his foot...)

We returned home, and I felt awful. Severe nausea, low-grade fever, gastrointestinal yuck. I went to the doctor, and was diagnosed with e. coli. Yes! E. coli, from my mother-in-law's Thanksgiving dinner! Hooray! Physical proof that her presence is toxic!

"Oh," said the doctor, "and by the way, we have to be careful how we medicate it. Congratulations. You're pregnant."

Um. Excuse me?

"Yes, we always check when we take a urine sample, just in case."

It is so not April Fools Day right now. Any jury in the country, as long as it's made up of women, will acquit me if I crawl through the phone and kill you for such a horrible joke. Really? Pregnant?

"Yes, really. You'll have to have bloodwork to determine dates."

Yeah, I know the drill. And sure enough, we were right back on that roller coaster already. This despite having gone on the Pill again immediately after the miscarriage in an effort to re-regulate my cycle. Which marks the fourth time I've been pregnant on the Pill or Patch... I'm not sure why we talk about future children as though we have any say in the matter at all.

So, mid-December, I got confirmation, but was told there were no special precautions or concerns that I needed to have; I should treat this as a normal pregnancy and not worry. Funny, funny stuff, that. Oh, sure, I won't worry about a thing, just because you said so! Thanks, Doc!

But we kept it quiet. With the lost pregnancy, we'd just barely told my family, but had not told my in-laws; I can't remember what, now, but my mother-in-law had done or said something particularly hurtful and I had told Willem, in total wide-eyed sincerity, that I planned on informing her about the pregnancy by sending her a birth announcement. When the child was five. This time, I was still unhappy with her, but I was also scared to death and simply could not face the possibility of another round of "It's probably for the best" and "Did you even know you were pregnant?" and "Oh, well, you'll get over it - I've had four miscarriages and I'm fine" if I did lose this pregnancy.

Willem and I had planned to go to Las Vegas to visit my friend Molly, leaving Emily with my mother and actually taking a real vacation - and we still did so. The third morning there, I woke up, walked into the bathroom, and felt a pop. And started to bleed. Heavily and horribly. I started the whimper-and-cry routine right away, and called my OB, who agreed, "It sounds like you're having another miscarriage [always wonderful to be right] but no need to see a doctor [do they even have doctors in Las Vegas?] unless you experience symptoms of [ugh, this just bites]..."

The day before, we had driven all the way around the Grand Canyon, just because we could. That day, we were scheduled to drive out to Death Valley - coincidence, but it seemed apt. I moved very quickly from the sniffle-and-moan stage to the emotionally-numb phase, so we went anyway. Only time I've ever been in California so far. It was all gorgeous, and a nice day despite the pall over my uterus; we accidentally drove near Area 51 and ate at this tiny little diner with the coldest toilets I have ever hovered over in my life. Flew back to New York the next day, gathered up Emily, and went home, all the while congratulating myself for not having told the whole world this time.

Once home, we limped through New Year's, and I kept my OB appointment for 1/3, intending a post-miscarriage meeting to discuss, now what? Two makes a pattern, so what next? Instead, I mentioned, "You know, it's really unfair. I've never had morning sickness before, but ever since the bleed in Las Vegas I have barely been able to eat." That, along with a few other things, finally led to the doctor saying, "I don't think you actually had a miscarriage. Our ultrasound computer is down today, so come back tomorrow morning and we'll find out for sure."

I got back in my car and promptly drove off the road. It was bad weather, the guy in front of me swerved and stopped abruptly - but I was in mind-numbing shock and had the reflexes of a sloth on heroin.

The next day's ultrasound confirmed, I was still pregnant - and this time there was a heartbeat. There was another bleed, at 10 weeks, which was horrible and scary, but again faded away and, yep, look at that, I was still pregnant.

Then came February 9, 2004. Poor Mark. Mark is Jenny's husband, and was a classmate of mine and a good friend. We decided to go to lunch at Subway, and he drove me. At this point, I still hadn't told anyone, other than Willem, that I was pregnant again, still pregnant, whatever. He pulled up to a parking spot and got out to feed the meter. I stood up, felt a pop and was quite literally covered in blood. It was winter in New Hampshire, so I was bundled up, and I ruined an entire outfit down to the shoes, including a heavy LL Bean double-layer $19-on-sale coat. Seriously, poor Mark. He'd watched his wife give birth by then, so he wasn't totally clueless and useless, but he was still male and overwhelmed and scared witless, and in all fairness I had no idea what to do, so I was no help either. He drove me home, and I went into the bathroom with the house phone and my cell phone, calling Willem and my doctor at the same time. Mark paced in the hallway, calling through the doorway, "Can I do anything? Anything at all?" in that tone that we all get when something has gone horribly wrong and we can't do a damn thing about it.

