Friday, July 31, 2009

What a Day

A few months ago, I read a parenting blog that said new moms should make Ta-Da lists instead of to do lists. I absolutely could not appreciate the enormity of such things until right now. Here I am 15 days into parenthood, and I feel like today was the most successful day in the entire world. To look over my list makes my former self think, "OMG cut her loose! This is inefficient!"

But the new Katy, the one who hasn't slept since July 15, looks at today as the portal to a new and wonderful world. Here is what I did today:

-took a shower
-put clean clothes on
-washed a load of diapers AND dried them
-left the house and went to breakfast with my sister
-ate said breakfast AT the breakfast place instead of bringing it home
-pumped 1.5 ounces of milk
-napped while Miles napped

The biggest thing on there is obviously the part where I left the house, drove the car, and ate breakfast out like a normal person. Only I'm not a normal person anymore. Because I have to navigate a stroller and have this whole new body awareness that extends past my hands into the plastic stroller. And the eating place has to have wide enough aisles to let me fit or it doesn't work out. And then every single second I'm there I have to keep one foot on the stroller in case someone tries to steal Miles and one eye on the stroller in case he starts to cry.

And I did it! I did all of these things at the same time while eating quiche. It amazed me that I was capable of such multitasking. Of course, I was still completely dependant on Betsy to order the food and bring it to the table. But who knows? Maybe tomorrow I can even do that part!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Birth Story: The Good

Miles' birth was a complicated affair that I am still not able to fully process. I don't even remember all of it yet. But I do know that there were three distinct phases of the day: a wonderful part, a scary part, and a traumatically terrifying, confusing, awful part with a good ending.

As I said, it started out wonderful. The night I went into labor, I had spent hours crying, believing in my soul that my body didn't know how to go into labor and I would carry around my little lichen forever. As soon as Corey calmed me down, I noticed my practice contractions were stronger, coming at more regular intervals. I took a bath and yelled out to Corey each time one began while he took notes and timed everything with his cell phone.

By 5am, we felt confident that I wasn't wishful thinking, that this was really it. We called the midwives, then my mother, then I convinced him that yes, this was one of those times it was ok to call his parents and wake them up, too. My contractions were 5 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. We ate cereal and watched Trekkies while we waited for them to speed up.

By 6am, the contractions were two minutes apart, which usually signifies active labor. We zoomed to Magee and I squatted on the floor behind the check-in desk while they asked me inane questions for a hundred years. Finally, one of the admissions ladies was like, "Um...she's going every 2 minutes..." and they took us to a room. I think it was room 5.

The first midwife on duty that day came in and I learned there were no popsicles and that I was dismally undilated, despite having the contractions of a much more dilated woman. We did some laps around the hallways to try and get the baby's head to drop. In the videos they show you at Lamaze, these hallways are always deserted and peaceful. In real life, they are filled with people who look at you funny when you bend over and wheeze mid-stride. Naked beneath those damn hospital gowns, I decided I was more comfortable laboring in the claustrophobic triage room. Plus, I kept tripping on my Crocs.

The midwives brought me a birthing ball and I just sort of knelt on the floor and let the labor wash over me. At that point, I was breathing through everything just fine on my own. Corey was able to go in and out and update my mom, who had arrived but wasn't allowed to come in the tiny room with us.

Four hours later, I still hadn't reached 3cm, but they took pity and moved me to an actual labor/delivery/recovery room, where my mom could join us and I had room to pace in circles. Imagine if you will an enormous, 42-weeks-pregnant woman stomping around buck naked, panting, while Corey chased her around with a tennis ball attempting counter-pressure. Then imagine that for many, many hours.

I alternated the pacing and sitting in the shower with the hot water on my lower back with Corey helping me breathe through contractions that were, actually, totally manageable. A few people offered me a super fun IV stick, but I turned them down and only emerged from the shower once each hour when the nurses wanted to check my baby's heart rate.

The whole time I labored, Corey helped me plan out which breathing pattern we'd use and he labored right along with me even though I kept swatting away his touch and yelling at him for eating Sun Chips in my presence. You see, the hospital has a policy about food. I was allowed to have "clear liquids," which meant room service broth, popsicles, and rainbow Jello (which I later puked up all over Corey, but that's neither here nor there).

