The Office

on 30 May 2008

I know, I whine quite a bit about my job. And frankly, it's justified. A trained monkey could do what I do. But work is work--it gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. A salary and health insurance are truly wonderful things. And as much as the professional types make me want to cry at the outrage of their self-inflated, over-educated idiocy--the staff really are amazing.

Case in point.

Today is KC's last day. She's worked for this place for 34 years. In the past year we've watched her beat breast cancer down, and she hardly ever talked about it. She keeps a voodoo doll in her office and when any of us are having a bad day, facing over-exposure of the professional types, we can go in and stick pins in the voodoo doll.

She bought lunch for all of us today. And we sat around in the conference room over our Chinese food and we talked and laughed and I looked around at these people. Who could not possibly be more different from one another, and I thought to myself what an odd sort of Dickensian family we are.

And I know, it's nothing new, that you spend more time with your coworkers than you do at home, awake and conscious--but it doesn't feel true until the imminent loss of one of those family members. People have come and go around her and she has been the epicenter of constancy in our department. There is no story so crazy that she has not heard it all before. Nothing shocks this woman. Many things will make her laugh. Others will outrage her on behalf of any one of her staff members. She has been our friend and advocate, for as long as all of us have been here.

She told us the hilarious tales of the worst interviews she's conducted ever, some highly unproductive meetings staffed by crazy professional types and we laughed and settled and laughed and settled. And I couldn't help but think that our tiny little world here will be a little gloomier for the absence of KC.

And yes, I know. I'm pregnant and being hyper-sensitive. She isn't dying, she's retiring. She'll still be available on email. But it's not the same. She won't be HERE--in her office. Our jobs are hard enough. She has been a true Fezziwig for us, making our burdens seem lighter with her laughter and her presence. She will be very much missed.

Baby Shower Photos, wha-huh?

on 28 May 2008


Remember how I said earlier that I had some awesome pictures from the baby shower and that a photo essay would be forthcoming?


Not so much.

I really need to learn how to use our camera.

Here's what I do have:

This is the food table. There was a lot. It was all very yummy. Well, I know the veggie stuff was yummy and I take it on the Husband's authority that the meaty stuff was yummy as well.

The centerpiece is baby socks twisted into flowers--made by my sister-in-law's own two hands. And those trays? Yep. Real silver.

The Boy is doomed. He's not even here and he's already spoiled.

Those tomato sandwiches? I ate about 4 frillion of them. It was one of those embarrassing moments where you're just standing and talking and eating and you look down and realize, "Wow. I've just eaten 4 frillion tomato sandwiches. GAMES ANYONE?"

Then there's this other picture:

That's the cake. Isn't it beeeeauuuutiful? The lovely Sister-in-law did the whole shower around the VW Beetle that the Husband drives, so it was on the invitations, the cake, and those tiny, fuzzy things? Yep. Those are Beetle finger puppets. Are you dying from cuteness yet? I did.

Anyway. I'm sorry there are no shower pictures yet. My other sister-in-law was the principle photographer and she is MUCH better than I am. She knows how her camera works, whereas me? not so much. I have hopes that she will send me a CD of the pictures soon. Theoretically, that means that we may have a blog photo essay BEFORE the Boy arrives.

But I'm not making any promises.

Reversing the Curse

The Curse of O. A.

So when I came in this morning, L. had only switched on the essential lights, which was lovely...soft and quiet and since the Supervisor didn't come in (she biffed herself in the face on accident with a bungee cord and had to have stitches and a TOOTH fixed) and there are only 1 or 2 professional types down here, the lights have remained off all day.

OA (of whom you have heard me speak before)--who didn't even get here until 2pm today--came through TO PICK UP SOMETHING FROM THE PRINTER and paused to switch on the lights and then looked at me and asked, "Did you leave these lights off on purpose?" To which I replied (coldly and firmly and glaring at him as if I could SET HIM ON FIRE WITH MY MIND) "Yes. I. Did. It's quiet down here and YOUR office is down the hall." At which he chuckled uncomfortably and left the lights on and FLED to his office.

Good Riddance.


on 27 May 2008

Well, we're back.

It was a long weekend. A good weekend, just long. And it was hard. I'm exhausted. In fact I don't think I can remember ever having been so bone-weary exhausted in my entire life.

We left on Friday morning and drove the happy driving tour of South Carolina rest stops. The bonus was that we totally surprised his Dad which makes me ridiculously happy. We pulled in to the store parking lot just as Dad was walking from his car to the dumpster to dump some trash and he looked so surprised that I couldn't help but applaud! It was one of the best moments of the weekend.

We made the rounds of greetings and tried to set some plans. We headed to the house and unloaded the few bags that we brought with us and made some dinner plans. The Husband wasn't feeling so well so I got to pick and that means I got my Vinnies! It was a Friday night of a holiday weekend so the place was PACKED, so rather than wait for an hour for a table we got our slices to go (and a salad for the Boy--natch!) and drove over to Leopolds. We ate in the car--by this point I was so hungry that there was no talking it was just eat eat eat nom nom nom. We cleaned up and crossed the street for some creamy and delicious ice cream and then headed home all stuffed and happy.

That night was easy...we headed to bed at a reasonable hour and then up again Saturday morning. We did breakfast with The Husband's Grandma and then puttered around town. We hit Bass Pro Shop for the Husband's redneck needs and then a local golf shop--he's been shopping for golf clubs for a while now. We hung out at the store with the family for a bit until I was ready to cry from the TIREDS that ate the Wife. So it was back to the house where I napped for a few hours and then the Husband and I went to dinner.

