Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ebb and Flow

For the past few months, I really haven't been working that hard. I haven't had a lot of work to DO, so it hasn't been that difficult to get done what I did have. That all changed drastically in February. I went from a dry tank to a completely overflowing expansion tank on top of my inbox, and it all comes to a head rightnow this week.

My mother thinks I'm ignoring her calls. My students look at me aghast when I talk about work not from their class, but from the other, online class that I'm now teaching. I have no idea who's on the other end of the phone when my sources return my phone calls without identifying themselves. I have to play it cool and make ridiculous small talk until they say, "remember me? I'm from the department of blanky blank and you called on Thursday?" Well of course I remember once you say all that! Walter? I have no idea with just Walter.

Some people think I'm mad for the amount of work I'm trying to squeeze into this 5 week period (trip to Chicago for AWP, crazed amounts of writing, trip to NYC for Greener Gadgets conference, crazed amounts of student paper grading, trip to Las Vegas/Phoenix for Shelbie's wedding and visiting my sister). I say this in response to them: When the heck else am I going to do this kind of stuff? Twenty weeks from now I'm going to have an infant. A big day for me will be making it to the curb in time for recycling pickup. Plus who the hell knows when my writing well will dry up again in this gorgeous economy.

So until March 16, I'm busy. And I kind of like it. I feel so studious and industrious and efficient what with all the coaching and flying and thinking about rugby and writing. The best part? I get to interact with human beings other than Corey on a regular basis. I think these sorts of spurts are necessary for people who work from home. At least this month I have plenty of opportunity to use my vocal cords...

Friday, February 20, 2009

You Will Not Defeat Me, House!

I hosted book club tonight. Not rugby book club. Food politics book club. I'm in two because I read that much. Anyway, as I was cleaning off counter space to make room for the potluck, I cursed the heavens because I accidentally knocked a paycheck in the crack between the cupboard and the wall. Not the cupboard and the movable fridge, but the cupboard and the wall.

The minuscule crevice where not even a virus or a bacteria could fit. Only a paycheck. Certainly not an arm or finger or even wooden tongs.

Several thoughts coursed through my mind at this point. In no particular order, they included: that client was so late paying me it's not even worth calling them for another check, now I will be covered with dust and grime when my guests arrive, this looks like a job for a bicycle spoke, it might be worth $150 to NOT get this check from the crack.

But I am far too stubborn to willingly concede a battle with my furniture. I went downstairs and procured a bike spoke while the tea water boiled and dinner warmed in the rice cooker. I smashed my face against the wall and jabbed and poked and illuminated the situation with Corey's pliable camping headlamp. Nada.

Glue! I thought. I should put glue on the bike spoke. Luckily, I had just purchased some glue to use with my nephew making Borax silly putty. I used half the bottle on the end of the spoke, hoping to nap the check. Instead, I got glue all over the cabinet, the wall, my fingers, and the tea kettle roared away in the background as the doorbell rang and my fellow readers arrived.

As we served dinner, we all determined a wire coat hanger was really more appropriate for this situation. I sat through our discussion partially distracted by the paycheck, which my friends were all pretty eager to see retrieved. I'm very glad they encouraged me to get it on principle. Such checks just cannot be left between the cupboard and the wall. This is a choice for weak people. I am strong. We ate chocolate tart and celebrated our resolve.

After they left, I found a wire hanger in the basement. It must have been Corey's--all mine are plastic from McLanahan's in college. I bent that sucker to form a very narrow hook-grabber, stuck the headlamp back in place, squished my face against the wall, and went fishing.

Many grunts, thirty minutes, many dust bunnies, and a squished fetus later, I retrieved the punctured, wrinkled, glue-speckled check. Victory is mine!

I shrieked so loudly the neighbors came to look in on me. It was only a celebratory whoop, but how were they to know? We shared a chuckle over my defeat of the narrow space. I am invincible. I am fantastic. Now to see if the PNC atm will still accept the thing tomorrow morning...

Thursday, February 19, 2009


We met with the midwives today. Everything is coming along swimmingly with our little baby. I even have an extra high fundus, which is good because nothing else on my body is extra high or tall in any way. Yay! Tall fundus!

Today marked the first day the midwives whipped out a tape measure and took note of the distance between my pubic bone and my fundus (or top of the uterus for those not in the know). There was something very strange and unsettling about being measured, as if I were buying a dress or being examined likea zoo animal. But I digress. Even though I am 20 weeks pregnant (halfway there!!!) my measurement was 22cm. Thus, tall fundus. The midwife looked at me and asked whether I have a short torso. Of course I have a short torso! I'm a short, stubby front row forward.

Anyway, my only complaint has been the same one that's plauged me the whole pregnancy: constipation. Between the progesterone and the baby squishing my works, I have been in some serious pain and had a serious slow-down. So now I have to take Colace. The only thing I know about Colace is that the crazy chicken-eating girl in Girl, Interrupted begged for it to help her go to the bathroom. It sounds upsetting and old fashioned and I fear for my bowels.

I'm also supposed to make the following modifications to my diet:
1. Stop eating bananas. Did that months ago. No sweat
2. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables of the non-banana variety. Pretty easy task for me as well.
3. Stop eating white flour. This means pasta, bread, white rice. This one makes me upset.

I was giving myself a pep talk in the car on the way home that the bread and the rice would be no sweat, since we usually buy 12 grain bread and brown rice. But then of course I ate frozen matter paneer for lunch and that had white rice in it. Already I failed on my assignment!

And what the heck am I going to do without regular pasta? I feel like the whole wheat pasta just tastes yucky, and pasta is such a staple of my diet. Pasta Roni on nights I don't have time to cook? Gone. Kraft Mac N Cheese on days I feel nostalgic? Nope. For the next five months, it's wheat or spinach pasta from the bulk bins at the Co-op for me, and that just might make me cry a little bit.

Here's hoping the dietary changes make things move a little more smoothly. Prepare to celebrate the birth of my son with a pasta party at my house. Ziti for everyone this July!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oscar Mike

About a year ago, I read an essay called "The Killer Elite" while waiting for a bus (this was just after the bus cuts, so I had a good long wait). Evan Wright followed a marine recon battalion around Iraq and fortuitously (in terms of writing opportunities) joined them as they were the first to roll into Baghdad. I was so affected by this piece that I couldn't sleep at night. It made me regard my marine acquaintances in a new light. I made Corey read it, and he loved it, too.

Then I heard that the creators of The Wire were turning the subsequent book into a miniseries called Generation Kill. I had to watch it. Corey and I devoured those DVDs like food, watching each episode twice and the director's commentary and all the many hours of special features. It was understood to be grounds for divorce if one of us should watch the Netflix offering before the other got home from an activity.

Weeks later, we still speak to one another in military lingo, so engrossed are we in the world of that literature. We'd call each other Assassin One and Assassin Actual for awhile, ending our sentences in "over." We talked in terms of clicks for kilometers and that sort of thing. But one group of words above all the others stuck to our ribs: When the soldiers need to be on the move, they use the phrase Oscar Mike. This is not laid out for the lay viewer in the film, but Corey figured it out one day. When the commander yelled Oscar Mike! The Humvees began to move and the troops cleaned up their bedrolls and stopped pooping in the desert. Like immediately. The phrase fits very seamlessly into our lives.

Just as the soldiers sit around and wait and goof off until a higher power commands them to be Oscar Mike, Corey can loaf until the deer invade our backyard, staring off into the distance, sleeping, eating beef jerkey, whatever. But now I have this new tool that gets him to jump into action. "Oscar Mike!" I yell up the stairs when he's slept until 8:45 and has to be at work by 9.

"Oscar Mike!" when we need to be at Crossfit in a few minutes and he's still in his pajamas. Something about this phrase prods him to move far better than my nagging or polite asking or angry begging or sad begging ever could. Late for the airport? "Oscar Mike!" Time to eat dinner and stop watching the Colbert Report on the internet? "Oscar freaking Mike!"

And instead of ignoring me, he says, "Yeah, yeah." And gets up!

