March 27, 2009

31 weeks

I am 31 weeks pregnant today. Only nine more weeks to go until my due date. Yikes.

1) I had my 30 week appointment last week. We talked to my OB about birth plans, his C-section rate, and his views on induction. It felt weird to discuss these things because it really made me realize how close we are to the end of this pregnancy. I'm up 15 pounds, which is great, and my blood pressure is good. Charlie is active and has a great heartbeat. Things are looking wonderfully normal.

2) Our childbirth class is going well. I can't say that it has totally been worth the money so far, but I have learned a few things and gotten a good feel for the hospital I'll be delivering in. I am looking forward to having Friday nights free again. We actually skipped our class last week because we were both really tired. I don't know if we'll have the opportunity to make it up or not, but I don't know if either one of us really cares, either. I've said before that childbirth is not something I'm really scared of. I know we'll deal one way or another. I wish there was a class that deals with the emotional component of becoming a parent. That is something I could really use.

3) Charlie's room is completely painted and even has some furniture in it now. One of Roy's co-workers was nice enough to give us a dresser and a dresser/changing table combo. Both are in excellent shape. Check 'em out:

I'm looking forward to getting the nursery all set up. We should have more of an idea of what we'll need to buy after April 10, at which point we will have had two showers. We're definitely going to get his crib from Ikea, and I want to get a nice glider as well (if we have room).

Here's the crib we'll probably get:

I have no idea why people go apeshit crazy over cribs. Maybe I'm just a cheap mofo, but it doesn't make sense to me to spend a lot of money on a crib, hence the reason why we're buying Ikea's $100 crib.

4) I had two crowns put on this week. I have a couple of cavities that need to be filled, and I should hopefully be good to go until the baby is born. This is a good thing, because getting shots and X-rays really makes me feel horribly guilty. I know these things are technically "safe" for a growing baby, but I really wish I had gotten it all taken care of before I got pregnant. I feel like a horrible mother every time I get in the dentist's chair, even though I know I am doing the right thing by actually getting the work done instead of avoiding it for even longer.

The good news is I think that this has really changed the way I view going to the dentist. I used to avoid it like the plague (obviously), but now it makes absolutely no sense for me to do that again. I want to be as healthy as I can be. So regular dentist visits it is!

5) A resounding thank you goes out to all of you who responded to my recent emo post in one way or another. I got texts, emails, comments, etc. While I certainly hope I didn't guilt anyone into responding, it was really nice to read everyone's thoughts on the matter. If you want me to be honest, I cried. It makes a huge difference to know that I am not alone and that I'm not crazy for feeling this way. You guys rock, seriously.

Also, just in case any of you were wondering, that blog entry wasn't really directed at anyone who actually reads my blog. I try not to be passive-aggressive that way.

Life is so very strange, and it is odd how the most joyful of times also usually means that I have the tendency to feel extremely sad and lost. I experienced so much emotional turmoil while getting ready to be married; the process leading up to the actual wedding day really did change me. Pregnancy has been no different - well, I would say that it has been even more of an emotional clusterfuck for me.

With each gain in life, there seems to be a loss. And I think that's what's so hard. The gift of a child brings with it the knowledge that things will never be the same again. My body won't be the same. My marriage won't be the same. My relationships with others won't be the same. I'm not even sure if I'll be the same. But I keep reminding myself that all these changes aren't necessarily bad.

I have always wanted to have children - always. I knew it even when I was a child myself. As I got to be of child-bearing age, I was able to curb the urge because I wanted to have children with someone who I truly loved and who would be an amazing father. I never thought that I would actually meet someone as wonderful as Roy. I am continually surprised and delighted at the way my life has turned out so far. I wanted to be married to a good person who would be an awesome father; I wanted to be a part of a happy family; I wanted to be a confident and well-adjusted person. Things really have fallen into place for me, and this is huge considering that 10 years ago, I was a vastly underweight, chain smoking, deeply depressed woman-child and college dropout who couldn't see past her own fractured soul and made it a point to try on guys like they were underwear. It's good to know that we really are capable of changing for the better, because I would caution the girl I was against ever getting pregnant.

The truth is I'm so ready for this baby. And I'm so not ready. And that conflict I feel - well, it's there, but it's okay. Things are going to work out.

Thanks for being there. I got nothin' but love for all of you.

March 26, 2009

Horn Tootage, and Things I Love This Week

I feel the need to brag.

1) I finished my coursework for my Master's degree as of yesterday. Sadly, I won't be graduating any time soon, as completing the coursework is only part of the degree requirement. However, it's a huge part.

2) I wrote an article for Serendipity Magazine and a couple of weeks ago I received my complimentary copies for being a contributor. It is definitely the nicest magazine that my work has been in. It's a bridal magazine, which is so not my thing, but it's good to try new things.

3) A photo of mine was included in the Scavenger Project's book. This is not a big deal as I was guaranteed a spot for being a paying participant. They also spelled my last name wrong. Here's the photo they picked for the book:

I don't really like that photo. At all. Now I have no idea why I even submitted it. I like some of the others a lot better, which you can see here.

4) I've been writing a lot. Both on this blog and in my process scrapbook. I told you I had a lot to say!

And now, for things I love this week:

1) Daytrotter, a site that offers tons and tons of free music downloads of emerging musical artists. Yes, free!

2) This wall of books, seen here:

3) The fact that I am now on spring break. Next quarter there will be absolutely no classes to attend, just me and my thesis proposal/thesis. I'm excited to have a break and to get some work done on this final requirement for my MA.

What do you love this week? Do you have any horn tootage of your own to share?

March 25, 2009

The Invisible Woman

(Disclaimer: This blog entry is probably going to make me sound like a whiny little bitch, but I don't care. I need to get it out there.)

I think I'm invisible. I've noticed that people have stopped noticing me. I express my concerns and feelings and everyday thoughts, and they go largely ignored - by people who used to actually care, no less. Online I am a person who really doesn't seem to be worthy of communicating with anymore; in real life I am a living, breathing incubator and nothing more.

It's a weird place to be. I'm trying not to be offended by the way things have changed, but to be honest, lately I have been horribly lonely. I started feeling this way around mid-January, I think, and I have managed to keep it under control for the most part. I've been distracting myself with school and getting things done for The Big Change.

But earlier this evening I was walking around the halls at work. I was one of the last people there. Someone stopped to make note of how big my tummy is (as usual), and while we conversed about that (as usual), I was overcome by this really deep-seated feeling of panic. It was then that I realized how scared I am of The Big Change. I am scared to be a mother. I am scared of everything that will follow. I have no idea how my marriage will be affected, only that it will be. I have no idea how my relationships with friends and family will change, only that they will. I have no idea what will become of my dreams or goals or the Leslie who I am now, only that these things are bound to change as well.

And I just don't feel ready for this. I don't feel ready for any of it. As much as I love this little boy who is growing inside of me, I am absolutely frozen with fear. I am terrified.

I don't think anyone really understands, and if they do, they're not joining in on sharing the fears. And I hate that. I hate that there are these things that are left unsaid because maybe they aren't PC or "safe" to say. I just need to know that I'm not alone. Why isn't anyone else speaking up? And why do I get the feeling that many people just can't be bothered with me anymore? I feel completely abandoned.

I realize that I sound really overly dramatic, but this really is the way I feel. I feel like I have nothing to cling to anymore except everyone's expectations that I should be grateful that I'm pregnant at all. I feel like people have moved on from being a part of my life because they cannot relate to me anymore. In short, I feel that this pregnancy has come between me and quite a few people, and I know I am in a major adjustment period, and it really sucks right now.

