Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Comcast: Suck It.

Remember when you sent me a flier for high speed internet access, and I agreed to it, and went to Best Buy, which I cheerfully loathe, and bought all the wireless stuff, and paid like $200 for it, and then the high speed internet access you gave me didn't work for like six months?

And when I called and complained that the high speed internet access I was paying like $48 a month for didn't work, you asked me "Is your computer on?"

And when you sent me another flier for digital cable at some kind of outrageous discount, with a year of free HBO, and I stupidly agreed, it took you, like, three weeks to get a tech out there to set it up? And the digital cable box didn't work? And he didn't have another one? And he'd be right back? And then he didn't come back for three weeks?

And then when I got my first bill, and the outrageous discount mysteriously was missing, and that free year of HBO was actually a free six months, except we'd already had your high speed internet service, so I actually didn't qualify for free HBO at all? But you couldn't take it off my service, because blah blah Comcast blah?


Yeah, that was fun and games compared to after we moved. When your tech came out to transfer our service and tried to shake us down for an $85 "transfer fee?" Payable in cash only? Hilarious!

When our cable stopped working a month after moving in, and I took a day off work to be there when the tech showed up, and he came almost three hours late, and I had the temerity to complain, and his response was, "Why? You making me breakfast?" So funny!

Yeah, guess what? You're not going to get my $140 a month anymore for your barely-functioning service.

Verizon, which I'm not stupid enough to think won't suck too, has guaranteed the price and services in writing, offered me a free DVR, and thrown in home phone service for less each month than I was paying for digital cable and high speed internet.

So Comcast, for the last time, I bid you a fond adieu. Suck it.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Several Short Items

1. Tomorrow is my birthday.

2. My internet is broken.

3. Morning sickness that lasts all day totally sucks ass.

4. My kid will not stop getting out of bed at night. Last night we dragged out the old portable crib, set it up, and made him sleep in it, because the little shit would not stop getting out of bed. I feel bad about the fact that he almost became a child abuse statistic last night, but there it is. Not really. But maybe. I may take him to Fed Ex, seal him into a cardboard box with a couple bottles of water and a couple of sandwiches, and send him to my parents' house. Forever. Not really. But maybe. Maybe just until the next one comes and we decide whether or not that one's a keeper. Not really.

5. I will never send my mother a Christmas list at her request again, because not only does she ignore what I ask her for, she buys me stupid, insulting gifts that illustrate the fact that she has no idea who I am or what I care about.

6. My holiday was fine. How was yours?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Things I've Learned on Facebook

I joined Facebook over the summer. It's actually been really kind of a good thing. I've reconnected with a lot of old friends and acquaintances, people I lost track of a long time ago. I've gotten to know people I knew as a kid as grownups, and realized that there are people who I was intimidated by and uncomfortable around who are really lovely and kind people, despite the fact that several of them are vocal and passionate Republicans.

What can I say? Nobody's perfect.

It's been interesting, though, to discover that many people have not grown up to do what I thought they would do, or anything remotely like it, and many others are exactly the same person that they've always been. It's a reminder to me that adulthood is not a destination we arrive at on our 23rd birthday.

There is one person who I have wondered about for many years. I met him my Freshman year of college, and while we were not anything remotely resembling ready for each other at the time, we dated on and off for awhile, and sometimes we were friends with benefits, and throughout it, were able to maintain a friendship based on the fact that we were both smart people who liked to talk to each other and didn't mind each others' propensity to get ourselves and each other into trouble.

Predictably enough, we eventually got into serious trouble together, the kind that requires the assistance of a lawyer to get out of. It scared me mostly straight, and it was incredibly scary and humiliating and it's something I don't really talk about much, so let us just say that it was a bad experience except for the fact that it taught me that I could take responsibility and ownership of, and manage my own problems, even when they seemed unmanageable. The other good thing about it was that somehow, I managed to stay friends with this person, and if anything, we were better friends, bound by the fact that we knew what the other person had gone through.

Eventually, I went back to Michigan, and he went on with his life in Nashville, and we lost touch with each other. I always wondered what had happened to him, though, and what he was like as a grown-up.

