Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Series of Updates

1. We took the bed off the risers and then discovered the frame was also unstable and took it off, too. Sleeping was MUCH better last night. This made my mom kind of upset, though, because she thinks (and Corey and I tend to agree) that it looks sort of trashy to just have a box spring and mattress sitting on the floor in the bedroom--even if I did sort of rig on the bedskirt. But I just can't think of another solution other than welding a sturdier frame. I hope to make her feel better with a promise of buying her a dream mansion here in Pittsburgh someday when I am extraordinarily wealthy.

2. I am not a pack rat. The first chance I got to go back to my parents' house I gave a trunk full of books to the library, shoveled out that closet, and whittled down the possessions in the whole dwelling. Two boxes of books, a small box of random in the basement, and a keyboard are super different from my sister who has two entire bedrooms of possessions there. I'm just saying. We also condensed so much stuff here in Pittsburgh we actually have like visible space on our surfaces. I have room to put down a hot dish of food on the buffet in the dining room if I wanted. Or a space to put a glass of cocoa on the table in the living room. It's so completely crazy.

3. Corey wants me to say that I plunged the drain in the tub and it flows better, even with the crud catcher/sieve in place. I still am allowed to hate the crud catcher despite the improved drain because the crud catcher still leaves balls of goo and soap scum all throughout the tub. Plus it's large and unsightly and just plain gross. I want to buy a grate thingy with holes in it to catch hair and allow other items to flow through the drain. Like a normal person would have. I don't want large plastic machinery in my tub. But in the interest of full disclosure, plunging the drain was a great compromise and likely the drain was a huge culprit in the problem. As soon as I get my friends over here with a drain snake and really go to town in there, I might take a shower and see my feet for the first time since we moved in. No more combo tub/showers!

4. Watching South Park online (thanks to my cousin Peacelovemath) has changed Corey's life. I don't have to talk to him or look at him anymore. He's always down in his man cave watching South Park on the internet. In fact, this very second he is bellowing that I need to get down there and join him. But I want to re-watch Anne of Green Gables. And I probably will. Life is really good right now.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lost at Sea

I am exhausted, dizzy, and seasick this morning after what is easily the worst night's sleep of my life. This includes all the times I've drunkenly slept on floors or been camping on a rocky slope. The cause of my misery? Corey, obviously.

We are in my childhood room, in my childhood bed, which my mother has since placed on risers to help store the ever-expanding pile of my sister's possessions that get to live in all of the bedrooms at Martin Drive. (Even though she moved out. Pack rat!) So anyway, what happens when you take a bed on wheels and put each wheel in a flat, smooth little cup? It rolls. It slides. The bed sways like a hammock at sea.

This is usually only a problem when you first mount the bed. Then, for a minute or so, you sway with the breeze and you fall asleep and it's fine. Only last night, Corey thrashed with the force of a goat hitting a barn wall. He didn't roll. He shot himself into the air, like Shamu, in order to flip and land with a splash. He kicked like Daniel Sepulveda on 4th and long. He rocked this damn boat as if we were Forrest Gump out to sea during a hurricane in the bayou. My resulting nausea has nothing to do with the blueberry in my uterus.

Then? This morning? He tried to cuddle and hug me.

Now I'll admit I've been experiencing what you might call hormone-induced mood swings and bursts of temper. But I am pretty sure my anger this morning was entirely justified. I am not sleeping in this hammock with him again. We're either taking it off the risers or he is sleeping in one of my other sisters' rooms tonight. Or else I'm giving him a sleeping pill so he stays put.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Conversation at 530 AM

Me: I can't sleep
Corey: Ungh
Me: Do you know how to make eggs?
(Corey hates eating eggs because he doesn't like how they feel in his mouth)
Me: I think you should know how to make eggs in case our kids want to eat eggs someday
Corey: Aren't girls born knowing how to make eggs already?
Me: We should go downstairs and make eggs
Corey: I can make scrambled eggs. You just crack them in the pan and stir it up, right?

And then, pacified, I was able to go back to sleep.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Pies!

My refrigerator currently contains two pumpkin pies, baked by me last night. The story of the pies is sort of pathetic. I was going to purchase pre-baked pies, but had a hissy fit on discovering these cost $9 each. I stomped through the store finding ingredients--not an easy task in the Giant Eagle Market District because they constantly rearrange the shelves and keep things in a nonsensical organization in order to get customers to buy more crap. It worked! I got a dark chocolate bar I hadn't counted on buying!

Anyway, I bought all these things and came home to bake only to discover we had no sugar. What family has no sugar? None! No sugar. I had to go ask the neighbors, who were also out of sugar except the little bit they put in their morning coffee. I took their coffee sugar. Why? Because I already steal their herbs and wreck their oregano. I might as well take their coffee sugar! (Actually, they assured me they were going shopping later)

So now I have these delicious, perfect pies. And I can't eat them! And with my super-sonic pregnancy sense of smell, I can smell them at all times. Even with the fridge closed. Even upstairs. I smell them and I know they're in there. What would happen if I just ate one? Would my family rebel and never speak to me again or would they forgive me one silken, gingery pie...

How will I make it until after dinner tomorrow knowing these pies exist?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Eat My Words

For the past week or so since I got my cold, I've been walking around saying, "I'd rather be nauseous every day than feel congested like this."

And everyone, wisely, said, "You're wrong. You'll see!"

Today, on my way home from CrossFit, I knew I was going to vomit. I told myself you wait until you get home. You must not barf while driving and you are NOT pulling over to barf in a stranger's yard. I just about made it, too.