I was able to get an emergency appointment at the OB, and Willem was able to find a sub to take over his classes, so I waited at home for him. During that wait, on doctor's instructions, I had to do the single most upsetting thing I have ever had to do in my entire life - and bear in mind that I was raped as a child, I know from upsetting - but this wins, hands-down. I had to search, visually and tactilely, through the horribleness for evidence that this was a miscarriage. I know, you're grossed out by the mere thought - please trust me that the reality was far, far worse. Please don't ever have to do that, okay? It was beyond disturbing. The whole incident was just so out of control and overwhelming, I could find words to give it justice but I don't think there's any need. Suffice it to say, the bathroom looked as though a slasher flick had been filmed in there, even after my pathetic attempts to clean it up.

I have never been so mindlessly scared, both because I thought I was losing another pregnancy and because I was literally afraid for my own life. We do have finite quantities of blood in our bodies, you know? I'd never given this serious thought before that day, not even in my Anne-Rice-and-vampires phase in high school.

Willem and I finally got to the doctor's, where the receptionist was surprised to see me again so soon. That morning, I'd had a routine checkup, and everything seemed fine. The doctor hadn't been able to find the baby's heartbeat, but insisted that this was not a cause for alarm, I was just 11 weeks pregnant and often the Doppler won't pick up the heartbeat until 12 or even 13 weeks. Three hours later I had the horrible bleed, so all in all I was completely convinced that this pregnancy was over. The doctor - another member of the same group, not the one I'd seen that morning - first poked through the horrendous butter tub I brought from home, and announced, "This looks fine." Fine? Really? That's what "fine" looks like? Now I have proof that when men tell you an outfit looks fine, it should promptly be removed and burned.

Then he got out the Doppler heartbeat-listening thing, and found the baby's heartbeat within about half a second. I was blown away, just couldn't believe that it was possible to lose that much blood and still be pregnant. My mind was officially boggled.

Of course, he reminded us several times that there was only about a 10% chance that I would be able to carry the pregnancy to term, given the bleeds and subchorionic hemorrhage (way to scare them with big words, Doc!) and that I was now severely anemic and needed to go on strict bedrest for the next... period of time. Could be a few days, could be a few months.

It ended up being a few weeks. I didn't die of boredom. And my little 10% chance is at daycare right now, being two and cute and healthy and precious. Despite landing back on bedrest for the last 4 weeks of the pregnancy due to pre-eclampsia, and a brush with Fifth Disease during the second trimester. He was a lot of work, that boy. Good thing he's mellow now.

So, February is odd for me since then. Not bad, just... pensive.
Friday, February 09, 2007
By way of disclaimers, this post is not about pleasant or funny stuff. It has to do with pregnancy loss and emotional pain and really gross physical experiences. I know a few of you have had recent losses, or will resonate with other bits and pieces here, and I just wanted to offer a warning... I won't be offended if you skip right on past this post and wait until I feel like bitching about coworkers or wondering who keeps performing the brain transplants on my children.

This time of year is always a little odd to me. The post-holiday hangover has faded, and any new psychological injuries inflicted by certain nameless mothers-in-law have stopped throbbing and started to scar a bit. The last week in January contained my parents' wedding anniversary, now officially not supposed to mean anything anymore because they've been divorced for over a year and my father is planning to move in with his girlfriend within the month and yet somehow it's still a significant date in my head, as well as my father-in-law's birthday, now officially not supposed to mean anything because he died in August and yet still arousing new and tactless behavior on the part of my allegedly grieving mother-in-law (I had Emily call her to offer 6-year-old-style support, and at the end of the conversation, Emily said, "Do you want to talk to my mom?" and within the 2 seconds it took me to get the phone up near my head, she - mother-in-law - had hung up). So early February provides a bit of respite from the high drama and emotional minefields of the previous, oh, six weeks or so.

But in recent years, this time of year has had its own associations, more muted but still less than uplifting. That's 2004's fault. Which, to be fair, is really 2003's fault. October 2003, to be precise.

Up until October 2003, life was unreasonably good. I was in my third year of grad school, working a practicum that I loved, several weeks pregnant, in good physical shape, feeling like I had my life and my career all nicely aligned and planned and playing well together. Hah. In late September, I had been involved in a really stupid car accident - second in line at a light at the end of a highway off-ramp, turning left, and a tractor trailer carrying telephone poles ran the red light and hit the back end of my poor little Saturn. Scared the bejeezus out of me, but didn't physically harm me and the car was drivable, so I checked in at work and then went home for the day, no big deal. Called the doctor just in case, but given my unharmed state and no scary pregnancy-related symptoms, I was told to just take it easy for the rest of the day and then resume whatever normal was for me.