Yesterday, I had an email in my inbox. It was a friend request from Facebook, and I was shocked when it turned out that the friend request was from him.

I was, however, not nearly as shocked as I was when I went and looked at his profile and found out who he was as a grownup. This person, who was by far one of the most out-of-control party animals I have ever met, who spent a certain period of his life under the influence of controlled substances more or less around the clock, is a Presbyterian minister.

It's just another thing I've learned on Facebook: there are virtual black holes of mystery inside everyone, even the people you think you know. I found that out a year and a half ago, when my best friend, who'd always been...wary at best, I would say, about children, decided to have a baby. I learned it all over again when I realized that this wasn't an elaborate hoax on his part.

I used to think that not much surprised me anymore. I've since realized that I was wrong. People generally shock the hell out of me.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dear Stupid Little Punks:

I just wanted to write you a quick note and say hi. Just in case you were wondering, I own the Chrysler Town & Country minivan that you stole Thursday night. Congratulations, by the way. You were very quiet and sneaky. I never heard a sound--no breaking glass, no nothing--probably because you didn't break a window, you used a crowbar. We didn't know anything about it until the next morning. I appreciate the fact that you didn't break the window, since my insurance company has been pretty consistent about covering nothing, but you did pry the panel off the door to get it unlocked. Thanks for that.

You don't know much about me, or my family, or the disruption that you've caused, but if you'd looked around a little while you were ransacking the inside of my car looking for things to steal, you might have found some things out, if you'd thought about it. The picture of the smiling little blond boy in the red plaid vest and necktie, the one you left on the floor of the passenger side of the car when you emptied the glove compartment--that's my son. His name is Max. The picture is two years old now, but it was taken at Christmas. You left a big shoeprint on the picture, but you also stole his DVD player. His favorite DVD was in it, by the way--I'm sure you just tossed it on the roadside somewhere after you crashed our car into a fence and ran. It was Sesame Street, by the way. He keeps asking about it.

We bought the car in 2005, right after Max was born. It was the newest car either my husband or I had ever owned, and the nicest one. We paid it off later that year with some money I inherited from my late grandmother. I almost never get into that car without thinking of her. Now I'll almost never get into the car without thinking of you.

My car smells a little like pot smoke now. Yeah, I know what pot smoke smells like. I went to college. My husband spent two hours yesterday at our friends' house, washing it, cleaning it, pulling out the seats, vacuuming--I think he wanted to try to sort out some of the mess that you made throwing everything around the car, but I also think he wanted to clean out some of what was left of you in there. I hope it worked for him--it didn't work so well for me.

We've driven that car to Michigan several times, to Nashville, Tennessee to visit our best friends and my parents, to Massanutten, Virginia this summer to spend a week at my parents' timeshare. We've learned our way around Washington D.C., a city I've always loved and wanted to live in, in this car. I have to say, though, that things are going a little sour for us here, thanks only in part to you. We probably won't explore as much as we have this year again though, since we can't afford to replace the GPS that you stole, and neither my husband nor I are really a particular whiz with directions. That GPS really opened the city up for us. Oh well, though. Nice while it lasted.

I should say thanks, too, to you, for not smashing my car so hard into that fence that the airbag went off. I mean, we can't afford a new car right now, not with my husband starting graduate school this winter, and me just starting a new job, and pregnant--did I mention that? Yeah, pregnant again. I mean, you did smash in the ignition with a screwdriver and a chunk of concrete, and you've obviously done some pretty serious damage to the steering column, since the airbag sensor warning light goes on any time we turn the wheel now, but hey, we don't need a key to drive the car anymore. We do just fine with a flathead screwdriver now--probably what you used too, on your little two-mile joyride before you ditched it. The front-end damage from car vs. fence is pretty minor too, surprisingly--just a little dent in the front driver's side bumper and a little tear in the bumper itself--probably caused when you tried to back it up. Clearly you're quite experienced.