I parked so crookedly it looks like a drunk driver ran up on my curb. As soon as I was out of the car I was losing myself all over the flowers, the walk, the driveway, the door.

In my hat and gloves, I paraded down to the Pittsburgh Potty making a disaster of my house and clothes. This is a nightmare. I'm sitting on the kitchen floor right now eating pretzels and wishing for congestion. Hopefully, Corey will come home for his lunch break and clean it all up so I can continue sitting on the floor eating pretzels.


When I have a lot of things to do, I can't sleep the night before. I wake up in a panic, all sweaty, often having strange dreams. Like last night I dreamt about when I used to work for the evil book publisher and my asshole co-workers wrote mean crap about me on Friendster for all the world to see. This really happened in real life and I'm not sure why I would dream about it now, four years later, the night before a busy day.

So I woke up at 7 and immediately began working. That's one of the problems of working from home. You're always at work. Work is right there, next to your cereal bowl in the living room where you huddle in your pajamas before the sun's even up.

But wouldn't you know it, with just a few hours of concentrated panic, I knocked like 5 things off my to-do list for the next few days. That feels so much better! It's like all I need is a block of uninterrupted time and I can get things done like nobody's business. I just wish my sub-conscious would trust that and let me sleep. At least I won't feel as badly taking a nap later when I'm super tired at three in the afternoon.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Transit Woes

Either something is wrong with Google or the Port Authority decided to strike early. I need to get to CMU campus for a meeting at 11 this morning. In a perfect world, I was supposed to leave my house at 9. That didn't happen. I'm now trying to figure out which bus to take to get to campus today, 11/24, by like 1045 or so.

Google transit suggested I get on the bus 11/22 at 9:45pm to arrive there at 11:58pm 11/22. What? Again. What?

Do you know what this forces me to do? I have to rely on the printed bus schedule, the one released by the Port Authority, to figure out what time the bus comes. This will not end well.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Elephant Babies!

My friend Shelbie is in town visiting this weekend and she wanted to go to the zoo after my suggestion to visit the elephant babies. What a great idea that was! The helpful old man volunteer, Frank, was in the elephant house telling us all sorts of facts about the 500 pound, 4 month old baby elephant, her mom, her brother, and her dad. We spent about an hour in there just watching the family hang out.

Frank let us hold a piece of tusk that broke off Jack the bull elephant 9 years ago. He showed us his green apron, which once hung between the cages filled with carrots. One of the elephants smelled the carrots, snagged the apron with her trunk, ate it, and pooped it out again. Frank says he washed the apron 4 times after recovering it from the pile of poop. I think it's amazing that an elephant colon is so large it has space for an entire green apron.

Frank kept pulling the most amazing things from that apron. A piece of skin the baby elephant had shed (sooooooo soft), teeth from the other elephants, more of the tusk. We learned that humans are elephants only predators and that evil, evil demon humans poach them for ivory that brings in $350 a pound. I think Frank said something like 18,000 elephants die every year for their tusks.

These are highly intelligent beings, whose eyes look at you knowingly and smartly. These are creatures that bury their dead for heaven's sake, and people kill them for their teeth! It made me ill, especially watching the little baby Victoria hop around chewing on a chain because, Frank said, it felt good on her growing teeth and gums.

We smelled a bit like elephant poop when we left there, but I suggest only going to the zoo on days when Frank is going to be in the elephant house. Because we learned so much about those amazing creatures. Worth every penny of the exhorbitant $12 "winter rate."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Out with the Old

We (mostly just me...) are in the process of getting rid of our possessions. Big time. Like going through every drawer and box and just dumping, vetting, eliminating crap. The goal of this is to empty one entire room for future use by a new person, making one of the other rooms pull double duty.

The whole idea of streamlining my endless ocean of crap is so therapeutic for me. I find I love getting rid of stuff. I free-cycled a bunch of junk online, gave some bookshelves to friends. Corey installed the new shelves I bought at Ikea and they just look so amazing there, brimming with my knitting and books and files.

The other day, I unearthed my old laptop, my PC Dell I got as a college graduation gift. It's full of music and photos I haven't seen in 2.5 years. I have been spending the majority of my time transferring these files to my external hard drive. The process takes so long with my dinosaur computer that I question whether it's worth it. Hopefully, the joy I get donating a piece of junk laptop to a needy organization will more than make up for the time I'm spending juggling flash drives and USB cables.

At least I'll have a few more square feet of storage in my house.


I saw the movie last night. I ended up laughing a places that weren't supposed to be funny. If I had to classify the film, I think I'd say it was camp. Unintentional camp. BUT I was pretty happy that the filmic version was much less misogynistic than the book. Without the "benefit" of knowing Bella's thought processes, we just see her actions, and those are sort of ok.

I really liked the actors they had portraying the Cullen family, but thought they made Carlisle look a little...weird.

My reactions to the film are mixed. I liked the bit with Victoria and I liked that she and James were barefoot, which I hadn't thought about during the book.

I like the dude they have playing Jacob.

I'm hopeful that a sequel would be directed better so that people aren't bursting out laughing during the romantic or intense portions of the movie.

This isn't the best thought out post of my life. NaBloPoMo is almost over, which I feel will help my writing in that it will rescue me from writing a bunch of garbage in the morning just to get something up online. Anyway, it was a good thing I think for me to see the film because it helped me sort through some of the complex thoughts I am trapped having about that series. I probably won't pay $10 to see it again, though. Sorry, cousins.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Crud Catcher

Corey has these strange ideas about the way things need to work in bathrooms. Mostly I don't care, but I hate his crud catchers. I hate them. He buys these devices meant to catch things (hair, mostly) to prevent draig clogs. I guess that's fine. But these things he buys get stopped up with soap AND hair and the result is me showering in 6 inches of disgusting water.