I remember the contractions coming fast and furious, again and again and again, sometimes right on top of each other without rest in between. But I also remember listening to my relaxing CD on repeat and having my mom and Corey telling me I was super strong and amazing. Then the midwife and nurse kept telling me I was in charge and control of my breath, which took me right through each one. If only I had been dilating, I really would have been totally fine with the whole process.

But, alas, I was not progressing. The day faded into evening while Mr. Miles' head still didn't drop into my pelvis, my water did not break, and I didn't dilate beyond 5cm. Somehow, my body knew how to have many hours' of insane contractions (they were by this point 90 seconds long and at most 30 seconds apart), but Miles and I couldn't quite coordinate the mechanisms to let him out. Thus ended the wonderful part of my labor.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Breast is Best

From the very beginning of my pregnancy, Corey and I knew we were going to breastfeed Miles. This meant we needed to seek out a pediatrician who was supportive of this practice in addition to the midwifery team in charge of my pre- and postnatal care. Many pediatricians say, "Oh yes! Of course we are supportive of breastfeeding...UNLESS..." and then they either outright reveal that they want the kid on formula if weight gain isn't uber-fast or they will sneakily not support you if you have troubles.

At any rate, we found Dr. H, who is so supportive of breastfeeding that we tease him a little bit at our house. In his first visit to Miles at the hospital, Dr. H. wanted my entire family to know that Miles should be spending the majority of his time at my breast, that this should be his "primary place of comfort and nourishment." He wanted to see Miles latch, he wanted me to be nursing when he popped into the room...he wants that baby on the tit all the time. Which is great!

When we went for our checkup yesterday, Miles wasn't quite back to his birth weight. I got panicky a little bit. Dr. H. just said, "Feel free to feed right now, please." Which was pretty much code for "get that baby back on your boob, lady! Stat!" And despite my furious eye signals, Corey was asleep with his head against the wall and didn't hand me my "modesty blanket." So I had to get out my huge nipple in front of our pediatrician while my son made oinking noises and slobbered all over the place.

After the three grownups chatted about breastfeeding for awhile, it was time for Dr. H. to examine Miles. I got ready to detach him from my breast, but Dr. H. intervened. "Oh, no! I can do the whole examination right there at your breast," he said. So we just sort of unswaddled Miles and rotated him a little. He kept eating away while he got the business and a clean bill of health. And all the while I'm trying to cover my aereola with a burp cloth, much like trying to cover one's butt cheek with a postage stamp, because Corey is still asleep with his head against the wall and the blanket it juuuuuuuust out of my reach. And I was thinking how weird it was that I became so tired, I didn't even care that a wild-haired baby doctor was leaning across my bosom to poke my baby's penis and tell us that the white stuff oozing out was just "smegma" and that's perfectly ok. All this information and eye contact while we are hunched over my naked breast.

And then the visit was over and I had no choice but to remove Miles from my breast so we could take him home in the car. This small action, I'm sure, started off a domino effect that made the whole rest of my day miserable. Miles needed to eat every half hour until...well he's still eating right now. I'm typing one-handed while he oinks and slurps. I haven't slept at all. Not one minute.

But just as I'm about to give up and gnash my teeth or pound my fists into Corey's sleeping nutsack, Miles will look up at me and pat my breast with one hand. Then he'll smile a little bit in the brief instant between gasping, heaving gulps and I forget that this is the most difficult thing I have ever, ever thought about doing.

**I felt like I had to add, out of fairness, that all new parents fall asleep with their heads against walls at moments like when waiting for the scale or when Dr. H steps out to wash hands, etc. Corey is very alert when actually speaking with the doctor.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some Notes on Delivering at Magee

The Lamaze class instructor will tell you all sorts of things to be prepared for your delivery at Magee hospital. Many of these turned out to be false, false lies!

To start, she said there'd be popsicles. Since they don't let you have food while you do the hardest work of your life, I was glad to know I could at least have popsicles. I mean, it's July. Everyone needs popsicles. When I first got into triage and learned that, despite my contractions coming every 2 minutes, I was only 1cm dilated, the midwife asked if there was anything I needed. "POPSICLES!" I told her, very calmly amidst a big one.

About an hour later, she reappeared with a smooshed, 23-yr old orange popsicle and a cup. "This is all I could find..." It was at the bottom of the freezer, broken, but I ate it anyway dammit. When you actually get to your labor/delivery/recovery room, you can order popsicles from room service, but this takes 45 minutes and they get weird when you want 15 of them. Note to others: Bring your own popsicles.