For those of you who have continued to be a part of my life, online or unplugged, thanks so much for hanging in there with me. It seems that a lot of my blog readers have jumped ship, and that has affected me more than I'd like to admit (probably because it has come at a time when I am noticing that some in-real-life people can't seem to be bothered with me anymore). The truth is, a blog is a dialogue, and many people have stopped talking. It's hard to carry on a one-sided conversation. Thanks to those of you who do comment or who read at all. Thanks to all of you who check in with me or who even think about me at all, ever. Things haven't exactly been easy, and it's times like this when I really need people. (I'm a people person, so I need people anyway.) Your comments and emails and phone calls and texts and interactions really do matter.

I think I sound like an absolute basket case right now, but the truth is, this week has kind of sucked so far and I'm exhausted and feeling like I'm getting sick again. I hate our childbirth classes because they are so one-dimensional and are doing absolutely nothing to help me deal with the heightened emotions I feel. I hate the baby boards on the Nest, because they are full of women who just want to tear each other down. I hate that all people see when they look at me is a giant belly. When did I stop being a person? When did it become acceptable to stop asking me how I am? I feel like I am all alone on the world's biggest emo rollercoaster and I am sad and scared but trying to hang in there, because I know things are going to get better.

(Disclaimer, part two: All this that I've written here does not mean that I am not happy to be pregnant or that I don't want Charlie. It means that things are really flippin' complicated and scary right now and that it is possible to feel many different emotions at one time. We tried hard for this baby, and we are thrilled to know that he's coming. No matter how hard things get, I am so grateful for the blessings in my life.)

March 24, 2009


Ever heard a song that felt like it was written especially for you?

I had one. It was my anthem. It came up randomly on my iPod this afternoon.

Oh look at how she listens
She says nothing of what she thinks
She just goes stumbling through her memories
Staring out on to Grey Street.
She thinks, "Hey, how did I come to this?"
I dream myself a thousand times around the world
But I can't get out of this place.
There's an emptiness inside her
And she'll do anything to fill it in
But all the colors mix together - to grey
And it breaks her heart
How she wishes it was different
She prays to God most every night
And though she swears it doesn't listen
There's still a hope in her it might
She says "I pray oh But they fall on deaf ears,
Am I supposed to take it on myself
To get out of this place? "
Oh There's a loneliness inside her
And she'll do anything to fill it in
And though it's red blood bleeding from her now
It feels like cold blue ice in her heart
When all the colors mix together - to grey
And it breaks her heart
There's a stranger speaks outside her door
Says take what you can from your dreams
Make them as real as anything
Oh It'd take the work out of the courage
But she says "Please
There's a crazy man that's creeping outside my door,
I live on the corner of Grey Street
and the end of the world."
Oh there's an emptiness inside her
And she'll do anything to fill it in
And though it's red blood bleeding from her now
It's more like cold blue ice in her heart
She feels like kicking out all the windows
And setting fire to this life
She could change everything about her
Using colors bold and bright
But all the colors mix together - to grey
And it breaks her heart
It breaks her heart
To grey

I'm not that girl anymore, and I don't know if I will ever have another anthem. But it's nice to know that I've moved from Grey Street to Love Street.

What is/was your anthem?

On friendship

I had no idea that friendship was weighing so heavily on my mind until last night during dinner. What started off as an off-the-cuff comment about friendship ended up being a pretty lengthy discussion with Roy.

I have to wonder about friendship sometimes. It seems more often than not to be a product of convenience. You make friends with people you go to school with or work with or whatever, and then circumstances change, and it seems that many friendships seem to kind of fizzle out.

That's been my experience, anyway. I have very few friends who have stuck around for the long haul.

As much as I wanted to delete my MySpace and facebook accounts, I was also kind of reluctant to do so. So many people only communicate with me via those sites (which is weird to me), and so deleting my accounts seemed very final to me, in a way. But I did it anyway, for reasons I already talked about.

It makes me wonder if these friendships tend to fizzle out because the mode of interaction isn't equally effective for both sides. For me, I love communicating through email, especially during work hours or when talking with someone long-distance. (Of course, email is second to talking in person.) But several friends I have (who are even in different time zones) just don't use email that much - or perhaps they just don't email me that much. However, they are/were great about leaving comments on MySpace or sending messages through MySpace, and that never really worked for me. I'm sure we could talk on the phone, but no one seems to be a big phone person anymore. It seems that I talk to voice mail so much more than I talk to an actual person on the phone. Thus there is this breakdown in communication, and it honestly feels that no one is to blame.

But still, it's sad. It's sad that friendships have to change. Someone that I used to talk to and see every day now has to be pestered to no end to have dinner with me once every six months. While I know she's busy (as am I), I also know that we only have the time if we make the time.

It feels like several of my friendships are in the process of changing, and that is never really easy to deal with, especially when the changes are unwanted. But I'm not sure what I expected. I've been in the middle of a big, huge, gigantic change since September, and things are only going to change more. It's only natural that it would affect my relationships.

Obviously, this is really bothering me since I'm up at 4:45 writing about it.

March 23, 2009

Today was a good day.

I am possessed by a force stronger than myself. I find myself thinking for hours about how to organize something. Nothing makes me happier than the thought of cleaning. I honestly feel that my life will be complete if everything is in order. It's all about Getting Things Done.

1) Last week my boss was on vacation. I decided to clean out his office - I asked him beforehand, of course. He's an attorney and a pack rat, so he saves everything. It took three days and the majority of my attention, but his office looked freaking spectacular when I was done. He came back today, and everyone approached him with trepidation. But he was thrilled with his freakishly clean office. It got the day started off right.

2) The nosy-ass admin who sits across the hall from me and habitually stares at me all day was absent today.

3) I managed to catch up on a lot of work that got neglected last week - plus some personal phone calls that I needed to make.

4) After work, I went out and bought birthday gifts for the cutest husband ever, who turns 30 next week.

5) Once I got home, we ate dinner and went through an intimidating pile of bills and other fun things. And then I cleaned and organized our home office.

And now I sit here with ice packs on my back. I'll relax in a warm bath with a book or magazine in a bit, have Roy give me a back massage after that, and then drift off in a sleep that will be characterized by lots of tossing and turning as I try to get comfortable - not to mention at least two trips to the bathroom.

Life is good.

March 21, 2009

It's time to start.

I've been absolutely itching lately to get started. I'm not sure what I want to start, only that I want to start. That I need to start. There's something I'm not doing that needs to be done. What is it?


I'm ready to move past my own mediocrity. I've produced and produced and produced, but hardly any of it has been worthwhile. It needs to be better. It can be better.


I make lists. The lists make me feel better. The lists make me feel like I have a purpose. The lists make me feel like I have done a good day's work if I cross everything off. But what happens when you forget to put the most important thing on your list?


I like to pretend that I contain wisdoms and truths, but then I end up looking elsewhere for both. Is it really a matter of trusting what's within?


I like life a lot better when there's less pressure. But without the pressure, I don't rise. I just deflate. How does one learn to thrive without that constant weight?


It's the first day of spring. New beginnings. Spring cleaning. Big things are just around the corner, this much I'm sure of.


I started writing again. And by writing, I mean I creaked open the door of our filing cabinet, dug through a pile of writing things, found my process scrapbook that I used during my internship last year, and began physically writing. Pen to paper. I thought that blogging was enough, but no, I was wrong. It's not enough. I need something more intimate and tangible.

And now I have it. Again.

March 20, 2009

30 weeks

Today I am 30 weeks pregnant. I am three-quarters of the way through my pregnancy. I simply cannot believe it.

I opted to not look at the camera for this pic, because there was just too much Friday Night Ugly Face to deal with. Enjoy the awesomeness that is my profile.