Sometimes I just freak out and throw the crud catchers away and then he yells that we have crud going down our drain. So what would happen? Cloggy drains and showers in ankle deep water? Doing that already!

Anyway, the current crud catcher looks like a colander. It's about as large as one, too. It sticks up out of the drain, a giant plastic, prongy crud catcher. It's impossible to clean because the zillions of prongs, adept at catching the smallest of hairs, cling to the hairs like Seran Wrap to warm Corningware. So then a soapy film builds over the layer of hair. Corey says the hippie soap I buy is to blame and that it's preferable to wash petroleum products down the drain as they don't stick to the crud catcher so much.

By the time a shower is over and the water eventually all drains down, there are tracks of gray globs throughout the tub. They are, like, disgusting soapy scum balls. Every day my shower looks like a mold man lives inside. I find it impossible to believe that Corey and I are this filthy. I clean the bathroom once a week. This entire problem is due to his crud catcher.

Well I'm going to boycott it. I'm not going to use it when I shower. I'm going to take a shower where all the water goes down the drain and if a little hair goes down there? I'm going to trust my pipes to handle it and buy a drain snake. Corey his crud catcher can take their grody showers together without me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Anne of Green Gables

I heart Anne. I heart her so much I might explode. I thought for a long time that I preferred Emily, the other L.M. Montgomery girl series heroine, but really it's all about Anne.

I mean Emily has a lot to love. She's a writer. She's really determined to be successful sort of independently of her love interests. She's clairvoyant.

But Anne! When I last went home to reclaim my childhood books I tried to reassemble my Anne series and could not. Something had happened to both Rilla of Ingleside and Anne of Green Gables. You can imagine how devastating this is for me. Sure, I could replace the two books, but then the covers won't match! I'll have a mismatched series. Like some jerk who doesn't care about book covers. No. I want my Anne. My version of the book where I first met this stubborn person who'd walk a roof pole or rather drown in the shimmering lake than get in a rowboat with a boy who called her "carrots."

Now here are some books that women can read and feel good about! I mean, in the days when women didn't really get to do things, Anne was smashing slates on people's heads and going to college and then giving up college to help maintain a farm. What I love about Anne is that, while she and Gilbert have a true and lasting lifelong love, this love is not the center of the book. At least not the first one. It's all about Anne and her wants and needs. I love that! I would certainly list Anne and Gilbert's among the great loves of the ages and Gilbert never even had to kidnap Anne to prevent her from visiting...I fail to think of another boy's name from the series, but if Anne wanted to visit him she would. And if Gilbert tried to stop her? She'd probably kick him in the balls. And then not talk to him for six years as punishment. There is a woman to emulate.

Much to Corey's chagrin I added the Anne miniseries to our Netflix queue. It's going to be a solid week of Anne Shirley at my house and I couldn't be happier!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gross, I know

I haven't showered yet today. I just can't work up the nerve to undress in the cold house. I know the actual shower will be toasty warm, but the nanosecond where I'll be out of my robe and flannel pj's is just too much for me to bear right now.

Corey and I made the executive decision to turn the heat up to 65 this winter. I know! Huge changes from our usual 62. It feels warmer than I remember, I guess, but still a bit drafty. Like too drafty to possibly move from my throw-blanket shroud and into the shower.

But I'm starting to get worried because if I wait much longer, my hair will still be wet when I have to leave to go into campus later. And that will make me even colder!

So I'm going to count to five hundred and then suck it up and get in the shower. Be a big girl, Katy. Just do it.

Got My Knit On

I haven't really been knitting much since we moved into our house. Something about the combination of nesting and finishing graduate school and the insufferable heat of summertime kept me away. Heck, I don't even think I bought any yarn in twelve months. That's crazy! No yarn?!?

When Corey's dad got sick, I whipped out my yarn for some nervous knitting and made myself a really nice hat that I'm pretty proud of. Then I bought new shelving supplies and went through all my possessions to take inventory and touched my yarn stash, and, well, that just opened up my veins. I'm in. I'm back. I'm knitting until the wool gives me a finger rash again.

I have all these projects lined up on the floor in my office, waiting. I have these grand plans to crochet 8 washcloths by next Friday. Ha! I have buttons and accents sitting around to attach to completed projects.

It's almost as if I had forgotten this crazed part of my personality, the part that can talk and watch movies and generally operate as normal with a string constantly weaving through her fingers and the tiny little clicks of bamboo needles.

Some of my undergrad students told me they would love to learn to knit. I invited them to my office to learn how. I have these grand visions that we'll all sit in there and chat and knit things. It probably won't happen. Why? Because they're ten years younger than me and have cooler people to knit with. Oh, and I'm their teacher.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Last night I dreamt the following dream:

Corey and I played football together, for the same team. We were on defense, perhaps special teams. He recovered the ball from an onsides kick and I ran in front of him, blocking, as he scored a touchdown. The crowd went wild, and we bumped chests in the end zone. It was awesome.

Why would I dream that? What does it mean? I wasn't even watching football yesterday. And why would my dream, my fantasy, involve him scoring and not me? And why wouldn't I dream about rugby instead?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Craving #1

Katy: I have a craving. It's very distinct. I want Burger King onion rings. With ketchup
Corey: gross.
Katy: I know. But I can't help it. This is a very specific need I'm feeling.
Katy: Where is there a Burger King?
Corey: I don't know.
Katy: I love that we don't even know where the fast food places are located!
Corey: I think there's a Wendy's near Baum
Katy: Do they sell onion rings?