You stole my car charger for my cell phone, but I appreciate the fact that you left my husband's leather jacket. I bought it for him for Christmas the first year that I really felt like we were doing well enough to really buy each other presents. I love how he looks in that jacket--I really thought you'd take it for sure. I guess you wouldn't be able to turn around and sell it too easily though. You also left behind my Ipod dock, which I'm happy about, because it was pretty expensive. Our friend, who was kind and patient enough to drive us around all day on Friday and Saturday, knows about these kinds of things and says that it's the highest-rated dock out there.

So, yeah, it cost about $300 to get it out of impound, because I had to pay for the tow and impound for it--interesting, since I really didn't do anything wrong in this case--and a few bucks to wash the mud off of it--did you drive it through a cow pasture or something, by the way? I have no idea what it'll cost to fix the ignition, but suffice it to say, I can't afford to fix it right now, whatever the cost. And it'll be okay for getting from point A to point B for the time being, but we'd planned to drive to Michigan for Christmas later this month, and I don't think we'll do that. We can't really afford the plane tickets either, and we're a one-car family, so we'll probably stay here this year. It'll be the first year we've stayed since we moved here. I know it'll really disappoint our parents, and I'm not sure how to break it to them yet. Maybe you could tell them if you see them?

To be honest, you probably would have been almost doing us a favor if you'd hit that fence doing 80, instead of the maybe 10 you were actually doing, and totaling the thing out. I mean, then we'd sort of be screwed, what with the car payment and everything, but I wouldn't be driving around in this car that now starts with a screwdriver instead of a key, with the front end damage, that smells like fucked-up, ignorant teenagers, that I'll never look at the same way again. Which is really probably on me, not on you. I'm sure that there are people who could shed this totally violated, completely invaded feeling after someone like you did this to them, but I have to admit that I'm not one of them. Mea culpa.


Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm About to Say the F-Word. Like, a Lot.

Remember that time that our car was towed? That was a really bad day, I'll tell you.

Yeah, today is worse.

It started out the same: Dan walked out the door, keys in hand, looked around, and said, "Where is our car?"

This time, though, I knew something was really wrong, not just a mis-read tag.

I called 911. They sent a cop to our house. The cop called in the tag and VIN number. We waited.

The call came back: our car was impounded last night after being involved in a hit-and-run accident, crashed into a fence around the corner from our home. It was at a local impound lot. The cop's supervisor came over too to get a written report and let us know what we should do.

I called the insurance company. They're sending out an insurance adjuster.

I am seriously going to need some therapy and medication. I really am. I am in a state of advanced shock where I can't fully comprehend what is happening, and yet I am totally unable to avoid dealing with any of this. I know lots of people have their cars stolen, and yet, I feel so totally overwhelmed and overcome by all of this that I am unable to process any of it. On top of everything, I feel so completely violated. I have never been the victim of a crime of this particular tenor before, and I honestly don't think I would feel worse if I'd been gang-raped in the back of my stolen, most-likely totalled car.

Dan and I are sitting around, listing things to be grateful for: no one was hurt. The car had over 100,000 miles on it. The gas tank was almost empty. We weren't carjacked. Max wasn't in the car at the time.

But for fucking Christ's sake, I don't feel grateful. I don't feel fucking lucky. I feel fucked over. I'm supremely pissed. I feel like I'm in an out-of-control downward spiral and I don't know what the fucking hell to do about it. I am a blazing hormonal mess and totally unable to cope with any of this with anything other than forward motion.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Insomniac, Again

My best friend's baby won't sleep. I feel so completely bad for Kimberly and Michael, because I remember how completely awful it was when the kid won't sleep, how it totally destroys any sense of routine or normal in your house, how thoroughly it clouds and confounds all of your other experiences.

To be totally fair, let me just say that Max was a really good sleeper, all things considered. Sure, he wanted to get up in the middle of the night some nights, and there was no convincing him that the day doesn't begin at 3:15 a.m., and there was nothing to do but sit in the living room, facing him as he bobbed cheerily in his bouncy seat, blearily staring at him and wondering how I was going to get through the next 24 hours. But I also had the reassurance that it was only going to last 24 hours, give or take, and soon, the kid would go back to sleeping four or five hours at a time at night, and an hour or two at a time, a couple of times a day.

