Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Day in the Life of Trying to Concieve #2

5:55 A.M. Alarm goes off. I roll over, insert digital thermometer into my mouth, and wait for two minutes, until the tiny alarm on the thermometer alerts me that we’ve arrived at our final destination. Our final destination this morning: 96.5, a drop of 1.2 degrees. I commit this number to memory while going back to sleep.

6:05 Alarm goes off again.

6:15 Alarm goes off again.

6:25 Alarm goes off again. Cursing, I go to the bathroom, pee in a cup, and dip Joe’s Ovulation Predictor Kit El Cheapo Internet Test Strip. As it slowly turns pink, I get into the shower.

6:29 There is one obvious line (the control line) and one faint line (the test line.) This is the first time that I’ve seen anything resembling two lines on anything that I’ve peed on in nearly three years. While this may not actually indicate the required LH surge, I am understandably thrilled.

6:37 I shake Dan awake. “My ovulation predictor kit is almost positive,” I tell him. “Want to have a quickie before I go to work?” Dan opens one eye ¼ of the way, says “Okay…maybe later?” and falls back to sleep.

6:38 I eat Cheerios, get my cell phone and keys, and go to work.

8:17 I arrive at my office, log onto my computer, and open up Internet Explorer. I log onto the website that keeps track of things like my temperature, tests, and all of the hot procreative sex I’m having with my husband. The website refers to the hot procreative sex as “baby dancing.” I refer to dancing around uncomfortably outside a public restroom with only one stall while 8 ½ months pregnant as “baby dancing,” but whatever.

8:18 After entering all pertinent information about the location, texture, and relative openness of my girl parts, the internet gives me a tentative thumbs up to have more hot procreative sex.

11:23 I check the website again, to see if the internet has changed its mind. It’s still tentative, but a go.

2:49 Dan calls as he’s feeding Max lunch. “Did you offer me sex this morning? Did I turn you down?” Yes, and yes, cowboy. “Are we still on for later?” I briefly consider making him worry, but he knows me too well.

3:19 The internet has not yet changed its mind.

5:42 Email from Dan: a delicious dinner of hot dogs and leftover potato salad await me at home. There’s nothing like being romanced into giving up the hot procreative sex. I leave the office.

6:47 Hot dogs and potato salad. Kitchen cleanup. Laundry. Bath and bedtime for a two year old.

8:54 Don’t forget that Big Love is on tonight. The sight of Bill Paxton’s bare ass will not encourage romance, hot and procreative in nature or other, but we’ll power through.

10:13 Bwha-chicka bwha-bwha (imagine that this is porno music) chicka-chicka…

10-something (let’s not go into details, what do you say?) I find myself in a somewhat ridiculous pose involving the wall behind my bed and several pillows wedged under me, so as to gain maximum assist from gravity.

10-something-11:08 Swear several times about the relative discomfort of this position, think about the many years I spent involved with the comparably uncomplicated task of trying to NOT get pregnant, and consider the irony.

11:09 Drink of water. Set alarm for 5:55 again. Make sure digital thermometer is someplace within easy groping distance with one eye open at the obscene hour of 5:55 A.M. Wonder if all of this is for nothing, the first time was a fluke, and I'll never get pregnant again. Worry about whether all the wondering is what's keeping me from getting pregnant. Worry about worrying.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bad Molly, No Biscuit.

The tenth-most popular search term hit on "The Nonhipster Mom" is "Bad Molly."

Seriously, Mom: stop reading my blog.

Monday, June 25, 2007

So I'm Spoiled. So Kill Me.

25 Things I Cannot Live Without

1. 600-thread-count sheets
2. Bilbo's Salad Dressing (I have my mother mail it to me)
3. Fresh local produce
4. Max Kisses
5. HBO on Demand
6. The Most Enormous Couch Ever
7. High Speed Internet
8. Work
9. Target
10. El Tapatio on Kenilworth Ave. in Bladensburg
11. My food processor
12. Wikipedia
14. Air conditioning
15. Baseball
16. Cheese
17. The smell of bacon
18. Cell phone
19. Fantasies about Edward Norton (I have no idea why, except that he's brainy and talented, and brainy and talented is totally hot to me.)
20. Trina's rants about name spellings
21. Caipirhinias (thanks Merseydoats!)
22. Sunday Brunch in Old Town
23. Telling guests that the Washington Monument is called the Washington Post
24. "Heartburn" by Nora Ephron
25. Ice cream cake from Coldstone Creamery

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Is anybody watching "John From Cincinnati" on HBO Sunday nights? Kelly Ripa Consuelos, that's an AMAZING show. But mostly, nobody's heard of it. It premiered after the finale of "The Sopranos" and probably most people were so pissed off after seeing that that they turned on "Boston Legal" or something instead. We watched it and the themes of redemption and salvation and general weirdness are fascinating, especially to religiously-mystified me.