In the end, we went home and I had salad and mushroom turnovers from Trader Joe's. I think everyone was better off.

Operation Recovery: Fail

Today is day 5 of my illness. Other than a 2-hour trip (including drive time) to Ikea, I haven't been off the couch since Thursday. I guess I went to Brewfest for a few hours Friday, which Corey says was a terrible idea (though he certainly appreciated the DD for the ride home!). But for real, other than that I've been trying to recover.

This is really, really hard. If it were just me, I'd say eff you to my illness and go to CrossFit, especially since the workout today was just 3 rounds for time of 400m run, 21 kettlebell swings, and pullups. Fun, right? I even suggested this to Corey, who nearly exploded. I fear he might tie me to the couch after work so I don't sneak off and try to work out later. It just sucks that I am really getting a good fitness base and working out and eating sensibly and something comes along again to get in my way. It's like the world doesn't WANT me to be buff and svelte.

I have a silver gleaming ray of hope as reward at the end of the week that is getting me through this: the Twilight movie opens soon.

I know that A) it really opens Thursday at midnight and B) I promised all my cousins I'd go with them at Thanksgiving, but I have to go this Friday. I can't stay up late enough anymore to make a midnight showing and if I thought my cousins really thought I'd wait a whole week to see the movie, well that would be silly. (I don't think they're going to wait, either)

Plus we can all go see it AGAIN on actual Thanksgiving with greater insight only gained through a second viewing. Or we can talk during it since we'll all have already seen it.

Anyway, I'm going on Friday and it's going to probably be awesome. I don't care if I have tuberculosis by then, I'm going.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Ohmygosh, I did it. I bought things for nesting. Once I convince Corey to help me assemble the things, I will, more or less, feel a wave of satisfaction and accomplishment. I think. Sometimes consuming is rewarding.

I secured these bookshelves. I also got 5 boxes to fit into the shelves to store my knitting stuff, and my work crap. In the process of going through these items, I found piles and heaps of crap to freecycle AND added a yaffa block and filing cabinet to the furniture I'm going to put up on craigslist. I can feel the floorboards breathing a sigh of relief at the prospect of so much less stuff in the house.

I bought this lamp for the dining room and a rug to go under the table. I can already see the day when I get to throw that brass atrocity on the sidewalk for bulk trash day. I might just smash it with my foot, triumphantly. I'll probably donate it to Construction Junction in reality. But in my fantasy, I'll drop kick it (with spiral!) from the porch to the curb.

I did not find a coffee table with storage, which makes me upset. Why don't they make coffee tables with enclosed shelves? They all have these open shelves. If my family (read COREY) were capable of piling things neatly and organizing stuff, I wouldn't need to place objects on open shelves. I'd just keep them where they are. But we aren't like that, so we need cupboards or drawers to hide our mess from the world. I fear I might have to put this fantasy on hold until I invent something that meets my very specific vision for a coffee table.

My goal this week is to prod Corey toward shelf assembly and light fixture installation. I would assemble the shelves myself, but he gets snappy when I put together the Ikea furniture and I'm far too impatient to wait for things like glue drying or instructions. It's better if he does it, since he doesn't use swear words. Instead, I'll supervise and work hard at growing a baby, which is fast becoming my excuse for why I don't have to do things around the house.

In other news, I did something at Ikea that I've never done in my recent memory. I asked the store people to help me get the bookshelves into the car. That was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do. I know I could have lifted the box, and I know that I did lift it from the shelf into the cart, but when I went to maneuver my load into the trunk, something just told me I was trying too much. It felt very strange, and I kept feeling as though I had to apologize or somehow indicate that I'm not normally the sort of person not strong enough to heft particle board from the cart to the car. I almost feel like I should make a donation to the women's olympic weightlifting team to counter-balance my helplessness today. This is going to get very difficult for my stubborn refusal to be seen as a weak person.

Storage Solutions

Today's mission (I've had it on my to-do list for a week) is to obtain storage solutions for our house. Of all the things to love about old houses (high ceilings! wood floors! yards!) lack of closet space might just cancel many of them out some days. Since Corey and I will be adding another person along with his or her possessions to the household, I'm going to buy us some shelving/basket combinations to get our crap up off the floor and out of sight.

My grand vision is to find these things used and cheap at Construction Junction. Though I'm not sure how I'll get them in the car if I do...but I am fantasizing right now about the coffee table I'll find, complete with a drawer to hide board games and puzzles. Failing those discoveries, I'm off to Ikea (by way of Garden Ridge).

I think I'm feeling well enough to carry out this mission. Perhaps my will to get our crap off the floor will overpower my desire to sit on the couch with a pillow over my eyes this afternoon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dear Baby

I'm afraid I'm not doing a very good job growing you so far. I've been flat on my back with this illness and, frankly, it's the most painful thing I've ever encountered. I said yesterday that I'd rather have nine months of nausea than this pressure and congestion. Maybe that's not so smart, but right now it sounds more exciting.

I haven't really had any symptoms of being pregnant. You haven't made me ill really. Just a little sleepier than usual, but I like going to bed at 9pm. Sometimes I'm scared there's something wrong because I feel sooooooo completely normal. Before I had any idea you existed, I evidently played 2 rugby games even.

So you, baby, have been victorious against Cleveland and Harrisburg already. I think you're going to be a flyhalf. I can tell already.

