Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Nice Day for a White Wedding

This weekend was the big wedding where I finally got to wear my almost-too-good-to-be-true outfit. (Of course, it was slightly too-good-to-be-true. The black shirt picked up lint from our white table cloth, and the comfy shoes weren't so comfy after 6 hours of dancing. But still, no real disasters.)

The father of the bride is Jete's uncle on his father's side, which made this wedding a Big. Freakin'. Deal. For some reason, almost no one in his father's family gets married. Clyde has six siblings, and only he and this uncle are married. It isn't that the other five haven't met the right person, or are just living in sin, or consciously choosing to be celibate. That I could understand. But they all date. (Two have been seeing their boyfriends for decades.) For some reason, they play the Secret Boyfriend/Girlfriend game, where they don't ever bring them to family functions or mention their names in public. Then once in a while, they'll show up on Thanksgiving, and everyone's got gossip enough to last them through New Years. Good times.

(What's really strange to me is that these Anti-Marriage family members are also the Super-Catholic family members. So they pray and pray and spray holy water to their hearts content, yet never get around to the "be fruitful and multiply" part. What a waste.)

In any case, our wedding was the first in this part of his family since Jete's parents got married almost 30 years ago. Needless to say, it was one for the record books. It drew members of both families from across the country. From what everyone has said, it was one of the best weddings they've ever been to. And though we're a little biased, we tend to agree.

We've been waiting five years for someone else to try to one-up us. And they definitely tried. I'll leave it to everyone else to judge whether or not they succeeded.

The ceremony was your typical Roman Catholic Mass. Everyone in the wedding party looked perfect. Thin. Tan. Glowing. Just as it should be, I suppose.

The reception started with a social hour with open bar. Jete took advantage of the bar right away. Being the non-drinker that I am, I took advantage of the crudite, curry chicken, and mini quiches. We mingled and chatted with extended family, then headed in for an equally yummy dinner.

As all weddings do, this one brought out all kinds of emotions. Some of the more bitter relatives were grumbling about the "Deception" instead of the "Reception" and asking when they could leave. Some cut the receiving line or skipped the ceremony completely. They sulked and complained and refused to dance.

Jete's sister RP got depressed. She's young and single and feeling like she's never going to meet someone. She was watching all the couples on the dance floor and started crying. I took her to the bathroom to clean her up, then brought her out on the dance floor to try to forget her troubles for the night.

I cried too (shocking, I know). They did the traditional father-daughter dance to Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Say what you will (and trust me, RP and CS did) but I love this song. There's a mystical feel to it that I've remembered since childhood. I went up to the dance floor to take a picture and was surprised by the song choice. Then I started listening to the lyrics, and I saw her father crying. And I started to lose it. The whole scene got to me... her father dancing with his first born; her brother home from Iraq for the event; her sister crying. I couldn't explain why; it was a very circle of life moment. (Insert cheesy Lion King reference here.)

Tell me you wouldn't have cried too. You cold, cold people. You have hearts of stone.

Obviously, I'm a bit sentimental about weddings. I love the idea that two people really unite. They start their own new family, yet bring together these other groups of people at the same time. And everyone celebrates and drinks and eats and dances like fools.

I'm enough of a realist to admit the truth. A wedding is nothing but a big show. It's a play and we are all participants. Everybody looks very pretty and smiles big and has a great time. But that isn't real.

The reality is that marriage is often boring. Usually stressful. Always a lot of hard work.

The reality is that half of marriages end in divorce anyway.

The reality is that sometimes people don't even meet the right person in the first place.

But like every great play, I kept my distance. I didn't want to look too closely for fear I'd see the flaws. Instead, I had fun. I ate fancy appetizers and decadant chocolate cake. I had a Shirley Temple with two cherries. I danced like a fool to Shout and Dancing Queen and Joy to the World.

No point in ruining a perfectly good party with reality.

Random Notes to Wedding Guests Everywhere

  • You will never out-pretty a size zero blonde bride. Don't waste your time trying.

  • White dresses with giant black flowers on them look like cow hide from five feet away.

  • Lime green dresses with giant hot pink flowers on them will make people ask "Is that a watermelon dress?"

  • Flip-flops may be a questionable choice in footwear, unless they have sequins on them. (Sorry CS!)

  • Rich, white, skinny girls have lots of rich, white, skinny friends. Expect to feel ugly no matter how you look.

  • You can try all the fancy sundried-tomato quiche and lobster cobbler you want, but the pigs in a blanket are always a sure bet.

  • If the best man starts his speech by talking about hockey, prepare to be bored.

  • If you want to take pictures of how fancy you look, do it before you get food stains, drunken eyes, or sweaty hair.

  • I don't care how skinny you are; if you wear a short baby doll dress to a wedding, you're going to look like a pregnant slut.

  • Never leave your food unless you are done eating it. The table will be cleared by the time you come back.

  • Don't worry about crying in the bathroom. There is always at least one other person doing the same thing.

  • A flower girl dress is made for twirling.

  • When the DJ plays Ice Ice Baby, it's time to head home.

Monday, July 25, 2005


Finally started digging out my math books from the caverns of my basement to study for the first actuarial exam. I'm not sure if this is a math book or a Latin book, but it's all Greek to me. Yikes.

Also, in digging out my notebooks, I realized that I took this in an intensive two semester course. So all that "relearning a semester's worth of math" mumbo jumbo? Yeah. Double it.

I better get motivated. And fast.

On the bright side, my habit of keeping every book and notebook since the first grade is finally working in my favor. I knew being a pack rat would come in handy someday.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Eighth Sign of the Apocalpyse

People. I'm a little afraid.

I am going to a wedding on Friday. In preparation, I went shopping this weekend. We all know I. HATE. Shopping.

On my shopping trips, the following things happened:

  1. I found a pair of strappy sandals.
  2. The strappy sandals are slightly sexy and yet still comfortable.
  3. The strappy sexy comfy sandals fit me.
  4. I found a cute Nine West bag that match the strappy sexy sandals.
  5. The strappy sexy sandals and the cute Nine West bag cost under 10 dollars each.
  6. I found a cute black shirt that shows off my cleavage without clinging too much in the wrong areas.
  7. The cute black shirt is a light, cool material and is short-sleeved, so I won't sweat to death during a July wedding.
  8. I found a matching black and pink skirt that is just thick enough that I don't have to wear a slip under it.
  9. The black and pink skirt is just the right length, classy enough to be wedding quality, and also doesn't cling in the wrong areas.
  10. The entire outfit was under fifty dollars.
Plague and pestilence must be on their way.

Granted, I tried on exactly 37 pieces of clothing before I found the right outfit. But still. I found it. That is unheard of in Mete-land.

Also, I was with E when I found the shoes and bag. And we all know her freakish luck in finding good shoes, even when she can't afford them. So I'm thinking her luck rubbed off on me or something.

Either that, or she really is the spawn of Satan. That would explain a lot of the luck she's been having.

It was a nice weekend. I got to hang out with E during her unexpected trip to the West Coast (heh) and I found clothes and shoes I like. That FIT ME. I may just give shopping a second chance.

(Yeah right. Like this will ever happen again.)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Courage to Change

In every company there are those people who have worked in the same position for decades. They started in their teens or twenties, and they'll work there until they retire. The "Lifers."

I come from a family of Lifers. Both my parents have been at their jobs for over 30 years. But these days, Lifers are a dying breed. Or maybe things are just different for college educated people. I don't really know. My sister and I were the first in our family to go to college, so I have no basis for comparison.

Either way, it seems most people stay at a job for a few years, then move on to new departments or new companies. Short of a big promotion (that never seems to come), it's the best way to increase your salary. Make yourself more marketable. From what I've heard, Lifers continue on with their cost-of-living raises and never go anywhere.

I was dubbed a Lifer by a coworker less than a year after I started.

He was right. Once I'm comfortable, I like to settle in and enjoy coasting for a while. That's how I've been, here, for the past four years. Coasting along and enjoying the ride.

The thing is, I like my job. It's rare and unpopular to say, but true. I enjoy the work I do. I'm challenged, but not overly stressed. The people are nice, with exception of the occasional character, but you'd find that anywhere. And the money is decent. Sure, I'd love to make more, but it's "enough" for now. We can afford our house, most of the stuff we want, and still manage to save a little bit for the bigger stuff.

Everybody seems to have somewhere else they want to be. Now, or in a year, five, ten. They want to move into management. Work their way up to vice president. Start their own business. But me, I'm just fine with the status quo.

I know I'm not management material. I hate confrontation, and I'd never want to be responsible for firing people. I want - almost need - to have everyone around me like me. To be a good manager, you need to be the bad guy once in a while. I know I'm never going to follow that career path. So that leaves me with the Lifer path. I can be fine with that. Except...

There is one little thing I've been thinking about for a few years. The actuarial field.

(For those of you who don't know what an actuary is, just know that they usually work in insurance and use lots of math. And, from what I've heard, make tons of money.)

I didn't always consider the field. When I was in high school, we had career day as part of math week. When I was in the math club. (I mentioned I was a total geek, right?) I remember very clearly the actuary getting up there and speaking. As I stared blankly at him, droning on about taking tests for years and working in insurance and death probability analysis, I said to myself, "I will NEVER do that." I could imagine myself being the first person to actually die of boredom.

All the way through college, that man stayed with me. When I finally graduated with a math degree, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew only that I didn't want to teach and I never never NEVER wanted to be an actuary.

And here I am. Eight years later. Thinking about being an actuary.

I guess I've grown up (sort of), and I know that this man is not representative of every actuary out there. I know that jobs aren't always what they appear to be to an outsider. I still love math. And I'd love to make more money. Isn't it worth trying?

The first step to becoming an actuary is taking the tests. I've been toying with taking that first test for years now. A friend from work has been hounding me to do it, too. She hates math, and can't understand why someone who likes, and is good in, math wouldn't go for the highest paying career out there. Every few weeks she'll ask if I signed up for the tests yet. No, not yet. I'll get around to it.

This Thursday, she got frustrated. "What are you waiting for! Just do it!"

"I know, but then I'll have to do all that studying. It's a lot of work."

"So what! Can you imagine the change in your life if you did this? Jete could quit his job and stay home with the kids. No more paying babysitters half your salary to watch the kids! You could get a bigger house!"

"I know. But that's not for years, and I'd have to pass all those tests first. It's a lot of stress."

"It isn't a lot of stress. You're smart, it won't be a problem for you. JUST DO IT."

Finally, to shut her up, I told her if she researched the testing dates and sent me the application, I'd apply for the first test.

A minute later I got an email from her containing just a link to the test information. Damn. She meant it this time.

I started reading the website. As I read I got a second email from her:

"9/22/05 deadline! for November test!!! Lots of time to study..."

I looked again. She was wrong. The deadline she was talking about was for the fourth test. I needed to take the first one. I scrolled around to find more information. The deadline for the first one was....

...Friday 7/22. Tomorrow. Ohhhhh.

She came over to my desk with a printout. "Here's the application. Fill it out now!" I told her that she was looking at the wrong test. I showed her on the screen. The test I need to take is offered in September. The deadline was 24 hours away, and the application could not be submitted online. It had to be mailed. "The deadline is tomorrow." She got even more hyped up.

"It's a sign! If we had checked tomorrow, you would have lost your chance for months. You HAVE to do this! We'll overnight the letter. I'll bring it to the post office myself. Fill it out. JUST DO IT."

Jeesh. She was starting to turn into a Nike commercial.

I looked at her for a minute. This was crazy. I'll only have two months to study! I have to relearn an entire semester's worth of math in two months? With two babies, a full time job and other distractions?

Is it even worth it? I'm happy with my job. The money thing doesn't impress me. I could live with this salary and my raises and bonuses every year. What's wrong with being a Lifer?

But I knew that wasn't the full story. Is my satisfaction at being a Lifer the real reason I didn't want to do it? Or am I really just afraid? Afraid of change. Afraid of the work. Afraid... that I will fail. Fail the tests. Fail at the job. Not measure up to what everyone else seems to think I am capable of.

I know it's a little bit of both things holding me back. But suddenly, I was caught up in her enthusiasm. I knew if I didn't do this now, I'd never do it. I'm 30 years old. Most people taking this test are just graduating from college. I know it is never too late to change. But I also know there will come a point when my moment will have passed, where my life is so settled that I won't want to disrupt it. And I will never get the courage to try again.

I filled out the form and handed it to her. "Okay. It's in your hands now. You've got to get it there overnight." She grabbed her purse and left for the post office.

She came back a little later with the tracking slip. "It will be there by noon tomorrow. This is it! Now get the books to study!"

Whoa. All afternoon and evening I thought about what I did. I was terrified, but a little excited too. Friday I kept checking the post office site to see if it was delivered. Maybe the post office would lose it, and I would miss the cut off. Then it wouldn't be my fault.

Finally, a little after lunchtime, the tracking was updated. It was delivered at 10:31 AM. It was official. I was registered.

I have no choice but to try now. I hope I can do it. I figure, the test is $175 dollars, non-refundable. If that isn't motivation enough to study, I don't know what would be.

Just by going through this process, I think I'll have proven something to myself. That I can try. It's never too late. That I have the power to live another kind of life, if I don't let fear hold me back.

Hell, even if I fail the test, I'm bound to learn a lesson somewhere in all of this. And isn't learning what life is really all about?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Somebody Warn Me if I Get This Aloof...

As a mother, may I never:

  • Shout at my child at the top of my voice while on the phone with my friend.
  • Degrade my child to my friend on the phone, while my child is within earshot.
  • Shout "Get in your f*cking room! If I hang up this phone, you are getting a BEATING!" while on the phone with my friend.

Most importantly, may I never:

  • Wonder to my friend why my child's behavior is so bad.
  • Stay on the phone with my friend talking about nothing while my child is so obviously crying out for my attention and human interaction.

Please. One of you loves me enough to slap me if I do this, don't you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Plus or Minus

I work with two other women. Both of these women wear a size 4. I think I've established in the past, I, well. Don't. I haven't worn anything near a size 4 since I was about ten years old.

They are both shopaholics. I hate shopping.

Clearly, I am the odd duck on the team.

The other day they were lamenting how terribly difficult it is to find a size 4. How, when they order from catalogs, for some reason all the 4's are sold out. Sometimes, if they're desparate, they'll order 6's, but even those always seem to be sold out a lot of the time. How, oh, it just isn't fair.

Well boo-freakin-hoo.

I wanted to tell them how much fun it is to be "plus-sized". (Whatever the hell that means. Are they "minus-sized" in comparison?) Let them try shopping for clothes like I have to. For example:

  • I cannot just walk into any store in the mall and try something on. I have one, maybe two stores to choose from.
  • In those two stores, 90% of the clothes are geared toward 65 year old women. Think giant flower prints and pleated skirts.
  • Don't even think about getting pregnant. Maternity clothes stop at size L. (Although, shhh, I've heard rumors that sometimes, overweight women - gasp! - have sex! And occasionally they get pregnant! I know! I was as shocked as you are!)
  • Catalogs that proudly proclaim "Now selling plus-sized!" LIE. The pages must be carefully examined for the little star that designates the handful of items sold in larger sizes.
  • Occasionally, I give up and shop in the men's department, because at least most men's clothes come in sizes bigger than Large.
(Which is yet another double standard that drives me crazy. Why are men allowed to go up to XXL and not be banished to the "Big & Tall" section, yet any woman over L is sent to the other end of the store? Every sitcom proves this ridiculous fact. Men are allowed to be fat, but their wives must remain skinny, made-up, and have perky breasts.)

Now, I'll admit, things have gotten much better in the past few years. Stores are finally starting to wake up. The styles are getting better. There are more choices. Some stores even added plus sized maternity clothes (which was unheard of as recently as my last pregnancy a year ago). Thanks to people like Colleen for keeping me informed.

But honestly, we have a long way to go. And size 4 people have no idea how the other half lives. Their shopping experience has always involved seeing the dummies in the stores in their size, wearing clothes designed to complement their body shape. I'm lucky if the models in the plus-sized catalogs are even over a size 6.

I didn't get into all of this of course. It just wasn't worth it. I nodded and frowned and expressed my anger at the retail industry. "Damn you Banana Republic and Casual Corner! Shame on you Abercrombie!"

Yes. Shame on you indeed.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

What Might Have Been

I met M when I started working at the Family Owned Business. I was young and naive, though I didn't think so at the time, just out of college with my first full-time job. She was a single mother in her mid twenties who had put herself through college while supporting her daughter. She was outgoing and funny and I loved her instantly.

M and I both stayed at the FOB for record time considering its high turnover rate. When she passed her third birthday there, she decided that she couldn't stay at a miserable job anymore. She would have a new one before her next birthday came. True to her word, she started her new job three weeks before her next birthday.

Unlike some coworker relationships, we stayed in touch after she left. We met for lunch every month or so and talked through email. At lunch one day, she told me she was pregnant. It was a surprise, but she was really happy.

A few weeks later, we met for lunch again and I told her - surprise - I was pregnant too.

We went through the stages together. It was so nice to have someone to talk to, who knew exactly what I was feeling. It was my first pregnancy, and since her daughter was 9 years old, it was almost like a first pregnancy for her too. She was 6 weeks ahead of me, so she would tell me about things to look for before I experienced them.

We both found out we were having boys, and we talked about them playing together down the road. We could take them to the park together while sitting on a bench chatting about the strange new world of mothering a boy.

She had a planned c-section with her daughter and had never been in labor. In this way, we were equally ignorant about what to expect, how to know it was the "real" thing. She was planning a VBAC this time, and told me about the classes she had taken. As her due date approached, we chatted about her increasing contractions and her fear of the delivery.

She had her son after a long labor; healthy mom, healthy son. She called me a couple of days later telling me how much easier the recovery was than after her c-section. She felt great and was already out and about. She planned to bring her newborn with her to my baby shower in a couple of weeks.

Within a few days, I had developed high blood pressure, was put on bedrest, and. Well. The rest is history.

M & I have stayed in touch these 3 and a half years. Sometimes, a few months will go by where everything is crazy hectic for both of us, but then we'll email and meet for lunch and catch up on things.

Recently, she emailed me a picture of her son. He was sitting at a picnic table under his new jungle-gym swingset. He had his arms over his head and a big grin on his face. He had coloring books laid out on the table.

He looked so old. I guess he is. He's almostfour.

It was hard for me to look at his picture. I'm not sure why. I've gotten her Christmas card photos, and I've watched him grow that way. But this wasn't a posed formal picture. He was outside. Playing. Coloring. Arms over his head in the joy of being a kid.

Just like Ethan should be.

Since Ethan started his new medication, he's been drowsy and a little fussier. The other night he was getting upset, so we changed his position a few times. We got him set up on the couch on his back. I put the ocean sounds CD on that he likes. He played with his chewy tube. I watched him for the longest time. Watched his eyelashes flutter as he listened to the music. Watched him smile as Jete tickled him. He was happy for the moment.

I kept thinking, "He's almostfour." But I couldn't get myself to believe it. Physically, he's almostfour, but developmentally, he's still a baby. Six to nine months. His toys are baby toys. His food is baby food. He mouths things to explore them, can't sit on his own, doesn't crawl or roll over. Most likely, he never will.

Over time, M's son will keep progressing. Soon he will be five, then six. In Kindergarten. Junior high. High school. He will develop and mature. But Ethan will still be six to nine months, in an adolescents body.

M has invited me to dinner a few times. The boys could play together on the new swingset. CG would probably love it. He loves to run and climb and I'm sure the boys would wear themselves out while we chatted.

Still, it would be strange to watch CG play with a boy who is almostfour. I always wonder... What would Ethan have been like? What would his relationship with CG have been like? If things were different.

In some strange way, M's son is like a living ghost... The "Ethan" that might have been.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Off to See the Whiz-ard

People. Please. Don't start a conversation with me as I walk into the bathroom stall. It's not that I don't want to talk to you. I'm just not usually in a chatty mood at that given moment.

The other day, a manager decided that was the perfect time to start a conversation. After we had exchanged phony pleasantries ("How are you?!" "Great! How are you?!" "Great!") I turned to enter the stall. I thought that was the end of it.

Just as I started to close the stall door, she burst out with: "Oh! And thank you so much for your work on that project. I can't believe what a whiz you are!"

Interesting choice of words. But, thanks. Now can I pee in peace?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

That smoke is just my brain working extra hard.

When on vacation from work, don't expect me to call the office. Just to "check how things are going". Because believe it or not, the work will still be here when you get back. But your vacation sure as hell won't be.

I think big breasts were god's way of saying to me: "You don't have to be a runner. Take your time. WALK."

That's it. I'm officially OLD. When did tickets to see Hilary Duff become an acceptable radio show giveaway?

You can apply all the peer pressure you want. I will not be wearing hot pink nail polish just because it's summer. I'm not a hot pink kind of girl. Deal with it.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm the only sober girl at the party.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Wall of Shame

The girl on the other side of my cubicle wall just used the word "grody". Wow. It brought me back to a time I'd rather not relive.

Mind you, she was probably in preschool in that time. She's barely 24 and admitted earlier today that Saved by the Bell was her favorite TV show growing up. She then proceeded to sing the theme song to us.

You learn all kinds of things around here. Last week she announced, in what I can only call an outdoor voice, "I have my period today. Leave me alone."

God bless cubicles.

Ethan Part 10: Blind Hope

Quite a bit improved. Eye exam positive for retinal hemorrhages - to be repeated in one week.

-Ethan's medical record, 12 days old

Despite all the bad news we had received, we couldn't shed the hope that things were actually improving. Ethan reached a point where he seemed to be getting over the sickness part. He was off the oxygen and breathing on his own. He was eating well, gaining weight. Slowly but surely he was becoming more in tune with his surroundings. He would try to put his hands in his mouth when he was hungry. He would kick his legs and squirm around. He seemed like a new baby.

The nurses were quite taken with Ethan. He was a happy baby, and would hardly ever cry. The only time he cried was when he was hungry. They were still increasing his feeding amounts slowly to make sure his digestive system was mature. The tiny amounts of milk were never enough. He would suck the bottle dry and always seemed hungry for more.

Some of the nurses were adamant that we force nursing before every meal. He never really caught on with it, and I hated torturing him to wait for his meal. To me, the most important thing was that he was getting breast milk, even if it was in a bottle. I was exhausted from pumping every 2-3 hours, but I knew it was the best thing for him. Besides, he had struggled so much in every other respect, I felt he deserved a break.

One nurse in particular, Karen, really loved Ethan. We loved her as well. She always took a little more time, was a little gentler than the other nurses. She usually worked the overnight shifts, and it made us feel so much better to know she was there with him. Another nurse told us once that on a quiet night, Karen had sat and rocked Ethan for nearly the entire shift.

Since Ethan was off all tubes and maintaining his body temperature, he could finally be moved from the warmer to a regular bassinet like any other newborn. It was a major step. He looked so much less critical wrapped in his blankets, with a teddy bear in the corner of the bed.

The NICU staff put black and white drawings in all the babies' beds. Ethan had a dog on one side and a cat on the other. He always lay facing the dog side. We figured he had decided, like his father, he was a dog person.

One late afternoon, we were visiting with Ethan. Karen was working. She stood for a while, watching me rock Ethan. We asked her how he was doing, in her professional opinion. She said he seemed to be doing really well. He was well over 4 pounds now and was eating and sleeping well.

Then she asked, "He looks at you when you hold him, right?"

It seemed like an odd question. I looked down at him in my arms. He was sleeping.

"Yes. I mean, I think so. Why?"

"I was just wondering. I mean, I think when you hold him close enough, he really looks at you. The eye doctor was here earlier, and there were some concerns about his vision. It's very common with premies and small babies. The doctor will give you a call to discuss his findings."

After she walked away, it was all I could think about. Did he look at us? I didn't know. He always seemed to stare at the dog picture, didn't he? I couldn't say for sure. He had only started staying awake in the past week or so.

I glanced at the nursing notes at the foot of his bed. I saw a note that said "Eye exam for ROP today". I made a mental note and Googled when I got home. ROP - Retinopathy of Prematurity. From everything I read, this is a mainly curable disorder. Most of the time, it clears up on its own as time goes on. That was a relief. Even if Ethan had this, it would probably go away after a while.

The doctor called the next day. He was actually Jete's own eye doctor, which gave a level of familiarity. He explained that he had examined Ethan for ROP, but he did not appear to have it. What he did have were several hemorrhages in the backs of each eye. Since the eyes and brain are very close, these hemorrhages were most likely part of the overall bleeding he had experienced in the first few days of life.

I asked the doctor what this meant for Ethan. We got the usual answer. "I can't say for sure." All he would tell us was that he would monitor Ethan every few months to follow the progression of these hemorrhages. Only once they started to clear up could we see how much damage, if any, had been done.

We went back to visit Ethan the next day. He was gnawing on his hand and making gurgling noises. A nurse mentioned that 5 pounds was our goal for now. Assuming everything else stayed stable, once he reached this weight, he would be ready to go home.

Hearing this, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, there were still questions. The clotting studies hadn't come back. The genetic workups were still pending. The eye exams were inconclusive. But none of that mattered to us. All we could focus on was the scale. Just a few more ounces, and we could take Ethan home.


Saturday, July 09, 2005

One more reason to love Colin...

The full quote (in an interview for the Bridget Jones sequel) is as follows:

"People of all shapes and sizes have partners of all shapes and sizes. There are all kinds of combinations that people don't imagine. And there's nothing unattractive about Renée when she's ... filled out a bit. There are plenty of incredibly sexy chubby women out there."

I think I feel a sudden urge for a P&P marathon night. :)

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Circus In My Mind

Yesterday was a busy, hectic day. At bedtime, I was ready to go to sleep. I felt thoroughly exhausted, and I got into bed with that wonderful feeling of actually deserving my rest.

Somewhere between wakefulness and sleep, I had a massive panic attack. I jumped out of bed with a gasp, a high pitched sound. Almost a scream. I didn't know why I had done that. I didn't know how long I had been laying there, but as I looked at the clock I realized it had only been a few minutes. I thought maybe I was having a heart attack. I felt like I was dying, like I couldn't breathe. I didn't think it was pain that had woken me, but I couldn't be sure.

I landed beside the bed. The gasp woke Jete, who was already asleep and didn't know what was happening. He asked me what was wrong.

"I don't know. I can't breathe. I have to go outside."

He asked if I wanted him to come with me, and of course my answer was yes. If I was going to die out on the porch, who would help me if he didn't come now?

I couldn't wait for him to grab his glasses. I walked quickly through the house and out onto the dark porch. The street was still and quiet. My legs felt funny. Sore? Tingly? Did I have cramping in my legs? Not quite. But maybe? Maybe I had a blood clot and it had traveled back down to my legs? Maybe I was having a stroke? Were my legs numb?

I started to take my pulse, then stopped. It was racing, but I knew trying to read anything from that was futile. When the attacks first started, when I was having them many times every day, I went weekly to a therapist. Once, she asked me if I ever took my pulse during panic attacks. I remember being shocked. How did she know? Somehow I thought I was unique. That no one else had ever gone through this.

Jete arrived on the porch and gave me a hug. I clung to him desparately. Trying to wake myself up, calm myself down. He let me go and asked what was wrong, was I okay. I was starting to come down from the initial surge of fear. I hugged him again, then told him we could go back inside.

He got back into bed and was asleep in less than a minute. I sat up, too afraid to lay down. Every time I put my head on the pillow I thought I couldn't breathe again. I watched Nick at Nite for a while. Finally the exhaustion caught up with me and I lay back down.

My mind was racing. It was all so strange. Why would I have a panic attack like that? Was it really a panic attack? Yes I was stressed at work lately and was rushing around that night, but it was a good day! What would have triggered it? Maybe I really have sleep apnea. Maybe I stopped breathing and that was what woke me up like that. What is wrong with me?

Finally, I fell back asleep.

I slept like a rock all night. If I do have sleep apnea, I didn't notice.

In the early hours, that time when you can't tell the difference between reality and imagination, I had a dream. I woke up with it still hanging in my mind like an actual memory.

Some friends of ours are getting married this month, and I dreamed we went to their wedding. Jete was officiating for some reason, and was wearing a priest's garb. We were in a small chapel, a tiny room. There were only about 15 of us there.

Halfway through the ceremony, the doors to the back of the chapel burst open. Clowns started parading through. Horses. Zebras. A marching band. At the back of the parade was a giant elephant. He seemed as large as a house. He had a red and yellow blanket on his back for riding, and a pointy headpiece, with fringe hanging between his eyes. The elephant reared up on its back legs like a horse would. He raised his trunk and made a loud roar.

Through the whole parade, I kept snapping pictures with my digital camera. Everything seemed to be close to me, but when I looked at the picture on the screen, it seemed a million miles away. Everything looked so tiny. I couldn't understand why.

I looked around at the other guests at the wedding. They were laughing and smiling and pointing. Everyone was having a great time. They didn't care that the ceremony was interupted. They were just so excited to see that elephant.

I woke up at 7 AM with a start. I felt somewhat refreshed. No weird legs, no breathing issues. Just a memory of panic and the lingering dream.

My mind is so powerful. It's amazing to me that it can create things out of nothing. That they can seem so real. Giant elephants. Baseless fear. When you think about it, they really aren't all that different, are they?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Boobie Trap

Let's talk about breasts, shall we?

I know, I know. You're all out there thinking, "Well, it's about time!" But don't get so excited just yet.

On my way home from work the other day, I passed a man on a riding lawnmower in his front yard. He was balding. About 50ish. Topless.

And? His breasts were bigger than mine.

It started me thinking about the fact that if my oversized, saggy breasts were swinging in the breeze as I mowed my lawn, I'd be arrested. Well, at the very least, ticketed. Now this would never happen of course, because 1) I know better than to ever parade my flabby, nude body around on this very main road, and 2) I never mow the lawn, DUH, that's Jete's job.

But the point remains that there is a very large double standard when it comes to male and female nudity. And I just don't get it. Why should men be allowed to bare all of their scraggly chest hair while women are forced to cover up? After all, at least a woman's breasts can be functioning body parts. I mean, I fed two children with mine. They're kind of like an spare hand or two. Or a knee. Or a spleen. If I wanted to show off my spleen, would anyone object? Would I get a ticket? I think NOT.