We did go through a few phases where things that had worked before stopped working. They are panic-inducing, and you're sure your kid will never sleep again. Don't worry, he will. The single-biggest victory in the sleep war was the swing. We never had a regular-sized swing for Max, we figured with the bouncy seat and all the other stuff, we didn't really need it taking up room in the apartment. But at seven months, he gave up sleep totally over the space of about a month. It was a gradual thing--when he'd been going to bed at 8 or so, suddenly it was 9. Then it was 10. Then it was 11, and midnight...and he was still getting up at around 2 or 3 for a snack and a cuddle, and again at 7 in the morning, for good for the day.

I didn't know what else to do, so I bought a small, travel swing for him. It's just like the regular ones, only it sits closer to the ground and folds. It ran on a battery, and for a few months it was a total game-changer for us. We'd put Max in it at bedtime, tuck one of his "friends" -- a stuffed animal -- in next to him and tuck a blanket around him, turn the lights down, play some music, and lo and behold, the kid would be asleep within half an hour. From there it was just a matter of sneaking him out of the swing and into the crib, without waking him up. You had to wait just long enough for him to be really out and not get impatient with your non-sleeping, still squawking baby.

The thing that finally worked on a more permanent basis was when we examined what we were doing every night, and what time we were doing it. When they're tired, babies's brains make a substance that makes them think, I've been awake so long, now I might as well just stay up. The less sleep they get, the worse they need it and the harder it is for them to get it. It's a bad system. We realized we didn't really have a routine at all. and we were putting him down way too late--around 10. Everything we read said we should start working him into bed around 7.

By establishing a routine--bath, story, snack and cuddle, and into bed once he was asleep--we really helped the whole sleep situation a lot. He still got up in the middle of the night and wanted to eat, but we were pretty well accustomed to that by then, and one half-hour wake-up was pretty bearable. We would feed him until he was so deeply asleep that the bottle was literally falling out of his mouth. Also, we would pre-warm his bed with a heating pad--going from a warm lap to a chilly mattress was enough to wake him up again most of the time. Yes, of course we took the heating pad out of the bed when we put him in. We're, you know, not Brittney Spears or anything.

This all worked pretty well until he was about 1. That was when we transitioned from two naps a day--which he mostly took on the floor of the living room, on a blanket--to one nap a day, around noon. He just wasn't sleeping at night and we figured he was getting too much sleep during the day.

None of this addressed the fact that he just didn't fall asleep on his own. When he was about a year and a half old, we decided it was time. We did what the books recommend--put him down sleepy but awake--by altering the bedtime routine to keep him from falling asleep in our arms. When he started to look like he was having trouble keeping his eyes open, we would put him into bed and leave the room. If he cried, we would let him cry for a couple of minutes, then come back, comfort him without picking him up, and leave again. If he cried again, we would wait a little longer, comfort him without picking him up, and leave again. And so on.

It honestly wasn't that bad. There were two really bad nights, a couple of medium-bad ones, and a couple of not-so-terrible nights, and after that he didn't need us at all. Let me qualify that by saying that Max has always been extraordinarily independent, which we've encouraged by not always jumping in to help him when we thought he could work something out for himself. It hasn't always been easy, but the payoff has been enormous, especially as he's gotten older.

At one point, we started letting him go to bed with a bottle of water to drink--never milk or juice, but the water helped him settle down. We had to eliminate that when he was around two and a half, because he was drinking sixteen ounces, and then filling his diaper so full overnight that he woke up in a giant puddle every night. Breaking the bottle habit wasn't too bad--a couple nights of asking for it, but that was it.

I don't know a ton about getting babies to sleep. Mine slept mostly on his own. But some of the things that helped was keeping Max physically and mentally active during the day--just walking around the house or the neighborhood, pointing things out, imitating the car noises or the dogs barking or the birds, flipping through books, or sitting in front of the sliding glass door watching the birds. I would put him in the bouncy seat, which encouraged him to be physical without requiring a lot of effort on my part. I tried not to hold him too much--I felt like it discouraged him from being very independent and the more I held him, the more he wanted to be held and the less he would tolerate not being held. I didn't let him fall asleep in my arms--that became a total recipe for disaster, since he wouldn't sleep anywhere else.

