Sunday, December 16, 2007

And so it begins

I return from a prolonged absence to tell you. I am knocked up. I will try to blog more regularly now that the effort to get pregnant is no longer eating my soul from the inside.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007


My name is Suburban Gorgon, and I am an addict.

I know what you're thinking - if she knows that, she knows there are help groups available to her, resources in the community. Uh uh. Not for this particular addiction.

You see, I am addicted to taking pregnancy tests. As the mother of the Kraken, who is now three years old, I remember the overpowering rush of excitement I felt upon seeing those magical two little pink lines appear as I was putting the cap on the test stick (no waiting three minutes for me!). I had always known I wanted children, and to miraculously conceive after 6 weeks of trying, at the age of 33, seemed like such a gift, and so it turned out to be. Now, almost four years later, I am 37, and it isn't going so smoothly this time.

The first month when my period arrived right on schedule, I wasn't surprised. After all, I had one period last time after I went off the pill as well. The second month, I was so confident that I had managed to conceive quickly again, I took an early test, several days before my period was due. Negative. Well, that just means there isn't enough hormone yet, right? After all, they don't get 99% accurate until you're late. Wait two days, take another one. Negative again. And then period. So much for that.

The third month, I thought, would be the charm. We had been having still more, um, relations, and this time I had been paying very close attention to my signals. I knew when I should have ovulated, and I frog marched the Minotaur to bed at all the right times, with all the passion of a tax audit. This time, I couldn't even wait for it to be "five days before the missed period". This time, I took the test a full week before my period was due. The hell? Those things are expensive, even when you buy them in bulk at Costco, as I have now taken to doing. And there was no way that it would have shown up yet at that point even if I was pregnant. So why the hell did I take it? That's easy. Hope.

Five tests later (not kidding), my period arrived. Time for month four. Now this is getting serious. Two more months and at my "advanced maternal age", I should be consulting my doctor about potential fertility problems. Come on! This is the body that created the Kraken. It's not possible that it should have turned on me in just a few short years. Did I wait too long? Did I miss my window? This has to be the month it happens.

This is technically now month five. I would love to say that at the end of month 4 I waited until my period was due to test. I would be lying. Early tests (yes, plural) were negative. The day of my period came and went. As did the next day, and the next, and the next. I held hope in my heart like a tumor, growing inside me every day but feeding on me like cancer, too. I took another test. Negative. I waited two more days. No period. Another test. Negative. If my period does not make an appearance tomorrow, it will be a week late. To some of you, this may sound normal, but I'm a regular sort of girl, if you know what I mean. To be a week late should mean baby, but there's no way I should test negative now if I'm this pregnant - I would have hormones leaking out my ears.

I need help. Before I have to mortgage my house to pay for this little habit of mine.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A snapshot in time

Driving home from work yesterday. The weather was warm, unseasonably so for early October in my neck of the woods. I took off my jacket in the car, and stretched my arms out as I sat at the stoplight on the highway, halfway from home.

I glanced over at the car next to me. Large, burly man. Spacers in both ears. Tattoos all over both arms. And I thought. Well. I bet he's over there listening to something loud. On the way to somewhere interesting. Where no one will spray bits of cereal in his face when they talk. And here I sit over in my car. I have tattoos all over me too. But I am driving to a daycare with a fluffy pink blanket in the backseat, and an electric red Elmo doll on the floor by my feet. I am listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on my CD player and there is no chance that a bar is anywhere in my near future. That guy over there looks like me, but I'm not in that world anymore. I didn't feel grief, or even envy, just a detached interest in the fact that two people could look so much alike, but be living in such different worlds.

As I ruminated on this, his car pulled away into the turn lane to the right to exit onto the highway. And it was then that I saw his license plate. GRFNDOR. Heh.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Home again

Well, we're back. Given my infrequent postings of late, I'm guessing most of you didn't even know that we had meandered off to Louisiana to visit the family of the Minotaur.

New Orleans, people. Please go. Spend money. It is so very, very empty, and even the most well preserved places have an air of an old house long abandoned. The town is a shadow of what it was, and it hurt my heart to be there.

Also, did anyone else know that Louisiana is full of GIANT SPIDERS in the summertime? I spent 4 days on the verge of throwing up. It makes no sense for an old school goth girl to be arachnophobic, but we are what we are.

The trip was less frustrating than usual, perhaps because the Minotaur was clever enough to obtain some gin immediately upon arrival. Gin helps. So does the presence of my much loved brothers in law and their wives. And oh, the children. The older ones I love for themselves, but the littlest.......I love for the sheer fact that he is a baby. A soft, pliant, fat handed, sweet smelling lap full of baby. And the Kraken actually let me hold him. Nay, encouraged it, following up with plaintive requests to take him home with us. Shows promise that my possessive little girl might be able to share after all.


I feel like this blog has taken a sideways turn of late. That all the ideas I have that would make good posts come to me only when I am miles away from the keyboard, and that what I am left with are facile recountings of my daily activities and the Kraken's clever repartee. Sound and fury, signifying nothing. I promise that I have thoughts in my head that I don't manage to convey.

My decision never to blog about work has definitely put a damper on my subject matter as well. That's where I am most hours of the week, and at this point most of my social interaction happens there as well. But, the annual beach trip is BOOKED (thanks, Sugarmama, for all the hard work as usual), and that will be something to hold in my heart and look forward to.

No word on the pregnancy front - another week before I know if the Minotaur managed to knock me up this month. So, I bought a bottle of Bombay Sapphire with the intention of enjoying my beloved gin to the fullest in anticipation of having to soon give it up.

The stupid cat is drinking out of the fishbowl.

I recently finished a book - The Shadow of the Wind. It affected me powerfully, although I have still not fully analyzed why. I think to some extent it's just the awareness of the gift that is storytelling, and how joyous it is when it's done well. The story itself is no revelation, but the relish with which it is told - I highly recommend it.

Did I mention how much I love being an aunt?

That's it. All done. More when I have shaken off the week and settled into my weekend self.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A synopsis of my day

I have a pimple on my chin.
And a bug bite on my butt.
My daughter woke at 5:15 screaming her heart out because she could not locate her stupid duck Pez dispenser in her bed in the dark.
And I have PMS (plus a negative pregnancy test).

Today is not my most favoritest day. Tomorrow will be better, I feel sure.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

I don't want to turn this into a "Gorgon gets pregnant" blog, but......

It seems to be the dominant theme in my brain at the moment, so that's what I'm blogging about. For the almost 3 years my daughter has been on this earth I have experienced a certain level of ambivalence about having another one. Not because I don't love her. Not because I don't like being a mother, but precisely because those things are true. My feelings about the Kraken are so strong that it's hard to imagine feeling this way about another child. I haven't been able to help feeling that I would be shortchanging everyone involved. My daughter, because she would have to share me. My unborn child because he or she would get a diluted form of my love, and would have to spend life watching the Kraken gulp it down at full strength. Myself, because of the guilt that would come from compromising everyone's happiness.

What changed? That's a very good question. I am actually not sure anything has changed. I still have big fear that I won't handle this well, that someone will get less than they need through no fault of their own. Intellectually, I know this is completely ridiculous. I am the first of two children, and I see no difference in the love our parents bestowed on the two of us, and never did. My husband is one of four boys, and none of them turned out to be morally derelict or insane.

I think my fear is more founded in my awareness of my own shortcomings. I can focus very well as long as I have a limited number of things to focus on. Given a limited playing field I will "play" better than anyone else on the team, in most of the endeavors of my life. Expand my range just the tiniest bit beyond my comfort zone and the wheels start to come off the bus, with a certain amount of fanfare and drama. I don't know if I've always been this way, or if my professional life has taught me to juggle so well that it becomes really noticeable when I cannot. I am afraid of extending myself to the point where I fail. Where I fail my daughter. A second child. My husband. Myself. I am afraid of the wheels coming off the bus.

And yet. I am off the pill. I am fertile right. this. minute. I know that I am. And I am going to try my damnedest to get knocked up tonight. And I will fight my own fear and anxiety, I believe (I hope), only until I feel the child move within me, and then I will make my peace with my own inadequacies because I have to. I have to remember. I have done this before. I know how to do this. And love isn't sugar - it doesn't run out.

Friday, August 3, 2007

I have spent so much of my adult life taking the Pill that it's shocking to me how different it is to be off it. I can FEEL my ovaries gearing up to drop their load. There will be no rest for the Minotaur anytime soon.....

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Here I am, Miss America

Not exactly, but I am a heck of a lot thinner. This isn't exactly a fantastic picture. But, in looking at it, I'm startled by how much smaller I look than in recent months.

Making a tower for Kayleigh to destroy

Just in time to try to get all big and fat and pregnant again. Is it wrong to be getting excited about going back to full fat foods again?

Friday, July 27, 2007

She speaks from across the ages

I know y'all all thought I had died, or at the very least joined a cult and changed my name. It's all a pack of lies. I have been thwarted from blogging by my current workload at the office plus a variety of home improvement projects. I have news.

I am 17 pounds lighter.
I am off the Pill.
The eel has disappeared from the fishtank, and we don't know where he is.

More as it happens......

Friday, June 15, 2007

I've been away so long

I begin to despair of ever getting back into a regular groove with this blog. So much has been happening, but so little of it actually newsworthy.

1. I am 15 pounds lighter, and simultaneously elated at my progress and horrified at the fact that I don't look completely amazing. I thought I only needed to lose about 20 pounds, but it turns out that post baby the old bod doesn't snap back quite as gracefully. Sigh.

2. The never ending front yard project is about to end. Nuff said.

3. The Kraken is staunchly refusing to potty train, despite early evidence that she would take to it like a duck to water.

Other than that, it's business as usual. I feel like I should have a lot to report, but on the other hand, all I have done of late is eat diet cereal bars, beg a 2 1/2 year old to tell us BEFORE she poops that she's about to poop, instead of plaintively asking for her pull up to be changed after filling it up with hazardous waste, and digging holes in the dirt for various and sundry landscaping improvements. I will post a picture of my new and improved self when I get down to my (original) goal weight. And of the front yard when it no longer looks like the dumpster behind the neighborhood Home Depot.

And hopefully I will actually be able to catch up on all of your blogs and find out what's been going on in the universe while I've been awol like a Heroes fan rewatching the whole first season waiting for Origins to start (uh, not that I've been doing that or anything....).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The gift that keeps on giving

The Kraken's Mother's Day gift to me? After three hours of listening to her sing the ABC song, and STILL no nap, the Minotaur went up in dejected defeat to retrieve her from the confines of her crib. She met him at the door. When asked how she got out of the crib, she informed me "One day, I fell down in bed".

We are now on day three in the toddler bed, and she LOVES IT. I am not telling you she goes to sleep any more quickly, or wakes later in the morning, but at least (so far) she is actually staying in it, and begs to go to bed at night. I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon enough and I'll be chasing her all over the house at 2 in the morning, but for now she seems to have made an effortless transition.

So why do I feel so sad when I go in and check on her in the quiet dark? When I look in, somehow still expecting to see my baby, and instead I see this long, lanky kid with her legs dangling off the bed below the crib rails. I'm sure I'll recover, but I hope it happens before I throw Weight Watchers out the window with only 8 pounds to go and demand of the Minotaur that he impregnate me right. effing. now.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

To all the mommas out there. I myself am one tired momma, and I am going to bed. It was a fairly relaxed Saturday, so all I did was:

1. roast a chicken and make the accompanying tomatillo cilantro sauce
2. Make chicken stock out of the roast chicken carcass
3. Plant two boxwoods and clear a garbage can's worth of debris from the yard
4. Four loads of laundry
5. Squeeze 30 lemons for lemonade
6. Weed (inbetween thunderstorms)
7. Chase a Kraken around the mall playground until she collapsed, sobbing for chicken nuggets
8. Purchase all the fixings for a succulent garden to go in the front yard

Which leaves only 23 items on the household to do list left undone. I know. I need to learn to let stuff go. But in the meantime, there had better be some flowers in the morning.

And now, for the first time ever on this blog, pictorial evidence that the Kraken truly does exist.


Saturday, May 5, 2007

I'm back.

Has it really been almost a month since I posted? I feel woefully out of touch. So much has happened, and so little has changed.

I am now 10 pounds down, after a month and a half on Weight Watchers. This feels like good progress to me, especially as my face looks suddenly very different in the mirror.

The Minotaur and I have been engaged in non-stop landscaping adventures, which is largely why I've been out of touch - every spare nap moment has been engaged in outdoor hijinks. Ladies, I have a TAN from this madness. Me, with a tan. It doesn't bear thinking about!

The Kraken has not been sleeping. This is not a new pattern - we've certainly seen it before, but combined with her current short fuse and shrieking vocal skills, my patience has been stretched to its limit. Fortunately.......

The company I work for has recently decided that it needs to do something to promote the health and fitness of its employees besides just offering health and dental. I know that many companies are doing this these days, but I don't know how many companies the size of mine are doing so (we are getting bigger, but we are not huge). Anyway, after a week long competition to see who could generate the most 'steps' on an all-day-worn pedometer, they are now bringing in this amazing Amazon of a woman (the wife of one of our employees) to put us through a workout twice a week. That's right. Work sanctioned, work financed exercise. It has jarred me into returning to my old working out ways, to ensure that I don't look like a complete idiot when we are all working out together. I am so very, very grateful, and for the first time in almost four years, my body is starting to look familiar to me in the mirror.

That's really all my news. We are in full home improvement mode while the weather is nice but not chokingly hot, and I am 10 pounds away from the goal weight that I set for attempting a second pregnancy. I have a feeling it will be a very interesting fall.....

Friday, April 13, 2007

Long Time No Blog

I feel like I've been away forever. Truly, the Minotaur's home-by-six schedule is not good for my blogging habits.

I'm still on Weight Watchers - I'm almost 4 weeks in, and down 8 pounds. I seem to be on a lose one week, lose nothing the next routine, but at least it is coming off. I am beginning to see the difference in my face in the mirror, and in the number of horizontal lines creating that attractive accordion look across my midsection. It's progress.

At the moment, I'm waiting for my green curry chicken and rice to heat up on the stove while I snarf down a red wine lemonade (thanks, Sugarmama) made with Splenda syrup instead of simple syrup. Believe it or not, it does not suck. And the Splenda means I can have 2. Isn't dieting great? The way it forces you to be creative about the way you prepare things so you can......drink more.

In all seriousness, I do feel like I'm starting to get a little of my swagger back. Eight pounds isn't much when you think about my total goal loss of about 30, but I've always been one of those people whose brain functions cyclically - I am motivated by progress. It has been at least a year since I looked in the mirror and thought "dang, that looks good" in anything, as opposed to, "well, as long as there's no wind, and I stand perfectly straight, this at least doesn't make me look like a great horned toad". I am not a tall person. 30 extra pounds on a more Amazonian woman might not make much of a difference. On me, it turns my normally hourglass physique into one of those Russian nesting dolls. I am ready to feel like myself again.

Naptime on the weekend is prime blogging time. Unfortunately, right now it's also prime landscaping time, so I may continue to be a little ghostly in the blogosphere until the front yard is finished. But I will be back. And once I am sufficiently sexy, I will post pictures.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Worst case scenario

As an arachnophobic? Getting into your car at the end of a difficult work day to find a slim stretch of spiderweb across the driver's side of your car. Because that's a 100% guarantee that there is a spider loose in your car. I barely made it home today, and I threw up a little every time I thought about it.

In other news, almost two weeks into Weight Watchers I am 6 pounds down. Still a little mean, but more manageable with some actual results to show for my sacrifice. How sad it is that the whole point of this diet is to get thin enough to get fat and pregnant again? The Kraken has asked, rather pointedly, for a sibling, and who am I to deny the needs of the Kraken?

In other, other news. Tonight, while blowing bubbles, I insinuated, playfully, that I might steal some of the beloved Minotaur's bubble stuff, while he was earnestly planting grass plugs in the side yard. The Kraken's response? Momma! You can't take Daddy's bubble stuff! No ma'am!". I don't feel at all embarrassed to say I spit out the contents of my tasty evening beverage onto the back patio, which of course resulted in "no ma'am's" right up until bedtime. Who needs a parrot when you have a two year old?

I will be back soon, in force. I am processing a lot of information, and dealing with some issues that are outside the limits of this blog, but am otherwise whole and well. My grandmother's house sold today - its own set of issues. Relief for my mother and aunt, surprising sadness that I will never set foot in it again. And I am dieting, which is never good for my psyche. Giving up cigarettes oh so many years ago was hard enough. Compromising on food seems almost inhuman. I think I'll go have another gin and (diet, yeech) tonic.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I am bitchy, hear me roar

I'm back on Weight Watchers. I am, as my mother would say, "mean as a striped ass spider". I will be back in a few days when I feel I can be civil instead of Sybil.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I take it back

I've just remembered what I DON'T like about spring. The Kraken, ever sensitive to small changes in her environment, does not deal well with daylight savings time. Normally asleep by 7:45, she is now aimlessly slamming her legs against the wall in a slow, funerary dirge-like rhythm. It is almost 9 PM. Yes, I know that's just almost 8 PM where she's used to being, but trust me. She was slumped in my arms while reading her final story this evening. She's bloody tired. And stubborn. And I've just remembered that she uses daylight as her cue to wake for the day, meaning I'll be spending the next four months getting up at 5:45.

All I have to say garden better be pretty effing beautiful.

Sunday morning

A short post, this morning, as the Minotaur is still sleeping, and the Kraken is wreaking havoc on her play kitchen directly behind me.

It's supposed to be 67 degrees today. I have four azalea bushes sitting in my front yard, and a giant pile of cleared space from where I yesterday dragged four hideous unnamed shrubs. I have a baby mimosa tree on its way to me from a nursery in Tennessee, among other delightful plants. I have blisters on my hands from yesterday's digging and I can't wait to get outside today and do it again.

Soon I will be able to garden at all hours with impunity. The beloved NinnyPapa have purchased for the Kraken a giant walk in Dora playhouse, and I suspect the Kraken will formulate devious plots in it for hours while I dig in the dirt. It's going to be a nice spring.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

To All the Girls I've Loved Before

And to all of you who googled one of the worst duets of all time, please meander elsewhere, for you won't find what you need here.

For a variety of reasons, I lately find myself preoccupied with the idea of friendship. I have a husband trying hard to recover his own relationship with a man he once saw as a brother. I have a daughter developing into a human being with preferences about who she spends time with. And I have very recently received a letter from the neighbor of my dead grandmother, thanking me for acknowledging the friendship she shared with the old lady, as if that were somehow in question.

I think I have been fortunate in this life with the friendships I have been given, for the most part. At 36, I find myself still connected with some of the best women I have known in this life. I am grateful for this, and also very aware of why these particular women have "made the cut", and why I have made theirs. I know that at least part of it is related to the friendships themselves, which never suffered any of the dramatics or damage that some of my other friendships have endured. None of us stole each other's boyfriends, or .....well, back in the day that really was the only firing offense. But it's not that alone. It's also about the paths our lives have taken. Who ended up getting married and having children, or at least wanting to get married and having children? Who ended up showing disdain for the life that I have chosen, even though we walked the same pathways until only a few years ago? Who actually tried to make the friendship work when circumstances made it less effortless than it once was? The women I still have in my life are the ones whose paths mirror mine, but also chose to remember and cherish our history. The women like me, who remember who we were and don't disdain it, but also don't want to be back there.

All of this makes me think of the ones who got away, as it were. The ones I loved fiercely, but lost, for whatever reason. I don't believe it's possible to have a strong friendship with another woman and not feel the loss of it when it is gone, even if it's your decision to leave. To all the girls I loved before, here is what I learned from you.

1. Ali-cat. You were the first girl to call me friend and not call me freak. We were childhood friends in the truest sense --we experienced the ridiculous, inventive and dreamlike early years of our lives together. You were the reason I wasn't ridiculed at school. You were my grounding in reality, and my safe place. We moved away and left you behind, but for years every friend I had was held up to the cutting of your shadow I kept, like Wendy Darling, by my pillow. You gave me confidence.

2. Kathy. You and Wendy always loved each other more than you loved me, but you still made me part of your world. You shared with me, and were so very careful to call me as often as you called each other. You left notes in my locker. You gave me cards on Valentine's Day. You kept me from shutting down through two years of hell in Catholic school, and you stood behind me, quiet and strong, while I figured out who I was and how to fight for what I believed in. You showed me my own strength.

3. Alison. I never understood why you wanted to be my friend. You were 18, I was 14, and we were from different worlds. When you went away to college, you sent me letter after letter about the things you were experiencing, wonderful things. At the time I was too young and naive to see your bravado for what it was, and your stories gave me hope that there was life after high school. You made me mix tapes that changed my entire view of music. You gave me the black cape to wrap myself in when I went away to college myself, my ticket in.

4. Heather. You were always the "cooler" friend. You knew the names of everyone in all the bands I loved, and knew when they would be playing at the club downtown. You had already been "cool" in high school, and had no need to use college as a tool to reinvent yourself. You took me in, and validated me with your friendship. You asked for nothing in return except for mine, not at all the bad teen movie scenario that would have been if Hollywood had been writing this friendship. You loved me, and I loved you, until your own self-loathing led you down a path that I could not follow, and we drifted apart, quietly and without drama or fanfare. You gave me my first adult friendship with another woman, and the skills to build more.

5. Wanna Blessed Be. A pseudonym, and the first I've used here. The woman in question is someone who has tried very hard in the not so distant past to do damage to the life I have built for myself, and I will not give her more tools than I have to that would allow her to find me in this place. We were friends because we worked together. Sometimes you worked for me, and sometimes just near me, but for a long time we enjoyed the solidarity that comes from being outside the norm while working inside it. We shared many of the same views, and we shared many of our secrets. You were involved in many of the most significant events in my adult life - you were at my wedding, and at the hospital after the birth of the Kraken. Time passed, and even while we saw each other every day our lives took different directions. Mine became more stable and comfortable, while yours unraveled. Events transpired that I don't feel comfortable conveying here, and you betrayed me. More than once. Something that very few women I have loved in this life have done. You shook my faith in my own intuition.

6. Lori. We also met at work, and our lives could not have been more different. You were the girl that went to the fraternity parties, and wore sweatshirts and baseball hats to the office. I was the girl wearing the wig to hide the fact that her hair was pink. Circumstances drove us to friendship, and I worked harder for yours than I have for any other friendship I have had in this life. You made me fight for every revelation, every understanding, every vulnerability. But eventually, you became one of the best friends I have ever had. No one has ever made me laugh the way you did, or allowed me (nay, encouraged) me to be so silly. And when my heart was broken by a jerk you hated, you still dropped what you were doing and drove across town to drink margaritas with me and tell me he was a jerk. You moved. Not far away, only 40 minutes or so, but it might as well have been over the ocean. The timing was terrible, with your job, and my job, and my meeting the Minotaur so soon thereafter that everyone's time became precious and scarce. You were in my wedding, and you soon thereafter married the man you presented to me for the first time at the rehearsal dinner. I sat on the beach at your wedding, 8 months pregnant, so incredibly grateful that after all the imbeciles you had dated, you had managed to marry the only one I had ever felt comfortable with. You gave me the first adult friendship I made OUTSIDE of college, and many, many years of good times.

This loss is the one I am feeling so powerfully now, because she is only 40 minutes away, and because my love for her is still very strong. We did not part ways due to any emnity of spirit, we just chose different roads. She and her husband work all the time, and have no children (nor any desire to have any). My life is as alien to her as hers is to mine. When we do meet, it's strained, awkward, because our context for each other is several years out of date. We talk, but we never meet where we used to meet - right in the middle, with hilarious consequences. I read her blog, without commenting, so that I can feel at least some connection to her. I love her. I will always love her. No matter how many years in a row she forgets my birthday, or how much time passes since the heyday of our friendship. Like an old love whose letters are hidden in a box under your bed, she'll always be the one who got away.

SugarMama, Piece of Work, and Steel Magnolia, you have no vignettes in this story. This story is about the women who changed my life and then exited, stage left. Your scene is still running, ladies, and I don't plan on giving you permission to leave the theatre anytime soon.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A hundred little things

I haven't posted this week, mainly because my thoughts are so scattered. Something happens, and my brain processes an entire post about it, and then within an hour it's gone, to be replaced by something else. I can't get my head in one place right now.

My parents have just left after a 4 day extravaganza. I swear, I actually cried as long as the Kraken did when they left. It's SO hard to watch her enjoy them and vice versa, knowing that the next time they'll get to do so will be at least two months from now. At least we finally got some time together that was only marginally impacted by outside events. As my mother says "every time we've had a visit planned for the last year and a half, some old lady has ended up either going to the hospital or going down the tubes". ER nurses have quirky humor. Especially when you consider that our most recent example of this phenomenon has been her own mother.

Nice segue, that. I have almost finished filling my grandmother's china cabinet. My own wedding crystal and assorted pretty things look so strange behind glass, with lights, after almost four years locked up in a cabinet. Even stranger was the arrival of my grandmother's Japanese tea set to take its position in the front and center. This is an incredibly beautiful and delicate hand painted set, bone china so thin that you cannot believe anyone was able to hold it long enough to paint it. My great uncle Gerald brought it back from his tour of duty during WWII. I have loved it all my life, and now that I can see it every day, it makes me cry. I am processing. I am realizing that my own grief might be a little less complicated than I thought it was.

The Kraken is not having a good day. When she went to sleep, the beloved "NinnyPapa", as she calls them (like they are some sort of two headed hydra of love) were comfortably ensconced in the spare room like they had been since Saturday. When she awoke, the bed was made, the floor was clean, and there was no sign that they had ever been here except for the Dora lunchbox in the toy box and the extra groceries in the fridge. Needless to say, the dropoff at preschool this morning was not one of our better moments. She is at the store with the Minotaur at the moment, and hopefully by the time she returns she will be more amenable to being hugged by her lame, stupid, boring, extraneous Gorgon of a mother. Sheesh. Oh, yes, did I mention that she's decided to cut ALL FOUR of her final molars at the same time? Good times are rolling, oh yes they are.

I helped someone today. There is a person I know who is fairly regularly cranky, and can be taken past the point of frustration to DefCon5 (is that the highest one? It's been a long time since War Games) with relative ease. When he does, it's nigh unto impossible to bring him back. He approached me in full panic mode, and I soothed him back into remission with my own tranquility. Those of you who know me will know that tranquility is not one of my strong suits - I just had one of those moments, you know? The ones where you know, somehow, what you must do, like using the Force, except without anything flying around and making you look all kick ass and powerful. And I calmed him. And I felt good about it. And calming him calmed me.

Also on the plus side of the equation (ooooh, a math metaphor!), our money situation has been significantly improved by a very nice tax return and a series of fortunate events. My mammogram results came back clean, and we finally finished redecorating the spare room. The house is finally starting to look less like a band of mad chimps raided a Pier 1 outlet store and scattered their stash around a conveniently located squat. All of these things are good.

My guests will be arriving soon, expecting Argentinian flatbread with black bean spread, red peppers and chimichurri drizzle. I'll sign off for now. Maybe next week I'll be more cohesive, coherent. And maybe not.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Things you never want to hear from the radiology tech doing your mammogram

1. Hmmmm. I think we're going to need to go get the bigger tray. I'm a little concerned you will fall over the sides.

2. Well, this certainly would have been more difficult before you had children!

3. I don't think this will be too uncomfortable for you because your tissue is fairly stretchy.

4. Are you actually nursing now?

And the sad part about all this funny is that it's not exactly the kind of stuff you can share in the break room at the office, you know? So, you guys are the lucky recipients. And I am going to go sit with my sore girls and watch a little Heroes. And before anyone worries, this was just a routine, baseline exam. There's nothing wrong.

Friday, February 9, 2007

It's Friday night

This evening, I asked the Minotaur to help me open a can of cat food because its handy flip top had gone awry. The Kraken saw the Minotaur executing a Mommy task, and the following hilarity ensued.

Kraken "Daddy, no. No touching"
Minotaur "Kraken,, I'm helping Mommy"
Kraken "Daddy, no. It's Mommy's turn. It's MOMMY'S TURN".
Minotaur "Kraken, Mommy needed some help. I'm helping Mommy".
Kraken "Daddy, just walk away. Just walk away!"

And no, I didn't teach her that. The joys of preschool. I spit out my drink at that last one. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I needed that today - the day itself was not one of my more stellar ones, despite a variety of positive things going on in the Gorgonverse at the moment.

Tomorrow I have a ladies' night with my regular fall beach trip crew, and I'm very much looking forward to that. Tonight, I'm mostly hoping I can shut my brain off long enough to get some sleep.

Friday Morning

Waiting in my house for the (late) appraiser to come and tell me if my house is worth enough for the refinance that we're trying to finangle.

I've been out of pocket this week as we try to finish the remodel on the guest room before my parents arrive next weekend for a visit. It is yellow. Boy, is it yellow. I suspect that sleeping in there is going to be something like sleeping inside the sun. But, at least it no longer looks like blind monkeys painted it, so it's a start.

Last night - one of those "eh?" moments in parenting that I'm sure you've all experienced. You're on the floor, playing this game with your daughter - you stick your tongue out, and she tries frantically to grasp and pull your tongue ring out, foiled at every turn by the general sliminess of tongues, laughing hysterically and shrieking "I can't get it, I can't get it!".

Yep. A real Walton's moment, I tell you.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Martha Stewart I am not

A gross error in judgment finds me still sitting up minding a boiling pot for a delicious but time consuming dish with chicken and sausage and fresh marjoram. I didn't remember until 1 1/2 hours into the process why I never make said delicious dish. Three. hours. of. prep. time. Sigh.

An addendum to my previous husband's emotional response to the death of my grandmother? To ask me when I think I will be ready to try to have another baby. Interesting. I thought it was usually the woman who had that kind of reaction, but with the Minotaur, you just never know.

And the answer soon as I lose the ass I obtained from having the first one. Hopefully, sometime later this year. The Kraken's ever more sophisticated sentence structure leaves me longing for babyness. Today's contribution? After I put her hair in pigtails for the first time in many months, placing hands to head in abject confusion...."Mommy? I got a haircut?".


Well, we're home. Three days in the mountains, a funeral and about 100 Dora the Explorer videos later, we're home. Just in time to head back to work.

My mother is hanging in there. She is still very much in what we've always called "nurse mode" around our house (my mother is an RN - she and my father met in the emergency room of the hospital she was working at). She is very busy dealing with the details, and making sure everyone else is being provided a sufficient outlet for their grief. Of course, this begs the question, when will she deal with her own? My guess is that a few months from now, when my uncle has been placed in a group care facility, the house has been sold, and the rest of the details are finally dealt with, she will allow herself the luxury of loss, but not a moment before.

The funeral was not as horrible as it could have been. My brother provided his usual dose of levity during the receiving the night before, by trying to coax the six year old son of our cousin to look under the curtains surrounding the coffin to find out what was underneath. Gallows humor it might be, but we all needed a little break. All of my grandmother's home care providers came to pay their respects. After this many months, some of them had come to feel like family to us, and certainly to her.

I won't dwell on the awkwardness of trying to find a way to tell my cousin that it was ridiculous that my two year old was better behaved during the weekend's events than her 11 year old and almost 7 year old. Or on the incredible discomfort I left looking through her jewelry and trying to find pieces that reminded me of her that I would want to pass on to the Kraken someday. Everyone who's ever lost anyone knows how surreal those moments are, how detached from time.

Instead, I choose to marvel at the gift this woman gave her daughters in the last months of her life. She was cantankerous. She was obsessive compulsive. She was neurotic. But she was very, very sick, and the effort involved in escorting her through her end days brought my mother and my aunt to a state of union and harmony that I am not sure they have ever experienced, having all their lives walked on opposite sides of the fence. It is an amazing thing to witness, when you are used to sniping and long, measured pauses before responses, to suddenly see hands on shoulders, and heads ducked to ears in comfort and consolation.

I choose to remember that this woman, no matter what horror led her to leave her family behind at 13 and start a new one without ever looking back, lived in love with the same man for 50 years. Not something that happens every day.

I choose not to dwell on all the times I felt frustration with her, and all the huge life issues we couldn't agree on. I choose instead to think about all the times we watched the same Robin Williams movie at Thanksgiving because it was the only movie in her collection that didn't have Elvis in it.

I choose to think about all the pranks I played on her, because she so loved the attention. I choose to remember that I made the trek every year, and called her every week, and never forgot her birthday, even when she got so old and distracted that she forgot mine.

I choose to admire her. As different as we were, and as much as we sometimes didn't understand each other. She survived the Depression, almost certainly childhood abuse, the devastating and permanent incapacitation of her only son, and the loss of the love of her life. She was old, she was crazy, and she was a Republican, for pity's sake. But she was a tough old bird, and I loved her.

Whatever my own beliefs about the afterlife, I hope he was waiting for you, old lady. In his sailor's uniform, the way you always remembered him.

Monday, January 22, 2007

It's Over

The definition of crappy drive home: crying in the driver's seat over the death of your grandmother in the morning while your daughter screams in the back seat because she misses her own grandmother, who left on the morning flight to go home and get the paperwork she needed to prepare for my grandmother's death.

As she did in all things in this life, the old bat (as she was fondly called) chose her own time, and the doctors be damned. In late October they gave her days or weeks to live. On January 22 she finally left us, only after she had finished all the things she wanted to finish, said goodbye to everyone she loved, driven at least one of the home health care workers to quit because of her obsessive compulsion about the placement of objects on counters and the arrangement of tupperware in cabinets, and (most importantly, I think) survived the anniversary of her husband's death one last time.

I have never seen a human being in so much visible pain, and I hope I never do again. I have made the appropriate pacts with my mother and sister in law that we will put pillows over each other's faces before allowing any of us to die like that. I am amazed that she had the strength of will to stay alive through that for anything, but she did. When the extended family left the house yesterday, she began to slip away. She never said another word after we walked out the door. Just quietly struggled for breath until the morphine and the tumor carried her out into deep water.

It is now up to us to settle her affairs. And decide whether to continue the search for clues about what made this woman leave home at 13, never to return or speak to her family again.

My own feelings aside, my heart is breaking for my own poor momma, and with the knowledge that one day I will hold her hand while she dies - something I cannot even fathom without struggling for breath myself.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Random Friday Musings

It's amazing how much more tempting, say,maple sugar candy is when you have made the decision to be deliberate about losing weight. Plus, my god, is there anything more delicious in the world? I don't think so, with the possible exception of cheesecake, coffee, and cigarettes. I haven't had a cigarette in years, but the others I enjoy whenever I can. I feel sad to be limiting these things, but really, my hindquarters are growing quite alarming.

I feel completely out of touch with my blog right now. Circumstances of late last year caused me to feel very uncomfortable posting anything of much significance, and I almost dropped the habit entirely. But everytime I consider that, something happens in the news and I wonder "What would Phantom say about that?" Or I see a happy female couple with a young child (like I did in the mall this evening) andI muse to myself...."Could that be Crunchy Granola and Politica?" I have these little moments all the time, constant reminders that there are people I would not wish to part ways with - many of them. And so here I am, promising to try, at least, to be here more often.

My holiday was mostly uneventful, which is a blessing. The visit to the in-laws was a little less stressful than it often is. My MIL slept most of our visit. The Minotaur and I talked some more about her probable depression and her refusal to seek help for it, but other than that, we mostly focused only on spending time with his brothers and their families - always a pleasant experience.

The Kraken did us the unbelievable favor of adjusting to Pacific time in a day when we departed to visit my own family, a far cry from last year's daily 4AM wakings. She charmed the masses with her potty using, big sentences,and liberal application of open mouthed kisses. Two feet of snow and the Kraken was able to flail her tentacles in it for the very first time, a sight worth seeing.

And also? When traveling across the country on an airplane, a portable DVD player and a large stack of Dora videos can mean the difference between abject insanity and complete tranquility. The whole trip, you say? You betcha - and no stinking apologies, either. LOVED it. Read a book on the plane for the first time in 2 years, and everybody was happy.

Home improvement is in high gear around here. The blinds were just the beginning. My poor Minotaur - there is no rest for the handy. The guest room is our next target, to be decorated in 1980's comic book - don't ask. There are some concessions a Gorgon has to make in order to get her own way in every other room in the house.

I am no longer among the platinum tressed. I am a redhead once more, and let me tell you, I am feeling fairly fetching, at least in that regard.

Finally, last night the Minotaur came home with an early Valentine's present for me - a new iPod shuffle. Those of you who know me in the real world may know that I work in a very technical field, but am not what you would call an early adopter. Therefore, this is my first mp3 player, and my husband is having to patiently explain to me how to get music onto this tiny piece of metal and plastic the size of my thumbs pressed together. He bought it for me after I said I wanted to start running again, thinking that having music would help. That, people, is a connected series of thoughts, difficult for the average Minotaur, and very touching to the average Gorgon. His birthday present definitely just got bumped up a notch.

I am going to bed. No work on Monday, so I will get back on and catch up with all of you on how your worlds are shaping up. As the Kraken would say "That's it! All done! Good night! I' m going to bed!"

Saturday, January 6, 2007

I'm baaaack

And feeling beyond behind. Two weeks in the wilds and no looking at blogs at all - I might as well have been camping. I promise to catch up soon, and update everyone on how traveling with the two year old Kraken panned out, but for now I must go and admire the beautiful faux wood blinds the Minotaur just hung in the dining room to replace the Hogwarts-esque velvet curtains that were closing the room in and collecting cat fur like my ex collected phone numbers.

Truly. The blinds are beautiful. They make me irrationally happy, like Fall weather and small children in hats.

Hope you all are well.