The instructor also told us there would be "everything you need" for a good shower. I took this to mean soap, shampoo, and towels. Possibly a bath mat. They have only soap. When my little sister wanted to give me a sponge bath in my post-partum room, she asked the nurses for toiletries and towels. They gave her a handful of washcloth-sized scouring pads and some J&J baby soap that was meant to double as soap and shampoo for me. We ended up drying me off with those super-absorbant hospital gowns and then having to wait around for a dry one of those to emerge.

There were other wee lies that were less annoying, like that I'd get a water bottle or other ammenities. But so much of my labor experience revolved around the shower and wanting to consume calories that I felt it prudent to make known that Magee does not, in fact, specialize in frozen treats or spa towels.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hello, World

Hi. My name is Miles William, but my parents call me M-Dub for short after my good friend G-Dub. Contrary to popular belief, my hair is not falling out and it plans to stay this color and puffiness.

I got to come home on Monday and meet my new house and see the garden and poop all over most of the rooms already, so that's been fun. I've also met many of my relatives, who hold me at night while I shriek and mommy is passed out on pain medicine. I can even Skype with far away relatives--I'm so down with technology.

I like long walks up and down the hallway, cozy evenings in my vibrating sheep chair, and sticking my finger down inside my eyelid. Want to come over for a play date?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

FRESH movie

A few weeks ago, the Rookie Moms website suggested that hosting a screening of a new film Fresh was a great way to spend an evening with a new baby. Even though I don't yet have a new baby, I couldn't wait to try this idea. I loved it. I even pitched it to the Mother Nature Network and wrote about the experience of hosting my own private indie flick screening.

Probably because of my enormous distraction of late, I still don't feel like I fully captured my thoughts on this movie, the way it was being distributed, or how I felt about being included. I mean, how powerful is it to give the "people" the power to distribute a film?? Instead of relying on the machine, on the big studios, etc. the filmmaker (Ana Sofia Joanes) relies on word of mouth and folks like us to buy screening licenses and have their own food parties.

Even if I lived in some remote part of Alaska, I could be among the first people in the country to see this film. Just as long as the mail service gets there...It's so empowering.

My extreme boredom is leading me to try to organize a bigger Pittsburgh screening of the flick. I just feel like I want everyone to know about it. I get excited about food and taking control over food. Someday soon, this baby will emerge from my body and I'll become preoccupied. But in the mean time, I'm shouting from the rooftops that the coolest way to spend an evening is shelling out $20 and hosting a local food potluck to watch this movie.

Corey and I will probably have another Fresh party sometime soon since we still can show 15 more people with our let me know if you want to come over and watch!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On Not Yet Having a Baby

I've made no secret of the fact that everything out of Ricki Lake's mouth or fingers in her film the Business of Being Born and her book Your Best Birth has just been so motivational for me. For 41 weeks now, I've felt empowered by her attitudes about women and strength and labor. One of the things that has only recently begun to affect me dramatically is her discussion of "due dates."

Here is what I think about due dates. They are fucking mean. For someone like me, someone for whom absolutely everything is a competition or at the very least an opportunity to work harder, faster, more efficiently...for me the due date is particularly cruel. I'm majorly, chronically, debilitatingly Type A. I must be in control of everything and, whether it's a project for work or a scrubbed bathtub or a knitted blanket, I have to make sure it's done perfectly, ahead of the deadline I've set. This is how I roll.

So you can imagine how well I am dealing with the fact that my baby is now 7 days "late" according to the "due date" the medical world has given. He was given a gestation deadline, and the hardest part for me is not physical discomfort but reconciling mentally with the idea that a deadline has come and gone and I am powerless to do anything about it.

Ricki Lake would try to get me to calm down and point out that really, that due date is pretend. Fake. Totally arbitrary. She points to French research studies that show women actually gestate for an average of 41 weeks, making July 9 sort of the preliminary offer...Corey keeps referring to my "French Due Date" of this Thursday and telling me our baby will certainly come "on time."

Many birth and women's health advocates are pushing for the medical community to offer a birth window instead of the cruel, punishing "due date." A birth window would say Baby Love will arrive at some point between June 25 and July 23. After 42 weeks' gestation, we're talking a whole different ballgame anyway, so that would put me still well within my birth window and wouldn't have me crying, sobbing, gnashing my teeth many times each day.

