Monday, June 29, 2009


Today, I feel inspired. I spent a good part of the morning staring at Dara Torres in this, her milk ad:
How awesome is she? And she's a mom! I love this ad because it shows that women have muscles and are also beautiful and work really hard and consume calories. She was probably airbrushed a lot, but I've watched her swim on tv. Moms kick ass! Look at that stomach, which once contained a human being. I love her.

Not since I received a photocopy of Brandy Chastain in 1999, when I first started playing rugby, have I loved a photo so much. I'll never forget the day Marcel handed the pictures out to us at the end of practice, the first time I ever finished a conditioning workout and discovered that my body could do things just as challenging as my brain could do. I've had it hanging on my wall ever since. I slid it right into the plastic frame that once held my creative writing national golden key award--previously my most treasured piece of paper. I feel like I get more from staring at Brandy.
You know, she's birthed babies, too. The most famous set of abdominals and biceps in the world (or at least in the world of women's athletics) have once contracted and squeezed out a baby. I keep telling my stomach that I can be like these women and have this powerful, athletic feat connect me to them.

Usually, my to-do list is rather intricate and involved and lengthy, with deadlines and various clients and appointments all over the place. Here is what it looks like now:

I feel like it's the most important and difficult thing I ever wrote on my wipe board. From what I've observed lately, women remember and can detail their birth stories the way avid sports fans can rattle off the statistics and weather conditions and scenarios of THE BIG GAME decades afterward. I wonder, if I were to ask them right now, whether Dara or Brandy would have more to say about labor/delivery or their shining moments in the athletic spotlight.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Things I Freaked Out About This Weekend

1. Corey thinks it's weird that I want to have family photos taken after our baby is born. He finds this odd. What is wrong with him? I discovered that his own family only had images taken of his oldest sibling. I told Corey they probably thought he was gross and were trying to pretend he didn't exist, but that we love our baby and will be documenting his existence. I don't understand his hesitation. I'm the one who is 35# heavier than normal, who will have baggy excess skin dangling to my knees and milk-engorged bosoms. If anyone in this family should feel weird about portraits, I call dibs.

2. Nothing is open on Sundays. We tried to eat at Quiet Storm, Abay, Kelly's, the Crepe place on South Penn...everything was either closed or didn't open for another hour. We went to Pizza Sola, which is delicious, but now I have heart burn and I'm still thinking longingly of the vegetarian Pho I could have had at Tram's, which we drove past in hopes of the good chili at Quiet Storm. Damn you, PA, and your weird laws. First you deprive me of easy access to good wheat beer and now you make it hard for me to eat out.

3. The cashier at Target kept putting only one thing in each bag when I was checking out. For instance, I bought a floor mat, a lamp, a shade, and a pitcher. She put the mat in one bag, the pitcher in another, and was moving to put the lamp in a third. It was 89 degrees, humid, and I'm 39 weeks pregnant, so I grabbed the merchandise out of her hands, ripped everything out of the bags, and put the lamp in the pitcher in the shade in the tube of the floor mat and stuck the whole cannister in one bag. I think I left her standing there with my receipt in my haste to get away from her. Bag waster! It's awful enough none of the loot fit in the sack I had brought with me. I felt like I needed to give up toilet tissue to cancel out the carbon footprint of that trip.

4. Everyone who was pregnant at Crossfit has had her baby except me. I know I'm not quite due yet, but neither was K and she got to have her baby early. I'm working really hard on being patient, but I would sure love it if this baby chose RIGHTNOW to exit my womb.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Barefoot, Pregnant, in the Kitchen: Maternity Leave Day 5

Despite my mother's advice, I am not wearing sneakers today. Instead, I am deliciously barefoot and unshowered, standing in the kitchen observing my projects. I have decided, ambitiously, to make strawberry/peach sherbet, mint-chocolate-chip ice cream, and probably brownies today.

The neighbors have lent me an ice cream machine, which I have had chilling in the freezer since they delivered it last night. I waddled over to their garden and stole 3 cups of peppermint this morning, too, and bought the rest of the stuff (really just the strawberries and a pint of cream) on my way home from Crossfit this morning. I am ready to rumble, kitchen!

I plan to chronicle this adventure because I have never attempted to make anything frozen before. This is a new arena in food production for me. Phase one was the ice cream, because it needs to rest longer than the process of making the entire sherbet. Alton Brown (my go-to guy of late for cooking) suggests 8 egg yolks in his mint ice cream recipe. The instructions with the machine have no egg yolks. A woman I found via google suggested 6, so I went with her as a happy medium. This is going to work really well because the brownie recipe calls for 3 eggs, but if I just use whites I should double anyway. Voila! No waste.

Currently, I am infusing the stolen mint in the heavy cream. This will take one half hour, which gives me time for a game of Catan/Michael Jackson tribute.

My next step after setting the pre-ice cream to chill is to make sherbet. I have decided that it's too much hassle to wash the food processor, so I am mashing the fruit in a plastic bag with a meat tenderizer (best wedding gift ever!). I will combine this with lime juice and simple syrup and dump it into the frozen ice cream machine while the mint delight continues to set. I have opted out of using corn syrup as the recipe suggested. I substituted honey measure for measure. There was just something about the idea of corn syrup that went against my local food and anti-factory farm leanings.