Pregnancy-wise, this week was very challenging. It was one of those weeks where I found myself thinking, "I'm not sure how I can do 10 more weeks of this." And then, of course I felt guilty for thinking that way at all because I am truly so happy to be pregnant and to be a mother - and because I want Charlie to stay put for at least eight more weeks. I truly don't want him going anywhere yet - even to help me out. I guess even the greatest happinesses in life can be tainted by the reality of being in pain.

In my case, the pain has been physical, and it has become significantly worse over the past couple of weeks. This is pretty much par for the course for where I am in my pregnancy, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with, I'm afraid.

I expected that I would have back pain during pregnancy. I have a pre-existing condition, after all, and most pregnant women have back pain anyway. What I didn't prepare for was how constant the pain would be. I thought, "Oh, I can go to the massage therapist/chiropractor and have this taken care of and be good to go for a month," but I never took into account that I would be carrying around an extra 15 pounds and that the extra weight would definitely take its toll on my body (especially my back).

So at the request of my chiropractor, I started wearing a brace. Getting this thing to work with my current wardrobe has been an extreme source of frustration. It works best with jeans (or anything else with a full panel), which happen to be so uncomfortable to wear right now that they make me want to scream anyway. The pairs of pants that are most comfortable just can't accommodate the brace because their waistlines sit below my belly, so every time I sit down and then stand up, the brace ends up sticking out the back of my pants, which are at that point dangerously close to falling off.

Plus, the brace itself is uncomfortable. I wear my bella band underneath it so it doesn't irritate my skin, but the band ends up slipping down in the back. And let's not forget the heat factor. Wearing the brace essentially adds two extra layers of clothing, and fuck, I'm already burning up.

So yeah, I'm a hot mess. (But I refuse to give up on my comfy pants just yet. I will figure out a way, even if I have to wear suspenders to keep the damn things up. Because the brace really does help with the back/rib pain.)

On Monday I wore the brace to work, only finding that I had to take it off early in the day because of the pants issue. By the end of the day, my back and ribs were killing me, and I had started the dreaded sneezing, which ended up being Nasty Cold #3 of 2009. By the time I got home that evening, I was dangerously close to tears due to the pain and feeling sick.

On Tuesday I spent two measly hours at work and then came home, because I was a non-functioning, sneezing, snotty zombie. I spent the day in bed feeling absolutely miserable. I took numerous warm baths and showers to try to clear out my nasal passages, but nothing was working. I couldn't sleep, so I just laid in bed the entire day hating life. Things finally improved that night when my fever broke and I began to be able to breathe through my nose again.

I've been feeling much better since then, and I really hope there won't be another illness to deal with before Charlie is born. However, I know that the back pain is something that's going to be around for the rest of my pregnancy, and so I have to figure out a way to manage it.

And I will. I just needed to complain a bit about it first. (Okay, so it was a lot.)

March 19, 2009

Loving What Is

This book made me want to hit my head against the wall. Repeatedly. And hard. And to think I only got about 50 pages in before I gave up on it, listed it for sale on Amazon, and sent it off to the next unsuspecting person.

I don't know why I haven't learned my lesson about self-help books. Most of them suck balls. I've only read one that I've found remotely helpful. The others have just been a waste of my time.

This time, I was lured into thinking that this book would be good because a blogger that I like read it and loved it. Also, the author of the book is married to Stephen Mitchell, who is responsible for the best translation of the Tao Te Ching ever. (Seriously, his translation is so awesome that I keep a small copy of the book in my purse!) I thought, "Hey! Anyone who's married to Stephen Mitchell can't be bad!"

Well, I was wrong. I don't know if I think Byron Katie (author of Loving What Is) is a bad person, but I do think that her book really does oversimplify things in a way that could end up having extremely negative effects for a lot of people.

I do agree with Katie's basic premise: that we need to take responsibility for our part in things and that we need to learn to accept reality instead of thinking about how things "should" or "should not" be. I think accepting a situation or person as it/he/she is instead of projecting our ideals onto them is a wonderful and ambitious way of looking at the world.


I do not agree with Katie's assertion that learning to "love what is" is going to equal sunshine and puppy dogs. I think it is extremely irresponsible for someone to claim that by doing "The Work" (which is what Katie calls her self-help plan), one can live in perfect happiness.

We live in a world that is full of pain and imperfection. Perfect happiness does not exist. To deny this is ridiculous. And to say that people need to let go of their pain denies them the rights to feel that pain and to ultimately be human. Yes, I'm sure we could all learn a little about letting go of negative feelings. However, who decided that feelings like anger, sadness, shame, and humiliation were negative?

We did.

And honestly, feelings are feelings. They just are. Bottom line, I think people should be allowed to have their feelings no matter what they are - if they can have them, the easier it might be to let them go when/if they feel the need to.

Like I mentioned earlier, this book also talks about accountability, which I believe is a quality that a lot of people in this world lack. Everything is someone else's fault, etc. Lack of accountability is a quality in others that I find extremely annoying, so it was nice to read what Katie had to say about it.


Again, she went overboard with simplifying the need to take accountability for one's actions. Because the implication is that you have to take accountability for everything that happens to you. And this is not something I agree with. Yes, life is probably 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it, but it is so much more complicated than that.

I know that Katie's overall message is that peace and contentment are ideals that can be reached. But I don't think it's fair to put too much of the blame on ourselves. And I certainly don't think it's right to dangle "perfect happiness" in front of our faces as something that can be achieved if we do The Work.

Granted, I didn't finish the book. For one, it wasn't very engaging. For another, when I was engaged, I argued with it the whole time I read it. It just didn't resonate with me. But I did read the beginning part that explains The Work and a few transcripts that show Katie and The Work in action. Meh. So not impressed.

Here's a positive review of the book (from Amazon):

You know how as you get older you start talking and acting like your parents in certain ways? You don't get up one day and decide you're going to be like your mother or father. It's a process that seems to happen on its own. Reading Byron Katie's Loving What Is, is like that.You easily pick-up on it and find yourself naturally, imperceptibly, using her methods.

This book takes the stuff of life -- family, marriage, children, money, addictions, friends, lovers, judgments of self and life, fear, pain, anger, worry, and the thoughts the mind is constantly generating -- and it shows you how to free yourself from the stresses they impose. It shows you how to take things that bother you and make them not bother you. It frees you from that.

The Work, as Katie's method is called, is easy to do. Nothing beyond the book is required.

In The Work, you start with the worksheet. The purpose of the worksheet is to bring your mind to paper. You start by judging people. Later you judge thoughts, issues, self-judgments. You start with a person. You write down what angers, saddens, disappoints you about that person. How do you want them to change? What do they need to give you? What do you think of this person? What don't you want to experience with this person again? These are only a few of the questions on the worksheet.

Next you investigate each statement in the worksheet by exposing it to four questions. For each statement you ask, (1) Is it true? (2) Can you absolutely know that it's true? (3) How do you react when you think that thought? (4) Who would you be without that thought?

The four questions allow one to look at the source of pain and stress.

Finally you turn around each statement so that instead of judging another person, you are judging yourself. "Bill angers me," can be turned around to, "I anger me," or "I anger Bill," or "Bill doesn't anger me." With the turnaround comes the key to healing because it is a look into reality.

The worksheet presents the situation of stress and pain. The four questions reveal the source of stress and pain. The turnaround shows what the reality is, and with this comes healing.

The book features in-depth examples of The Work in action. The most stressful and difficult human situations are handled. Loving What Is is also available in audio edition, which is an effective way of absorbing The Work.