Also, I've become minorly obsessed with "Big Love." I have never ever liked Chloe Sevigney, and her "performance" in Brown Bunny (and why yes, I am referring to the tromboner recital with that repellent toad Vincent Gallo) only cemented that opinion. I think she generally looks like a train wreck and isn't that great an actress, but I just love her in this show. I also really like Jeanne Tripplehorn and I think she's great in this. But the show has made me do a bunch of reading and research about Mormonism and polygamy and the history of both, and while I'm not going to suggest that Dan and I find a 20-year-old "babysitter" and start our own compound, I can actually see that people believed (and still believe) in the principle, beyond the yucky, 80-year-old men "marrying" sixteen-year-old girl thing. Believe me, though, there's some pervy creeps out there who just don't want to limit themself to having just one, and they all seem to have blogs.

I am not down with sharing my husband, but there are times when another wife would be a huge load off my back, especially when she's the kind of wife who would be willing to do laundry and pick up after me. I need a wife too.

My mother is in town. She hates any kind of background noise, so she goes around turning off the TV and fans (and the air conditioner!) and then immediately falls asleep sitting upright at the kitchen table in the resounding silence. She could make a cup of coffee nervous. And that is why I'm not taking any time off while she's here.

My wonderful ergonomically-correct keyboard has ceased to function. My hands hurt. Seacrest out.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I Can't Seem to Stop Crying

Please stop by sweetsalty and read Kate's account of the death of her one-month-old son, Liam.

Then go and hug your kids.

Out of the Office

I spent most of yesterday doing at least one of the following: on a conference call on my cell phone with Max on my lap and "Blue's Clues" on mute; answering email or text messages while preparing a sippy cup, or throwing laundry into the dryer while composing a press release in my head.

Our daycare provider flaked (Goddammit, $150 a week and we still provide all his meals, he never gets a nap, usually comes home fairly grubby, learns lovely phrases like "SHUT UP!" from her teenaged sons, and on the last two days before summer vacation she's going out of town? Thanks for nothing.) and so I stayed home with him yesterday. Today Dan took him to school with him for the last day, and I hope I don't sound like TOO awful a parent when I say I'm relieved.

I spent the first 14 months at home with Max, mostly alone. I was horribly bored. I watched too much TV. I cooked entirely too much extravagent food, and ate too much of what I cooked. I smothered Max with attention and planned elaborate age-inappropriate outings out of my own boredom and my worrying that Max would be bored. I spent too much money.

I love being a parent and a mom. I feel totally irreplaceable in my son's eyes. Obviously, I love him more than I ever thought it was possible to love anyone.

But: I also love having something for myself. I love my stressful, fast-paced job that I'm good at and that pushes me every day to be better at. Truth be told, I'd never take a vacation if I didn't occasionally need to recharge and spend some time with my family.

I feel a little conflicted about all the time I spend away from Max, and, to a lesser extent, from Dan. Weekends go so fast, and too much of them is tied up with things like going to the grocery store and doing laundry and catching up on the emailing and phone calls that I don't get around to during the week. All of this conflict causes most of the anxiety I've been feeling over the past six months.

Dan, on the other hand: he is a teacher. He teaches ninth grade English, and his job is land-mined with all of the typical annoyances of Teacherland: bad kids. Annoying parents. Apathetic administrators. A competitive job market. Continuing education. Getting a cold eight times a year from the little walking petri dishes that he teaches.

It's June and it's the last day of school and Dan needs a break in a big way. Don't get me wrong. He loves his job just as much as I love mine. He loves it for all the right reasons, plus some very Dan-like responsible-adult reasons, like the great health insurance.

Okay, that's me. I love it for the great health insurance. But he likes that a lot too.

But truth be told, if teaching were a 12-month job, I don't know that he'd still be in it, or at least as perpetually in love with it as he is. Teaching comes with a high burnout rate, and every year, around January or February, I can see him beginning to wear down a little, beginning to count the weeks until June. I feel bad for him, especially because I love my job year-round.