I feel the need to digress a bit. The Husband has been friends with the same group of his friends since the seventh grade. I find this a bit difficult to wrap my head around. I have no memories of seventh grade, let alone friends. But they really are like family to him. And every year on Memorial day weekend they gather at a family owned beach house out on Tybee island where they sit and talk and eat and drink and swim all weekend long. This would be the annual Sausage Fest--and yes, it means exactly what you think it means. It started out as a core group of 5-6 boys and the occasional SEES would pop in and out. Over the years it's been increasingly infiltrated by the Girls (the girlfriends of the Sausages) but it's a tradition that continues on and on in spite of school and jobs and distance. (Please try to remember that the Wife? She is not a beach-person. She turns lobster pink in about 15 minutes of sun so the idea of spending a WEEKEND at the BEACH is a little bit--ok, painfully insane to her, but she loves the Husband who LOVES the beach so off they go. We don't sleep there and we rarely go during the heat of the day, but we always make at least one appearance.)

We didn't go to dinner Saturday night until late-ish. So by the time that we were done it was nigh unto 9:30. We were on our way back to the house for a Zantec--for the Husband, oddly enough--when we got the call from some friends that they were all heading to the P.G. house and how about we meet them there?! So off we go again! Now, I adore the Husband and I love this particular family so regardless of the Tireds that ate the Wife I was going to go with him.

Here is one of those little known facts about marriage. When one person wants to do something but the other one either doesn't want to OR feels like they CAN'T because of the Tireds that ate that person--the Tired person CAN stay home, but the other one will feel BAD and GUILTY and TORN and it will effectively suck all the pleasure out of that experience for that other person. So it's the better choice for the TIRED person to Take One for the Team and just GO so that the other person can wallow in the Love and be HAPPY.

We didn't get home until 1:30am. Do you know when I last stayed up until 1:30am of my own free will? I think MAYBE grad school? When I was studying for my oral exams? Maybe? Which would make it 3 years ago, now? It's not something I take pleasure in doing--I'm just not a night person. Anyway, I digress.

Sunday came and we did church and then helped clean up the house for the shower. I helped my lovely Sister in Law assemble 8 million little sandwiches and the Husband helped Dad. Now, where I come from, when you have a shower you invited say...30 people and about 30% of them show up. But in Savannah? With the Husband's family? If you invite 30 people. 30 PEOPLE WILL SHOW UP!!! So the house was packed.

It was great though. Crowded and loud and noisy but full of these people who really LOVE the Husband and helped to make him the amazing person that we all know and love. I was completely and totally overwhelmed but it was so great just to see everyone together and happy and so excited for this Boy to come into our lives that I just wanted to stand in the corner and cry for a bit. (The Crying came later, and in private, thank Heavens.) The food was amazing and everything was beautiful! I have pictures! Photo essay to come later!

We went out to the beach house that night after everyone--or most everyone, had headed home. And The Husband and his friends were all mellow and jolly and well fed and sun-kissed and happy. And yes, even though it was VERY late (again) the light was golden and everyone was safe and healthy and happy and in that moment everything else fades away and you realize how much you love that person--enough to set aside the Tireds and the Overwhelms and everything else and just sit and bask in the glow of that person in their natural habitat.

That's marriage.

So we finally go home. We go to bed. We get up and pack and load and say our good-byes. We climb back into our little yellow beetle and head for home. We get home, we unpack, we sort through the various gifts we got--laughing all over again over some of them--we wash clothes and faces and climb into Bed Sweet Bed with the cats and finally, finally, go to sleep.

Savannah the First Day

on 23 May 2008

Here's what I've learned after driving for 6 hours down I-95 to Savannah, Georgia:

State run rest area toilets really were NOT designed with pregnant women in mind.

You go in to a supposedly normal stall and suddenly you're bumping into walls, doors, the toilet paper dispenser and the toilet itself.

It's not exactly comfortable. But it is servicable.

Staff Appreciation Lunch

on 22 May 2008

Ok. So, after carefully deliberating the votes...and also just counting the damn things up it seems that Story #1--The Staff Appreciation Lunch wins! Although, you'll all probably hear about Hogan and the Poop conversation which I overheard from the copy machine at a later date.

So, yesterday was The Staff Appreciation Lunch. But the story actually starts the day before.

Tuesday...was, well, it was a Tuesday--it was not a Monday, it was, in fact, bringing me one day closer to Friday and thus NOT being at the workplace. So, all in all Tuesday is my friend.

(please excuse me if this story takes a long time to tell--I am currently self-medicating with Oreos.)

So, I had asked one of my buddies here at work if I needed to bring anything for The Staff Appreciation Lunch and she said, "No. The Professional Types are supposed to provide the food--that's why we only have a Salad Bar." And I thought, "huh. Salad Bar. This could go very good or VERY VERY bad." So I said, "I think maybe I'll bring my own lunch just in case." And my buddy said, "Yes. That is a VERY good idea."

(mmmmm. Oreos.)

So I go about my business. Now, in order to fully appreciate the brunt force of The Staff Appreciation Lunch, you should know that as a SECRETARY, I have occasionally faced Over-Exposure with certain Professional Types. As in, you see too much of them and they become TOXIC to you, psychologically speaking. Right now my supervisor is dealing with an acute case of Over-Exposure to SS. But this week has been my acute case of Over-Exposure to OA.

Now, you should know that OA is ALL kinds of annoying. Sexist, biggot, old school Frat boy with a heaping side of INEPT. He annoys me more than my current level of sarcasm can convey. Upon meeting a new coworker--who was a lovely African-American woman--he found out where she was from and exclaimed, "Oh! My family probably owned your family!" I wish, oh how I wish, I was making this up. But, I trust my sources impeccably.