The most important quality of The Work is that it feels natural. Katie says over and over again that she is a "lover of reality." The Work comes out of reality and takes the user to reality.

And a negative one (also from Amazon):

You know the serenity prayer, "God grant me the grace to accept what I cannot change, to change what I cannot accept, and the wisdom to tell the difference"? This book is a thousand times longer, and only gets a through a tiny part of the prayer. It could really be boiled down to one word: "Accept!". I certainly agree that acceptance is a useful tool for finding inner peace, but the author is holding a hammer and nailing down everything in sight.

I have a basic philosophical problem with her premise. I believe that vulnerability to others and suffering are a fundamental, and sometimes valuable, part of human existence. My fiance was murdered, and I grieve tremendously for him. I don't want to suffer for the sake of it, but my guess is that Rophie would tell me that I don't need to be sad at all. In my opinion, this is not only ridiculous, it's unhealthy. It's human nature to object to loss, and to pretend otherwise ultimately impedes healing. Rophie claims that you shouldn't need anything from other people, that you can give it all to yourself. I say bollocks! We are biologically designed to need each other. Babies who aren't held and loved can't thrive, and it's not because they're telling themselves sad stories.

Like other reviewers, I found her claims of "open inquiry" disingenuous. It was clear in every transcript that she was steering her client to an answer she'd decided upon herself. The author also implies that there's no possibility of healthy disagreement with her perspective. Either you see things her way, or you're unready for "The Work."

I've edited my review because on reflection, this is the biggest problem I have with the book. When you're writing a spiritual book, particularly a book about personal reality, you really ought to make room for the possibility that there might be other approaches that work as well or better for different people. Stating that your book is the end-all, be-all and implying that anyone who isn't helped just isn't doing it right doesn't jibe with that darned "open inquiry" thing. I find it a little amusing that this attitude is reflected by a lot of her fans too. Many positive reviews here openly say that if you don't love this book, there's something wrong with you. How's that for enlightenment? The only thing that really helped me get through the death of my love was group therapy. Some people in the group left it because they didn't find it helpful. One friend of mine cured his depression by becoming a devoted student of Tai Chi. Different things work for different people. THAT'S what an open mind is, not insisting that what worked for you works for the rest of the world.

As for the person who criticized another reviewer for not reading every line in the book: my hat's off to those of you who could. The parts that weren't offensively smug were horrifically dull. She says her book ENDS suffering? I've had more fun reading tax forms.

I will say that several people I respect say this book changed their lives, so it may have value for the new reader. Just make sure you give it a good once over in the bookstore before you fork over your cash.

It's safe to say that 1) I agree with the second review I shared here, and 2) I won't be recommending this book to anyone. Because anyone who can brainwash a rape victim into taking full responsibility for her feelings regarding her rape experience (not to mention the experience itself) really sucks, in my opinion. That's exactly what the author did in this book. And if that's part of the reality that Byron Katie wants me to experience, you can count me out.

March 18, 2009

Things I Love This Week (and Bonus: A Small Rant)

Being as I've been out of commission for the last couple of days, I've had some time to get reacquainted with some cool things out there.

1) Dollhouse, the latest small-screen effort by the awesome Joss Whedon. Several episodes are available for viewing on hulu, or you can just tune in on Friday nights. I am officially hooked.

2) Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves, a blog dedicated to... you guessed it, vintage kids' books! The author of this blog hosts a book giveaway every Monday and sells her vintage finds in her etsy shop. Love this blog.

3) I actually got a cool toy in my Del Taco kid meal. Witnesseth:

In other news, I decided to delete my MySpace and facebook profiles. I rarely use either site. I add people as friends or they add me and then we never talk through either site, so it just feels pointless to me. I don't like getting glittery pictures for comments (because then I feel obligated to post a glittery picture back), and I guess I really don't understand the whole writing on someone else's wall thing. I'd rather read blogs or write emails or something like that.

I think I've come to see these social networking sites similarly to the way I see email forwards: as an annoyance. I don't care about glittery comments, I don't care about how many "friends" I have, and I can't be bothered with being tagged or poked or hugged or whatever. Send me an email or call me - don't tag or poke me or send me some retarded forward. Doing those things does not qualify as "keeping in touch."

(Please note that if you have ever done any of the things that I'm ranting about, it does not mean that I hate you and want you to die a horrible, painful death. It just means that I'd rather hear how you are doing as opposed to reading a stupid forward about how I need to pass it on in the next seven seconds or else the world will surely end.)

So that's what I've got for tonight. I've spent the majority of the last two days in bed, and I am *gasp* actually ready to return to work tomorrow. I read this book in less than an hour tonight, and let's just say that some things we left behind as children should not be revisited as adults - unless you want to devote an entire blog to making fun of them, which to me is completely admirable and totally understandable.

March 16, 2009

Here we go again...

I am hoping this isn't true, but I feel like I'm catching yet. another. cold. If this is the case, then I have had a cold at least once for each month of 2009. I don't guess that's too bad considering it's only March, but hell, it sucks when I can't take a damn thing for it.

In other news, I have so many posts swirling around in my head. Maybe one day I'll sit down and write them. I have so much to say. It feels good to be this inspired. However, time is not on my side these days. My to-do list for the week is long and involved. And every weekend from here until eternity seems like it's filled with something. And to top it all off, it's the last week of the quarter, which means that there's an added bit of stress in my life right now.

And I don't have a clever or interesting concluding sentence for this post.

March 14, 2009

My Sordid Smoking Story

Warning: this is a long entry.

I quit smoking two years ago today. And we all know how I love to tell stories. So here's the story of my addiction to cigarettes.

It all started when I was in the womb. Seriously. My mom was a smoker long before I came into the picture and even smoked while she was pregnant with me. (This was generally accepted as something that was okay back in the day.) Anyway, I grew up with a mom who smoked. She did manage to quit for quite a few years but ended up starting again. She always made it clear to me that she didn't want me to start smoking, and I actually never thought I would.

Fast forward to my freshman year of high school. My BFF that year was named Shevvy, and she smoked. I often lectured her about it, but she just wouldn't stop, even though she was obviously ashamed of her behavior. I kept wondering what was so great about cigarettes. I finally took the opportunity to find out at a party near the end of the school year, when I took my first drag off a cigarette Shevvy was smoking. It was totally disgusting. And I stayed away from cigarettes for awhile.

But as the months passed, I kept going back to them. No one really pressured me to smoke, but all my friends smoked, and so I would join them every once in awhile. Soon, their habit had completely worn off on me, and I was buying my own packs of cigarettes instead of bumming off my friends. For a long while, I would buy a pack and have it for a month or so. Eventually, I began smoking more and more. By the time I was in college, I was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

I think I finally began entertaining the idea of quitting when I was 19 or so. I crafted out meticulous plans for cutting down. For awhile, they worked. And then I began cheating and eventually went back to my pack-a-day ways.

Moving to California really helped me cut down, as Californians are really hostile towards smokers. Smoking is not allowed in many places, and people are not afraid to tell you how nasty and disgusting you are for smoking. Eventually, I quit cold turkey and didn't smoke for four months or so. It was a major achievement on my part, until the night I was hanging out with some of my friends letting loose during finals. I had one cigarette, and that was all it took to get me started again.

There were many half-hearted attempts at quitting. I would usually cave at the first sign of needing a cigarette. And then I would feel awful for not being stronger. And then someone would say something to me about my disgusting habit, thus making the guilt even harder to deal with. I can honestly say that I was miserable as a smoker - the guilt was absolutely gut-wrenching, but the need to smoke was just as strong.

When I started dating Roy, I went to great lengths to hide my disgusting habit from him. I didn't want him or his family to think less of me. But he knew, and I'm sure his family knew, too. I was able to keep up the facade for awhile, but once we got engaged, I started getting more serious about quitting. I know that once we were married, kids would not be far off. (I love my mom to pieces, and I don't blame her for my smoking habit. It was my choice to start. However, I want to model different behavior for my own kids. I do not want them to smoke. And so I absolutely cannot smoke, ever.)

I decided at the beginning of 2007 that I would quit on Roy's and my two-year dating anniversary, March 14, 2007. I used those few months to prepare myself mentally for what was about to happen. I knew that it was going to be hard but that I really needed to do it - not just for me, but for Roy and for our future children. The only person I told about quitting was Roy. He was the only one I wanted to discuss it with, because I didn't want people bugging me day after day about how much I had or had not smoked.

So when Quitting Day actually arrived, I can honestly say that I was ready. I had prepared myself as much as I could, and I would be damned if I was going to stay a slave to the nicotine. And more than anything, I wanted to be done smoking. I think that's the key factor in taking on something that's terribly hard - you have to really want it.

So I quit cold turkey, and you know, I haven't had a cigarette since. Yes, I had days when it was tough. I still have those days when I crave a cigarette, but all I do is wait it out and the craving passes. I will probably be doing this for the rest of my life, but it's a small price to pay for having more time with those I love.

I don't think I will ever be in the clear, because once you're an addict, you're always an addict. Sometimes I will catch myself trying to justify smoking a cigarette, and it's funny to see what my brain is capable of. I will tell myself, "Oh, it's just one, you can handle one, it's not going to hurt anything." (Yes, I have even had these thoughts during my pregnancy - and if that's not a testament to the power of addiction, I don't know what is.) I have to remind myself that one cigarette can and will be my downfall. I will never be able to smoke socially or casually. I will never be able to have just one. I am - and always will be - a smoker. Only now I'm a smoker who used to smoke.

I am so glad I quit. Hands down, it was the best thing I have ever done for myself. Smoking really is my only regret in life. I am usually able to find some good in the mistakes I've made or in the bad things that have happened, but nothing good for me has come from smoking. I really, really, really wish that my mom and brother would quit - however, I know based on experience that this is a battle they will have to fight on their own. They will have to decide for themselves when or if they want to quit.

And this is why I will never (or hope I never) moralize to those who struggle with any kind of addiction. I will never tell a smoker that they stink or that they are going to die of lung cancer. They already know that smoking is bad for them. And there is so much guilt surrounding the act of smoking because every smoker knows exactly what they're doing to their body. It's just not easy (at all) to stop doing it. Plus, we all have addictions - it's just that some are more socially acceptable. It would kill me when someone holding a bag full of food from McDonald's would tell me how bad smoking was for me.

All that said, here's what I did to successfully quit smoking. This is what worked for me, and I bet it probably won't work for everyone.

1) I set the quitting date months in advance - I knew I would need a lot of time to mentally and emotionally prepare.

2) I changed my routine and the habits that I had built up around my smoking addiction. For example, Dr. Pepper and cigarettes always went hand-in-hand for me. So I cut down on my Dr. Pepper consumption. And I stopped drinking it in the morning because it would make me want a cigarette in the morning, which would then set the tone for the entire day.

3) I cut down on the amount of cigarettes I smoked each day before the actual quitting day.

4) I held myself accountable by telling Roy that I was going to quit, and every time I wanted a cigarette, I would tell him. Just the act of telling him was very helpful. He didn't moralize or tell me I shouldn't smoke; we would just acknowledge the desire and move on. It really helped that we didn't dwell on it; I just needed to say what I was feeling and get it out there.

5) I rewarded myself for milestones met. I can't really remember any specifics here, but I imagine I probably went out and bought myself some books or a smoothie or something as a reward for not smoking.

6) I didn't make a big deal out of quitting. I didn't make a big announcement that I was going to do it; I just made my preparations and did it when the time came. As I mentioned above, this really helped - because no one asked me how my quitting smoking was going.

And that's really all I did. I can't stress enough that quitting a bad habit really is a process of trial and error, and for me, it took a long time to figure out what exactly would work to get me to stop smoking. My advice to anyone out there who wants to make a change is to not give up if the first, second, or tenth attempt at quitting/changing doesn't work out - rather, you should examine what you did in that attempt and, when you are ready, try something new the next time. It is never too late to make a change - I really believe that.

Ultimately, the message behind my story is this: Don't give up. You can do it! I never thought I could, and here I am, happily smoke-free for two years now (after smoking habitually for about 10 years or so). And I am not ashamed at all to admit that I am extraordinarily proud of myself.

It's nice to know that we can change our self-destructive behaviors. It gives me hope for the rest of the world. Granted, I am still far from being perfect. But this is one thing about myself that I never liked, and I finally had the courage to do something about it.

Happy Date-iversary! / Ten Things I Love About Roy

Four years ago, Roy and I went out on our very first date.

By the time we met, unrequited love and I were really good friends. As a result, I was a cynic. I didn't believe in "the one." I didn't believe that I would ever get married because I didn't see myself as the marrying kind. And I sure as hell didn't think that anyone would ever really love me the way I really needed to be loved.

I had my heart locked up in a small metal box. I didn't think I knew how to love unconditionally. I didn't think I knew how to love at all. I thought I would always be alone, no matter who I was with. To me, love meant limits and walls. It wasn't a beautiful thing - no, to me, love was dangerous.

Imagine my surprise when this unassuming young guy with striking blue eyes took me out on the most awesome first date ever and actually called me the next day. Imagine my delight when he did indeed call me the day after we first had sex. Imagine my joy when he told me three short weeks after our first date that he was falling in love with me. Imagine my shock when I realized that I felt the same way with absolutely no reservations - and it felt completely safe.

Imagine that.

Our relationship has not been anything close to resembling a fairy tale. And neither was our first date. When he took me out that first time, he didn't bother to clean out his car, he wore some ratty jeans and a T-shirt, and he ran out of money. He made no effort to be anyone other than himself. I loved that about him - I still love that about him. I think he's amazing. I think he's real. I think he's made me a better person. I think that he's my best friend and the only man I've ever been with who has ever really loved me. I think that he's the only man I've ever been with who I've been able to love without reservation.

In all honesty, I think he's absolutely perfect. And I think I knew it four years ago when we went out on our first date and I got drunk on apple martinis while playing pool. I'm so glad he called me on March 11, 2005, and asked me out. That phone call changed my life.

Here are ten things that I love about my Roylet:

1) He gives me permission to feel what I feel. If he catches me apologizing for or questioning my emotions, he always tells me that it's okay to feel the way I do. I have never had a single significant other who was able to do this for me.

2) He's flippin' adorable. Seriously, it does not get any cuter than Roy. It just can't. The world would be in serious trouble if it had more cuteness to reckon with.

3) He tells me he loves me all the time.

4) We don't fight (in the normal sense of the word, anyway). We get irritated with each other every now and then, of course, but our "fights" get solved so quickly that they don't even really feel painful most of the time.

5) He wants to make me happy.

6) He is going to be a wonderful father. I have seen this quality in him since the very beginning, and I have always known that his children are the ones that I want to have. I know he's scared of screwing up, but I also know that he's going to be absolutely amazing as a dad.

7) He keeps me interested. I have to admit that I have always had a wandering eye and a mind that goes off to really kinky places that don't necessarily involve the person I'm with - if you couple this with my genuine curiosity and my own pathologies and dysfunctions, I have not always been on the straight and narrow path in my past relationships. But Roy is able to keep me so emotionally secure and protected that everyone else in the world simply pales in comparison. (And I'm sure that the fact that I am much more mature than I used to be is also a factor in this as well.)