Forty minutes into the churning of the sherbet, nothing has happened at all. It barely even got colder. I have dumped the splashy mess of it into a plastic container and shoved it in the fridge.

Currently, the ice cream is churning around in the bowl. Although there is certainly far less than one quart of ice cream in there. Either I missed two cups of something from the recipe or I have been had.

Halfway into Family Fued, the ice cream machine shut itself off. I took this to mean my dessert was creamy and ready to eat, but this would be a mistake. It's just as soupy as ever, slightly colder than last time I touched it, and sitting a fragrant, minty mess in the freezer while I try to decide what to do to salvage this day.
Luckily the brownies have turned out just fine. Worst case scenario, I have brownies with strawberry-flavored shaved ice for dessert. Now. What do I do with several cups' worth of minty cream that is not ice cream but no longer just cream?

Final assessment: the ice cream is softer than the softest soft serve, too sweet, but very minty and delicious. The sherbet would have been fine without the honey and is also too sweet, a weird consistency, and probably not a repeat experiment. Though I will consider making popsicles. The brownies are wonderful. Especially with the too-sweet "ice cream" on top. I might try the ice cream again just to prove I can make it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Phone Call From Nance

Me: Hi, Mom. What's up?
Nance: Your Aunt Buppie called your Nanny. She thinks she knows the baby's name.
Me: (Panicking at the thought that I may have stupidly written it in a thank you note) What do you mean?
Nance: Buppie called and said, "I know Baby Love's name! It was written right there on the back of my envelope when I got my thank you card!" And Nanny said, "Well what the heck is it?"
Me: (Starting to sweat)...
Nance: And Buppie said, "It had a heart and then it said Team Love. They are naming the baby Team!"

It took Nanny and several others a few moments to explain to Buppie that Corey and I just call our family Team Love, that we view each other as co-captains of the team and that this was how Corey convinced me to take his name after we got married. That the baby will certainly be our newest member, our first round draft pick so to speak, but his name isn't Team...just his affiliation!

I love my family sometimes. Usually.

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

Summertime in Morningside is a little different than other times of year. Mostly because the windows are open and I can hear that it is, in fact, not the quiet sanctuary I thought. Even before I stopped working from home and started just being at home, I thought it was a little too noisy during the day.

Earlier this week, one dude who lives along Kalamazoo Way decided to jack hammer non-stop from 7am until 1030pm. I can only assume the jackhammer broke at that time, because why the heck should he stop at 1030? I mean everyone who goes to bed early (me...) is already in bed by that time anyway!

Most mornings, the three children being raised by their grouchy and potentially substance-addicted grandparents are out back in their pool. These are not normal kids making cherub sounds. These are demon children who shriek louder than the jackhammer. They try to drown each other. They kill their pet chickens. They scream and they scream and the only thing louder than their screaming is their grandmother hollering at them to shut the hell up.

Then the dogs start barking. There's a few sets of dogs on the street and every now and then, there will be a barking cacophony involving all of them. Most days recently, it's just the new collie who moved in a few doors down. That thing is inside its house and just lets loose for hours at a time. I hear it right now. Above the sound of the cat the children are trying to take swimming with them, which sounds exactly like what you think that might sound like.

I know I'm pretty excited for Baby Love to add to the symphony. I hope that sometimes, all these neighbor creatures are bothered by his crying. Because you know what? I'm bothered by all these noises. I'm bothered that sometimes the dogs are so loud that I have to actually close the windows because clients comment about it. I'm glad we're having work done outside our house to add our own jack hammering and drilling. Today, my grumpy, pregnant brain wants to tell the neighborhood to just suck it. And I would, if I thought it would hear me above "Anthony! Get your feet off my face! Woof! Shut the f*$k up or I'm draining that pool!!!!!"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lady of Leisure

My mom calls me a lady of leisure because I'm on maternity leave now. When one is self-employed, the concept of maternity leave is a bit different. Basically, what that means is that I have not scheduled myself for any work. So from now until Pitt classes start (and I email my clients to tell them I'm back in the game) I am on free time...perpetual, endless, agonizing free time.

Monday wasn't too bad. Parking court took up the majority of the day, what with the traveling by bus and the untimeliness of the system. Yesterday was a nightmare. I woke up like usual and dusted and swept and mopped the entire house. The entire house. This took longer than it ordinarily would, just because even the act of wringing out the mop is more difficult when there's a child with feet inside your larynx. But I was still done by noon.

I had the whole day to make Corey lunch and dinner, watch MTV, finally write thank you notes from my baby shower...which leaves me with today wiiiiiiiiiiide open. I scrubbed the shower curtain in the back yard, used the scrub brush and got the kitchen floor again (Emily of New Moon style) and the bathroom smells like a Borax+Lemon juice dream.

