Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Ghost Graffiti

If you're into mayflies, it's hard to eat just one.

Ian Frazier

Friday, October 26, 2007

Balance Sheet

After I got my negative blood test results, a good friend reminded me that I didn't owe the blogosphere a report, that I could wait to write about it, or not write about it at all. Having written about the lead up didn't require me to follow through. She's right, but I wanted to write about it. I wanted to acknowledge what happened, not just to get the (very much appreciated) kind words of condolences and support, but also to note that I'd lost something. I realized I wanted to mark the loss after talking to my sister on Tuesday. Karen suggested that my experience might feel different from having a miscarriage. I agree that it is different, but I still experienced the news that I wasn't pregnant as a loss.

I lost the pure potential I'd carried in my heart, if not my uterus. In the two weeks between implantation and blood test I felt it was going to work out. I had moved past the test to the first ultrasound. I was waiting to hear Jill tell me that, like the first time, my hormone levels were so high I was likely carrying multiples. I'd started to wonder what we might name a boy. How we'd afford the time off. I'd invested in a good outcome, and on Monday I lost that investment.

I don't mean to suggest I suffered a life-changing loss. As low as I was on Monday, by Tuesday I felt significantly better. It helped that it was a perfect, beautiful fall day in Portland and that Ada was at her most charming all day. It helped that I have wonderful family and friends. It helped to hear from so many of you. It was not an earth-shattering loss, but it was a loss nonetheless. Lucky for me I have a pretty heavy list on the plus side of my balance sheet, so a loss here and there is sustainable.

As just one item on the plus side of my lifetime balance sheet, I offer this clip of Ada "reading" Maurice Sendak. Please forgive the odd angle. We were in post-bath mode.

Thank you again for all your kind words and support. They have meant a lot to me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

10/19 Now is all you have

He was on an upslope. He was the happiest hooker I ever met.

Lola Rock n' Rolla

Monday, October 22, 2007

Three Little Acorns

I had my blood test today, and this afternoon Jill from the doctor's office called. Just from her greeting, I knew it wasn't good. Last time her voice was full of joy. This time her tone was a clear sign that I was getting bad news.

"I'm sorry, you aren't pregnant."

I am too. I was so confident this time. Maybe because things went so well the first time we tried IVF, maybe because I wanted it to work, but I really felt it was going to happen. So much for intuition.

I am really disappointed. I am sad, but even more I am just so diappointed. Outside my office is an oak tree. Talking to my sister by phone, I bent over and picked up three little acorns. Each is small and perfect, and I could not help think about the three perfect little embryos that I won't see become babies. I'm not crazy, I didn't actually want three babies, but I did want one. I do want one. I am so happy to have Ada, and I will live without another baby, but I so want one.

I put the three little acorns in my pocket. Having thought I was pregnant, the loss of the embryos is so acute right now. It will get easier, but for now I need to hold on to the three little nuts to remind me not of my loss, but of hope. There are a lot of acorns strewn around the tree. Most of them will not become oaks, but one or two could. Hoping my odds are better than that, I am calmed by the idea that we still have chances left. But realistically, I will worry about that tomorrow. Today I really just need to crawl into bed and feel shitty.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

I most admire the bad girl.

Mario Vargas Llosa

Monday, October 15, 2007


Chris and I went to a "parent enrichment" night at Ada's nursery school. We knew what we were getting into, but the reality was still exhausting. Ada attends a Waldorf-inspired nursery school, so it is very touchy-feely and odd in some ways I like and others that impress me less. (Among the less: the Waldorf folks think young kids should not be exposed to bright colors or music that doesn't conform to the pentatonic scale.) Plus, this is Portland, which is already one of the most hippy places on the planet. I still wasn't prepared for a half-hour spiel on the value of soaking grains for a day prior to cooking them. Then there was the singing.

I am exhausted.

In lieu of a real post, I offer a couple of photographs of Ada at the pumpkin patch.

pumpkin sitting

As usual, I took mostly pictures that failed to highlight the key element (other than my child) of the day's outing. Oh well. I know there were a zillion pumpkins there.

two at play

This is a picture of Ada with her new down-the-block friend. I have a couple of great shots of them together, but I want to ask Iya's mom for permission before I post them.

Going to farms with Ada - to pick berries, or find pumpkins (and scale the hay pyramid, marvel over the soft foot of a baby goat, or thrill at a bumpy ride in barrels tricked out to look like cows) - this is one of my favorite things to do with Ada. She has a great time, and the joy on her face is always worth the trip.

Friday, October 12, 2007

At least her priorities are straight

Tuesday afternoon (post-IVF) I picked up Ada from Ellen's house. She'd had a great time playing with Monkey Boy and tearing up their house with him. The moment I arrived, her mood shifted. Ada turned into a whiny, crabby monster child, scanning her environment for things to complain about. First it was that I was not sitting close enough to her while she ate her snack, then that the socks I wanted her to wear were not her socks, she wanted her socks! (You mean the socks I pulled out of your boots? I'm pretty sure those are yours.)

Tipping Ada into utter crazy mode was my refusal to let her ride in the stroller. I walked Ada to Ellen's that morning, but I picked her up in the car so that I could then get gas. Foolish, I know, but I thought it would be a good idea to fold up the stroller and stick it in the trunk. This sent Ada into howls of complaint. Tearful pleas followed, "I want to ride in the stroller! It's my stroller, I want to ride in it!" She even tried to negotiate a little, suggesting maybe she could ride in the stroller in the car. When I told her this was not possible, she wailed and moaned.

Reaching the end of my capacity to hear such insane complaints, I asked her, "Ada, are you frustrated?"

"Yeah," she replied tearfully.

"Are you upset because George Bush is president?"


"Are you upset about global warming?"


"Are you upset because the Bears aren't going to be Super Bowl champs this year?"


"So it's just about global warming?"


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Time isn't holding us
Time isn't after us

Talking Heads
Once in a Lifetime

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Today's the day

8:30 am
I am working from home today, sitting on an hours long conference call. I am also waiting for a call from my doctor about how many of my embryos survived the thaw. I didn't think I would be so nervous, but I am. If all six embryos survive the thaw, we'll let them grow two days (to become blastocysts). Any casualties at the thaw and we implant day-three embryos today.

I got the call, and three made it, so I am going in today. I'm disappointed, and not just because I will miss the last 90 minutes of my conference call. (Oddly, I am actually upset about that.) Strong embryos are more likely to survive the thaw. The fact that they didn't all make it doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't strong, but it isn't the positive sign I was hoping for.

Moving on. I am going in today to have two of the embryos implanted. In typical fashion, I have not been worried through this whole process, but now I am sweating. I contacted Chris and my acupuncture doc, both of whom will join me for this fun.

I'm staring at a huge glass of water. I am supposed to drink 20 ounces of water so that I have a full bladder for the procedure. Last time I drank a ton, and the doctor was a half hour late for the procedure. I was in tears, waiting and fearing that I would ruin my chances for a successful implantation if I lessened the pressure on my bladder. I had to pee three times while waiting for the doctor to arrive, but in the end everything went fine. At the time I was horrified, but in retrospect it is pretty funny that something so high tech could be compromised by something so basic. This time I am only drinking 8 ounces.


So apparently, with my tiny bladder even 8 ounces was too much. By the time I got to the office I was close to writhing. I peed twice before the procedure, but was not moved to cry. Or rather, I didn't cry until the physicians assistant pushed the ultrasound probe on my stomach. This made me cry, then laugh. The PA primly asked if I could stop laughing. No, I can't.

All went well. And by "all" I mean three embryos were implanted. Oy. As I mentioned previously, I fear the possibility of multiples, so the idea of three successful embryos is a bit daunting. As I do not have a moral problem with what they call selective reduction, if three make it we'll be taking action to make sure I don't carry three fetuses. This whole thing is an odds game. The odds of getting one successful embryo goes up when you implant two or more. Two of the embryos looked great, one was fine but not first class. Implanting them all gives us a good chance of getting at least one healthy embryo to take hold.

Of course, there is the possibility that an egg will split on its own. The doctor mentioned this possibility, quickly dismissing it with a breezy "but that RARELY happens!" Um, except it happened to me last time. Right, good to know. Still she thought 3 was the best way to go. So three it was.

After the implantation I waited the requisite 15 or 20 minutes, then got a visit from my fantastic acupuncture doc. Although it is her day off, this doctor made a "house"-call, joining us in the procedure room and hanging out in the waiting room on top of it. Who does these things any more? (If you live in Portland and want a recommendation, shoot me an email.)

Now I'm "resting quietly". I am resisting the urge to run a load of laundry, clean up the dining room table, squeeze in some gardening or do anything else that it calling to me to get done. Instead I think I will do some reading and maybe take a nap.

Book 'Em, Dano

The thoughtful and literate (un)relaxed dad tagged me for a book meme.

Total number of books?

Do people who own a lot of books know how many they have? Too many, not enough. Ok, I'll try. From counting one shelf with 40 books on it, I am estimating about 800. It's tricky, because some of the books are Chris's, but then we have a lot of books we've bought for one another, or together.

Last book read?

Absurdistan. My brother-in-law left it with me when he visited recently. I got really into it, then stalled out midway through and then loved it again by the end. The main character is a 300+ pound Russian Jew desperate to return to New York (and his Latina girlfriend), but thwarted by his father's murder of an Oklahoma businessman. He goes to Absurdistan to buy himself a Belgian passport, which is where all hell breaks loose. If you don't think I'm a good judge, check the reviews. Everyone freaking loved this book. Except - don't read it if you need things to be heading in some direction immediately.

Last book bought?

I have been trying to get books from the library. We are out of shelf space at home, so if I want to buy more books I may need to start shedding some old ones. That said, I made an exception for the my friend Jonathan's book The Pinball Theory of Apocalypse. I was going to buy it at his reading, but I got distracted talking to people afterwards. Plus, buying it on Amazon seems like it could help his stats somehow. I've written about Johnathan's book before, and I ate the book up one day at the beach this summer. Reading Pinball Theory, Absurdistan and Clown Girl all within close temporal proximity made for a sort of odd-plot trifecta, in a good way.

Five meaningful books?

Wow is this hard. What the hell does meaningful mean? While trying to decide what to write about, I walked around looking at some of my books. And I considered using the Cooks' Illustrated New Best Recipe cookbook as one of my five. It certainly is one of the books I consult most often. Eventually I decided that meaningful could be interpreted as books that stick with me years after I read them. It seems fair, since some books stay in your mind long after you read the last page. Sometimes you are left with mental images of the plot or characters, sometimes it is just a feeling that stays with you after you've put down the book. Here are some I can't shake, and wouldn't if I could.

I loved Truth & Beauty. I really enjoy Ann Patchett's writing (Bel Canto is one of my all-time favorite novels) and was very excited to read this book about her friendship with writer Lucy Grealy. Grealy wrote the heart-wrenching Autobiography of a Face about her childhood battle with cancer. Friendships have been a large part of how I define myself. This book is about a friendship, and about devotion to a friend who can not save herself.

Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. I normally shy away from short story collections, because I am frustrated that the story ends just as I am getting into it. That said, a good short story can be fantastic, and Lahiri's are beautifully crafted and a joy to read, even when the story itself is about loss or isolation. I loved her book so much I was inspired to pick up other books of short stories, most notably Nathan Englander's For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. (Like most people who sucked down every word of her book of short stories, I was less enthralled by Lahiri's first novel, The Namesake.)

Wisława Szymborska's poetry collection Miracle Fair (translated by Joanna Trzeciak). This is one of those books that I buy for other people. I looked in vain for it the week before my sister's wedding, hoping to find a copy to give to her and her husband. Maybe for Chanukah. Szymborska won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1996, so it can't be just me that loves her work. Her writing is understated, ironic and often funny.

The Catcher in the Rye. I actually never read this in high school. I read it a few years ago in one of my "gee, seems like I should have read that" phases (see: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter). I am not sure I would have liked it as much if I'd read it as a teen ager, but in my 30s it read as an authentic depiction of a disaffected teen.

(When Chris gets one of these urges, he reads The Odyssey or parts of the bible. I pick a short novel about a pain-in the ass kid.)

Snow Falling On Cedars is one of those books I didn't want to read. It got very popular, and I recall seeing it for sale at the Starbucks near my office in Chicago. Once I got over my reticence, I was completely drawn in by the beauty of the language. (I am a sucker for beautiful language coupled with sad plots.) All these years later I still think of the courtroom scene.

As a bonus I offer a few books I love that don't rise to the level of the books I have just mentioned above.

  • The Last Word. I love obituaries, especially well written ones. The is book is a collection of NY Times obits. It made a great book to read in small chunks just before bed. One life a night. (the book is old enough that I can't find a link, but there are a number of books like this on the market.)
  • Middlesex. Loved, loved, loved.
  • I would have used To Kill a Mockingbird in my five, but that seems so obvious, what with every other child being named Scout, Harper or Atticus. Still, a beautifully written book that speaks to children and adults.
  • Motherless Brooklyn. Who wouldn't love a book about a detective with Tourette's?

It is obvious who I have to tag. Metrodad is the biggest reader I know in the blogging world. I am sure his answers will put mine to shame and I'm dying to see what he has to say.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

All's well that ends well

Or, Why I should not be allowed to screw with a pattern

I have the sense that the blog is getting a big heavy these days, what with thoughts on parenting, breast cancer and the like. Here's a quick change of pace. For the majority of you not interested in the details of my (un)crafty life, forgive me. This may be just a post for Stephanie, in lieu of calling her up at 2 on a Saturday afternoon and blah-blah-blahing at her.

I started with this pattern from Amy Butler. I'd previously made the a-line skirt and apron from this pattern. Finding some great orange silk I'd gotten on deep discount, I decided to experiment a little with the layered skirt. First, I wanted the skirt to be a little less wide of an a-line. Not quite an H, but you know. Then I thought, with such a fun fabric, why make such a long skirt? So I started to measure, and scheme. I bought pattern paper and fiddled a bunch with the original pattern to make a 3 tier skirt with less flare out than the original (a four tier). All was going well until I sewed the three tiers together into the outside of the skirt. I tried it on and decided that, although in its unhemmed length it made a nice sexy little skirt, once I hemmed it I'd have a skirt that left sexy and moved into embarrassing. Maybe not Britney embarrassing, but close.

Having bought way too much fabric (my one saving grace here), I cut out pieces for a fourth tier. Great, but I didn't notice until I'd done the cutting that I didn't leave enough for the seam allowance. So I cut out new pieces again, making sure to leave extra room for big seams. Great. I sewed the back two pieces on, then tested it against the main part of the skirt. Everything works, so I proceed to sew the front and back of the tier together. Done with that, I notice that I have managed to sew the seams on the opposite side of the fabric from the side on which the back pieces are joined. (This means that either the side seams are inside out, or the back one is.) I grab my seam ripper and start to tear out one of the side seams, before realizing I'm doing twice the work by not just ripping out the (one) back seam. Sigh.

Meanwhile, I wonder why my eye keeps twitching.

The layers are supposed to be fray-y like that, really.

the skirt, the whole skirt, and nothing but the skirt

We'll see how this whole raw edge layered thing wears

Oh, and while we're on the subject, I also recently made this purse:

9/10/07 I made it myself

It was from a lazy girl pattern. I never would have made the purse if I had only seen the pattern, which used an ugly fabric for the example shown on the cover. I was done in by a cute version on display at the fabric store.

The inside looks like this:
The green is a lazy but effective way to make pockets.

And I made a skirt this weekend, but no photo because I didn't plan ahead, it is upstairs and I'm pooped.


As long as we are talking crafty, there is an article in the Willamette Week about Portland's crafty women.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

People, people who make comments, are the luckiest people...

Usually I don't notice this kind of thing until mid-day on the day in question, but for once I am up on it (thanks for posting on this early, Mo-Wo!)

The Great Mofo Delurk 2007

Schmutzie (who created the button above) says comments are down everywhere. Good to know, since the autumn increase in comments I experienced last fall hasn't materialized yet this year. If you are lurking about, never commenting, use this opportunity to say "hi". I'd love to know you are out there. A real post will follow tomorrow, I promise. With photos of my semi-craftiness, no less.

Monday, October 01, 2007

If you won't take my advice...

then maybe my friend Stephanie's story will have an impact.

When I moved to Rhode Island in 2000, I left a job I loved and a close group of friends, in a city I'd come to see as home. Chris is an academic, so he made friends at work, but I struggled to meet people in a place where most of the residents are natives. Almost everyone I met had lived in Rhode Island their entire lives, had the same friends they'd had since before kindergarten, and though they were kind, it was clear that they were not looking to make new friends. I really struggled to find friends, and in the end one of my favorite people in Rhode Island did not even live in the state.

Stephanie Williams was the girlfriend of one of Chris's colleagues. Every other weekend she would take the train from New York City to visit him. A journalist, Stephanie was interesting, funny and smart. Some of my favorite moments in Rhode Island were spent in the company of Stephanie and her boyfriend Dan. Chris and I liked them enough that we we saw them in New York too. We went to NYC regularly to see family, and we'd meet up for brunch or pizza.

Shortly before we met, Stephanie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 30. One of the things that impressed me about Stephanie was that despite dealing with cancer (surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation), she was always interested in other people. Maybe because she was a journalist, she tended to look out into the world rather than retreat into her own pain.

Stephanie fought her cancer for three years. She ultimately died, but not before fulfilling a dream to write a novel. Her book, Enter Sandman was published in 2004, the summer she died. Stephanie's story, including her struggle with cancer and her decision to use her limited time to write a book, was featured in a number of national and local publications. She herself wrote an article for Glamour that was published after her death. Her alma mater wrote a a very nice article about her.

It is terrible that Stephanie died so young, but you can do something to help ensure that you and your loved ones do not. Please do monthly self breast exams, and please get an annual exam every year. This is a great start for young women, especially those of us who are generally healthy and do not see ourselves at being at risk for cancer. If you do not know how to do a monthly exam, click here. Most insurance covers annual exams with either a very low or no copayment. It is more than worth the $10 doctor fee and an hour of your time. I know you are busy, but really, this seems like a good use of time. I hope the men in my readership will urge their loved ones to do these exams as well.

I thought to tell you this because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but you should do an exam every month. Even though I admit that I have not been so good about this in the past, I'll promise if you do too.