But anyway, this head cold is rough. I am having no difficulty giving up alcohol or even bad-for-us foods because all I have to do is think of you and your little developing arms and fingers and the decision to only put good things inside me is an easy one. I'm not supposed to give you Sudafed, though, and after three days only sleeping in 2-hour bursts, having used every tissue in our whole house and sleeping with a roll of toilet paper on my stomach...well it's getting harder to not medicate myself in some way.

I need to get better at perspective. I have a head cold. This is not a complication and, to my knowledge, isn't putting you at risk or in danger. This will go away by Monday (fingers crossed!) and I will enter the rest of my incubation of you energized and feeling like a trooper.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ah, Decongestants

How I miss you, Sudafed. There has been only one other instance in my life where I've been denied your fast-acting powers. This occurred when I went to visit my hippie sister in Phoenix and suffered a severe allergic reaction to the desert. She tried to unblock my head with tea and concoctions based in nature, but to no avail. After two days of misery, I drove myself to Safeway and cracked open the drugs right there in the aisle. The relief was instantaneous and mind-blowing.

If only I could do the same right now. If only the mint tea I've been drinking or eucalyptus snorts did anything real to dry out my head. Why did nobody warn me that I would have to forgo decongestants if I wanted to reproduce? I am starting to wonder, in the depths of my sinus pressure, if it's even a fair trade. That's a horrible thing to say. But my cheeks are pounding against my glasses. I haven't had a lick of morning sickness or any nausea to speak of. I've been basically symptom free. And then I got this cold.

Someone come over here and puncture my face so all this crap drains out of it and I can think clearly. I don't even get ill. I haven't been ill in eons. I really can't remember the last time. I get a cold every now and then, but I just take some Sudafed and I'm good to go. Do you think I am being punished for my fear of flu shots?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Baghdad Burning

So as I lay in bed convalescing, I am coming to appreciate how blessed I am to have a job that lets me work from home. I can be ill, in my pajamas, and doing just as much work as I ordinarily would today. My plan was to prepare for class Monday by reading the work I've assigned my students. Though I'm teaching the department syllabus, I was allowed to select the reading for the final third of the course.

I chose a blog I read for a grad school course called Baghdad Burning. I just want to take a moment to gush about the way Riverbend is able to write in such a way that makes me simultaneously question my role as an American and appreciate her life as an Iraqi. The way she works details into her posts, the way she has captured American English idioms and sarcasm...I just can't believe how talented she is.

The post that moves me most this morning is this one. What must it be like to have to develop such a talent? To one day work as a computer programmer in a rather modern city and the next be sleeping on the roof, able to recognize various types of gunfire? My brain is somewhere far away today. I feel really grateful that I found this website and that I'm aware of the insider's perspective of this "war on terror." It feels really important to me to have read this.


I woke up with a cold today. Definitely congested and scratchy-throated. Apparently, gestating women can't take cold medicine. That means I'm relegated to my bed with some tea I'm convincing Corey to make me. Mmmmmmmm tea.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Story of Yesterday Morning

Corey and I drove to Magee Women's Hospital, nearly clipping my rugby teammate in the parking lot (she uses it as a short cut to class for law school). We parked, found our way upstairs to the Women Care Associates offices, and waited in the lobby with another young couple.

When they called my name, I got weighed and sent into a bathroom to give a urine sample. I noticed another urine sample on the counter and recognized that it belonged to the other woman from the waiting room. Because I am competitive and possibly crazy, my first thought was to out-pee that woman. Hers was but a trickle of dark urine. I filled that cup until it overflowed. Why am I like that? Why did I have to beat the other woman from the waiting room?

I went to join Corey in the examination room, where we noticed that the gyno staff never took the stickers off the "hamper with flip lid," clearly from Target. We also discovered I had holes in my socks. We debated whether it was worse to get an exam with hairy legs or holey socks and decided the socks weren't so bad after all. There I sat in my mustard-colored tube socks that, when I wear them to rugby practice, my teammates call support hose.

And then Samantha came in. She congratulated us and confirmed our suspicions: we have produced a baby. Or at least a baby in progress.

We answered questions, talked with her for nearly an hour, and Corey was given the chance to ask any nagging questions he had left. Corey, who still felt weary of the results after 12 days of no period and four positive tests, after one hour discussing pregnancy with a midwife, asked, "When will we know the results of the pregnancy test?"

We all laughed. Samantha looked at him and said, "It was positive. You're definitely going to have a baby."

I went home and ordered him a book: The Caveman's Pregnancy Companion.

And then I waited as a million emotions took me everywhere imagineable.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Time Out

Did anyone see the NYTimes crossword yesterday? It was all crazy horizontal, with weird circles in it. You can't do that to me on a Monday! I mean, the Monday NYTimes crossword puzzle is perhaps the most amazing thing in the universe. Never too challenging, just perfect for after work when you have little patience, little time, and lots of sitting around to do.

But this one was all weird and strange with answers longer than 3 letters, some even longer than 8 letters! Don't do this to me on a Monday. I can expect these things on a Wednesday or Thursday...well actually I can't ever remember seeing a crossword in the NYTimes that wasn't perfectly square and all even and just perfect. This oddly shaped craziness threw off my whole afternoon. Can't deal! I didn't even finish it. Which is almost more infuriating than its being weird in the first place.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fat Talk

My friend Lady Pilot had an amazing video on her blog today that has inspired me to post about fat talk as well.