By far the bulk of the parenting jobs fall on Dan's back now that I'm back at work. He's better at them anyway. I am far less likely to crawl around on the floor on all fours than he is. I am much more likely to tune out while reading a blog or a magazine while the kitchen burns and Max declares "Hot! Mama, hot!" "Uh-huh! That's right, Buddy! Hot!" *Flip page.*

Okay, that's an exaggeration. But not a huge one.

Dan will make sure that dinner is at least started when I get home. He has already begun planning out an elaborate weekly schedule that will ensure that Max gets to the Zoo, one of the Smithsonian museums, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, the library, the aquarium, and feeding the ducks on the Potomac in Alexandria at least once. And because Dan is so comepletely Dan-ish, I'm sure that the floors will all be vaccummed, laundry done and put away, and nary a dish in the sink. He'll do it without complaint--he'll probably do it with zeal. With zest, even.

Shit. Was I supposed to be doing all of that stuff when I was at home with Max? Because mostly I was watching re-runs of "Dawson's Creek" on TBS and pretending to be Carmela Soprano while cooking elaborate and authentic versions of bracciole using recipes painstakingly researched on the internet and selected for their ability to dirty every dish in the house, while developing a nervous twitch in my right eyelid.

I went back to work because I felt like my brain was growing mold, and also, we were out of money. I stay at work because I'm good at my job. Also, if I didn't, we might have to move to a less savory neighborhood than we currently live in, and I'm not sure that exists.

But also, I am lucky enough to have a husband who's great at the things that made me not such a great stay-at-home mother. I am lucky to have married a guy who complements me so well. I remember to pay the electric and cable and cell phone bills; Dan would forget these things until they actually turned them off. Together, we keep the wheels turning.

Wood at Sweet Juniper wrote about why she wears the pants this week, and I know exactly what she means. I don't think Dan would make it in an atmosphere like the one I work in: constantly up against a deadline, constantly in pursuit of continued funding.

I feel quite certain, after yesterday, that I wouldn't make it in his atmosphere either.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Pink Cell Phone

In the midst of an outrageously busy weekend, we signed a contract for new cell phone service. My husband and I don't impulse-buy gum or magazines like a normal consumer, we commit to two years with a cell phone company. The deal was really kind of a ridiculously good one, considering that we make most of our phone calls from work anyway, rarely call each other, and barely need cell phones as it is. Max broke my cell phone back in December, and I hadn't bothered to replace it until now, which just goes to show how in need of a cell phone I wasn't.

But this one is fancy. It's pink. And it has a camera. I didn't really care about the camera, and I actually would have preferred some color other than pink, but there was only one left in silver, and even as secure in his manhood as he is, it didn't seem fair to make Dan take the pink phone. So it was take the pink phone, which was free, or pay $10 for an even fancier phone than this one. I sort of questioned the need for all the fanciness already, and I wasn't in need of a music player, or a phone that would walk next to me to the Metro in the morning, or whatever this other phone purported to do. So, I went with the pink.

I had no idea how much fun I would be having with this phone by the time we reached the checkout lanes at Evil Sam's Club. I don't really like Sam's Club, because I don't really like WalMart, but they do have great meat for good prices, and enormous boxes of diapers--all things that we need. And, as it turns out, they have free cell phones with sensible plans that they actually paid us to take. And the free cell phones have cameras.

Here's Max with Dan's old cell phone. See?

Max got a haircut last week. I miss his curls.

I also borrowed a good digital camera from work for the weekend. Here's Max's cat.

On Sunday, Dan and I drove over to Arlington to meet my cousin Dan (known in our family as "Other Dan" to differentiate him from my husband) and Other Dan's middle son, Davey, who is 12. When it comes to restaurants, Davey likes bacon cheeseburgers, Subway, and Starbucks. Don't offer him any Thai or Mexican food. They were visiting from Michigan, and evidently arrived at their hotel in Dupont Circle just in time for the D.C. Pride parade. Other Dan was suitably impressed by what he referred to as "Cirque du So Gay." We went to The Tombs in Georgetown for Brunch. Bacon cheeseburgers for everybody!

Remember "The Exorcist?" Father Whatsisface fell down these stairs at the end:

That's Other Dan and Davey walking down the stairs. I tried to convince Davey to lay on the ground at the bottom of the stairs so I could take his picture, but being twelve and never having seen "The Exorcist," he didn't get it.