So what do I do now? People have listed suggestions: dive back into my book proposal for my grad school manuscript, knit things for Baby Love, go for long walks, read. I just don't know what people DO when they find themselves with time off. For the past six weeks, I haven't even taken one DAY off from grading papers and working on projects. Now I find myself faced with boundless free time, yet unable to travel more than 45 minutes from the hospital, drink alcohol, or walk more than 15 feet without needing to sit. I tell you, it's just mean.

For the first time in my life, I am on a vacation where I'm not sneaking in a writing assignment, working in a pill factory, or able to drink wine. It doesn't feel very leisurely. I think I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon churning ice cream by hand and watching either one of those pregnant and 16 shows on OR finding illegal episodes of Dexter to catch up on.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


My friend Joanna just told an online story about her dad and some squirrels. It got me to thinking about my own dad and his adventures with squirrels. My dad has a very complicated relationships with these beasts, which has calmed down in recent years but was once quite intensely violent.

You see, we had bird feeders in the back yard. And the damn squirrels would always get the food. That's what started it all, I think. They learned to tightrope walk on the clothesline, dangle from branches, perform contortions and acrobatics that defied even the pork grease my dad used on the poles of squirrel proof feeders. So he started trapping them.

He had this thing in the yard called a "Have a Heart" trap and he'd bait the squirrels until they climbed in. Once he had his catch, my dad the Deerslayer would (much like Leatherstocking, I'm sure) spray paint them orange and put them, alive and smelling of paint fumes, in the trunk of the Volvo. From there, he would drive several miles down the road and release the little rodents into the park.

Why would he paint them? Why orange? Because then he'd know if they were coming back, obviously. Why drive them to the park? Disorientation! Don't you pay attention?

Do you know what it sounds like when one has a squirrel running around trapped in a Volvo trunk? I think it sounds almost exactly like a room full of 5 year olds when someone brings both Yo Gabba Gabba AND ice cream into the premises. This squirrel painting and trapping habit got old really fast.

Until the squirrels started breaking into our house. They somehow managed to figure out that all they needed to do was eat our window screens and they'd have free access to things like our candy stash and our ankles. I awoke several mornings to find one circling the kitchen and sometimes, we'd hear them climbing around inside the chimney or walls where they permeated the flu. They could have been secret scouts for Santa, such was their skill at B&E.

Dad moved into full SWAT mode, utilizing binoculars and stealth observation from the garage and getting rid of the ethical traps in favor of mini bear traps. Bear traps. Like people use to trap bears.

One day in high school, I went into the basement to switch some laundry from the washer to the dryer. As was my habit, I only turned on the light in the outer part of the basement, allowing this light to guide me in the darker laundry area. So, I stepped into the semidarkness and made a beeline for the washer. I trod on something sharp, something alive, something that squealed when my foot touched it.

Barefoot, as I always was and ever will be, I had stepped on the edge of an engaged bear trap containing a living, suffering squirrel. In my house. In my basement. I have never known such terror and when I finally turned on the light to illumniate the squirrel, I have never seen such terror reflected back at me. My dad's reaction was quite the opposite: jubilation. "I got one! I got 'im! Ha! Gotcha, you sonofabitch!" He was practically dancing.

I fled to the hall closet where I sat and rocked and hid and tried to make my foot not remember the feeling of the squirrels toes, the steel trap.

In retrospect, I view this time as my dad's midlife crisis. He was 45, he was changing to a new job, he hated driving the snow plow, and the squirrels vexed him. Soon after this, he began working with HO scale model trains, designing grand platforms and filling the house with realistically painted tunnels, snowy winter scenes, etc. But during those months of rodent rampage, I saw what could happen to a person if he or she tried to internalize stress. That shit manifests itself and squirts out in strange ways.

And I knew I had enough of my father in me to one day wind up like that, crouched in the garage with binoculars at dusk taking notes on squirrel activity while I found the best bait for my conquests. I think that I have that time in my life to thank for my first real, dedicated and focused writing, which I find to be much more theraputic than animal trapping. I have more journals and stories from that year, more envelopes of semi-autobiographical I suppose I should let go of my anger at my dad for making me step on a dying rodent in our basement.

I should thank him for the impetus to turn what was before a fond hobby into a life's calling, a career. In a way, that foot full of fur started paying my mortgage. So thanks, Dad. Thank you for mis-managing your anger and turning our home into a theater of rodent war.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tough Times

Yesterday, I finished grading the final papers for the two sections of comp I was teaching simultaneously. In a 6wk session, teaching 2 at once is, I have discovered, the worst idea in the world. There has not been one moment in the past 6 weeks where my brain has been totally relaxed...

But yesterday's grading of final papers was made more difficult by two things. First, a student sent me a gharishly, horrifically inappropriate email that essentially wished harm upon my family. It took me most of the weekend to get past it. What finally worked was reporting the incident to every possible school official and having my friend Robin remind me it wasn't about me, it was about her. "When a gust of wind knocks over a tree," Robin said, "It's never the tree's fault. It's the wind." I was a tree that got in her way.