A few days later, I went in for a scheduled ultrasound, should have been around 10 weeks of the pregnancy. I have a habit of getting pregnant unexpectedly - four times on the Pill so far, baby! - so early ultrasounds to determine the viability and dating of the pregnancy are routine. I walked in feeling fine, not a glimmer of nervousness or worry. I already looked pregnant, because in the infinite humor of the Reproductive Gods, you might be able to conceal a first pregnancy for, oh, 7 months or so, but with subsequent pregnancies you look about 3 months pregnant before you're done peeing on the stick. It's like the muscles know what's coming and they just don't even bother hanging on.

I walked out of the ultrasound still feeling fine, but befuddled. Instead of measuring at 10 weeks, the yolk sac was measuring at 5 weeks. And there wasn't, actually, an embryo to measure. But instead of getting the sympathetic head-tilt that might have triggered alarm bells for me, the ultrasound technician was all bouncy and upbeat, talking about how I must have just been off on my dates, no big deal, everything looked great. I could go home, put my feet up, and keep my regular appointment with my doctor in two weeks. No, no, no reason to see the doctor now, immediately after the ultrasound - she could just pass the information along and that would be fine. Buh-bye, now! Have a nice night!

Now, Willem and I are numbers people. He moreso than I, of course, or at least he successfully plays one on his math grad student TV show, but still. Being off by more than a month seemed like an awfully big lapse. And by the time I got home, I realized that I'd had my first positive pregnancy test six weeks before that appointment - more than a week before the five-weeks date the ultrasound tech was offering. Since I don't tend to believe in the predictive value of my own urine, this just seemed wrong. I called the doctor from home, told her the story, and she suggested I come in the next day for bloodwork, just to set my mind at ease.

I'm still not entirely sure how having another person poke me with a needle is supposed to ease my troubled mind, but I'm an agreeable sort (what? shut up! I am TOO!), so I went in. And scheduled follow-up bloodwork for two days later, because the thing about is-she-or-isn't-she bloodwork during pregnancy is that you don't just need the presence of the magical chemical hCG, but you need to know what it's doing. It should be doubling every two days for the first 12 weeks, and then just when you're about to reach toxic levels and start ripping the heads off random strangers just because you can except that you're so tired you won't bother, the placenta takes over and the second trimester glow kicks in.

So it happened that about a week after the car accident, I was back at work, now worried about the pregnancy but having been told by both the perky ultrasound technician and the doctor that while the ultrasound readings seemed unexpected, there was NO evidence of trauma due to physical injury. I was in the third floor chart room of a state mental hospital north of Boston when my cell phone rang; I actually shushed Elissa Ely (google her, she's famous in Boston and a fabulous writer, not to mention a pretty decent psychiatrist, even when working with lowly interns) to take the call. It was my obstetrician.

"I'm so sorry," she said. "We never suspected this. We were so busy looking for bleeding or trauma that we didn't really pick up on the discrepancy in the dates [something something] not developing [something mutter whimper] blighted ovum [don't cry now, have to walk through the locked psych unit to leave, don't cry here] no chance of improvement [oh God oh God oh God] can wait for it to terminate naturally or [no no, you can't say things like that to a pregnant woman, oh, shit, but I'm not pregnant] schedule a procedure [please stop, tell me this is not true, please just stop]..."

Somehow, that conversation ended. Somehow, I left the chart room and navigated through the hallways without any of the patients picking up on my angst; which is astonishing because those with severe mental illness are very, very skilled at recognizing emotional turmoil in others. Somehow, I found myself standing in the doorway to the interns' office, facing five or six people I'd worked with for two months. I started to talk, and choked on my own words. I fled to the bathroom across the hall and bawled, just leaned my face against the stall wall and cried, open mouthed sobbing, eyes streaming and nose running and generally about as undignified, and uncaring, as I have ever been in my life. I have a vague memory of one of my fellow interns, Jillian, coming in and speaking, though I can't remember what she said and I didn't leave the stall for a long time. I have another vague memory of another intern, Giovanni, stopping me in the hallway, saying, "My wife is a doctor [I need to go home] been through this ourselves [how the hell am I going to drive two hours home like this?] if there's anything you need [I need my husband] don't rush back to work..."