If I were given a birth window, I wouldn't be avoiding the world for fear of having to answer questions about why my progeny is tardy. I would just be pleasantly excited, a tad nervous. Instead, I have heart palpatations and don't sleep because I, Katy, have been "late" for the first time in my existence.

I am making a pact right now with myself. Even if the rest of the world isn't advocating a birth window, I am adopting one. Baby Lev is due to arrive some point before July 23. He's not late because July 9 was an arbitrary and mean, cruel day someone plucked from a cardboard spinning wheel. Instead, he's just fine. He and I are doing what our bodies need to do, not behind schedule but well within our project completion window.

If he were a writing assignment, this would be the week I would let him fester before beginning final revisions. So obviously, he's in there revising himself and will submit final copy at exactly the right moment.

The Fruit of My Labor

No. Not a baby. Instead, published articles I wrote! There are two of them live today on the Mother Nature Network! And that makes for a good morning, don't you think? Check them out here and here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The End of the Concrete Workers

I spent most of Saturday sitting on my porch watching the construction workers dump concrete, wishing my 4-year-old nephew could be here to ogle the cement mixer with me. Its driver was about 250 years old and had a leather do-rag holding back his white mane. He and Bruno alternated climbing around in the spout and checking things out, only when Bruno wasn't up there he was standing in the street adjusting his junk.

We're talking pants unzipped, shirt untucked, hearty junk shaking such as I've never seen before. He put Corey to shame. Standing in the street! Where all the Greek and Italian neighbors had emerged to porch-sit and watch the action and frequently shout back and forth with Bruno in Italian. As it turns out, Frank the fig guy from across the street is from the very same village as Bruno! Yet I have never seen Frank adjust his junk...

Anyway, I have decided my favorite concrete guy is Roger (photos coming soon). Roger is the one in the Guns N Roses crop top with denim cutoffs and a ring of barely-there hair that he combs with a black plastic comb eternally jutting from his back pocket. When it came time to pour the concrete, Roger doffed his shirt and donned big yellow longshoreman boots. He actually stood among the muck and dragged a 2x4 slowly through it to make it level. Two other concrete guys pushed scrapey tools from the side, but it was Roger, knee deep in cement, who resembled a gondolier. Only he belted out Rush songs instead of Italian river ditties.

Saturday afternoon, while I was sitting on the porch watching, the men started talking about how Roger had been recently screwed out of around $1500. I actually heard Roger reference breaking someone's legs, so I knew my presumption about these guys was accurate. Don't eff with the concrete guys.

The next big dilemma was that apparently the band Ratt came to Harmor this past weekend. Roger really wanted to go, but Bruno reminded him that there are lots of DUI checkpoints along the way and there aren't really back route alternatives.

This put Roger in quite a pickle because he couldn't go to Ratt and not get wasted, but then he couldn't drive home--not because doing so is the wrong thing to do, but because there are cops out there. I have no idea what Roger ended up doing Saturday night, but he isn't here this morning helping his buddies pour the "cheeks" on our neighbors' steps. (Was Roger A) incarcerated for DUI or B) incarcerated for breaking someone's legs?)

The last phase of my summer concrete project involves ordering 6 tons of dirt to replace the cement we had ripped out from the back yard. We found a place that does next-day delivery, called them on Sunday, and, provided I haven't had the baby by this afternoon, we'll soon be the proud house with a mountain of topsoil in the front yard. Good thing Corey borrowed a wheelbarrow.

So if you're in the neighborhood later and you own a shovel, stop on by to move some dirt. We'll be here, me making iced tea helplessly and Corey sweating and cursing his way through many cubic yards of earth.

Update: Photos!


Friday, July 10, 2009

Bruno's Book Keeping

Probably the coolest thing about Bruno is that he keeps all his important papers in his shirt pocket. This morning, when he greeted Corey and me, he extracted the same crinkly index card he used to give us our estimate a few months ago. I remember him clutching his nubby pencil in his weathered paw, looking much like my old football players trying to maneuver a writing implement. He wrote things down--some recognizable numerals, and then some other things that I'm sure only he knew about.

When we had called his office to confirm the job, his admin said, "Hang on. I have to find your card." Which led me to believe she was shuffling through an alphabetized stack of similar index cards.

This morning, Bruno had a huge wad of cards sticking out of the pocket. As Corey and I talked through our desires, he shuffled through the cards. "I have it all written down here," he says. "I remember." His face lit up as he found our "invoice." We made another request--that he leave some concrete around the stairs to the garden--and he indicated something on the card before shoving it back in his pocket.