While that may be true, I still have fantasies about publicly shaming her, and I was not what one might call lenient while grading her papers. This student, for instance, did not get a free pass for pronoun/antecedent agreement or lack of commas after introductory clauses.

The other difficulty I ran into was the student whose final, persuasive paper was trying to convince the audience of the horrible wrongness of Alameda County's "Gay Agenda Curriculum." This is curriculum that encourages children to accept one another's differences, whether they be differences of class, religion, race, or family makeup or sexual orientation. This student is very horrified by such curriculum.

It's hard for me to not be allowed to give her a poor grade for having such views on the world. I'm just not allowed. I'm allowed to remind her that her persuasive arguments don't consider the oppositional point of view or that she slips into emotional/opinion language rather than persuasive, logical arguments supported by scholarly research. I can dock points for those things. But at the end of the day, she still feels that it's wrong to teach kids to accept the normalcy of all of their classmates. She even had a few lines in the paper where she referenced the "homosexual agenda to be viewed as normal."

I feel good that I referred her to a PFLAG survey that found over half of Americans DO view homosexuality as normal and just fine (I would link to the survey, only it was part of some print literature I picked up at Pride and I don't know if it's online).

I guess what surprises me about her feelings is the fact that she is a college student. In my Soc119 class in college, we learned that education level is inversely proportional to prejudice and discriminatory feelings. In other words, the more book-learnin' folks get, the less they seem to fear/hate those who are different from them. Apparently this student represents the margin of error for that equation.

At any rate, all of that stress is over with and I can now go on with my maternity leave. I have never felt more in need of a rest in my entire life.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


We had rains yesterday like I've never seen before. I was reading freshmen placement essays on campus when they began and by 7pm when I was headed for home, the streets of Oakland had rushing water up to the height of the curb. The storm drains had quickly filled or gotten covered in debris and there was just so much water it didn't know what to do. It came from the sky and up from the streets simultaneously and it definitely had a current. Chunks of things swirled around in it and each step I took toward the car was cold and scary. The whole thing drew images of George Castanza shouting, "The sea was angry that day, my friends."

There were cops and firefighters everywhere, closing Ellsworth, parts of Walnut. It was bad.

Worse? We had water in the damn basement. Luckily, Corey has been panicking/freaking out about the baby and has been nesting. His version of nesting involves many shelving systems throughout the house, so luckily most of our things were already off the carpet. We had to scurry down there and grab Baby Love's new stuff and our camping equipment and Corey ran to Home Depot for a shop vac.

We've been taking turns sucking muck from the floor. My big job today is to go out and purchase more Borax and baking soda. Borax will theoretically kill and prevent the spread of mold spores while baking soda will eat up the odor.

The whole ordeal makes me more eager than ever for Bruno to arrive--he is the very Italian man with very hairy ears whom we have hired to take away the old concrete on the driveway that angles toward the foundation of the house, where water pools and, obviously, gets inside. Corey is also going to build a second water barrel to get the water from that downspout. Bruno told us he'd come "the week of the 20th." Gosh, I hope that means Monday...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Farm Stand

I have a new ritual. Every Monday, I go to Patty's Farm Stand on Freeport Road and I buy produce. I buy more produce than I can carry by myself. They know me there as the pregnant lady who brings her own bags. Depending who's at the register, I don't even have to take the stuff out of my bag. I just tell them what's IN the bag and then they get someone to carry it to the car, along with the huge jug of local milk milked like that morning or something wonderful.

Yesterday, I took my enormous LL Bean tote bag (greatest wedding present ever!) and filled it until the straps sagged with Patty's homegrown strawberries, blueberries, sweet corn, watermelon, peaches (although the peaches may have come from out of town...) and spinach. There were a few tomatoes and spring onions, too. The whole thing was less than $30, which is good because Corey and I ate almost all of it already.

The sweet corn is apparently so good you can eat it without cooking. While I waited in line to pay, the old dude who usually carries my bag and calls me "sweetie" was showing a little boy how to open the corn and just eat it. "People usually cook the sugar out of corn," he said, munching the raw kernels with delight. "All you gotta do is boil it for a minute. Just one minute to heat it up!"

I feel frightened to eat the corn raw, but I am pretty excited to boil it for just one minute tonight...

Anyway, this same little boy was begging his mom for a banana. She said yes and he walked around the stand pretending it was a telephone. He eventually came up to me and stood beneath Baby Lev, rubbing my belly and telling his imaginary phone partner that there was a baby in there. Since I was busy stuffing my face with strawberries while I waited in line, I really didn't care all that much.

I always tell myself I will take my time at the farm stand and really look at their other stuff, like jams or locally ground flour or even the area where they sell potatoes and root vegetables. But then I see the fruit area and I get so excited I just shove it all in my bag and run to the checkout line. I'm in and out of there in under ten minutes and I spend the drive home trying not to get juice on my shirt. I usually fail at this.