I drove home. I called any number of people, just to talk, just to make the minutes pass because it was such a long drive home and I couldn't possibly think about anything else and I needed something to ground me enough to make it home. The first person I called was Carolyn, one of my very closest friends, who, if she hadn't been about 107 months pregnant by then, would have driven me home herself - and probably would have anyway if I was thinking clearly enough not to drive. I called my mom, I called Willem. I don't remember. I know there was a long dead spot, no cell service for about 30 miles, and I turned the radio up so loud it hurt. The last person I called was Jenny, another dear friend, and by then I had burned through the initial adrenaline rush of shock and hurt and was almost flippant. "Hey, Jenny, it's Kate. Just calling to let you know that I can't go out to dinner tonight, I'm not staying in Mass. tonight. Yeah, I'm having a miscarriage instead. Talk to you later!"

And then I waited. For three weeks, I kept going to classes, going to work, and waiting. Kept looking pregnant, kept feeling pregnant, and, except for the fact that I spent a minimum of three hours every day crying, kept acting normal. Just waiting. The doctor had explained, "Eventually, your body will recognize that the pregnancy is not viable and will spontaneously abort, but you can schedule a D&C at any time." At my convenience, you know? Like making a dinner date. Whatever should I wear?

I was waiting for some sign from my body, some agreement with the doctor, some recognition that this pregnancy was not going to happen. It was like a metaphysical game of Chicken: which came first, my body's recognition of reality or my brain's capitulation to the stress and misery? Turns out, my body can outlast my brain by about a week. On October 13 I gave in and scheduled a D&C for the 21st; on the night of the 20th, I started to bleed. I still had the D&C, because the bleeding was light and unenthusiastic and the doctor thought it could take up to a month on its own.

It was a blighted ovum, which in normal-person language means it never became an embryo; sperm and egg met and did their thing and triggered my body to create a yolk sac and get nauseous when I brushed my teeth and go up two bra sizes, but stopped developing long before anything even resembling a tadpole, much less a person, appeared. It was not my first pregnancy loss, but it was far more difficult and painful than the other, which happened when I was 19 and ambivalent and unhealthy.

So that was October, and the next several weeks are fuzzy and indistinct. I do remember going to the Pumpkin Festival in Keene, where we lived at the time, and taking Emily to the nighttime fireworks display, and dancing with her in the street, and finally remembering that here was proof that life wasn't all bad, wasn't all unfair. I remember my mother coming out to take me to the procedure, and getting me home again afterwards. I remember Willem being a little frantic and a little clueless because he had never seen me quite so broken, but also being so good with Emily, and caring for us all, and not saying any of the incredibly stupid and thoughtless things that half the planet feels compelled to say when presented with the topic of "miscarriage."

That was November, too.

And this is quite long enough, so I'm going to post it and go to bed.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
The Biggest News Story in the Entire Country
Yes, Anna Nicole Smith died today. It's sad, weird, tabloid, pathetic, bizarre... blahbitty blah blah.

And are the little voices in anyone else's head just screaming "CONSPIRACY CONSPIRACY CONSPIRACY," given the Florida-ness of both Anna's untimely demise and Lisa Nowack's Astronuttiness?

What? You don't have little voices in your head?

Yeah, me neither.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
"Smart" and "Sane" ... NOT the Same Thing.
There's a story in the news today that just warms the very cockles of my heart. And I didn't even realize they were cold.

Apparently, Lisa Nowack, an astronaut, was able to find her way all the way to the International Space Station and back again without asking for directions. She was also able to drive from Houston to Orlando, wearing an astronaut diaper (let's read that again because it's just so darn fun: an Astronaut Diaper), at which point she donned a trench coat and a wig, gathered up her BB-gun, steel mallet, knife and rubber tubing, and went to talk, gently and calmly through hysterical tears, not to mention the cloud of pepper spray, to a woman who is apparently involved in some sort of complicated love... geometric shape. At first I heard "triangle," but apparently there are at least four and maybe five people involved. A Love Quadrilateral? Perhaps merely a Close Friends Pentagon?

There are just so many places I could go with this, but it all boils down to the basics: even rocket scientists, literally rocket scientists, go crazy. Forget your poor, your tired, your huddled masses; now the elite can relax in knowing that even when they go crazy, they don't go quite this crazy.

I'm going to start watching the night sky for the space shuttle's messages in smoke overhead: "SURRENDER DOROTHY." Or, in this case, Colleen.

Just a fabulous day to start my day, really. Especially listening to the radio interview this morning, in which her defense attorney stated that there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for the rubber tubing, steel mallet, pepper spray and BB gun that did not necessarily indicate intent to cause harm. I just love people. And lawyers, too.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Random Immaturity
Clearly, being almost-30 has not yet turned me into a grown-up.