8) We are fully honest with each other. This is something I had never experienced in a relationship before. It's very freeing to know that I can tell him any damn thing and know that he will still love me.

9) He's affectionate. He hugs me, holds me, and gives me kisses. He does things to make me laugh. He doesn't want to get out of bed in the morning because he wants to be with me (and vice versa).

10) He has really challenged my assumptions about people and especially men. Roy has renewed my faith in humanity. He is just such a good person that being with him makes me want to be a better person. I am so honored to be his wife.

The four years that we've been together have undoubtedly been the best of my life. I'm looking forward to a whole lifetime of happiness with the cutest husband ever.

Happy Date-iversary, behbehs!

March 13, 2009

29 weeks / Ten Things I Love About Charlie

Woohoo, I'm 29 weeks pregnant today!

Charlie is now the size of a squash:

I have no idea how big that really is, but let's just say that the squash is the third to last fruit to which he will be compared. (The next one is a honeydew for month 8, and then there's the watermelon for month 9.)

Anyway, let's pretend that a squash is really damn big. Which you can tell by looking at me:

This picture was taken in Charlie's newly painted room. Someday I will not take a belly pic that features me looking like cuh-rap.

Instead of a regular pregnancy/baby update this week, I thought I'd continue on with my Love Week theme and share ten things I love about Charlie.

1) We haven't technically met yet, but he's already taught me so much about myself. He's revealed aspects of my character that I didn't even know were there. He really has changed my life in so many ways.

2) He is stubborn, which only proves that he's mine. Earlier this week I had a day where he barely moved. (This can be a cause for concern, although babies are just like regular human beings in that they have both active and lazy days.) I came home, drank a glass of OJ, and laid on my side for an hour waiting for him to move. In one hour he moved a measly two times. I changed positions to monitor him for the second hour, and all of a sudden he moved all necessary 10 times in the space of about 30 seconds. I am so glad that he actually moved the amount of times he was supposed to; otherwise we would have had to make a trip to L&D. The kid is stubborn as hell. It is worrisome, but it also makes me smile.

3) He uses my bladder as his own personal trampoline. Or perhaps as his own personal punching bag. I have no idea which direction he's lying, so it's hard to tell (for some reason, I keep thinking he's breech right now).

4) He makes me want to be the absolute best person I can be.

5) He's cute. See?

And that was him about 15 weeks ago! Imagine how much cuter he is now.

6) He's opened my mind to things that I hadn't really considered before. For example, before I got pregnant, I wasn't really into breastfeeding or anything like that. I really wanted to preserve my boobs, as silly as that sounds. Now I don't care about preserving my boobs; they will probably never be the same regardless of whether I breastfeed or not. I just want to do this for him. And a million other things, too.

7) He is equal parts Roy and me, and for that reason alone, he is amazing.

8) As much as I feel like I know him right now, I also know that he is full of surprises and that he's going to turn out to be more than I ever dreamed of.

9) He has gotten me more compliments on my physical appearance in the last six or seven months than I've gotten in a long time. People like to tell me I'm cute, but I know it's all because of him.

10) I have back pain, rib pain, leg pain, bloody gums, bloody boogers, gingivitis, a nasty-looking bellybutton, a gag reflex that has returned once again, anemia, acid reflux, ridiculously dark veins in my chest area, the need to pee constantly, and a vag that may never be as cute as it was pre-pregnancy (oh, that TMI again). I can't turn over in bed without groaning, I am the clumsiest and most forgetful that I've ever been, and I have severe emo tendencies. I have no sex drive, I sometimes walk ridiculously slow, and my heavy breathing makes me sound like a pervert. Additionally, I am now beginning to lose control of my bladder at times. And let's not forget all the joys of the first two trimesters of my pregnancy: severe insomnia, nausea, food aversions, exhaustion, dehydration, round ligament pain, spotting, etc. All these things, while sometimes alarming, are/have been totally worth it. It has been amazing to watch the changes in my body, to see what happens as I make more and more room for Charlie.

For the Love of Reading

Yesterday some of my co-workers and I went to go read to/with a kindergarden class at a local school. We did this last year, and it was a ton of fun - not to mention illuminating. Kids these days have amazing reading skills; it makes me so happy.

I loved this picture on the wall of the classroom.

After I sat with about five different kids individually and listened to then read to me, I read for the class as a whole. I read this book.

All this got me thinking about kids' books. I had a lot of favorites growing up, but this one was always a frontrunner. The illustrations are amazing, even after all these years.

What were your favorite books as a child? Let me know - I may just order them for Charlie.

March 12, 2009

The Proust Questionnaire

I heard about this here and decided to give it a whirl. Here's some history behind the creation of this questionnaire - very, very interesting.

Here are my answers:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I don't think such a thing exists.

2. What is your greatest fear?

Losing someone I love. Not reaching my full potential.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

My guilt complex.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?


5. Which living person do you most admire?

My husband. He's a genuinely good person and gets bonus points for putting up with me.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

All that technological stuff I like so much. Cameras. Computers. Etc.

7. What is your current state of mind?


8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Physical beauty. Being rich.

9. On what occasion do you lie?

When I feel it's necessary to spare someone's feelings or when someone is asking me something that is none of their business.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I feel pretty comfortable with my physical appearance most of the time. However, I do have an overbite, and I don't like it. I had braces to correct it but unfortunately I never got a proper retainer to set my teeth.

11. Which living person do you most despise?

I don't really despise anyone. Hate takes a lot of energy. I will say, however, that in my opinion, rapists and murderers are the lowest of the low.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?


13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?


14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

"High five."

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My husband.

16. When and where were you happiest?

On my wedding day.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?

I'd like to be able to paint and draw.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would like to stop being so hard on myself.

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Charlie. Maintaining a healthy and happy marriage. Keeping a strong grasp on my ideals and beliefs.

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I'd like to come back as my enlightened past self. Or my dad.

21. Where would you most like to live?

An old house in Oregon or Northern California.

22. What is your most treasured possession?

Probably my computer. It has my life on it.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

My Great Depression (1997-2001)

24. What is your favorite occupation?

Creative thinker.

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

I have no idea. However, these words are often used to describe me: funny, cute, smart, and nice/sweet. Pretty generic, eh?

26. What do you most value in your friends?

The fact that many of them are so different from me, and yet we are so much the same.

27. Who are your favorite writers?

Too many to name. I adore Margaret Atwood, (some of) Italo Calvino, Ted Hughes, and Charles Simic.

28. Who is your hero of fiction?

I can't really think of one. I always liked Holden Caulfield, but I wouldn't give him hero status.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Anais Nin.

30. Who are your heroes in real life?

My mom. Roy. People who find a way to devote their lives to something meaningful.

31. What are your favorite names?

I think the name Claire is pretty much the perfect female name, in all honesty. And yet I have no plans to name our future daughter Claire.

I can't think of any male names.

32. What is it that you most dislike?

The time-and-energy-suck that is the rat race.

33. What is your greatest regret?

Smoking. More on that later.

34. How would you like to die?

In my sleep. Peacefully and without pain.

35. What is your motto?

Life is short. Make it count. (Cheesy, huh?)

Ten Things I Love About Mao

I'm sure most of you remember when we got Mao.

She started off as this little fearful puffball who kept pooping on the carpet because she was too scared to come out from behind the chair, and all it took was a little bit of salad dressing on my fingers to get her to bond with me. Now we are best of friends, and she is pretty damn fearless.

She's only been in our lives since October, but there are already so many things I love about her. Here are ten of them:

1) She loves chewing on things. She's like a dog or teething baby; she will chew on whatever you give her. I have bite marks on my phone from her attacking it.