Next Monday, I'm taking my time. No matter what! I will investigate the dry goods. Even if they have cherries.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Epic Fail

Last night was the Stanley Cup final. I missed the end of the game. This is because I am sometimes not very smart. Let me preface this story by pointing out that my parents have always INSISTED I keep my car's gas tank at a quarter tank at the LOWEST. As I grew up into a frugal, conscious adult, I realized safety was not the only reason for this, but also fuel efficiency. Corey does not share this idea and frequently plays Cosmo Kramer, driving the car until it rolls to a stop at the gas station. Somewhere along the line, I just sort of fell into step next to him. Now, we both drive the car until there isn't another inch it can drive, trying to force the other into being the one to pump the gas. I don't even know if this is a war we're aware of or just laziness. He's from New Jersey, after all.

So anyway, last night I knew the car was very low on gas when I left for Greenfield to watch the game. But I didn't leave early enough to get gas on the way there and figured I'd have plenty to just stop on the way home. I drove, circled for parking, and found the last remaining space--facing up a very, very, very, very steep hill.

Halfway through the second period, I got tired and wanted to leave. I had my teammate with me as she needed a ride to Oakland. The car would not start. The engine wouldn't even turn over, as whatever whisper of gas remained had rolled to the back of the tank on the hill. Great. Teammate 1 started to walk to the gas station as I protested, but she and I both knew I could not waddle there and carry gas back on my own. I barely even fit behind the steering wheel to start with.

Luckily another teammate emerged from the bar and gave us a lift. Which is good because the gas station had no gas cans to transport the gas. We had to sort of drive all over the place looking until we found one sitting by a trash can at the BP on Forward. I assumed it was there because a Good Samaritan wanted me to have it. We filled it with gas, vowed to return it in a few minutes, and headed back to my car.

Yeah, turns out the gas can was sitting by the trash can because it was broken. My two teammates insisted I not touch the fumey gas and worked out a MacGuyver-type solution, rigging water bottles and funnels and using pocket knives and other tools and tubes to get the gas from the broken can into my car. I stood at the ready with Purell and napkins. Teammate 2 headed back into the bar, because the third period had begun at this point, and Teammate 1 and I planned to head for the hills--or rather flat land.

The car started just fine, but the clutch wouldn't catch. I have been driving a stick shift for 12 years and can assure you I know how to pull out on a hill. I wasn't doing it wrong, the thing was just broken or out of gas or somehow malfunctioning. The car just sort of rolled down the hill...into Teammate 2's car. I started crying, Teammate 1 started laughing, and she took off down the road to get Teammate 2 back on the scene. I called Corey because I wanted someone to be angry with, and he seemed like a logical choice. He just said, "Hey, you knew it was low on gas when you left the house. Is our car ok?"

Luckily, nothing was wrong with either car. I had slammed on the break and grabbed the e-brake just in time--we had barely bumped bumpers. By this point, Detroit had scored and there were just a few moments left in the game. I was still wearing my dad's old #4 jersey, shaking, crying, and feeling like a total loser. Not to mention dreading going back to practice this fall, where I will certailny receive months of well-deserved haranguing.

Teammate 2 moved her car to a safe parking spot and I revved the enginve a bunch of times before attempting another pull-out. As the final seconds ticked away in the hockey game, I rolled into my neighborhood and got to watch Sid hoist the cup over his head while I sat on the floor and ate ice cream and cried.

Corey and I made a new rule in case I go into labor soon: all cars must have at least one quarter tank of gas. Always. No matter who is driving or how confident he or she is that there's one more trip in the tank.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Biting Big, Hairy Fruit

Corey was away for business this weekend. He had to go to State College and tend to some bike shop stuff. Before he left, I got really emotional and huggy because we had just heard the baby's heart beat and I was scared I'd go into labor with him 3 hours away. So perhaps that's why he thought to bring me a present. This:

To me, that looks like a hairy testicle. How could it not? He handed it to me over breakfast and told me to eat it. "Just put it in your mouth and snap through the hide with your teeth," he told me. "Then, suck the fruit off the pit."

This was, evidently, not a joke or a testicle but some obscure fruit he found at Wegmans. It took me a long time and a lot of coercion to put the fruit near my mouth, let alone bite into it. Was it going to be hard? Soft? Hairy?

It was rather like putting a rubber dog toy in my mouth, but the hide of the fruit was sort of pliable. I bit a little hole in it and used my fingers to break the thing open. The inside was white and mushy. I bit it in half and thought there was a nut in the middle, so I just began chewing.

"What are you doing? You're eating the pit!" He told me. I had forgotten about sucking the fruit off the pit. I was just eating the whole thing. So then I had to rummage around in my mouth and extract pit pieces so I could chew and swallow the fruit, which tasted not really sweet, but felt sort of like tapioca pudding made really well.

I would have to say that I really love him for thinking of me when he saw that hairy nutsack of a fruit, and that I'm a little proud of myself for eating something new and strange and really un-white-bread. And I of course love that he brought me a small present, pregnant, swollen, and grumpy beast that I am right now. But I don't need to expand my diet to include that very strange fruit, whatever it was. Give me a popsicle any time.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Everlasting Love

I have decided that Corey and I do not yet love each other as much as our neighbors love one another. I give you two examples:

1. Cookie, Josie, and the gas cans--One day, I saw my neighbor Cookie struggling under the massive weight of an enormous red gas can, dumping fuel into his wife's tank. Cookie is about 77 years old with a bigger baby belly than mine and a 1930s-era leg brace that looks like Forrest Gump's in the early part of the movie. I regularly tell him he looks like the Tin Man. Anyway, I said, "Cookie, did Josie run out of gas?"