We also went to the National Zoo. Dan and Davey, both being animal lovers, take the Zoo very seriously. Here they are, planning out our route. Other Dan is on the phone with his girlfriend, Stephanie. She's on vacation in Israel.

The funny thing about the National Zoo--no matter where you are or which way you're walking, it's all uphill. Here's everyone looking tired, except for Max. Giddyup, bitches.

This is the second version of this picture I took. Dan and Other Dan made me take it again, so that they could "Suck it in."

This will probably be featured in the Newland Family Calendar 2008. My mother lives for family moments like this one, with all the boys sucking in their bacon cheeseburgers.

Max fell asleep in the car on the way home after the zoo. He missed his nap.

The bad news is, it was 6 p.m. when he fell asleep, so we had to wake him back up just so that he could eat dinner, take a bath, and then pass out like we'd anesthetized him.

Yesterday, on the way home from work, I took this picture with my new pink cell phone:

Like I should be surprised or something? C'est la vie.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Ten Years

In ten years, I have never walked into a church without thinking of Mark.

Mark died ten years ago next week, on Friday the 13th of June, 1997. He was 31, the same age that I am now. He was survived by his parents, his brother Bryan, his wife Julie, and his four-month-old son James.

I have never missed him more than I do right now.

Mark was the youth director at the church that I attended and I know that he sensed my ambivalence toward religion. I know he would be sad to know that my ambivalence only multiplied after he died. I know that a lot of people who loved Mark found comfort in their faith after his death. I was not comforted. I felt abandoned.

At the time that Mark died, I was deeply depressed. I talked a little about that depression a couple weeks ago, here. I was beginning to understand how deeply depressed I was and that I would not shake it on my own. Mark knew I was troubled, but he knew me well enough to know that I would talk when I was ready.

I was almost ready. I drove past his office that morning, but his car wasn't there. Later that afternoon, Joy called me from Tennessee to give me the bad news.

There is an urban myth about the song "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor. In the lyrics of the song, he says, "Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone/Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you."

The legend was that Taylor was hospitalized for depression, and his friends, hoping to bolster him, flew his fiancé across the country to see him. The plane crashed and she died, and the song was a tribute to her.

It never happened, of course—I mean, he was hospitalized, and Suzanne was a friend of his who committed suicide, but "flying machines in pieces on the ground" referred to the breakup of Taylor's band The Flying Machine.

Nevertheless, that song always made me think of Mark, because I was deep in a lonely time when I could not find a friend, and trying so, so hard to fight my way out of the dark, and I thought I had time. I thought I had time to pull myself together and deliver myself to Mark's doorstep, and he would sort me out, just like he had throughout my adolescence.

That's the thing: I always thought that I'd see him again. I waved at him and Julie and Jamie walking to their car from across the parking lot after church, then I got into my own car and drove away, because I always thought that I'd see him again. And then he was gone, just gone, and I had to accept it.

In accepting it, I found that I could accept other things, like: when the boy that you like decides he likes your best friend enough to marry her, you can either be a real bitch about it and make everybody miserable, or you can just fucking cowboy up and be a friend and support them and be happy for them, and fake it until you make it. And, when the next boy you like turns out to be schizophrenic, you can accept that probably under no circumstances was he going to be an acceptable life partner, especially when he's not ready to seek treatment.

Mark's legacy to me is that when he died, I turned a corner. I learned so much more from his death than I did from his life, which is so sad, so unbelievably sad. I would have liked so much to have known him for a longer time, to still know him. He would have liked my husband. He would have loved my son. He would have continued to push me to know myself better. He would have continued to force me to be honest with myself and real with the people around me. He would tell me when to get over myself and when to stop feeling sorry for myself and to have a little faith, just some belief in something bigger than me.

A couple weekends ago, my in-laws were visiting. I love them, I do, but they're like trying to eat an entire jar of pickles in one sitting. There is such a thing as too many pickles. On Saturday afternoon, we drove down to Point Lookout, where there's a state park with a fishing pier. My mother-in-law was tired and she set up her folding chair in the shade on the beach. Dan and his dad and Max and I walked out on the fishing pier. At the end of the pier there was an old man with a guitar, and he was playing "Fire and Rain" and singing so unbelievably sweetly that I buried my face in Max's hair and let the tears come down, because it was a sunny day I thought would never end, and that song always makes me think of times when I never thought I'd see another one. The people I love most in the world were so close that I could touch them. There was a school of stingrays circling in the water of the Chesapeake below us, and they were so graceful and beautiful. I'd never seen them in the wild before. There were turns and gulls flying, and the air smelled like salt. Max and I watched the stingrays together, and it was all just so good.