Fat talk is perhaps the number one reason I think rugby is good for women, because when rugby players talk about there being a place for every body, they aren't just saying that. Rugby demands differently sized bodies, and many times really, really big ones. (Though we also need tiny little scrumhalves or wings to squirt through holes and score)

I think because of this need for such varied bodies, the sport makes all of us feel better about ourselves. I have great, big thighs. It's not really debatable. But I need them; they are functional. They serve a purpose. I'm encouraged to squat giant silver sandbags in order to make them firmer and stronger. As a front-row forward, I need to be sturdy or our team is going to have a tough time being successful. It's great!

I draw a lot of inspiration from Leslie Heywood, who wrote the amazing memoir Pretty Good for a Girl. In it, she talks about all the women around her trying desperately to shrink, to disappear, to fade into nonexistence. This habit transcends just weight and body size, but applies to the way many women try to not be in the room. Not only seen but not heard, but not even really seen and, thus, not noticed or judged.

As rugby players, we constantly attempt to make ourselves larger, more intimidating, an imposing threat to the other side. These are practices that we carry with us off the field and into life, where we don't really engage in much fat talk and speak about getting in shape rather than going on diets.

After watching that video clip, I feel once again grateful that I found this sport. Each time I pause to think about it, rugby seems more and more like a passport into a space where things are less challenging for women. If not a passport, a gateway at least.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Some may argue the meaningfulness of this post in terms of my commitment to NaBloPoMo, but I must say it's challenging to think of something earth shattering every morning. Instead, I want to write about what's shattering my earth this morning.

Mint tea. More specifically, mint tea with rosemary.

Several weeks ago, I began chronicling my adventures with mint I stole from the neighbors' garden. My own little cutting is starting to thrive and I have no doubt that, come spring, I'll have plenty of mint for myself. For now, I'm still trekking over to their herb bed in my slippers (actually I'm wearing Corey's slippers because mine are broken) to harvest mint.

I learned just last week that mint tea? It's just hot water poured over mint. I thought for some reason that to become tea, something had to be processed or something. Manipulated in some way. Turns out I am totally wrong!

So in the mornings, when the mint oil is the strongest, I snip off a few branches and stick them in my teapot. Pour on the hot water and a dab of honey, and suddenly I'm escaping to a place that is calm and relaxing and warm instead of the 57 degree house filled with anxiety I currently inhabit.

There is just something about autumn and hot tea that makes me feel amazing. I love how when my family gets together, all of us sit around with hot mugs of tea and just chat. I loved this even more when 11 of my relatives descended upon my house last January and we sat around my very dining room table, just clutching mugs and sipping goodness.

The fact that I am making the tea myself, snagging the ingredients from my own (and my neighbors'...) yard seems to tighten the circle of life and make me feel more grounded. More in control of the space around me. The more things I create from scratch, the more I come to appreciate things--all things--and feel more mindful.

So when I walk out back and clip some rosemary or lemon mint or maybe even some lavender and boil it on my own stove, I'm doing more than just quench my thirst and freshen my palate. I think I'm getting a better idea of my place in the world.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Unexpected Networking

I did something unusual for me last night: I left my house and went to a space filled with other writers. Not only fellow graduate students learning to get their act together, but actual writers who do it for a living. Can I just say what a great idea that was?

In the space of 2 hours, I learned of several potential blogging opportunities, social media events, and networking groups I'm going to join. I had gone to this event on assignment, planning to sit sort of in the back and observe and take notes on things--like the lady who brought a wreathe instead of a food offering to the potluck, or the man who asked to borrow my pen so he could get someone's autograph. This while I was interviewing said person for the article! And then? I lent him my pen! Why did I do that? I wanted to stab him with it and instead, I let him borrow it and interrupt my interview to talk about his stupid vacation home in Belize.

Anyway, I was totally in article mode and not personal mode until I saw someone I knew and began talking to her. This opened a torrent of introductions, business card exchanges, and genuinely friendly advice-giving. Whoah!

Later, I was talking to a photographer friend who told me he has tons of great shots and story ideas and wants to pair with a writer to do pitches as a team, to put articles together as a unit. Not sure how that would work financially, but can you imagine my excitement when I learned this was a person who wanted to collaborate with me?

I was completely blown away by how much more excited I was to be a writer when I left that room than when I entered. This has created a new goal for me in addition to NaBloPoMo: I will leave my house 2 times each month to attend events where other writers will be in droves.

Two times. Every month. At least.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Two things happened this week, amid all my hope, to make me sad. First, Proposition 8 and similar referendums in several other states were passed to remove and limit the rights of my fellow country-persons who happen to also share a different sexuality from me. This makes me sad because I don't understand at all how such a thing can even be happening in this country.

If we remove religious objections to homosexuality, what other grounds are there preventing two adults from marrying one another and sharing the legal and tax benefits Corey and I enjoy? Since we have separation of church and state in our country, how are we letting religious interpretations of a marriage affect our legal interpretations of the same institution? There are a lot of things, legal things, that go against my spiritual views and there are also a lot of religions practicing in our nation that hold views very contrary to mine. And that's all ok, because we have separation of church and state and these things don't affect my tax bracket or the cost of my car insurance.

I wonder if we're letting vocabulary get in our way? Would it make people feel better if we referred to all legal unions (those performed not by clergy but by judges and things) as civil unions...even those unions of one man and one woman? I just feel so sad about the whole situation.

The other great sadness of my week is the return of cigarette smoking to the rugby bar. They filed for and obtained an exemption to the Clean Air Act, so the little divey bar is now a smoke den again. I hear that the bar has lost great amounts of business from regular customers who now go elsewhere to sit and drink over a nice, smelly cigarette. I know that the team does not make up the bulk of the clientele and that we have to think first of keeping the bar profitable. But now that it's smokey again I can't really go there and enjoy myself. I just can't go back to that. So I feel like that's a second hole in my heart this week.