"Ah, no dear. This is just from the fuel perks." Evidently, Cookie and Josie wait until both cars are just about empty AND they have enough Fuel Perks for a free tank. Cookie then drives his bigger car to the pump, fills up, and quickly shoves the dripping nozzle into the waiting gas cans he has lined up on the ground. He thus maximizes his grocery dollars. (For those unfamiliar with Pittsburgh, every time you spend $300 at the grocery store, you earn a free tank of gas at the store's line of gas stations, only I'm pretty sure they mean for you to only fill up your own car)

Corey and I never even considered this. The thought never even entered our minds. This is mostly because Getgo has really shitty gas that makes the engine of the Nissan knock around. We once thought we needed a new transmission or something because I filled up with Getgo gas. We basically let our fuel perks waste away...but even if we didn't I don't think we would have thought of such a thing. We just don't seem to put our heads together to learn how to maximize "the system" yet.

2. J, G, and the letter--when we related the Cookie/Josie story to our other neighbors, they scoffed. They were far more advanced! J and G also waited until both cars were approximately empty and they racked up the free tank of gas--they even went so far as to drive one another's cars depending on who was going further and who was closer to empty. But then they actually coordinated a time to both drive to the gas station together. Only they didn't visit just any gas station. They drove to the one in Lawrenceville, where they were likely to get a full lane to themselves. Since they had gas tanks on opposite sides of their vehicles, J would pull in facing forward and scootch up as far as he could at the pump. G would then back into the same pump and have his tank open and ready to go. J would fill up his bigger car first, then hurry up and move the nozzle over to G's car.

They were really milking the system, because G's car requires 91, so they were getting free, nearly-high-quality gasoline. I told them this was the most romantic thing I'd ever heard in my life. "Yes," J nodded, "It's a true partnership."

This was all until they got caught.

A few weeks ago, they were filling up at their regular Lawrenceville Getgo when the 16-yr-old attendant noticed their shenanigans and shut off the gas pump. I feel like Corey and I would have high tailed it out of there, or I sure would have, for fear of the law, etc. Not J. He went inside and raised a stink! G whispered to me all of the things J said to the poor attendant, using very J-like facial expressions and citing the printed fuel perks policy or something like that, and then told me J wrote a letter to the company. "You know that letter is on someone's office wall somewhere," I told him.

G nodded. "We never did hear a response." Just the mention of the incident had J all in a fit. He decided he was going to show them. He would switch to Cookie's method and buy some big gas cannisters.

All the while, G just sat back and smiled. He knew J had to do this, had to react that way, even if it was irrational. He knew he was powerless to stop the scheming and just sort of went along for the ride...and the free gas. And that is what made me see what I have to look forward to as Corey and I get to know each other even better.

Someday, Corey will realize that I have to keep talking about the awful police officer in the Strip and that I can't let it go, but that I also don't want him to list proactive solutions to the problem (I just want him to say, "That DOES sound terrible! You must have been so upset!").

And maybe I'll come to realize that he needs to have piles of receipts and Cold-eeze wrappers on the hard surfaces of our house and that no amount of bins or drawers or organizational accoutrements I install will change that, so I can stop spending our money at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and just recycle the piles without comment.

When that day comes, we'll stop bickering with each other and getting into arguments and we'll just get past it and work together for a common purpose. Maybe we won't steal gas from Giant Eagle, maybe we'll continue our mission to find free parking for Pirates games or avoid Ticket Master fees. Whatever goods/services we decide to take advantage of, I feel excited for the ways we'll plan it together and make it our own family process. Then we can drink a beer together and laugh at the suckers who don't have our coordination or problem solving skills. That sounds like love to me.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

New Maternity Shirt

Why, yes! That IS an image of me, 35 weeks pregnant, wearing an early 70's era Penguins jersey! Thank you for asking! How did I get it? Interesting story!

My father has always been a weird man. His support of various sports teams has surrounded underdogs and misfits (the man grew up in Eagles country a die-hard Coywboys fan, after all). Evidently, back in the 70s, he supported the Pens, even though they sort of sucked.

At that time, he had a baby (my sister) and a wife (Deb). He and Deb decided to get divorced and Deb took the Pens jersey with her on the way out, giving it to Chuck, my dad's brother.

So, for roughly 30 years, this beat up old Pens jersey--that may or may not have been an actual practice jersey for Dave Burrows--sat in my uncle Chuck's closet. I don't even think Chuck watches hockey. Not that I ever saw my dad watch hockey.

I never really watched hockey, either, until I started dating this Australian dude who loved Mario Lemieux like I love rugby. So all the hockey I've watched in life has been either Penn State Icers hockey or Pittsburgh Penguins hockey. I digress.