So, yesterday he brings me this notebook--8.5"x5.5" and asks me if we stock the dividers for it. And I said, "No, I don't think so." And he said, "Well, you order the supplies don't you? Order me some." And I calmly explained that I do not, in fact, order the supplies, I do not even stock the supplies, I have a key to the supply cupboard and that is all. And of course he asks, "Well, who orders them?" And I said, "Miss CB orders them...just like she always has." But instead of walking down the hallway and politely asking CB to order him some dividers for his 20 YEAR OLD NOTEBOOK, he says, "Well. Can't you just go on the website and find them? They told me at the store to just go on the website, but I don't know nothing about the website!" At which point I begin thinking, "Well you hit the nail on the head with that one, didn't you?" But I bite my tongue (I swear by the time I get to maternity leave I will have no tongue left)! I find the stupid dividers, I email CB to ask her to please order this ridiculous $1.49 item for this RIDICULOUS person and wash my hands of the affair. I thought I was done with OA for the day.

Alas, I was wrong.

(and I'm out of Oreoes! Woe! Woe to me! Someone bring me some milk! Please?)

One of my responsibilities is the mail. I hate the mail. It's mind-numbing and pointless. But I do it because they ask me to. Anyway, I was sorting the mail and OA was in talking with The New Guy and they're yucking it up like two good ol' boys and I'm rolling my eyes to the point where they're about to roll back permanently and OA says to KC, "Hey! Is anyone bringin' ice tomorrah?" To which KC replies, "No, would you like to?" And he says, "Yeah, sign me up for ice." And KC says, "How about you also bring paper plates and forks and napkins and such?" And he says, "No no noooo that's too much--I'll just bring ICE." And there I stand. Thinking to myself, "Isn't The Staff Appreciation Lunch, put on by the professional types in order to show US--the staff--how much they APPRECIATE all the crap we do for them? I'm so glad that OA is only appreciative enough to bring ICE. Maybe I should only start doing enough work to be DESERVING of ICE--which is FROZEN WATER." But I was good. I didn't say anything--I rolled my eyes A LOT and walked away all huffy and annoyed.

Then Wednesday came. Ah, Wednesday. Hump-day. The work week midpoint, the day now known as Staff Appreciation Lunch Day. Now. When an event is called "Staff Appreciation Lunch" wouldn't you naturally assume that it's only for the STAFF? I did.

HA! FAT lot I know! The whole Staff Appreciation Lunch thing only means that we'll get a weird assortment of food and we'll get to go first! So, I get in line...trying really hard not to grimace but to be somewhat cheerful--on the inside I am DYING. On the table is the big bowl of lettuce and plates and forks and napkins and there were mushrooms and sprouts and carrots and cheese and then there were The Inexplicables. Some strange salad with pasta, baby corn and some green GOOP on the top. Not like a dressing--a GLOB of GOOP. Some salad that looked like lettuce with RED dumped over the top of it. I have no idea what the RED was, it was just RED. There were 5 bottles of salad dressing, but 2 Italians, a ranch and a Catalina maybe?--whatever that is. There were mandarin oranges and dried cranberries and a container of cottage cheese. There was KFC from DL and about 3 kinds of chicken wings. And a loaf of bought white bread. There was a separate table for drinks and ICE and the desserts.

I manage to politely make a plate of salad and I go to get a drink and I look at KC and say, "Boy I sure am glad there's ICE." At which, we both roll our eyes and laugh heartily at OA who is also standing right there and has NO CLUE that we are mocking his idiocy.

So everyone eats. But the problem with eating is that it's never just as simple as putting food in your mouth. Eating is a ritual and eating with other people is symbolic of communion. Why do you think who you sat with in the lunchroom was as important as it was? We're instinctual beings when it comes to food and we recognize the intimacy of eating's personal. Very personal. So when there are big parties like this and the Staff and the Professional Types sit down to sup together, it's always a little...shall we say...tense. The professional types align themselves along the walls--the Staff boldly claim the tables, and whether it's consciously done or not, they tend to block those tables off from the professional types. Oh, there are the completely clueless ones who cross the boundaries--but they are very few and far between. And while we eat, we're looking around the room, careful of what we say and how loudly we say it while the professional types are there...we wouldn't want to knowingly offend them--we prefer mockery behind the individuals back...that way you get to vent without getting into trouble.

(Kind of like this BLOG!!)

Anyway, so we eat and the awards are handed out and they went to people who very much deserve them so I am happy. I manage to linger with several of my other buddies until the room clears and we can speak freely...and we do. And it's the most enjoyable part of the day. There's Lemonade Pie and pound cake and the coke flows freely over all the ICE and we talk and laugh and that's ultimately the treat that is supposed to be Staff Appreciation Lunch. Right?

I returned to my desk. I have been working on typing up and reorganizing the chaos that was our family cookbook and I had the last 2-3 recipes to type up on my desk and I was working on them when OA comes by. He looks at what I'm doing and says, "Boy there sure must be some good recipes from today!" And I look at him like the Pants-on-Head Lunatic that he is and he clarifies, "The recipes from the party!" and I continue to look at him like the Pants-on-Head Lunatic that he is because I'm thinking, "Recipes for what? A bowl of lettuce? Store bought pre-sliced mushrooms? Pre-grated store bought cheese? Bottled salad dressing? KFC?!?" And he rolls his eyes at me like he cannot believe how UNGRATEFUL I am and walks away.

The moral of this story is: If you are ungrateful to the people who annoy you, they will leave you alone. Bonus! And also, I ate at a POTLUCK and I am still ALIVE.

KC promised me the recipe for the Lemonade Pie--which it was that GOOD!

2 Funny Stories--A VOTE!

Ok. So the truth is that I have two stories for you today.

1) You can hear the tale of OA (one of the professional types I work with) and the Staff Appreciation Lunch.


2) Hogan and the Poop. A conversation overheard at the copy machine.

Vote for your choice in the comments and I will write the chosen story this afternoon.

Birth Class--Circus of the Epidurals

on 21 May 2008

Last night was our first birth class.