Because a grown-up would not be sitting in the courtroom of the state mental hospital, about to testify about involuntarily committing someone to inpatient psychiatric care, gazing about the room, and giggling internally because there is a poster on the wall with a lovely landscape and the name of the artist underneath in big letters: JOHN HENRY TWACHTMAN.

I understand, it's not actually a naughty name. But it's a little too close to be so prominently displayed in a mental hospital, methinks.

I didn't actually laugh out loud, which is good. We do what we can to differentiate ourselves so that we don't end up being carted back to the wards along with the patients, you know? When I worked at psych hospitals, in New York and later in Massachusetts, I consistently thought that the only real way to tell the difference between the staff and the patients was the presence or absence of keys. And when you're just there to testify in a hearing, they don't give you keys.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
WalMart and the Plateau of Unhealthiness
Twice in the past few months, Willem and I have gotten a sitter and gone out to dinner, and then gone to WalMart to get the various assorted randomness that you can only get at WalMart... a potty seat, a flashlight, some milk, some birdseed...

The difference is, this time, I was well past buzzed, having had two margaritas at dinner. Which is two margaritas' more alcohol than I've had in eight years.

Wheeeeeeee... I tell you what, WalMart is a LOT funnier when you're drunk. Or, at least, when I'm drunk. I don't know about you.

Before the buzz descended upon me, leaving me defenseless and with a goofy grin, I tried to use the childless dinner as an opportunity to bring up some fairly big topics that I wanted to discuss with Willem. He's verging on sick, which, given his testosteronosity, means that he is well enough to drink beer and have sex but far too sick to hold a serious conversation. So, okay, let's giggle about past indiscretions and make fun of the kids in their absence. Whatever works.

Tomorrow, I suspect, I will remember why it was that I went so long without drinking. But right now, I'm just basking in the glory that is the two-drink drunk.

Edited to clarify: "The Plateau of Unhealthiness" was my term last night for my college years; I was neither improving myself as a human being nor sliding into the depths of depravity, but instead merely existing on this plateau of unhealthiness. We thought it sounded like a good name for a book. (It would be Part Two in the series beginning with "Unexpectedly in Iowa," right, Rose?) Plenty of light indiscretion-filled conversation topics from that time period.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Brave New Rodent
Oh, yeah, and to pass on an age-old tradition, my mother called me this morning to report that Punxatawney Phil, the Groundhog of Note, did not see his shadow, and therefore... whatever that means. My mom seemed excited about it, so I think that means an early spring.

I remember in college feeling like my mother was calling me at the veritable butt-crack of dawn to report on the movements of some random rat and its irrelevancy to the actual weather patterns. Now I still have no faith in the rodent's ability to predict when it will next pass gas, much less forecast the vagaries of the Jet Stream, but 8:00 phone calls don't seem so unreasonable.
My coworker MB just had a baby a few weeks ago, so she's on maternity leave. I'm not in the least tiny bit jealous. Not at all. Not even a little.

According to the printed schedule here, she'll be returning at the end of March, beginning of April sometime. I have my doubts. But for the moment, we (read: Supervisor N) are operating as though she'll be back, and are just filling in her regular shifts with overtime and per diem hours instead of searching for a new employee. Which has been good for my paycheck, with a guaranteed 9-10 hours of overtime a week, but it's also an extra 9-10 hours of work a week. Whatever, I'm coping, it's paying for a new bathroom and a trip to Paris.

The extra time I'm working is on Mondays. The other day MB worked, Friday, is already a regular day for me, so the other adjustment is that now the other person working with me on Friday changes. Most weeks, so far, it's been S, who seems nice but distant and reserved. Fair enough. This week, I get Sanctimonious P. It's been a treat so far, and I've only been here two and a half hours.

I don't know him especially well - this is the longest I've ever been in his presence. Normally he works the overnight shift, so I see him at staff meetings and that's about it. He's one of that delightful breed that may not even realize that he's sanctimonious; he simply thinks there's something wrong with the whole wide world in reference to himself, and if we could all just rise to his level (although, [insert sympathetic head tilt] clearly such lofty aspirations would only meet with failure and disappointment) then we would all be happier, healthier, smarter and richer.


Meanwhile I'm sitting here wiggling like a 9-year-old with ADHD on crack, because my left hip is killing me. I had bursitis in both hips when I was 14ish, which had pretty much faded away by the time I was 20. Now apparently it's flaring up, which is just ever-so-delightful. I've already gotten several ideas from Sanctimonious P on how to make it better - not because he has any experience in the matter, mind you. Just because he knows better than me. About everything.