2) She purrs extraordinarily loudly - and often for no reason at all. Sometimes we'll let her sleep with us, and I'll wake up in the middle of the night and hear her purring. She's just happy.

3) She still has the cutest little kitten tummy ever.

4) She loves to charge at both Woogas and Kerwin. She'll get down really low and even wiggle her butt back and forth to gain some more speed. It is hilarious to watch.

5) She has no idea how small she is. I've seen her try to make jumps and end up on the floor. She attacks Woogas and Kerwin with all her might, and they take her down with one swipe of her paw.

6) Her nose is tiny, pink, and adorable. I could look at it all day.

7) She loves to hang out with me. If I'm anywhere doing whatever, chances are she'll be the first to get up to where I am and either lay on me or next to me (purring, of course).

8) She wants to be just like Kerwin. She follows him everywhere and does what he does.

9) She doesn't meow. The only time I've heard her meow is the first couple of nights we had her when she was scared.

10) She gets her claws stuck in everything. It's not uncommon to see her unable to move because her claws are stuck in the carpet, for example. (See picture below.)

March 11, 2009

Things I Love This Week

Obsessions of the week:

1) This song, which I heard about here:

2) This song, from my favorite movie ever:

3) This movie:

Ten Things I Love About Kerwin

Kerwin is our amazing and huge black male cat. When I discovered him stuck up in a tree back in August 2006, we certainly were not in the market for another cat. We already had Woogas, you see. But there was no way we could have left that tiny, frantic, strange-looking, black kitten stuck up in a tree, so Roy climbed up and got him down. We left him on our apartment patio with some food and let him decide what he wanted to do. He chose to stay with us. So we brought him inside, introduced him to Woogas, and watched the hilarity unfold. And we have never regretted it for a moment.

Here are some of the things that I absolutely love about Kerwin:

1) He acts like he's all cool, but when sometimes when he is alone in a room, he cries because he is lonely.

2) He loves water. It is not uncommon for him to walk around the edge of the bathtub (we have a claw-footed bathtub) while I am showering or taking a bath. He's even gotten in the shower with me before (but has always hidden himself behind the shower curtain). And he loves to have water dripped on him. He has spent hours and hours hanging out in the bathroom.

3) He has tufts of hair sticking up between his toes.

4) He loves to burrow, especially under the covers on our bed.

5) He stretches out all nice and long when I start petting him, making sure that I don't miss scratching his tummy.

6) He has bald (well, thinning) patches over his eyes (see the picture below).

7) He has a big nose. This was one of the things I first noticed about him: the hugeness of his schnoz. Not only is it huge, it's also as wet as a dog's. Given his burrowing tendencies, it's not uncommon to feel a wet nose on my leg under the covers at times. (As he has gotten older, his nose doesn't seem as big. I think he just had to grow into it.)

8) He has a million nicknames (Little Man, Little Guy, Baby K, Good Kid, etc.) and takes them all like a man. He probably even enjoys them.

9) He can't be bothered with wearing a collar. If I put it on him, he takes it off. He's a smart one.

10) From the start, he trusted me. As soon as he came out of the tree that we found him in, he let me hold him close to me, and he automatically began purring. I think all he needed was someone to love him, and we certainly do. We've received nothing but love in return. (Okay, to be fair, I'm leaving out all the times he's pooped in front of the litter box, as well as his other overly aggressive habits.)

March 10, 2009

Ten Things I Loved (and Miss) About Sasha

One year ago, one of the best dogs I have ever known passed away. You can read about it here. She came into my life when I was 13 years old and has never left my heart since. I still think of her and miss her every day.

Here's my Sasha list:

1) She grunted and groaned when she moved because she was overweight. I loved all her little noises.

2) She had soulful brown eyes. I remember the times when I would look into them as I cried, and it was like she could feel my pain.

3) Her "eyebrows" were also very expressive. She could look pensive or worried or happy depending on what those eyebrows were doing.

4) She ate whatever she could get away with. This included other dog poo, cat poo, her own poo (probably), dead things, all of my mom's cats' food, etc. Her eating was totally out of control, and obviously she had some nasty habits. But when I think back on these things, I can't help but smile.

5) Whenever she wagged her tail, her whole body moved with it. She was just entirely too excited all the time.

6) She had such a sweet disposition and got along well with my mom's cats. I would watch her clean and chew on them and let them chew on and clean her. So cute.

7) She would roll onto her back when you walked up to her. It was her standard "look at me, I'm cute" pose.

8) She looked so damn cute once she'd been groomed and had her fur trimmed. I remember someone referring to her as a creampuff. Yep, that sounds right to me. Sasha the creampuff.

9) No matter how long it had been since I'd been home to visit, she always remembered me. Always.

10) She was never a sleek and perfect purebred dog, but she was always beautiful to me.

Love you, Firf, and miss you tons and tons. I hope there's nothing but happiness (and food) where you are.

March 9, 2009

Ten Things I Love About Woogas

To kick off Love Week...

You'd think that I'd devote Love Week solely to human beings, but no, our pets are absolutely part of our family. We have three lovely little furball kitties, and I adore them.

Woogas was our first cat. She has been with us since New Year's Eve 2005, when we walked into Petsmart to buy some fish and walked out with her instead. She was a tiny little kitten then. Funny thing, the Humane Society (who actually sold her to us) said she was a boy. We didn't find out she was actually a girl until several months later when we took her in to get her fixed.

Woogas' real name is actually Ashe, but somewhere along the way she became Woogas (pronounced "Woo-guhz"). Don't ask me when or how this happened. I only know that it happened, and to hear her referred to as "Ashe" really throws me off sometimes.

Here are ten things that I adore about Woogas:

1) She's the best communicator of all three cats. She has no problem letting us know what she wants or when she wants it. As a result, she comes across as being a little needy and high maintenance. But she absolutely "talks" to me, I swear.

2) She loves for me to pick her up and hold her and carry her around like she's a baby. We do this every single day, sometimes multiple times a day, and it makes her so happy that she rubs her head all over my head, getting god-knows-what all over my hair.

3) And speaking of god-knows-what, she has a leaky eye. She had it when we first got her, and it has stuck around. It's a virus that flares up from time to time, and I guess it's kind of nasty, but it's one of those things that's undeniably Woogas.

4) She tends to just plop down on the ground and stretch out so that she can't be missed.

5) Every morning she is sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for one of us to open the door and let her into the other part of the house. Meowing like crazy, of course.

6) She is a beautiful grey tabby with lovely markings and huge yellow-green eyes and a tiny pink nose. Oh, and she smells good. Really good.

7) Her stomach is all loose and wiggly from when she was fixed; I love jiggling it back and forth.

8) She kneads my head when I'm sleeping and she wants my attention. It's very annoying when she does it, but it's very endearing at the same time.

9) She will not eat food that's been sitting in the bowl for awhile. Nope, it's gotta be fresh from the cat chow container.

10) She likes to knock things off of a surface one thing at a time. She will take several minutes to scoot one thing off a table. She's very methodical when she's being annoying - another quintessential Woogas quirk that is both irritating and endearing.

March 8, 2009

A Decade

I realized earlier this month that it has now been ten years since 1999. One decade. That is hugely significant. I can clearly remember the late 90s. I'm one of those people who thinks that the 90s were recent. When I was younger, I would have made fun of me.

On a more serious note, today marks the 10-year anniversary of the violent death of a girl I once knew. I write about her every year on or around this day. If you'd like some background on what happened, click here.

