Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Social Obligations in the Electronic Age

Back before the twitters and the books with faces and the tumbles and the flicks, I was on a private bulletin board with tons of cool people that I inherited from my husband. The board emerged as something to do between fantasy football and baseball and other random fantasy sports seasons and the stated purpose was to talk shit about and to each other. It was awesome.

After a little while, we got organized and made a little page where we could all keep track of where we were. Which, actually was a challenge back then. Not many were stationary for too long. Addresses, emails, phones, birthdays. Ah, birthdays.

On the day of your birthday, you could expect a whooosh of birthday wishes. Some funny, some sincere. It was awesome if you were on the receiving end. But then there were days when you forgot to check the boards. Maybe even a few days. Maybe you were even away from your computer for (don't faint) something like a whole week.

And then you came back and wow. Great. You find you are the one sole person who didn't wish someone a happy birthday. Awesome. And then there were other days when, you know, maybe you didn't feel like wishing a particular person a happy birthday. Not because you didn't like them, but because you didn't know them as well as others and maybe by being so effusive in your wishes to them it might make your really sincere wishes to other people seem less sincere....It got to the point where I hated birthdays. Anybody's. Because I felt like I HAD to say something. Or else be the dick. No one wants to be a dick.

Cue Faceb**k.

So now, everyone in the world, or at least those that can see your profile, see your birthday. And now, remembering someone's birthday isn't an accomplishment, isn't a pat yourself on the back because you remembered to pop the card in the mail. (With stamp. Bonus.) It's this thing you HAVE to do. Because you have no excuse. How could you forget someone's birthday when its right there up in the top corner of your screen, maybe even emailed to you. When I get those notices I cringe. Like, what are you, my mom?

As you probably know, I'm not a big fan of social obligations. I want to do things for people because I WANT to do them. I want people to do things for me because they feel the same. Not because they have to, not because some computer dinged at them. I mean, sure, it's awesome to get the pages full of FB wishes. Who doesn't dig that?

Wait. Maybe some of you don't. Does anybody not like them? Anyone see it as flotsam? Ok, fess up, anyone out there with fake birthdays listed to sort through the real friends and the FB friends? I know one or two people in real life who do.

In a strange and roundabout way here, I'm trying to get a handle on social media etiquette. Me, my brother, my mom. All Taurus. All with birthdays this week.
  • If I send my mom a card and a little gift do I have to post on her wall too? 
  • If I text my brother first thing in the morning, am I a jerk for not also publicly blessing the day he was born on his page? 
  • If I do post on someone's wall, does that relieve me from any other birthday obligations? 
  • Are you bothered if you expect someone to post on your wall and they don't? 
  • If you can't see someone in person, if you could only have one, which would you rather have for your birthday? Card? Call? Text? Wall post? Shout out on the twitter?
  • What do you prefer to give?
If I had a little more time this morning, I might have put that barrage of questions into a little poll, but for now, I'd just love your two cents. Any way you want to share them.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

This Post is So Boring

Like, so boring, I'm not even sure why I'm pushing Publish.

But not every post can be a zinger, right? And not every day is an exciting day. Sometimes life is just, life.

Happy Earth Day, y'all.

Mostly, symbolic, I know. Doesn't have a lot of "meat" around it, but its a nice reminder to look around and think, What am I doing to love my surroundings and/or myself a little better these days?

At least that's what we've been trying to do. Trying to fill the time between now and the future with some basic tasks, some mindfulness. Some distractions.

All is fine on the surrogacy front so far. We've completed our draft of the contract, now its in the hands of our gestational surrogate and her attorney to see what they like/don't like. Then it will go back to ours. We'll tweak (hopefully not too much) and probably tweak again. It's all moving forward, but it is a process. And one that doesn't happen overnight. So, we've got some time on our hands.