Perhaps something fantastic will happen and our president elect will enact a sweeping, nationwide civil rights law allowing all persons to wed whomever they love and banning smoke from all places where humans have to breathe inside closed Great Britain! I love how Elton John is allowed to be married to his husband and not have to worry that his sequin pants will get stinky if they pop to the pub for some mushy peas after a long day at the piano.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

In Other News...

Speaking of hope, I've been having a rough time finding it lately. I've been in a dry spell in terms of work and lots of things have been falling through. Yada, yada, right?

Most freelancers I talk to tell me to be prepared for the ups and downs, and I've written numerous times about my impatience in dealing with those. Well, here comes an up!

Many months ago, I sort of secured a gig as a contributing writer for a new green and sustainability website called The Green Connoisseur. Not much really happened. For a long time...

Until yesterday! The site went live and features two of my articles: this one and this one! Plus there's a section of the website where my bio is all up in the air for people to admire.

I was really glad to get that email about the site going live, I'll tell you what. As often happens, that email started a wee wave of incoming work. All it takes is one shift in my energy and things start moving in the right direction.

**I'm sure it's not actually my energy but rather my diligent dedication to networking myself and the dogged follow-up and countless hours I spend putting together pitches about my ideas. Sometimes it's just easier to think of this work as 'energy.'**

Why Hope Matters

I've spent a long time thinking about P's comment on yesterday's post I wrote about hope. I don't really have any response to her comments about economic policy and the other very smart things she said. As P suggested, I am one of the voters who thinks more about issues that seem pressing than about those matters. Which seems silly, because the structure of the country's economy is what allows my daily issues to seem important. The structure of life as I know and enjoy it comes from our economy and our ability to relate with foreign nations. I know all that.

But I also know that strangers said hello to me on the street today. And yesterday. And that my 18-year-old students felt energized and excited and paid attention to things going on in the world around them. My brother-in-law said that Barack Obama's election was exactly like the opposite of September 11. I think he's right.

I experienced that event very differently from most people I know because I was living abroad when it happened. But I do know that even on my return there was a sense of togetherness enveloped in our fear. I know that I stood stock still with about 165 strangers watching on tv as the last beam was removed from the pit at Ground Zero.

I feel a hopeful unity with my country-persons right now that is the same, but different from that unity of 7 years ago. I feel an energy and an awareness and a life force pulsing through everyone. I feel right now what it must have felt like during the Revolutionary War or WWII when people came together with victory gardens and whatnot. I feel a sense of purpose to make things...better.

I do not know how to improve our economy or our many problems and I do know that eloquent speech will not solve them. As K-train points out, our president-elect has gotten us really revved up and ready to go and will have to deliver something big to meet our expectations. But what I think is so important, what seems crucial to me is that we are ready to receive the delivery. I just feel a sense of togetherness and life and caring that made my day today better than any day for a long time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I wanted to write this morning about feeling irritated. There were these jerky girls who were being divisive at CrossFit last night and I wanted to rant about them. But it all seems insignificant in light of last night's election events.

My God, there were some good speeches last night. The way John McCain applauded President-elect Obama's ability to get involved those people who "mistakenly felt they had no voice" in the election was truly inspiring and for real gracious. That speech was the most genuine and the most human I felt he's been the entire race.

And then Barack Obama spoke! That man can speak like nobody I've ever, ever heard. The most moving moments of the speech for me were the way he referenced the young people (me!) who rejected the myth of our generation's apathy and when he inserted the "Yes we can" refrain into his story. He made the whole speech like a call-and-response oral history of the nation from a Civil Rights perspective.

I think the beauty of his campaign lies not only in the freshness of his promises, but in his ability to energize a nation. When I was working the phone banks in Homewood yesterday, I was initially afraid. I didn't want to ride my BICYCLE through HOMEWOOD. And when I first crossed onto Frankstown Ave, I saw the broken glass in the streets, the litter on the sidewalk, and I felt afraid of poverty and crime.

But then there were old ladies out picking up trash. And old men barbequeing chicken...not for sale but for any passersby who wanted a snack on the way to voting. And every public surface had a Barack Obama sign plastered to it and the streets slowly began to fill with cheerful people voting for the first time. Feeling involved in a nation that has allowed them to be swept to the margins of affluent society. I talked to them on the phone as they waited in line at the polls to cast their vote, and I felt hope.

You know how on Christmas morning the world just seems to feel hopeful for some reason? Or how everyone gets this little flutter of hopeful joy on the morning of a big snowfall? I feel all those things right now. All this anticipation for the next 8 years and I am really, really glad to be American today.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Every time there's an election, I try to re-watch Iron Jawed Angels, the HBO suffrage movie starring Hillary Swank (love her!). I find it impossible to watch that woman being force fed in prison, not even allowed to hunger strike for suffrage, and not weep.

This past summer I also read Coming of Age in Mississippi, by Anne Moody. I have never, ever read such a stunning memoir that so perfectly and believably captured the thought processes of youth. To read that book is to really enter the space of the deep South during the Civil Rights movement, to be sitting beside Moody at the Woolworth's counter while she and her fellow protestors were beaten for being Black and wanting a hamburger. Moody writes many chapters about the perils of trying to vote as a Black person, of the beatings and imprisonments and murders for exercising legal writes of citizenship. She doesn't mince words and the scenes are graphicly haunting.