I remember how her death came when we were on the cusp of a new century and new millenium. How, in the midst of all that possibility of technology and growth, there was this senseless, awful tragedy to reckon with. How my entire hometown struggled to make sense of what had happened. How shocked and frozen I felt upon hearing the news. How I watched her broken-hearted parents walk down the aisle at the church where they held her funeral.

Ten years later, I'd be surprised if anyone really understood the meaning behind her murder. It's just one of those things that does not make more sense no matter how much time passes. The murder of a 20-year-old by handgun is not one of those things that can ever be explained or "gotten over." It just doesn't work like that. Death, no matter how it happened or who it happened to, is hard fact of life. I think the finality of losing someone is one of those things you have to learn to live with. You have to make a space for that loss in your life. You have to acknowledge that it's there in order to move on.

But today I want to talk about life, not death.

I think many, many people (myself included) get bogged down by everyday life. There's marriage and work and kids and school and bills and a failing economy and not enough hours in the day. It's hard not to be overwhelmed by our responsibilities. But I think it's important to remember what our real responsibilities are. They do not include money, a job, a house, or the overdue bills. I'm talking about something a little more elementary. I'm talking about spending time with those we love, saying "I love you," following our deepest dreams, and trying to be healthy (in all ways).

It seems that we spend so much time trying to get to the right place at the right time that we forget to look around and say, "Hey, I'm here right now. I'm going to enjoy this." Before we know it, the moment has passed and we are on to the next thing.

But the truth is, I'm tired of letting the moments pass me by. I complain a lot about things sometimes, and while needing to vent is certainly valid, I wish I had the wisdom to really understand that where I am is where I am and that I shouldn't get upset with myself for not being where I think I should be.

But I am not wise. I'm just human. Completely and irrevocably flawed. A creature of hindsight, not foresight.

However, I have always been keenly attuned to the idea of death. It is not some abstract thing to me. It is a reality. Since I was a young girl, I have known that my time on this Earth is limited and that if I'm going to live, I better do it now and do it as well as I can. Still, it took me forever to realize that while I was waiting for my life to start, it had actually already started and begun to play out.

In three months or so, Roy and I will have a real live baby to care for. Charlie is going to complicate and change our lives in ways we probably haven't even begun to anticipate, but one thing I know is that Charlie will instill in us an amazing amount of love and hope for all of life's possibilities. Ultimately, I think love and hope are what keep us holding on when times are hard; they propel us forward and keep us afloat. And yeah, I think one of our main responsibilities in life is to give that love and hope to others. You never know who might need it.

One thing that I want to remember today is that a 20-year-old girl died 10 years ago, and she had no choice in the matter. It's only fair to her (and to the others that have passed on) that we live and that we do it well, with love and hope in our hearts. And that's another reason why I'm doing Love Week this coming week. I need to remember how lucky I am. I need to remind myself that every day is a gift, as cliche as it sounds. I need to know that the world can be as beautiful as it is cruel. And ultimately, I need to be reminded of the fact that love and time are the ultimate healers of our pain and sorrow.

Thanks for listening.

Love Week

Saturday the 14th is my and Roy's four year dating anniversary. In honor of the upcoming occasion, the majority of my posts this week will celebrate love. I will not only talk about Roy, but I will of course talk about those other lucky creatures who share space with me every day. Stay tuned for some really sentimental, mushy posts coming your way through the 14th. (And feel free to join in on your own blog or in the comments if you want to.)

(Photo caption: "The couple that wears Breathe Right strips together stays together.")

March 7, 2009

Babymoon, Day 2: Lost on the Island, Lost in the Streets

This post has been a loooooong time coming....

Please click here if you'd like to read about the first day of our babymoon adventure.

I had reserved tickets for the Alcatraz tour for Sunday (February 15), and we got up fairly early and went next door to Lori's Diner for breakfast. It was already raining. I liked watching the cooks make our food. The Canadian man sitting next to us struck up a conversation, and we enjoyed his company as we ate our breakfast.

Our intention was to catch a bus to Pier 33, where we would board the ferry for Alcatraz, but we couldn't find the bus stop and ended up running around trying to get a taxi. For awhile there, I really thought we were going to miss the ferry, but we found a cab and pretty much flew to Pier 33.

(You might be wondering why we just didn't take our rental car. Well, by that time we'd learned our lesson - it was just better to take public transportation. We left the car parked for the remainder of our stay.)

We stood near the end of a very long line and eventually got onto the ferry. There was nowhere for us to sit so we huddled outside, where it was freezing ass cold and rainy. Luckily, the ride to Alcatraz was pretty short. I realized on the ferry that my DSLR's battery was dead, which was a complete bummer. I decided to make do with the trusty point and shoot instead - I didn't have much choice about that anyway.

Once on the island, we watched an orientation video, which was interesting - however, I still fell asleep during it. We went into the gift shop and ended up throwing down a ton of money, mostly for stuff to keep us warmer than we currently were. (Did I mention it was really cold and rainy?) And then we set off on our private exploration of the island. I really enjoyed myself, but I hated that I couldn't get closer to the old buildings and structures. I also hated that my stupid camera battery was dead, but I still got some good photos with my point and shoot:

I am a little ashamed to admit this, but Roy and I took the "mobility challenged" tram to the top of the island. Why? Because my uterus is the size of a soccer ball and it's making things harder to do, like breathing. I decided I didn't want to huff and puff up the hill. So we took the little tram and started the audio tour of the actual prison building.

It was really interesting, but we didn't make it all the way through. I was really hungry (don't deny a pregnant woman her food), and my feet and back hurt from standing so much. So we went back down and caught the ferry back. The plan was to take the cable car back to Union Square, but yeah, things got complicated.

For starters, we got on the wrong cable car and ended up at the big ferry building. We had no choice but to get off the cable car because it was the last stop. At this point, Roy realized we no longer had our umbrella - we figured we forgot it at the cable car stop. So we bought a new one and continued on our way. We headed back down toward the financial district on foot and were looking for a place to eat, but it seemed like every single place was closed. That part of the city felt deserted: no one was walking around or even driving around.

When we came up to Nob Hill, I took one look at the steepest hill in the world and told Roy, "I am not climbing that fucking hill." So we caught a cable car instead. The guy who got on ahead of me hit me in the face with his backpack (accidentally) when he swung it off his shoulders to sit down. I was too stunned to say anything. Instead, I climbed up and went to go sit down when the cable car driver (or whatever they call them) told me to watch my backpack so I didn't hit people in the face. Uh, what?! I just got hit in the face! Moron.

A few minutes later, we were getting off the cable car and headed towards our hotel. All in all, it took us an hour and a half to get back to our hotel, which was completely ridiculous. We were soaking wet: our shoes and socks were soaked through, the bottom half of our pant legs were soaked, and all our stuff was soaked as well. We hadn't eaten since breakfast that morning, and it was about 3 PM. We hightailed it into our hotel room, quickly changed clothes, and went next door to Cafe Mason for lunch.

This little tidbit on the menu cracked us both up.

We ate our lunch and then went back to our room. We spent the rest of the afternoon watching My Best Friend's Girl (it was okay) and sleeping. I was flippin' exhausted.

When we woke up, it was dark out (just like our first day), and we decided to take a walk to the nearby Cafe Claude, a cute little French cafe with awesome photography on the walls.

(The two photos below were not on the walls of the cafe, of course. I took them on the way.)

The food was good. Not the best I've ever had, but good.


French onion soup:

Seared tuna ahi:

Potatoes (which really should have been better than they were):

After dinner, we found ourselves back at our hotel.

Love, love, love the below picture of Roy - it's very Albert Camus (hottest philosopher ever). And I even kind of like the one he took of me.

And then we called it a night.