I wonder why he has embraced this expression so. Is it because of Wright's wonderful writing and the vivid film making of Generation Kill? Is it because we are both so thankful that we don't really have to desensitize ourselves to the point that we could kill another person? Or perhaps the US Military has done what generations of wives/partners could not. They have, perhaps, finally found the secret to get a man to move his ass.

If the latter is true, you can bet my boy baby will be named Oscar Mike in gratitude. (Only then, would I have to stop using it to evoke action at my house? Perhaps I need a more fitting tribute...)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Closure! Victory!

You see this?That is a sweater, knitted by me. It is a bottom-up, roll edged raglan sweater made with a pattern and yarn created in Portland, Maine. The sweater was meant to be a memento of a trip I took to visit my friend Adam, many years ago. I would, I decided, begin buying handmade yarn each place I visited and make a garment to commemorate my travels. Six years later, I have finally knitted that sweater.

I made it in a size I think will fit me when there is not a baby inside of my body. I haven't blocked it yet. I keep hoping the body will grow longer and the sleeves less...ugly on their own. This is, I fear, wishful thinking.

Now that I am done with this chore, after a month of cramped hands and blue-stained fingers from the very darkly dyed wool, I have this to say about the pattern: how incredibly inefficient! And I loathe inefficiency. My knitting friend Laura is so right to point out the vast superiority of top-down sweaters knitted in the round. I spent seven hours on the seams and finishing of this sweater. I know it was seven hours because I sat on the sofa and watched the following movies while I seamed:
* Take the Lead (in which Antonio Banderas teaches inner-city youth that the key to their salvation is, in fact, the rumba or Viennese waltz)
* Something's Gotta Give
Failure to Launch (though I finished the project halfway through)

Had I been knitting in the round, the sweater would be been done long ago. Oh well. Now I know I can do seams, should I ever be forced to again. In other news, here is a profile shot illustrating how lovely the sweater looks when paired with my tummy, which now juts past my bosom:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Belly Rubbing

I never thought I would be one of those belly rubbing pregnant women. In fact, ever since I watched pregnant week on the 5pm edition of Let's Make a Deal (Or is it Deal or No Deal? Who can remember...) I was a bit put off by the 30 preggo women rubbing their bulging bellies.

But this weekend, I started rubbing my tummy. At first, I was totally selfish. I was doing it repeatedly in line for the restroom at the crowded conference, hoping that one of the 20 women in line in front of me would take pity on a gal with a foot in her bladder. No such luck. I waited and waited and waited, rubbing my tummy raw in vain.

And then I couldn't stop rubbing. At one point, I looked down and noticed that my belly button is getting really shallow and weird looking, like almost gone, and that made me rub more vigorously. It's like I can't help myself now, want to always be in contact with my son somehow, even through a massive layer of epidermis.

And yet I hate when strangers want to rub my belly. I know this will only get worse. I don't mind when my friends or loved ones dive in for a quick polish, but strangers? On my tummy? Step back! Back off! This is my rubbing area.

Maybe I'll become so preoccupied with belly rubbing that I'll stop picking my darn zits (which have grown in mass number since becoming pregnant). I'll have something else to absentmindedly do with my hands. This would fill my mother with massive joy, I'll tell you what.

I'd still like to understand the mechanics of belly rubbing. Why must I do it? Why must others rub the belly of pregnant women? What is so magical about the bulge of skin protecting a developing baby? I'm not entirely sure yet, but I'm finding the discovery process surprisingly enjoyable.

Friday, February 13, 2009

AWP Conference Highlights

1) Eating mint chocolate chip ice cream from the carton at Jenny Lui's apartment after long days of paying attention nearly constantly for numerous hours
2) Chicago's public transportation system, which is shockingly easy to navigate and comes complete with talking buses that tell you when you've reached the stop you want
3) The radio writing segment, in which I listened to a clip of a man who swears our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ performs many miracles, including providing the faithful with magical gold fillings. The Lord also, according to this man, can whiten your teeth. All in all, he saves you thousands in dental bills.
4) Meeting Gretchen Legler, who rocks
5) Then meeting Michelle Morano, who read about being pregnant and traveling and then traveling with an infant
6) Going to the bus stop after my work was done today and discovering this sign, modified not by me but by another concerned citizen who clearly shares my values and world view:
(If you look very closely, you can see the correction in pen. Had this been my handiwork, I would have used a Sharpee...)