Jesus H. Christ, shut up, wouldja, big fake Ernest Hemingway? It's time to wrap this up for another year.

This year, on June 13th, I am going to take another pregnancy test. Everything on the chart that I keep is pointing towards me being pregnant, although that's been true a lot lately and so far, I haven't been. But I have high hopes. I have sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground. I've seen fire and rain and sunny days I thought would never end and lonely times when I couldn't find a friend. Next week, I'm hoping that I'll see two pink lines, and if I don't, we will continue to try.

I think that Mark would like that very much.

Are you speaking metaphorically?

One electrician to the other electrician, while drilling a hole through my office wall: "Alright, Ricky, let's act like guys and do some damage."

My Schedule is Tight. So are my Pants.

When tourist season hits D.C., it affects everything, including, it appears, my pants size. When people we love start to come to town, we show them that we love them by showing them all our favorite places to eat, including the Hebrew National stands outside of RFK. As a result, after about ten days with my inlaws and the God(ess)mama and God(ess)papa rolling in for surgery at the NIH, we're eating vastly too large quantities of fattening food. It's not that I don't know how to make good food choices in restaurants, it's that it's the Cheesecake Factory, where you celebrate not having to wait for three hours for a table by ordering 4,000 calories worth of cheesecake as your entree. Bad, bad Molly. So worth it, though, to watch Max, on the most intense sugar buzz of his short life, virtually vibrating in his booster seat while making noises usually associated with Beavis and Butthead as "Cornholio."

And this morning, an email from my mother: cousin Dan and his middle son Davey are coming into town for a little one-on-one father-son time some time this week or possibly next and would like to hook up with us. Dan's the closest cousin to me in age (9 years older than me) and now that he's cut his noxious shrew of an ex-wife loose, he's a real peach. But, this presents a couple of problems: God(ess)mama is, as I write this, probably bare-assed and prone on the altar of world-class neurosurgery with her endolymphatic sac exposed for all the world to see, looking forward to a few miserable days recovering in the MoCo before she can go home--this particular surgery will probably affect her balance, which in turn affects her tendency to throw up, and although I'm not much help to her when she's in the hospital and she gets lots of support from her rockstar husband and her mother, I feel like I should be available if they need us.

And then there's my job. Oh, my job. Morale around this place is falling like something that falls a lot, and around here, we demonstrate our committment and loyalty by working eighty-hour weeks. Riiiiight. Needless to say, I am not as committed as I should be, but rolling my eyes until they fall out of my butthole doesn't seem like the best way to advance up the corporate ladder. I'm feeling like I need to cowboy up around here, lest I be the next cost-cutting measure that they decide to take.

It's an embarassment of riches, really, having so many swell folks around. But I am seriously over-committed of late, and everything seems to be suffering, including my diet.

Please excuse me. I need to run over to the Giant to pick up some sort of non-threateningly low-calorie lunch to snarf down at my desk while continuing to wonder how to work a few extra hours into my day.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Things I Learned This Weekend

1. Jake Gyllenhaal is sort of hot in "Jarhead" walking around in the Iraqi desert with his shirt off. Except for the scene where he throws up a sink full of sand. That was not hot. Pretty decent movie, overall; Dan joined the Army at the end of Desert Storm and spent a little time over in Saudi Arabia, which he generally doesn't discuss much, so this was education. In general though, thumbs up for "Jarhead."

2. If your mother-in-law, who for a week has been bugging you to make iced tea, even though you don't generally drink it yourself, asks, "Who made the weird iced tea?" the proper response is, "I did. And if you don't like it, feel free to make your own iced tea next time, as it appears that your hands are not, in fact, painted on." For future reference, it was not weird tea. It was chai. I like chai.

3. You will ovulate whether your in-laws are sleeping in the next room or not, squeamishness be damned.

4. Organic pita bread from Whole Foods: Booooooo.

5. Organic Italian bread from Whole Foods: Yay.

6. You can watch too much "Deadliest Catch" on The Discovery Channel, despite what Dan thinks. I am seasick.