I keep these two literary works in mind today as I head to the polls. I wish everyone would. When I hear my students or friends complain about long lines at the polls, suggesting they might not vote because of them, I want to shake them. I mean, my great-grandmother Nana was born and lived a long time while women were not legally allowed to vote. I imagine she came of age for the first election where she could indeed cast a ballot as a full fledged citizen.

For my Nana, for Anne Moody and for Alice Paul, Inez Milholland, and Lucy Burns, I will vote today no matter how long the line is. And when I'm done, I'll feel really good about it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

NaBloPoMo: Muscles

Well I have been challenged! Until this morning I had never heard of something called NaBloPoMo (or National Blog Posting Month for those of us living in the dark). This NaBloPoMo asks us each to post at least once a day for a month and PghRugbyAngel has challenged me to post meaningfully.

So here goes.

I am going to start with muscles. I have them. Big ones. They may have an ever-growing layer of padding outside them, but I have muscles I grew on purpose for rugby. They are large, bulge out of clothing in the trendy sections of stores, consume lots of fuel, and have been used to physically hit other human beings again and again and again.

If I have learned one thing since 1999 when I began playing rugby it's that the human body is amazingly strong and durable. I have been railed by other people's muscles and not suffered real damage. Just last weekend, I got punched in the face--literally punched by accident in a scrum (flanking) and I didn't even get a black eye. Muscles can do amazing things.

But there is so much pressure all around us for women to not have these muscles. Starting with the clothes available for us to cover our bodies and continuing through men who refuse to believe that we have them, we women are still incredulously envisioned as dainty and soft.

I'm still not sure how much I'm allowed to write about working on the EMHE construction site, but I will say the experience showed me that feminism still has a very, very long way to go if those hundreds of men are ever going to make space in the world for strong women. I really wish I had kept an actual talley of the times men said to me, "Are you ok with that?" "Careful with that, sweetie. It's heavy." "Whoah, honey! That door's a big one!"

Some of the objects were heavy. The doors I lugged up stairs all night long? They weighed a ton and my arms were sore the next day. But if I couldn't safely carry it up the stairs, I would have asked for assistance. I felt so belittled and infantized by that group of men. Nothing has made me that angry for many years. It was no secret that we were the rugby players, that the 20 or so volunteers Tuesday night came from the rugby team. We had muscles and were there to put them to use.

We might as well have worn heels and short skirts and gone around giving back rubs. I'd like to say that our astounding strength overpowered them and taught them a lesson in the end, but no matter how many of us carried bags of mortar on our own without flinching, the men inside and outside the loading trucks still didn't see us as anything but breakable.

I want to know how big and strong I have to get to be visible, to be SEEN not as a helpless person in need of rescue, but as a person worthy of work.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Angels on the Airwaves

Hey everyone! The Pittsburgh Angels were on TV last week! It was a very exciting opportunity for my team to be on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live show. Here is the link to our segment.

If I were just a bit more savvy, I'd embed the video right into the blog...but I am not that savvy.

Anyway, I am really pleased that we got nearly 8 minutes of screen time and the professional way the anchors handled the questions. I also love how Tricia talked about our experience with Extreme Home Makeover and felt her talking directly of me when she mentioned here teammate organizing the endeavor. You know, one of the members of the men's team ended up staying overnight, working twelve straight hours on the crew when some of the midnight shift volunteers failed to show. It's just great to see our team get recognition for the great stuff we do. Who knows if this tv spot will land us a fabulous sponsor???

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pumpkins Again

My favorite rugby event of the year is ALWAYS the pumpkin carving party. I love that party because it's so chill and there is simultaneously so much to do. Darts. Flip cup. Punching bags, foosball, pumpkin carving! It's like a sensory overload.

This year I was sure I had a winning pumpkin. I sort of hand drew the Obama logo on my squash and carved away. Only nobody but Corey and Dave knew what it was. People thought it was the PLEA logo. Or someone thought it was the UNICEF logo.

Then, in the contest, I won all right. I won DFL (dead fu*#ing last for those readers who don't hang out with cyclists). While I was extremely happy with the star bucket, the lottery tickets, and even the booze (cooking purposes, obviously...) I was sad that my pumpkin got the last award cuz it said "hope" on it.

I need to start hanging out with my friend Rosie, who had a pumpkin for change porch. Or I need to just think of better pumkins I guess...


I am consumed by fitness. Ever since I hurt my knee August 18, I can think of nothing but my resting heart rate, my body fat percentage, and kettle bell swings. The injury came after 4 weeks of an Angels fitness challenge, 8 intense weeks of CrossFit and only two weeks of rugby practice that were equally as intense, and actually included elements of dozens of burpees. I was feeling fantastic (most days) because I reached a place I hadn't been in years.

I think the biggest disappointment for me was not watching the game from the sidelines, but losing my fitness base, because I had worked so hard to build it. I've been feeling very sedentary in general since college and have put on weight and mushiness in places that Jim Sullivan used to make solid. I recall the fitness routines of Penn State Rugby, bear crawling up enormous hills and lifting in the glistening varsity weight room in Rec Hall, the endorphin high I got from two hours of conditioning...and when I think of these things I feel sad because compared to that, I am a terrible physical specimen.

I have such genetic predisposition to be amply-thighed and buxom beyond belief. When I feel myself slipping away from good heart health, I get these visions of many chins and struggling on stairs. I need to stop talking about fitness and freaking commit to finding it again.

My knee is performing back at 98%. Today is November 1 and I am back at CrossFit starting Monday. So help me, I will return to my summer levels and surpass them. And then, who knows? Maybe the fit, healthy me that waved goodbye five years ago can resurface and stick around forever.