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I am most of the way through knitting my very first sweater. This has been a momentous achievement for me. As you might know, I am very impatient. This is why I stick to smaller things in knitting. I knit relatively fast, so something like a scarf, hat, or socks generally takes me a few days. A week if work is busy. I have been knitting this sweater for a MONTH.

Even though I still have half a sleeve to complete, I got really excited and started sewing the pieces of the sweater together. To do this, I had to learn the mattress stitch. Isn't that exciting? I can make a seam!

Right now, the sweater just looks like a heap of lumpy, blue, cat toys. But Debbie Stoller assures me that with some careful stitching and a little blocking, it will indeed become a sweater. I had hoped it would be all done by Thursday so I could wear it to Chicago for the conference I'm attending and brag about it to Jenny Lui (my host), even though Jenny is not a knitter and won't fully appreciate the wonders of the sweater. The way things look right now, this will not happen. But in the meantime, I do have some photos of my progress:

By God, I will finish this beast by Sunday! Mark my words! And then I will squeeze it over my pregnant belly/bosom.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Time Out Again

My friend GW posted a new album on Facebook: Opening Day of Shamrock Shake Season. I had many reactions to this album, starting with my shock that I hadn't realized we were in the throes of Shake season yet at all. I mean, I'm still pining the end of pumpkin pie blizzard season at Dairy Queen. I'm just not ready for Shamrock Shakes yet.

But anyway, so many things in G's album made me marvel. For instance, the McDonald's where he was shaking had floral centerpieces. In vases. On the tables. Now, I haven't yet spoken to GW, so I have no idea what ritzy McD's he found, but flowers? At McDonalds? Aren't the tables at McDs supposed to be covered in a thin film of scuz?

Then I was looking at his Shamrock Shake cup, documented at each stage of drinking, and noticed there was a yogi in tree pose on the side. As if McDonalds products caused a zen state or were the choice drink of yogis everywhere. This is, I believe, worse than having Olympians sponsored by McDonalds and implying that one can be an elite world athlete while consuming these sorts of products. Everyone deserves a treat now and then, but come on! Yoga people? Shamrock shakes? My sister, a true yogi, comes to Pennsylvania once a year and usually eats about 2/3 of a cupcake, maybe a Swedish Fish, and develops an ulcer from the sugar overload. A yogi in tree pose is not drinking a Shamrock Shake.

Which is good, because then there's more for me. Really, I ask you, is there anything worse in the world than going to McDonalds for a Shamrock Shake only to be told they ran out of the mint mix or whatever? Truly disappointing.

You all know where I'll be after my trip to the dentist this afternoon!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Womb

Today, we learned there is a boy in my womb. I have very mixed emotions about the whole thing. For starters, I had again convinced myself something was wrong with the baby before the ultrasound because not only could I not feel my baby's movements, but I am also a paranoid, anxiety-prone freaky person.

So I was already a wreck of emotions when Sarah stuck the wand on my belly and revealed my rolling, kicking, lively baby. I laid there crying and watching the baby and thinking, "This is a girl baby. I don't see a penis at all. I think it's a girl." So then Sarah told us we had a boy, that the baby had "boy parts" and that thing I was thinking was the umbilical cord? Yeah, probably a penis.

There was an immense wave of...something...when she told us we had a baby boy. I don't even know how to explain it. A very odd, distance followed by a very rapid closeness followed by an entire day of wonderment. I have a son. I produced a boy. It doesn't quite feel right to say so. I mean, what if it's a girl instead and I've preconceived this life and her birth is surrounded by these corrected, confused feelings?

Maybe it's better to continue thinking of my child as just my child. Which I wanted to do anyway until Corey convinced me to find out the sex. He was feeling uninvolved in the pregnancy, you see, and strongly felt he could better bond with the baby and conceptualize himself as a father if he could think about "son" or "daughter." So now we know. A son. We have a son, or half of a son.