Sadly, I had not slept at all the night before. So, mustering the energy was a test of wills, a feat of strength not to be underestimated by all of you "normal sleepers" out there. We were on campus from 8am until 9pm and had some yum-tastic Greek food for dinner.

Back to birth class, right! That's the topic of this post!

Somewhere we both read that we needed to bring a pillow and blanket to class, but then on the official instructions and directions there was no such edict so we brought them but left them in the car because we--well, I--was looking at the directions and saw that it was held in "Conference Room 3" and thought, "Dude. It's a conference room! There won't be room for a group of pregnant women to LIE DOWN."

Anyway, so we track down the mighty conference room 3 and lo, our instructor is this very small, very quiet, very sweet girl who said, "Oh yes. You'll need a pillow and blanket." And I looked around and sure enough the conference room was LARGE and the furniture pushed back against the walls. Lo, I am dumb. Anyway, the Husband, in his noble glory went back to the car for me and brought back the pillow and blanket and then took the social lead because I am socially inept.

There are 8 couples (ourselves included) and a more different group of people would be difficult to imagine. From the incredibly high strung girl in hot pink "I don't like situations I can't control, I NEED to have a PLAN!" to the charming hippies at the end of our row, "I don't want a plan, I just want to enjoy the PROCESS." And everything in between.

Jane Austen once wrote to her niece that "3 or 4 families in a small village was just the thing for a novel." She proved it by the way that she wrote and lived her life, and when you think about all of the really great drama out there--whether movies, television or books--she's right. I only wish I had the skill and the motivation to convey to you the levels of ridiculous behavior I witnessed last night.

My problem is that every time I go to write an example it sounds mean. And I don't really want to be mean. After all, these couple are like us. They're first time parents who are nervous and excited and have NO CLUE what's going to happen...and as silly and ludicrous as some of their "goals" and claims were for themselves--I can't really find fault with them. Well, I could, but I'd rather not mock them for being so wide-eyed and hopeful.

In the end we met some nice people--not terribly well informed about health care, maternity care, and what happens in the process of birth--but nice people.

Needless to say, the Husband and I are the furthest along. I was a little mortified. I had assumed that childbirth classes were for women in the last couple of months but me and one other girl were the ONLY ones in the 3rd trimester. I got nervous introducing ourselves and blurted out that we had a bit of indecision so we were apparently coming into the class a bit on the late side. Oh well! Better late than never, right?! We'll actually reach full term during the class.

I was sitting there surrounded by these very petite girls with these very discrete and polite baby bumps...and voila! Hello world! My belly enters the room a full 2 minutes before I do! I have one pair of pants that fits me! Why, no! I don't want to lay on my side because I have heartburn and that only aggravates it! Relaxation? The Husband and I don't know the meaning of the word!! Ask me about tension and I'll tell you I thrive on it!!!

Honestly, I feel like the evening was a success--if for no other reason that that we managed to make it out without me falling down or either of us humiliating ourselves in any way. The Husband actually said some rather sweet things in front of the whole group about his role in the process and how to help me and it was so sweet and so PUBLIC that I have no idea what came over him.

The Weekend that Was and the Week still to BE

on 19 May 2008

The Husband is still following me around tugging on my t-shirt and hoping to get me to rest. In the meantime, however, I am PRODUCTIVE!!!

Here's what our weekend shaped up to be:

  • Made bread---um. Please don't tell my sister, I'm pretty sure that white bread (homemade or not) is not good for my blood sugar--but say it with me, YUM.
  • Made pie--um. See above. BUT! It was strawberry pie and strawberries are very good for you. And the cream is dairy!
  • Cleaned the apartment. Ok. So, I did some organizing and cleaned the kitchen and vacuumed the bedroom and the hallway and then I was so tired that I thought to myself, "I'm just going to sit down for a minute and take a breather"--and I sort of fell asleep. For 45 minutes. But the point is, that the apartment got cleaned! The Husband, he cleaned the bathroom and took down the additional desk in the front room and LO! We maaaay have some space for a rocking chair in there.
  • Much trash and recycling hauled out and away.
  • Filing filing filing! I finally cleaned out the 6 accumulated feet of papers for filing and filled up 2 filing cabinet drawers. But the piles? They are no more! And the Husband? With the big box of filing and the even bigger PILE on top of the box of filing? He is NEARLY done! I'm so happy I could cry a little.
  • Laundry. Lots of laundry.
  • Grocery shopping! We're continuing the great pantry restock of 2008 so that once the boy gets here we have minimal shopping that will be required.
  • The Great Compounding of Family Cookbooks. When we got married the Husband received a BIG 3-ring binder of his family recipes and I received a slightly smaller 3-ring binder of my family recipes. And, oh, about a year ago I decided it would be good to combine the two notebooks into one hefty notebook and to take out all the recipes that we a) CAN'T eat or b) WON'T eat. So everything with crab, shrimp, crayfish or lobster came out because I am a vegetarian and those tasty little shellfish would KILL the Husband. And various other dishes that neither of us care for or would willingly cook and eat came out as well. The remaining recipes--and there are literally HUNDREDS, I have been typing, categorizing, alphabetizing and organizing to my little heart's content. Last week I managed to work half way through the pile and over the weekend they were sorted into their respective categories. I'm a little embarrassed at how happy this project makes me.
And since that was our weekend, let me give you a glimpse into the week still to be:
  • Work work work. meh. It's boring and repetitive and annoying because I have stuff to do!
  • Our first birth class is Tuesday night. Pray for us sinners--I feel a great deal of SARCASM heading our way.
  • Wednesday night begins the laundry cycle all over will also probably begin the MASS gathering up of stuff to go to Savannah. I'm also vaguely hoping for a pedicure on Wednesday night.
  • Thursday is the continuation of the laundry cycle which will culminate in PACKING. And frantic loving on the cats because even though I know how miserable they are in the car for that long, I still worry about them when they aren't with us.
  • Friday morning will probably consist of me having a minor temper tantrum at the prospect of spending 6 hours in the car...a tantrum that will likely end in sulking which will be terminated by the Husband teasing and prodding me and playing name that tune with me--with my iPod on shuffle, and since it is MY iPod and MY music, I generally WIN. The victory will be gloated over which will terminate that previously identified FUNK.
  • BUT! Friday night I have been promised Vinnies Pizza--the BEST pizza outside of Italy itself! And Leopold's ice cream which is homemade at their little ice cream parlor on Broughton and I can't tell for certain but I think I have Chewy Chocolate cookie in my future.
I have no idea what's on the docket for Saturday but Sunday afternoon my lovely sister in law Jenn is having a shower for the Boy and the invitation was so cute that I can't wait to see it! Monday will probably mean another one of those minor temper tantrums followed by sulking followed by Name that Tune and another trouncing victory because of the 6 HOURS in the car with minimal stopping and my poor aching hips, back, legs...UTERUS. But for now, it looks to be a fun weekend--let's hope for the proverbial wallowing in family love with a heaping side serving of Belly/Baby love.


on 16 May 2008

I have been mulling over some of these things for the past week or so, but this experience (and subsequent blog post) of the Husband's galvanized the whole thing for me...

I did a lot of rambling to him last night while he was productively writing.

Pregnancy is hard. I don't say that to be whiny or ungrateful in any way. The Husband and I planned this. We chose this. We want the boy. He's ours in all his goofy, flawed glory. And if we're being sappy--and I'm pregnant and hormonal so I am--then I can admit that we love him. (We also really hope he's cool when we get to know him, because between the two of us there is enough dorkdom in Burnstopia to last a looooong time.)

But pregnancy is still hard. Physically, it's the hardest thing I've ever done and I'm not a pansy. I played soccer for years, I ran for years, I've done yoga and walking and hiking and climbing and swimming and camping. I'm a pretty tough girl. And yet. This is still the hardest thing I've ever done. My body is not my own. I've been exhausted for the past 8 months. I've been in pain more or less for the past 8 months. I can't bend and twist and lift and move the way that I'm accustomed to and it drives me crazy. I take orders from my uterus. I can't sit normally, I can't sleep normally. I don't live normally.

But in all honesty, the physicality of pregnancy is balanced with the psychology of it. I've said before how pregnancy has messed with my head, but I've never been able to accurately describe it. I went for a walk yesterday and found clarity on South Street.

It was overcast and breezy and the air was heavy as if rain were creeping in on us. The route that I walk during my lunch breaks is entirely brick sidewalks and I have to be careful of how I step or I will topple over. So I mostly look at the ground and think while I walk.

And I realized something yesterday. I've spent most of my life and all of my adult life dealing with insubstantial things. Words words words and the theories behind those words and ethereal things...fiction and art and literature. My life has been guided and directed by my head. My world has been constructed of ideas rather than concrete things that can be touched and handled and broken.

The pregnant version of the Wife is herself much more concrete than she's ever been. I feel bound more tightly by gravity, closer to the earth, I feel heavier-- and not just because of the child, I feel emotionally heavier as well. I have become very aware of myself in my own body and what it feels like. I have never been more aware of how alive I am. I have become uncomfortably aware of my own mortality.

In the early days of pregnancy I tried not to think about all the things that can go wrong. And so I read. I read read read--all of Harry Potter, all of Lord of the Rings, Wives and Daughters, Sense and Sensibility, Bleak House, 4 by Chaim Potok, A Christmas Carol and other Christmas Tales by Dickens and book on Victorian London.

And then we had the ultrasound and the doctors told me that our Boy was perfection. And I let go of this huge breath of air that I had been holding for 17 weeks. One hurdle passed. On to the next.

Now, I find myself reading reading reading about labor and childbirth. Statistics and complications and history. History is not kind to pregnant women. It is a dangerous thing, the delivery of a child into this world. And I have, probably, an irrational fear of those complications and that history. I have, in short, become greedy. It isn't enough for me any more to bring the Boy here. I want to take care of him, I want to watch him grow and develop and learn. I want to live with him and the Husband. I want our little family.

And so, I hold my breath. Waiting to clear the next hurdle. Faintly believing, like the little engine that could, that I think I can I think I can I think I can. And all the while praying that I actually CAN. And WILL. That the two of us will make it through the pain and blood and fear to the other side.

The Stress Hormones Ate my Baby!

on 15 May 2008

One of the few things that I love about my job is the seasons. During the academic year it's pretty frantic, and then come finals and I don't have to study for them which makes them the most magical time of the year!

And then once the finals are over the professional types sort of scatter so I get paid to sit around and read all day. I also get more editing and manuscript work during the summer because of the whole not having to deal with students thing.

Yesterday was not one of those fun days.

I have been helping one of my favorite professional types to get this reimbursement for a conference he went to back in March that was sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh and some other people. So they sent the initial reimbursement but it was short. $550 short!!! Like he's not going to notice! So we've been calling and emailing and calling and faxing back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. For a month, to try to get results.

To no avail.

So, yesterday comes and this professional type comes to me with the latest installment of this drama and tells me that if U Pitt isn't going to reimburse him then he needs to file paperwork here from a very specific account. An account that will be closing...TODAY. So would I please hurry up and get a definite answer from these people. TODAY.

So I call our contact at U Pitt and attempt to get her to call the other people to find out if there WILL be a reimbursement happening from their end and what do I get? APATHY.

Oh, Fate, you do have a sense of Irony.

So I relay this information to the professional type and he tells me, "M******, just get nasty with them! Be bitchy! Nothing else has worked!"