This of course got me thinking a little deeper. I'm nothing if I'm not deep. Naturally, I started thinking about Hollywood.

The movie industry has their own double standard when it comes to nudity. Can anyone tell me why full-frontal nudity is "R-rated" when the actor is a woman, but if a man's bits and pieces are shown in all their ... um, glory, it is rated X? Does that mean that a woman completely naked in a movie is something acceptable and common, but film of a naked man is so naughty? So erotic it can only be distributed in dirty bookstores?

(Please try to ignore the laughing girl behind the keyboard.)

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not asking for more penis shots on the big screen. Frankly, well. I don't think they are all that pretty. I'll admit it. Most of them are downright funny looking. Erotic? Um, I'm gonna have to go with No most of the time. But thanks for trying. Even so, let's be equal here. If reproductive organs are X rated, shouldn't a woman's be X rated too?

I guess the ugly truth is, beauty makes all the difference. Some people (i.e. MEN) think naked women aren't quite as funny looking as naked men. Therefore, they allow more "beauty" (i.e. naked women) at lower movie ratings. So they can look at more "beauty" more often. At least that's what I take from my analysis. It doesn't make it right, or fair. It's just the way things are right now.

And honestly, I'm as much to blame for the double standard. I probably wouldn't have been thinking about any of this if the man on his lawnmower was a 20-something hardbody who resembled, oh, Colin Firth in the lake scene of Pride and Prejudice. In fact, I don't think I'd be coherent enough to write at all if that were the case. I might have just driven into a tree or something.

So to recap:

1. It's unacceptable for women to be publicly naked.... UNLESS a filmaker is making a few bucks in the deal.
2. Some men have bigger breasts than I'd do, and aren't ashamed to show them.
3. Colin Firth is a hottie.
4. ....

Sorry... I was looking at that picture again. What was I talking about?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Let Freedom Ring

I'm sad today, and I can't pinpoint why. I think it is a hormonal thing, judging by the calendar. I'm lucky to be very predictable in that sense. I've been learning to stay in tune with my body so that I am more prepared for the weekly ups and downs. And, as a free form of birth control without the added weight gain, bad skin, and upset stomach. (Hated the pill, can you tell?)

Anyway, I have no real reason to be sad. Stressed for my friends, worried about the kids. But nothing out of the ordinary. I can't blame any one thing. I just am. Blue. But getting over it.

It's hard to believe it was only a week ago Dr. J shook things up. We had our appointment with him Friday, and things didn't go as badly as I had feared. He is starting Ethan on a new drug, whose name I can't even remember at the moment, except it starts with L. It takes several weeks to taper onto this medicine, so we actually get a bit of a break, if you can call it that. In two months, we should know more. We go back to see Dr. J again in early October. Maybe we'll get that summer break after all.

He still wants us to go to Boston. He is setting us up with an appointment with a doctor who specializes in Epilepsy. She has a title - she is an Epileptologist. Or an Epileptist. Or an Epilepstician. I had never heard the term before. Those brain doctors, they like the fancy names.

Apparantly, she used to work at Children's, but now runs a Ketogenic program at MassGeneral. So we get to visit our third Boston hospital. Yay us! Before you know it, we'll have connections all across the city. Of course, she is busy as all doctors are, so we will probably have to wait a few months to see her.

At least, I hope so. Is that terrible?

I guess if he was visibly suffering from these seizures, or Dr. J was more concerned, I'd be more concerned. But I'm not. I see that 75% of the time, he is happy, and that makes things feel a little less urgent.

We left Dr. J's office feeling a little better about things. He seemed a little more relaxed. His hair was growing in and was a bit shaggy. Must have been his upcoming vacation that made him more personable. He was still his stiff and serious self, but ... I swear, I think I saw it. He almost. Maybe. SMILED.

Whoa. It was a little like a solar eclipse. Rare, fleeting, and hard to look directly into.

So that's the update. This weekend was the 4th of July holiday, so I had the extra day off from work. It was beautiful and I wish it never had to end. I want to cook out and eat hamburgers and hotdogs every day forever, just to pretend it is really summer, like when I was a kid. And there is no school, or work or responsibility. Just freedom.

But for now, I'll take freedom from doctors for a week or two. That's better than any firework show.

I think my last task here is finally finished so I can head home. Listen to some music on the ride, and just unwind. Try to shed the Blue.