A few days ago, my parents were eating dinner with Chuck, who said he had a gift for me--the jersey! The long lost jersey! It occurred to Chuck as the Pens made the playoffs that I should have it.

Everyone started freaking out--first, how soon could my mom get it to me to wear and help the Pens to victory? My dad wanted to know why his brother had stolen his precious jersey all these years. My older sister wanted to know why she wasn't the rightful recipient of the game sweater (she didn't even know what the Stanley Cup was, so that argument ended right there).

Needless to say, it arrived in today's mail, just in time for the game, and it fits over my pregnant belly. I shall wear it all this week. It will be like my playoff beard, this holy, well-loved, tattered, actual 1970s era Penguins jersey. It has real armpit stains! Who knows where this shirt has been?!

UPDATE: My dad has added new information. Uncle Chuck says the jersey definitely is a real life practice jersey worn by an actual Penguin. My dad says the jersey came from 1972, when his first wife traveled to Pittsburgh for a field hockey tournament (high school, you know...) and purchased it. That would make it for real a Dave Burrows jersey, possibly stained with his defensive genius.

I also want to point out that I had the jersey on all evening, and then made myself a watermelon/coconut drink. I turned around, all ready to sip my new not-booze, and banged into the wall and spilled watermelon all down the front. The result? No drink, had to take off the jersey to clean it, and the Pens went down 2-1. I scrubbed the juice out and slapped the wet jersey back on my body, and we went up 3-2. Just saying.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

My Boobs

For the past 8 months, I have thought about my bosom more than I have in my whole life. For a girl who was flat chested until graduation and then exploded into a DD bust, that's really saying something. This means I am now concentrating on my bosom more than an angst-ridden teenager certain she would always have Tommy Keiter sliding calculators across the Algebra II desk that used upside-down numbers to spell out BOOBLESS (55378008...asshole).

I began lamenting my changing chest here and here, when I learned that it's darn hard for a thin-ribbed girl to find big cupped bras. I eventually ordered a few bras from England that have done a pretty good job seeing me through pregnancy. Although, those were all F cup bras with 34 bands. Since that time, my rib cage has opened up to accommodate my fundus and my boobs, well they are for sure coming up and over the sides of those F cups...

Now I begin a new journey in bra searching: transition and nursing bras. I am learning that two things will happen after Baby Love comes out and I try to feed him via my body. First, my boobs will engorge to unbelievably out of control proportions. Like Dolly Parton will probably freak out at the sight of what will happen. An hour later, they'll be back down to my "regular" G cups...hopefully. I need bras for this "transition" time, bras that will expand yet support, bras that will fit. They don't really make such things with my body in mind.

I called my former teammate, who also sported a DD rack before she got knocked up. Her answer to transition time was sports bras. Great big sports bras. She nursed by just pulling her boob out the bottom of the bras and then cramming it back in afterward. She said it wasn't ideal, but the best she could do. Having no alternative, I decided to copy her. I need something ready to wear at the hospital in a few weeks, after all. And they don't just sell things this large in the store for me to try on. I have to order these boulder holders from the internet and allow time for shipping.

Another big busted acquaintance assured me that after "transition" is over, my boobs will pretty much "shrink" down to their current size while I'm nursing.

This friend smiled knowingly and added, "after you're done, he will probably have sucked you down a cup size! I'm only wearing one D these days!!" She spun for me, taking care to note that there is still the same amount of saggy, baggy skin on the boob, just less bulk. Post-nursing boobs are evidently not pretty, even if they are smaller.

But this is good news. Because now I can shop for nursing bras. Great big, size G nursing bras with a 34 band! Now this is only a problem for a million reasons. For instance, you can't put underwire in a nursing bra. And you can't really heft up this big a bust without underwire. I fear I will be walking around with, to use the parlance of my dad, bologna tits. Also, bras of this size are not what you would call inexpensive. I went back to my handy European website, where they have some relatively pretty and theoretically supportive models in my size. Before shipping, I'm looking at $30+ per bra. On sale.

I suppose my point in saying all of this is twofold. I first wish the market was more willing to accommodate women with really big boobies. Because there are lots of us out there. I know more than 20 in my immediate circle alone. We should be able to shop in stores like the C cup women, dammit! We're not so small in number that we need to be ordering our undies from the United Kingdom. Hasn't Oprah made enough impact yet to get some properly sized bras in the stores?

Second, I wish I had been somehow prepared for all of this. Sure, I "knew" pregnancy would change my whole life and my whole body. But nobody ever really sat me down and said, "Katy. Forget about the hemmorhoids and the hip pain and the stomach stretch marks. You need to know that your boobs will grow so large, you won't be able to put your arms down. And they'll ache. And things will spurt out of your nipples and stain your new bras, which will cost you hudreds of dollars and hours of searching time. Hours. This is what it means to become impregnated. Say no to sex."

Anyone care to fill me in on what will happen when I actually begin nursing? I feel ready to hear you now.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Crossfit Returns

In April, I decided I would stop going to Crossfit starting in May. I seemed too large and unwieldy, plus we were starting childbirth class and work was kicking me in the rump. I initially intended to go to prenatal yoga from that point on and end my pregnancy in peace and meditation...