He gestured to another house on our street where he had worked over a year ago. He referenced what he did for them, compared it to our curb needs. I get the sense that no matter what happens, Bruno will know exactly what we owe him and what he did for us.

There is something other-worldly about him, something tougher and more sturdy than Tony Soprano even. The wild and overly pregnant part of my brain suspects that, nice as he is and as good as he smells, Bruno could easily arrange someone to come over here and break our legs. Or, alternatively, bring us a vat of olive oil he cured himself.

Concrete Convoy

Ok, so our house has this very long concrete "driveway" that extends from the street about 100 feet back into our property. Only the first 30 feed of it are wide enough for a car. The rest is just concrete. I believe there used to be a shed on the back portion. We decided that when we got the driveway repaved, we would have the concrete taken out and plant a yard instead, so Baby Love would have more space to run around and, well, because it looks ugly to have mint growing up through crumbling concrete slabs in the back yard.

We hired Bruno to do this work. Bruno is about 99 years old and from the very tip of Italy, where the men are brown and the accents are thick and, evidently, the ear hair is very prevalent. Bruno rolled up at 7:08 this morning with his sons, nephews, and who knows what other folks. By 7:22 when I called my mom, they had already done boat loads of work.

I am so fascinated by this process. I can't even tell how many of them there are, but some have mustaches and some are young, hot dudes in Pitt shirts. Still others are in their 40s, wearing cut-off Guns N Roses t-shirts and tight shorts. Many have Penguins or Steelers tattoos beneath giant maps of Italy on their biceps. They all have muscles and sexy construction worker boots. And they lined up their water coolers on the back porch.

Right now, Bruno is sitting in my garden observing while his boys swing large sledge hammers and break up the concrete. He is like Buddha or the Godfather. Nobody is speaking English. I have never seen such a smooth process. They are simultaneously gingerly avoiding the neighbors' tomato and blackberry plants with their crowbars and hoisting 6-inch slabs of concrete around like they are weightless. All at break-neck speed!

There is definitely something cultural about this Italian family in my yard, something so different from the insulation people. Corey and I got the sense that, when we went out to greet them, we were delaying their labor. Like, "hey man. We aren't here to be friends. You're paying us to WORK." There is an energy, an aura about this crew that makes them extremely likeable, trustworthy, and just demands so much of my respect. These are people who value what their clients think of their work.

Bruno says the whole thing will be done by mid-morning tomorrow. To be honest, it makes me a little sad because I think I could watch them for days.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


I wrote an article about a really inspiring dude. You should read it.

Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman

Did you ever order something really, really cool from Amazon or even Mac? Like a computer or iPod or something possibly radder even than that? The days you spend waiting for it to arrive are agony. Will it get here on time if it's a birthday gift? Will you ever survive the suspense as you await the rumble of that diesel engine, the UPS truck barreling up your narrow street? If you work from home like me, maybe you wait next to the door for Peggy to mount your porch steps, leaning a little sideways from the heaviness of what can only be your package?

The last time this happened to Corey was a few weeks ago, when he called every 6 minutes to see if his Netbook had arrived. For me, it was senior year of college when Harry Potter 5 came in the mail and I sat on my stoop just waiting and waiting for the mailman.

The delivery dates these companies promise are etched in stone. You pay for certain delivery days, for the sure thing of their arrival. When the day comes, you know your package will show up like you know your water bill will come or your newspaper.

Yeah, it's not like that with babies. Only it feels like it SHOULD be that way. Like I was promised a human child on a specific date and all I have is the email that it's at the distribution center in Stuebenville.

You know what I want more than a Netbook or Harry Potter 5? A damn baby. My baby. I want the crying and the pooping and the little ears and the nose that may or may not be shaped like mine. I paid my shipping and handling in many ways. I gestated for 280 days. Now give me my baby, please. Or I'll give you a no-stars review on your website. Plus I might call customer service and complain.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I really like...

not showering for longish spats of time, then spending a really long time in the shower.

eating fruit for breakfast, especially fruit that dribbles all over my face, which I can then wash off in my luxuriously long shower.

watching the bluejays hang out in my garden, even if Em thinks they are bully birds and wants to shoot them.

tormenting Corey when he forgets to wear his wedding band to work.

stealing large armfuls of mint from my neighbors' garden and turning it into things like centerpieces and iced tea and sherbet garnish.

working from home, because I don't have to wear pants. Ever.

working out in the morning as opposed to the evening, but I almost never do so.

having rugby practice on nights where there is a full moon, because I can stop what I'm doing and just stare at the heavens and think about how wonderful it is to be able to run around by the light of the moon and do something so darn fun.

Monday, July 06, 2009

On Leave from Maternity Leave

I reached a critical point this weekend where my head exploded. I bought Ricki Lake's new book about birth (Your Best Birth, which every single woman should read. I mean it! Make educated choices, people!) and finished the whole thing in about 5 hours and realized I had nothing else to do. Nothing. I had cleaned everything, cooked everything, played as much Catan as I could stand, and didn't even feel like watching tennis.

Then I couldn't sleep, so I checked my email at 4am. There were messages in there from editors, asking me to write things. I felt the familiar rush of excitement, only magnified. I mean, here was work without me having to hunt for it. They were throwing it at me! I didn't have to agonize over a story pitch. The assignments were right there for me to take. So I took 'em! And it felt so good!

I prefaced my acceptances by saying I might cut out of the world to deliver a baby and be late on my fact checking, but if that was alright with them I would LOOOOOoovvvveeeeee to work on their story ideas and, in fact, could probably turn in drafts by Tuesday. And even though it was a holiday weekend, they wrote back to say, "Hey! Congratulations! No problem! I'll send a contract."

I got so excited that I sent out a pitch I'd been working on as well. So now I have three stories to write, and each time I interview a source I feel like I've done heroin. Not that I've ever really done heroin, but I imagine this drugged out sense of ecstasy, where your whole body just feels really satisfied and energized and good, is what it feels like to do heroin.

I don't even need chocolate, I'm so happy right now. Talk about a good reminder that I've chosen the right career path.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Don't People Like to WIN??

It might come as no surprise that I've been playing increasingly more Catan games as I linger in maternity leave. What does surprise me is the huge number of people who are big, fat whiney babies. Today, I decided to play 2 games really quickly after my workout, just to unwind.

We did a team workout at Crossfit, and I was already feeling badly that my team couldn't possibly win, since I wasn't able to run or really do many of the exercises. I was like the anchor dragging behind the ship! So I wanted to play Catan, where I could perhaps win. Because I love winning! I love to win at the dentist, I love to finish first at folding the laundry, I like to savor my ice cream cone longer than my matter what it is, I'm competing. To win. But not everyone wins the same way I do, and this baffles me.

In my first game of Catan, for instance, there was this one girl who was kind of a douche, but at least she was cut throat and wanted to win. It was all over in under 10 minutes. Bam! Victory. No cheating, no whining, no prisoners. I took note of her strategy and saved the knowledge for next time.

In my second game, there were two whiney babies. First, this one baby refused to trade with anyone. So I moved the robber, stole from him, and built a city. This is part of the game. How one wins. He got all pissed and left the game, never to return. Luckily, someone else jumped in so we didn't have to abandon our online geekfest. This girl was a baby, too! As soon as it became obvious I was going to win (which happened surprisingly quickly, I was proud to say), she put forth a motion to abort the game. As in, she would rather get rid of it and strike it from the record than have someone else (me!) win. Why even play?

Can you imagine? Why don't all people think like I do, that everything is a competition to win and that losing is like a (sometimes annoying) lesson for how to be better next time? I mean, what if each time I lost at something I just huffed off or tried to strike it from existence? What if every time Corey beat me at the toothpaste game (we have two tubes going at once right now. It's intense) I just went out and bought more toothpaste? Or what if I just quit Crossfit because the other pregnant girl beat me at Fight Gone Bad? Or what if I let my back yard return to wilderness because my cucumber wouldn't germinate?

Where would I find joy in my life??? What would be the point? I try to have empathy for a lot of things. Not jerk-faces who sit in the special needs seats on the bus, but most spheres of life. Only I can't understand the motives of cheaters and whiners, so I find myself unable to appreciate them as valid human beings. I mean, what if one day they actually win at something. Does it feel like a fulfilling and satisfying achievement, since they whine and cheat and moan the rest of the time? How can it!

When I win at something, I like to know I earned it, really and truly took ownership of that victory. Like next week, when Corey sighs loudly and recycles the toothpaste tube and I hear the little rustle of cardboard carton as he gets out a new one, I will feel deeply satisfied in my cunning rationing of toothpaste. Had I been a whiney baby or a cheater and just squeezed the toothpaste down the drain in order to win, it would entirely defeat the purpose.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


I haven't talked much about my garden this year. Partly, the novelty has worn off. I mean, who can get as ecstatic about growing a squash when that same person can grow a PERSON? But partly, the garden has been really sucky and I get very angry about failures. Even miniature failures.