So with that time, we've decided to:
  1. Plant the garden, and by garden I mean the boxes and pots on the balcony that eventually take over and vie for space with M as he sits and does his puzzles out there. It's a love/hate relationship. I love the plants, he hates nearly toppling over the side every time he maneuvers to his chair with coffee and book and pen in hand. But he's a limber guy, and I think the fresh greens and herbs are worth it. (added challenge: I'm starting tomatoes and peppers from seed this year, which I've never done. As you know, I suck at thinning, so we'll see how this goes.)
  2. Chill on the happy hours - yes, we have a happy place and yes it happens to be a bar and yes, everyone does know our name, but here's the thing - we realized last week that drinking a fancy beer can often be the caloric equivalent of eating a piece of chocolate cake. Yikes. And we wouldn't think of doing that more than once a week, M doesn't even eat cake (so annoying). Yet somehow...
  3. Eat better. We don't eat poorly. In fact, we're pretty damn healthy. But we eat a lot. With gusto. While we're entirely meat and dairy-free at home, we have been known to lapse and get the occasional  large cheese pizza on the way home from previously mentioned happy place. And then eat the whole. damn. thing. We're trying to erase that habit from our routine completely. Luckily (for us, not him) our favorite pizza guy got into a fight with his boss and quit, so the temptation isn't as tempting as it once was. We're also trying to do a little better with portion control, which is actually easier now that we've...
  4. Started p.9.0.x. Holy. Shit. The pain. It's better now. As in, it's good that we can now stand up and sit down without yelping. The first days were brutal. Now, it's just a dull, but kind of satisfying (?) ache. Week one is officially complete. We've worked out at least an hour every day. Sometimes more. We're sweating like fiends. And seriously, feeling kind of smugly great. It's fun to spend the morning with M. It's great to have a partner in the pain. I don't know how long we'll last. The timeframe is a little daunting. But every day we finish the routine is one more day of sweat that wasn't there before. It's easier to eat better in concert with this because for everything I put into my mouth I now consider the amount of this ridiculous, contortionist shit I will need to do to burn it off. I'm waiting for the rain to stop to see if this has any impact on my running - good, bad, indifferent. I mean, its not like I can get any slower....
On the Earth Day front, we've started to try to do more around the apartment to minimize impact. One huge piece of this is water. We seem to have the opposite problem of most of our house-owning friends. Our water pressure is actually too strong. So strong that faucets drip and there's nothing you can do about it. No tightening of bolts, no calling the landlord will stem the steady drip drip....(wait for it) drip. So we started to collect the drips and use the water that would have dripped down the drain to water the garden, the house plants, make the tea...We rack up at least a gallon from the kitchen sink alone. I cringe to think of how much water is running through our apartment building wasted, but at least there's one less tenant who's adding to that. And who knows, maybe there are others in the building that have figured this out well before us.  It's not rocket science.

So, there you have it. A boring, mundane, everyday post about everyday things that are happening in and around our household these days. Lots of cleaning house. Getting our bodies and heads right. Trying to be solid, and calm and strong and ready for whatever comes our way in the coming months.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I'm a bit of a mess this morning. A huge jumbly brain-scrambled mess. I blame my dreams. Awful, awful dreams.

The kind that continue and develop and grow new layers throughout the night. No matter how many times you wake up and try to shake them off. Those.

The entire dream sequence took place in the house where I grew up, not far from here. The bedrooms, the kitchen, the driveway. All vividly drawn. It started with me curled under the covers in my parents' old water bed, heat turned up, trying to get warm, mom coming in and trying to comfort me. I had just learned that dad was going to take his doctors' advice and go to the hospital and, for lack of a better word, go get euthanized. His cancer had grown, no hope was in sight, and the docs thought this was the best approach, an easy, painless death.

He was packing an overnight bag - habit, I guess. But neither of us stopped him. He was cheerful enough, and relieved to have instructions to follow. He may have been whistling.

In real life, my dad is the type of person that takes a doctor's word as bond (except if those words have anything to do with losing weight). "He (or she) is the professional, not me. What do I know? They know best....."

I was crying and getting myself ready to go with him. Grabbing my knitting and the hat I had started to make for him. But he won't be able to wear it... I thought. I don't care. I. don't. care. I am making it anyway.

Dad came in as I was collecting my things and gave me a big hug and that's when the ocean of tears burst through. This is not ok by me! This is not ok by me! I don't know if I said this out loud or just repeated it to myself over and over again.

I realized my brother wasn't there and told my mom she had to find him. Fast. She explained he was out of town with a friend. I explained that if he missed a chance to say goodbye to dad and we let that happen he would never forgive us. And I wouldn't either. She agreed and made some calls. In seconds my brother was in the hallway, almost as tall as the low ceiling. "Hey, everyone! What's going on?" he jovially asked.

"Dad's going to the hospital," says mom.

...and not coming back. And not coming back. That is the part she omits.

My brother always seems to get the benefit of omissions. True, he has a hair trigger temper and has been known for his outbursts. What few people understand is that rage rages inside me too. I just have years and years of experience choking it down. So I get the full brunt of the Real. