Friday, February 03, 2006

Pregnancy, the series

Two years ago, when my friend El was pregnant, she spent a lot of time sick and tired and not up for much more than hanging out on the couch. This was a change for this very energetic woman whose daily activities tend to run from 'find amazing priceless artwork at Value Village' to 'plant 700 bulbs' to 'walk to Mt Tabor and back 3 times'.

But back to her pregnancy days. El was tired, and watched a lot of Tivo'd programs. She got really obsessed with American Idol. At the time, Chris and I were living next door, so every week I'd march over to indulge in the horror with them. (I don't know what number season it was, but this was the year that included Fantasia and William Hung. El, Gee and I got more into this show than we liked to admit - El was on the phones the moment the show ended, trying to make sure that her favorites stayed in (she practically had "I heart La Toya London" tatooed on her expanding belly). All I can say is thank goodness they had Tivo. How much worse would it have been if we'd had to watch the show with commercials? I don't even want to think about the ads that are pitched to AI's target market.

Although all three of us were definitely into it, El and I especially were enthralled. We talked about how lame John Stevens was, and wondered about the future of American girlhood if he was so appealing to them. As obsessed as we were, it was a short-lived love. After that season of American Idol finished, I never watched the show again. I really have no desire to see it, and the days I was excited for the program feel hazily far behind me. Hey, everyone has a skeleton or two in her closet.

The television season after monkey boy was born, I was pregnant. (Oddly, on almost exactly the same time frame as El had been - my due date was within a couple of days of monkey boy's birthday.) Instead of watching more reality TV, Chris and I got deeply into Deadwood. We don't have cable, so we had to scrounge episodes from friends. We watched the second half of the second season saved on Gee's old Tivo before he sold it on ebay. We could not get enough of that show, and I'm still addicted. This year we'll be trecking the 7 blocks over to Casa El/Gee to watch it with them, or without them, if need be. Why else would they have given me a key to their house, unless they wanted me to sit on their couch and watch HBO?

This is really a great series, and I am thrilled that I can now share my obsession with my sister. She had her man got Chinese bootlegs from some friend and have been watching the disks obsessively with their friends. While she was visiting we spent a good 45 minutes on the HBO website poring over plot synopses, costume notes, actor bios. Actually, the plot synopses are great, since sometimes it is hard to tell exactly what has just happened at some critical moment, due to the characters' faux-archaic speech and mannerisms. This is especially a problem if, like me, you tend toward multitasking - tv and sudoku are one of my current favorites.

This year, Z is pregnant. Again on the same schedule. (weird, huh?) Housebound as we are most nights, we often have Z and Mike over for dinner. It is a great arrangement; we get a social life and they get dinner. Well, and our brilliant company. When they first moved back to town, Z and Mike were telling us abou this show that a friend had gotten them hooked on - Project Runway. This reality tv program is about clothing designers, and is interesting in large part for what the designers make in response to challenges to create an outfit for Barbie, lingerie, whatever (oh crap - in looking for info on the website about other challenges, I accidentally saw the winning dress from an episode I haven't watched. Oh well. It looks like a cool challenge - "garden party" is the theme. I'd tell you about the dress, but pretty much the only one reading this blog is my husband, and he's obsessed with the show too.) The year I was watching Idol, before I walked next door to El and Gee's, I'd ask if he was coming. He almost never did come over, and I think he was proud of not sinking to our trash-tv level. But this year? He's way into it - way more than you'd expect from a straight guy who for many years thought jeans and plaid flannel shirts were the height of fashion. To be fair, over the years he's developed a good eye, and he contributes to our group critiques of the runway portion of the show. Plus, he LOVES to randomly bust out with host/supermodel Heidi Klum's "you are off the program" tag line: "Auf Wiedersehen". He loves that almost as much as he loves sending me text messages that say: "Ach, Mein lederhosen!"

I love watching this show with Z and Mike. It isn't just the fun of indulging in trash tv with other people, that feeling that you can share your love of something lowbrow and cheesy without worrying that talking about it will make people laugh or look at you like you've just professed your firm belief in the benefits of an all circus peanut diet. What I love more is spending time with Z and Mike in their last pre-baby days. When the four of us lived in Chicago, we lived two blocks apart and used to spend a lot of time together. Z and I worked together, but we also socialized a lot in a very unstructured way that was so relaxed and open. We sat on our porch grilling and drinking beer, we ate breakfast out, watched movie, wandered around town, listened to Evil Beaver play a street fair gig. For a long time I'd wanted that kind of friendship, where dinner dates don't have to be planned a month in advance and you don't have to be on your best behavior or even be in a good mood to have a good time. Here in Portland Chris and I are lucky enough to have two such friendships with two amazing couples. I know that when Astro is born, things will change some, just like they did when monkey boy and Ada were born. But the changes in our social lives has not been bad - just different. Monkey boy now sometimes goes to sleep at our house, and one day Ada will start doing that at his house and at Astro's. I love that Z and Mike are coming over tonight to watch two more episodes of Project Runway. Even more I love that these friends live within blocks of our house, and that they don't need to knock when they show up unannounced.


  1. My Project Runway buddy A. moved to SoCal almost a year ago. I still call her right after the episode ends to gossip and rehash it. She also got me sucked into America's Next Top Model, but last season was bad, so we are dropping it. In revenge, I addicted her to the long-cancelled Canadian TV show due South. Watching TV is no fun by yourself - but when done with others, as a social activity, I love it. I wish I had some friends in this area (my closest friend felt so isolated here after she had HER baby six months ago that she moved back to Texas!) to veg out with like that. I envy you your community, I really do.

    Also, the Garden Party challenge was awesome. They needed a better budget, though.

  2. We are watching the episodes on tape (C and I are still holdouts about cable - I'd rather pay for wifi). A friend in chicago is sending us the tapes, so we are a bit behind. It adds to the excitement, however.

  3. Your post made me sad :( It reminded me how much I miss my friends from home. I have met some great friends here, but miss the ease of those friendships back home. I miss popping in announced and feeling like it is ok to watch trashy TV and not have to think of witty things to say. I think the hardest part was moving about the same time B was born and never getting to share my full mama self with them. I just want them to know my baby and see me with him. Ok enough feeling sorry for myself. How in the heck did you get your friends to move here? Especially from the midwest. My friends and family from the midwest are midwesterners to the grave and think we are upsetting the laws of nature being out here. Enjoy your friends and your trashy TV time. I just finished watching the trashy "Bachelor" and will look forward to emailing my buddies about it tomorrow. Sorry about my long comment, I am one wordy girl.

  4. I just admitted to Chris that my secret college addiction was the "Sweet Valley University" books. They came off of the Sweet Valley High books that I wasn't allowed to read when I was a kid. To me, American Idol looks good in comparison.