If you are just meeting me for the first time, I'm not really a relaxed, meditative person. In fact, I'm hyper, super-competitive, anxious, and really rely on strenuous, intense exercise to calm my mind into submission.

After a few weeks of crazed working, no yoga, and basically no body movement, everything rebelled. The baby got restless. My body felt sluggish. I had difficulty sleeping. I felt like a greasy blob. It was the first time since I wandered to rugby ten years ago that I had gone without working out for 2.5 weeks. It was bad.

The Crossfit trainer emailed me and told me to come in and work out. I listened. It was such a good idea! I went two times at the end of the month when I had some time, working on the rower and empty bar one night and, on Memorial Day, doing the same workout as everyone else, only with modified pushups and the lightest kettlebells and good mornings instead of back extensions. I guess I skipped the rope climb...

I felt so damn good when I got home! I slept that night, all the way through. My hip didn't hurt as badly. And I felt normal, like my regular self. Sure, I was going super slowly on the exercises and lifting weights my unborn child could probably handle without much effort. But I was moving and my body was getting to say, "look at me! I can almost exercise!"

I decided to renege on my plan and return to Crossfit for June. As a final nail in the yoga coffin, the prenatal instructor really, really gets under my skin and makes me want to punch her...this is in all ways a better choice.

Tonight is my first return workout. Then I can't go the whole rest of the week because I have other commitments, but that's ok! I'll just be back next week. And the next. And the one after that...


My mom came to visit this weekend. It was a rather relaxing journey, since I can't do much without getting cranky or swollen these days. We decided to hit the Strip Saturday morning because I needed to stock up on meat and I knew the pig dude would be at the Firehouse farmers market.

Anyone who lives in Pittsburgh knows that Saturday is Strip day. Thus, if you are not interested in shopping or looking for parking, you do not drive down Penn Ave or Smallman Street. You just don't. If you do, you know it will take a long time because folks are looking for parking. This is HOW THINGS ARE.

Nance and I were, in fact, going to the Strip and looking for parking. We hopefully swung down Penn Ave, found nothing, and turned over to Smallman. We drove around leisurely, found nothing, turned around, and saw a car getting ready to leave! Hurrah! My mom put on her blinker to indicate she wanted that spot and there we sat, pulled slightly over, waiting to park.

Then we heard BEEP BEEP noises, like an emergency vehicle trying to come through. We thought there was an emergency, which is what such sirens and lights indicate, and lamented our having to pull too far forward to snatch the spot to get out of the way of progress. Glum.

The emergency siren kept beeping and we were confused. Suddenly, a cop pulled along my mom and yelled "STOP! PULL OVER!" out the open window. We were confused because we'd already done both those things, and where was the emergency? Upon us? Nearby? Oh dear!

Instead, the cop proceeded to scold my mother for at least 5 minutes. His beef:
  1. we looked like we were going to double park right there on the road! "Sure looked like it to me," he said.
  2. we were holding up traffic (he says this as a long bottle neck builds behind him as Strip shoppers pile up looking for parking, which is HOW THINGS ARE on Smallman on a Saturday)
  3. we were seeking street parking rather than pulling over to the lot on 23rd he mentioned again and again and again, where we could pay but $5 to park all day. What a good idea! Why pay 25 cents at the meter when we could pay $5? I made note of his idea. And again when he repeated it.
Meanwhile, a white station wagon did indeed double park right there in front of us while the owner got out, bought lettuce, and got back in, drove up 10 feet, then did it again with peaches. The cop kept scolding US. I saw, in the distance, a white minivan doing the same thing. Traffic continued to bottleneck behind us, he kept scolding, and I became irate. He was grilling my poor mother: where did we intend to shop on this visit? What were we going to do?

It's an outside market for crying out loud! We were going to wander up and down the street and spend money and give tax dollars to the vendors who would then pay his salary.

He eventually drove off (after forcefully saying BE CAREFUL!) to repeat this procedure with other would-be shoppers. We parked above Right By Nature and paid nothing. But neither of us is ready to let the incident go. This man's behavior was not appropriate. For starters, he was breaking all the laws he accused us of violating during his scolding. For seconds, to my knowledge it is not illegal to drive slowly or to put one's indicator on before pulling into a vacant parking spot, nor is it illegal to allow a car to exit a spot and safely enter the line of traffic. Not that I'm an expert.

I just cannot imagine the protocol that would advise this waste of tax dollars. He could have been walking the streets and getting the vagrants off the stoops of the coffee shops, where they were sleeping. He could have been checking to see if the damn one-armed, one-legged beggar guy had a permit. He could have been doing ANYTHING else other than holding up traffic on Smallman to scold people who "held up traffic."

I hate him. I want him to be demoted. I want him to be assigned the most awful beat that exists and I wish a wild animal would get into his squad car and pee inside it, so that the smell never leaves and he has to drive around with amonia fumes for the rest of his days.