Let me get this straight. I'm being TOLD to lose my temper?

So I go to my supervisor and explain that the conversation she may overhear from my cubical has been sanctioned and in fact, ordered up by one of these professional types. (My annual review is next week and I don't want to get screwed because a professional type TOLD me to do something and I did it!)

I call the woman at the other organization and realize that I can't lose my temper on command. I know. So much for pent up pregnancy rage, huh? So I tell her calmly and directly that if she can't answer this simple question then we will find someone at her organization who can.

1 hour later I got this lovely email stating that my professional type would in fact be reimbursed post haste. Lovely!

In the midst of all of this I learned that our baby registries were all messed up and my lovely sister in law (who is planning the Savannah shower) was trying to alert me to this so that I could fix it before people started running into problems.

I was stressed to the point of being all sweaty, people. It was gross.

But in the end, the registries have been fixed and the literal check is in the mail. Unfortunately, I did such a good job getting an answer from those people that the same professional type gave me another one to battle with today. Funtastic!

On the upside, today is a big Retreat for the professional types so I will get to have one of those lovely quiet days where no one asks me to do anything petty or silly or lame. YAY for me! Happy Thursday.

Oh are a cruel mistress

on 14 May 2008

So, the Husband and I decided not to move. Last week we renewed our existing lease for another year because we'll be moving in a year anyway and moving twice in a year just sucks.

This whole not moving thing though, has necessitated some serious reorganization of Burnstopia.

You know how when you think that you're moving you sort of let things slide. Things that you normally wouldn't? Like...overly crowded kitchen cabinets, or piles and piles of papers to be filed, or piles of crap on bookshelves or the pile of duffel bags that you just sort of stuffed in the closet after your last trip in JANUARY and closed the closet door la La LA!

Hello, Internet, welcome to our CHAOS!

Two weeks ago the kitchen was cleaned out, cabinets reorganized and pantry restocked--we sort of went into survival mode eating out of our pantry so that we didn't have to move it, so that was getting a little Soviet in it's barrenness--want soup? beans? pasta? corn chips? Nope! But here, we have 4 cans of tomatoes!

This week it's been the front room.

You must understand the front room has been the bane of my existence since we moved in. It began as a his and hers office space. To understand why this has been the bane of my existence you must first picture to yourselves the vast differences in the working spaces of The Husband and the Wife.

The Husband likes piles. Let's just let that piece of insanity sink in...he LIKES piles. Piles of blank CDs, piles of cords, piles of pens, piles of papers, piles of receipts etc. Piles piles piles. Clutter clutter clutter EVERYWHERE. The Wife? Ah, she is a different bird, she like everything put away, filed and then beautiful blank empty space.

So there are his and hers bookshelves and his and hers desks kept in accordance with their preferences. The Wife, she is honest, she will admit to occasionally sneaking into the front room and putting the piles AWAY. She cannot be faulted, they were mocking her. This past weekend began the Great Reorganization of the Front Room.

See, since we aren't moving and we ARE still having a kid the kid is going to need some real estate in Burnstopia and that real estate is going to have to be the front room. We had already bought a dresser and a crib and just sort of stuffed them in to the front room to deal with them later...LATER? It has arrived.

Monday night was the moving of the bookshelves which was interesting in and of itself...mine comes down, moves and goes back up in an hour. The Husbands? Comes down, sits in the middle of the floor for a while, he sorts through some of it, then it sits there a bit longer until the Wife is done with her bookshelf and glaring at the giant pile of piles in the middle of the floor and begins to stalk towards it at which point the Husband springs into action and begins to re-shelve his bookshelf.

Last night was the moving of the desktop. We are such yuppies, people. I hate to admit this but we have a desktop and a laptop which makes one computer for each person living in the apartment and I'm even more mortified to admit that we're contemplating a laptop for me which would officially propel us into yuppy-dom. My comfort is that we still only have one car and one TV with no buttons. The Husband loves the technology thing so I let him have at it. I moved wall hangings and futzed around doing chores while he lovingly disassembled his desktop and dusted and reorganized the computer into a new space.

Then, in a fit of impatient madness we moved the Boy's furniture OUT of our living room and into the actual space that they will be occupying! We are mad crazy fools! And it all fit, which makes me 1) very happy and 2) spatially gifted.

The next task on the list is to begin systematically steam cleaning the carpets. When you live with cats, you learn very quickly that the kitty litter? It gets caught in their wee toes and thus tracked all through the apartment. Which, regular vacuuming usually picks that up, but when it's rainy outside and you track water inside, the water hits those tiny grains of kitty litter, thus dissolving them into wee little gray spots on your pretty pretty white carpet. So we're steam cleaning to get all of that up.

In addition to the steam cleaning, we're FILING, people. After 6 months of talk we finally settled on and bought a filing cabinet. So that giant--literally 3 foot tall--pile of papers, articles, bilingual texts etc in the corner of the front room can finally be labeled and filed. I can't wait!

I know. Many are the levels of my dorkdom. I have accepted this and come to terms with it.

32 Weeks and No photographic evidence

on 11 May 2008

So, here is the 32 week belly. Don't recognize the background? House looks...well, much bigger and nicer than the previous backgrounds? That's because that right there is at my sister's house and why yes! It is bigger and nicer than our apartment!

Notice that t-shirt? Yep. I have some awesome brothers in law! They made that for me with the due date, gender and name on the front because I'm so so tired of people asking me When I'm due, What we're having and What's his name going to be. The irony is that 2 or 3 times during the day people still asked me...WHILE STARING STRAIGHT AT ME.

People are funny, what can I say.

Incidentally, this was taken at the Boy's baby shower--I refuse to call it mine, since most of the presents are for HIM! The fondue? It was for ME.

Anyway, many cool girls were there and they gave the Boy (and ME) some VERY cool things for which I am very grateful. It was fun and there were strawberries and chocolate fondue--next time, you should all come! There is no photographic evidence of this shower because, the camera? The Husband had it with him. Outside. The whole time. Brilliant.

In other news...

Every mother's day I make a German Chocolate cake (with the nasty coconut/pecan icing) for my mom because she loves this cake beyond all reason (why anyone would ruin perfectly good chocolate with COCONUT, I simply cannot understand). Anyway, I made the cake and the Husband, in his benevolence volunteered to make the icing for me because...lo, I hate coconut. So I said, SURE! You just follow the recipe.

The Husband also, inexplicably loves this cake and nasty frosting. So he made a double batch--because where he comes from MORE really is BETTER.**

So I put the cake together and lo, there is icing EVERYWHERE. Dripping down the sides, off the plate, on to the counters, some of it ended up on the floor--it's kind of like the BLOB from space but instead of taking over San Francisco or some suchness, it's taking over my kitchen.

I made a strawberry pie for me. With cream, natch.

And a gratuitous picture of the cats, because they are so adorable all curled up together, looking like they get along, when really, The Leike is thinking, "Cuddling my bum is beneath my dignity, please remove the offending parasite."

The Agnes is so blissed out she has no comment.

**The Husband has requested that I qualify this statement. "More is not ALWAYS better, just if it's a good fattening icing."

The Other Thing

on 08 May 2008

Oh yeah, the Husband and I signed up for Childbirth classes starting on May 20th.

Stay tuned for, what I'm sure will be, highly entertaining blog material.

I'm awfully tempted to do one of those pregnancy/childbirth/ child-rearing confessional type posts where I confess our choices that may or may not be construed as controversial. But frankly, I'm afraid that if I got one judgmental comment** my head might explode, and I think the boy needs a mom with a head still attached.

Confessional post may or may not be coming...

**My comments are generally wonderful and from people that I LOVE. But I'm a pioneer in paranoia and you just never know who's actually lurking out there waiting to zing you.

Apathy, thy name is Wife

**A note to my coworkers who reads this blog: PLEASE do not talk about the following post with other coworkers, or in front of other coworkers. I am kvetching. Is allowed. Also, hugs! Love you all!**

So I mentioned a while back that there were a bunch of people leaving the Workplace.

One of those people is our very much beloved business manager. Yesterday we met the top candidate for her job.

He's nice enough, I suppose. He's a Duke fan--which in North Carolina says A LOT (I don't do sports but the two teams I like are Carolina and who ever plays against Duke). He's very...chatty. And with lots of opinions about management and how offices should be run.

I will admit that I really didn't want to be in that meeting. I, being a realistic sort of girl, knew that my presence was entirely superfluous and I had work sitting on my desk. I KNOW that I could have spent that time better by actually working rather than sitting through a meeting for which my input would be unwanted and disregarded if given.

At some point the candidate was rambling about workers that he enjoys working with and he said something along the lines of, "show me someone who tries hard but screws up all the time and I'll be their best friend. I don't have time for APATHETIC people."

And yes, I sat up at that point.

He had a lot more to say about people who hate their jobs and are miserable and how they really need to find another job and blah blah blah. And there I sit. Stewing in rage.

Let me speak plainly, you can be apathetic and still do your work. Exhibit A. ME. I work as hard as I ever did but thankfully, no one in my office can read minds because my train of thought goes something along the lines of:

I don't care. I think you're an idiot. Grow up and make your own copies. Keep track of your own crap. I am not your MOTHER. Are you hands broken? Get your own damn paper for the copy machine. You empty it. You fill it. The copy machine works like this: lay originals face down, press start button. I don't care. I don't care. I don't care. I don't care. All I hear from you is blah blah blah. Stop talking now.

There are exceptions of course. Everyone has their favorite co-workers, and even their preferred bosses. My misfortune is that I don't often get to work directly with those people because they are (and this is a very innovative concept in academia) autonomous. Autonomy is a highly under-rated value in Universities.

He then went on to "be honest with us, because we're all grown." Which I thought was a great idea--one in fact that we should apply to EVERYONE in the department. Why don't we all act like ADULTS. Revolutionary, I know. And probably also impossible. Let's all speak plainly and honestly, tell each other what we really want, need and expect and most important of all--let's all take care of our own CRAP. Not foist it off on someone else. Not procrastinate to the very last minute. Not skip the instructions for a grant because that's what STAFF is for. Actually accept responsibility for our own choices and actions.

Now that right there is some novel thinking. It'll probably get me fired. Oh wait. No, they won't fire me because that means they'd have to take care of their own CRAP.

Birkenstocks make nice people

on 07 May 2008

So I fully recognize that the pregnancy has not brought out, nicer side. I've had some rage issues. Mostly I've contained them to, well, here. Or the Husband. But all in all, I'm not a kinder, gentler wife for being pregnant.

And yet, I wear Birkenstocks. And Birkenstocks can make you a nicer person.

Exhibit A:

I am currently wearing a pair of Birkenstock Milanos in brown. And yes, theoretically, I know that Birkenstocks are not necessarily appropriate professional footwear--I AM 8 MONTHS PREGNANT!!! Also, am a nature-loving hippy. With a love of comfortable shoes.

Last week I ordered a pair of Birkenstock Floridas in black. Just for variety. I received them last night. Well, I received a pair last night, they were NOT what I ordered.

Note: For a rather petite girl, I have some HUGE feet. As in size 9 (wide if I can get them, regular if I can't). They're big and flat like duck feet. The Husband once described them as my most UNattractive feature. I'm inclined to agree with him.

The shoes that I received last night were Narrow. As in those freaky people with skinny feet! Who? Who has skinny feet?

My inclination was to be MAD. After all, I'm 8 months pregnant and all I wanted in my whole life was a pair of comfortable shoes! WAH! So I boxed them up and sent an email to the company from which I buy my very expensive but comfortable shoes.

And I wait. And wait. And wait. And hear nothing. So I called them. They're a company based out of Great Neck, New York and I live in North Carolina. I have no qualms whatsoever about using a Southern accent when necessary and I find it VERY useful when dealing with problematic merchandise returns.

I calmly (and southernly) explain the situation to the lovely woman on the phone. She tells me that I need to talk to this other woman who put the order together. So she transfers me. Here's a sample of the conversation:

Me (Southern version 2.0): Hiiiii. I ordered a pair of shoes in regular but I received narrows--can I return them?

Woman (with a thick Hispanic accent): Ohmygoodness, I apologize, ma'am, I think I made a mistake! I got 2 orders for the Floridas, one in regular and one in narrow and I think I sent you someone else's shooooooes!!!

Me (Southern version 2.0): Oh that's alriiiigh' as long as I can just send 'em back.

Woman (with a thick Hispanic accent): Yes, please, just send them back and I will fix it. I will fix it. I am so sorry!

Me (Southern version 2.0): Oh it's alriiiiigh', I understand. Everybody makes mistakes.

Woman (with a thick Hispanic accent) (also, now crying a little): Thank you. And you are so nice and I am having sort of rough day!

Me (Southern version 2.0): You just need to come south for a bit! It'll fix you right up! And I'll get my husband to put those shoes in the mail, so if you'll just send the regulars, that would be GREAT!

Woman (with a thick Hispanic accent) (also, now crying a little): Yes. I will send. Thank yoooou!

Me (Southern version 2.0): Thank you! You have a good day!

Woman (with a thick Hispanic accent) (also, now crying a little): Yes. You have a good day too.

It just goes to show that wearing Birkenstocks really can make you a nicer person. Also living in the South.

The Weakened Weekend

on 05 May 2008

So, one of the things I left out of the anniversary post was 1, 462 ways the Husband and I are totally different.

I took Friday off from work. Now, in my head, I was thinking, "This is awesome! I'll get all the projects done around the apartment that I don't have energy to do during the work week and no time to do on the weekend!" And the Husband was thinking, "This is awesome! I'll finally get her to REST!"

So I got up on Friday all set to work work work in our apartment (we're no longer moving, the hassle was just not worth saving $10 a month in rent) and the Husband slept in. To put things in perspective here are my lists:

Things I WANTED to get done on Friday:

  • clean out closets
  • clean out bookshelves
  • pull all the furniture out of our study in order to rearrange it so that it actually fits
  • haul stuff to the Goodwill
  • reorganize cupboards in the kitchen
  • CLEAN, as in deep clean, spring clean whatever you choose to call it.
  • haircut
  • pedicure
Things I ACTUALLY got done on Friday:
  • made 2 strawberry pies
  • fantastically gory, panic infused meltdown.
Yep. That's it. We did get some cleaning done on Saturday and some sorting of things out. And we also made a "To Do" list of things for the Husband to work on this week whilst I am here at work. And I did quite a bit of the Resting thing on Sunday.

It's my fault, I should have done a better job of communicating my expectations to the Husband about what I wanted to do on Friday. And I should have called for a hair appointment on Monday instead of Friday morning. Instead I had a meltdown and helped the Husband eat 2 strawberry pies in 3 days.

1,462 Days

on 01 May 2008

1,462 orders to stop chewing my nails

1,462 "love taps!"

1,462 requests to please eat vegetables

1,462 morning cuddles

1,462 things to be thankful for

1,462 times putting my book away for the night

1,462 shower conversations

1,462 "I love you!"s

1,462 questions

1,462 stories of stuff we did when we were kids

1,462 books moved up 2 flights of stairs for me

1,462 checks written for bills

1,462 bear hugs from behind

1,462 things to be happy about

1,462 kitchen messes from "creation!"

1,462 nervous ticks

1,462 instances of not needing to explain nervous ticks

1,462 winks. With both eyes!

1,462 back tickles

1,462 inside jokes

1,462 laughs

1,462 empty glasses of water!

1,462 reasons to love my life

1,462 smooches

1,462 days where each one is happier than the one before.

4 years ago today I got married. I never thought that I would be married. I never thought that I would have a family. I'm one of those girls who is totally unwilling to pretend to be something that I'm not in order to have a relationship. And then I found the Husband.

Before he was the Husband he was this guy that I knew in Georgia. He was still an undergrad. He was younger than me. He was...odd. Not odd as in awkward, but odd as in different. He's never been your typical guy. I think we were both more intrigued than attracted to one another (that came later). I wanted to figure him out. I still want to figure him out. That's part of what keeps the magic alive.

We went for a walk. He told me about his family. Mostly about his dad. He told me about wanting to be a doctor and swearing off women for that year because it was intense academically. We started to break in to the botanical gardens and then decided against it. Later on there were all night conversations on my living room floor. There were long lunches of Indian food followed by naps. There were many meltdowns due to academic stress and raging insecurity.

There were many many moments that I would love to tell you about but I'm not going to. They're mine. Mine and his and I'm not willing to share. I count them as some of the most precious memories of my life.

Little did we know there were bets placed by our friends as to when we would get hitched. And then there was this trip to Biltmore and a question and I was so stunned he could have pushed me in one of the reflecting pools and I could not have been more surprised.

I never thought that anyone would love me enough to want to marry me. I never thought they would love me as I am. The Husband? He is an unusual man.

It's been 1, 462 days and each one has been wonderful. Usually interesting, sometimes depressing, sometimes joy undiluted. Happy anniversary, Sweets. You're the best part of my life. Thanks for taking this journey with me.