I tried to grow carrots again this year. Not even a germination. Tried green onions (or scallions, if you will). Also no germination. Same with the corn. I spent all this tedious time and effort starting tomatoes and peppers from seed inside this winter and had a little tray of cucumbers and zucchinis starting from seed inside as well. These all initially sprouted and grew to like 3 inches tall, but then died.

My peas, which were the light of my life last summer, climbing all the way up the trellis out front, are pretty pathetic this year. I generally get about 5 peas a week. This from at least 16 shoots (vines?) of peas!

So that's a lot of food failure.

Right now, I do have some successes. My herbs are doing well. I am not sure why, but my rosemary and thyme plants did not come back this year. I think perhaps because the winter was so harsh. But I bought some little seedlings of both and they are giving me some fragrant additions to dinner. The basil seeds I brought back from Italy have finally taken root and, supplemented with the basil plants I bought at the store, are giving me a lot of delicious, delicious basil (I also have the basil plant our neighbors left on our porch).

I gave up on the pepper seedlings and just bought some at the store, which I have growing in pots on the porch to great success. I also bought tomato seedlings and stuck those in the ground next to my garlic, which looks outstanding.

After several months of stubborn refusal, I finally got the vined plants to listen to me. I have one cucumber vine that's making little babies already and a second about to start. The zucchini bush is dreadfully behind schedule, but seems to be on overdrive catching up and taking over the world like it did last year.

So this has taught me a few lessons. I'm not going to start anything inside this year at all. What's the freaking point? I will only buy seeds for cucumbers, beans, and zucchinis, which I'll start outside along with garlic. Those are things I am good at growing and like to eat, so why tinker with perfection?

Otherwise, I'm buying everything at Brinckles nursery next year. Tomato seedlings. Pepper plants. Little basils and little mints and even little cilantros. Yes. Herbs are supposed to be easy and cheaper to start from seed. But that doesn't work for me and Brinckles just has such good stuff! As long as I get there in early May and get their stuff in the ground, maybe even in April, I have full confidence I'll still be eating from my back yard and with much less frustration.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Insulation! At Last!

The insulation dudes came this morning. We hired them to pump 8 inches of insulation into the attic and then drill ten million holes in the brick exterior and pump our walls full of recycled, cellulose insulation. We will get an Obama tax refund AND save millions of dollars on our heating and cooling costs. Theoretically.

I find the process enormously interesting. To do the attic, they ran a big hose from their van up through the nursery window and into the closet and just pumped the attic full of the good stuff. Like with a vacuum in reverse. Then they started on the walls.

Poor Corey spent the whole weekend cleaning the inside and outside of all the windows, so clear that birds now fly into our dining room window regularly, and now all the windows are streaked with brick dust and chunks of insulation. One insulation man drills holes and the other follows behind him on another ladder with the backwards vacuum blowing in the cellulose. They are very much like clockwork, except they keep quarreling with one another.

The younger dude feels like he should be allowed to man the drill, only he keeps tapping into our air ducts when get gets a turn. The older one doesn't want to listen to country music cranked up louder than the sound of the brick drill. During this entire procedure, every contractor who lives on my block (and there are many--Morningside is a hearty, contractor-filled neighborhood) stops to chat.

"Hey! Do yinz work with THIS GUY? Nah? What about THIS GUY?" "Yinz guys know it's gonna rain today?" "Whadda yinz think about the Buccos trading Morgan?" (Ok, that last one was me trying to make conversation...)

I had to stop watching a few hours ago because the insulation was starting to come into my office through a hole the previous owners had drilled in the baseboards. The dusty wind was making me cough and it seemed better for me in my delicate state to go hide in the basement. On my way down, I did catch a glimpse of their lunch. The older one had a perfectly sensible sandwich and baggy of pretzels, likely packed by a spouse. The younger one? He ate a large sized bag of Herr's potato chips and drank a soda. It reminded me of my days at the pill factory, when a swift glimpse around the lunchroom revealed a man's marital status.

At last I have something to observe and be interested in while I wait for my child to emerge. Next week? The hairy-eared Italian concrete man will come build me a driveway! The stimulation never ends.