A son, by the way, whose legs measure longer than his gestational age, which tells us he is already a long, lanky monkey like his daddy. Destined, I think, to be a second row or a very speedy fullback. Or perhaps a distance runner?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

prenatal yoga

So my sister wanted us to have a fertile sharing moment and we went to prenatal yoga together. I am uncertain as to how I feel about this experience. For starters, I don't think I'm quite pregnant enough to go. I had by far the smallest stomach in the room and I felt like people were staring and judging my belly, questioning why I should be there for their attempted zen moments when I don't yet have feet kicking my ribs.

And then I farted during camel pose. Audibly. This was initially extremely embarrassing. So much so that I almost left. But then everyone started farting. Pregnant women always fart, it seems. That room smelled like a big, stinky butt.

The teacher began walking around and showing us how our partners could assist us into the postures to relieve pressure and rub the baby to stimulate motion and love, and it started to seem like a really nice place to be. And the postures all felt so good and involved such audible exhalations. Even though I'm not super pregnant, it all felt wonderful and, actually, zen-like.

However, there were negatives. Like the teacher was a little weird and people kept coming in very late. I am such an anxious person that it takes me forever to quiet my mind and get in a place of calm. Once I got in there, in tune with my breath, etc., another woman would stagger in late (up to a half hour late) and make us all get up and slide our mats over to make room for her. Let's just say I don't want to be friends with any of those women. I don't think that my overly expressive face emitted kind looks in their direction, either. I might have given them all the raging stink eye. Or willed my fart smells toward their personal nostrils.

I'm going to give yoga two more chances, though, because I purchased a multi-class pass (can't overlook a bargain...). My goals for next time are to NOT eat chili the day of class, to move my mat close to the front where I won't be asked to move to accommodate an asshole tardy person, and to have a bigger stomach so as to better fit in with the moms-to-be.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Day So Far

Woke up and ate delicious Honey Bunches of Oats with skim milk, or skimmed milk as they say in the UK.

Actually got some work done without procastinating, then let Mark the plumber back into our house for another $90.90 worth of work and a good solid scolding at our hose situation, which had nothing to do with the leaking hot water heater he came to fix. Also learned that we are at most 2 years away from replacing the damn thing.

Ate some soup for lunch and became so engrossed in the soup that I attempted to suck every last drop from the bowl. Dumped half the broth on my cashmere sweater as I tipped it to get my tongue in there further. Had to go teach class smelling of garlic and oregano...

Slipped and fell on the ice on the driveway. I didn't see it because it was covered in...snow! We got more snow today. Here is a screen shot of the weather forecast for the rest of the week:
Note the precipitation predicted for...well all week except Friday. Heck, by then we're going above freezing. I'm not sure what I'll do with myself. Maybe run around outside in just maternity pants? As in without the requisite long johns beneath them?

Discovered that my pregnant belly makes it uncomfortable to lie down with the laptop upon my gut. This is both exciting and frustrating simultaneously.

Now, I must make myself wait the final 2 hours until my extended clan arrives via train. Nothing like visiting family to make me not upset about the weather or the soupy sweater or even my sore bum. Hurrah! A positive that cancels out all other existing negatives! This will then be, in hindsight, a good day.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Guest Blogging

Very exciting news: I was honored to be a guest blogger at Your Scrumhalf Connection, where I ranted a bit about being the only woman present at a coaching clinic I attended last weekend in Columbus.


After the game, this is what the city was like. And I got to drive my family home through the madness. It was actually exhilarating. We had been at a party in Lawrenceville and took to the streets briefly to cheer and yell. I mostly watched the people be drunk and joyous, sober as I was.

But then we tried to drive home in the joy, and not only was I able to complete a k turn on Butler street, but I was also thwarted and redirected by a police barricade. Every single stoplight was a gathering point for fans, and I happily honked my opinion at all of them. I love horn honking normally, and I think I got to use my horn more times last night than ever in my life. It was so fantastic.

Sometimes I felt guilty because I couldn't honk and shift and make a turn simultaneously, so I'd have to shift real quick and resume honking while slowly and awkwardly navigating the throngs of revelers in the streets. Good times, Pittsburgh. Good times.

I hope I get to take my visiting siblings to the celebration later this week, whatever it may be. They need to see this.