Parenting doesn't get a whole lot easier, but it gets more rewarding, and the challenges come in forms other than sleep-depravation. We are struggling with potty-training, with defiance, with getting him to eat. The things that are hard about parenting change shape, usually without warning. But don't beat yourself up. There aren't really right or wrong answers, just things you've tried already, things that have stopped working, things you're not willing to try, and things you just haven't thought of yet. The right thing for your little person is out there.

Oh, and I should add--I was a stay-at-home mother until Max was 14 months old. One thing that really helped me was to hand Max over to Dan when he got home from work and lay down for a nap for a couple hours in the evening. I knew I'd be up at night, and the change of parenting scenery helped Max, and that couple of hours made life manageable. We decided it made more sense for me to get the couple of hours than to have a sit-down dinner all together as a family while I drooled into my food and fell asleep with my chin in my hand.

Those are my suggestions. If you have other suggestions for a desperate set of parents and their wide-awake Sprout, leave them in the comments.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Karma Bitch-Slap

Most of my long-time readers know that Dan and I have been trying to get pregnant for two years without success, and I stopped talking about it a year or so ago. What most of them don't know is that I've had two early miscarriages in that time, so early that I wouldn't have known they were miscarriages were it not for state-of-the-art pregnancy tests. Dozens of blood tests and studies have revealed no cause for me to not be able to get pregnant, except for such slight hypothyroidism that it actually resolved itself in less time than it took for me to allow the medication I was given for it to build up to therapeutic levels. The OB-GYN, high-risk OB-GYN, endocrinologist, and reproductive endocrinologist officially had no explanation for me, especially when they considered that I was pregnant with Max ten weeks after getting married. My OB-GYN offered me a round of Clomid last year, "just to see what happens," but after talking about the possibilities of multiples and all of the resulting complications, I said no.

So that was just how it was going to be: Dan and Molly and Max. I stopped taking my temperature and I stopped checking to see if I was ovulating and stopped really doing much of anything except the thing that gets you pregnant in the first place. It just wasn't worth the heartache and the anxiety and the getting amped up and let down every month.

And yet I still had all the heartache and anxiety and getting amped up and let down every month. We wanted another baby so much that it was hard to put it into words, and Dan is a pretty flexible guy and he said that it was fine if it was just Dan and Molly and Max, but he wanted it and I wanted it and even Max wanted it. And every time he said "I want a sister," it just tore through me like a knife. But I was accepting that it was going to just be this way, that the three of us were the family I was meant to have.

For a few weeks, I've been feeling not quite right. I feel not quite right a lot of the time though, and I typically write it off to low blood sugar, but now that I'm on the pump and can see my blood sugar at a glance, I can see that most of the time, that's not it. Food tastes funny, and not funny-good. Everything smells bad, and not good-bad. I am a bundle of nerves, moody, and mildy psychotic. I haven't really rushed to take a pregnancy test--I didn't want the letdown if it was negative, but also, I think, on some level, I didn't really need one to know.

There has been a rash of pregnancy announcements on the internet lately. First it was Tertia at So Close. Then it was Heather at Dooce. Every time someone's announced that they were pregnant in the last year or so, I have felt frustrated, impatient, a little jealous, excited for my friends, and so totally anxious about the fact that there just wasn't an explanation for the fact that I wasn't pregnant that I didn't really know what to do with myself. I am a little embarassed to sheepishly announce that finally, it's my turn.

We are pregnant, just when I thought it was never going to happen for us again, and I am experiencing a new emotion roughly every ten seconds. I am not a big fan of change and this will be a big one and it will mean a lot of things which I haven't fully wrapped my brain around. Every time I try, my eyeballs melt and begin leaking out of my skull, and also, I have a panic attack.

Yes indeed. Pregnant. Who'da thunk it?

P.S. Our parents don't know yet. If you know them, let's not tell them, shall we? They will be so excited that we told the internet first.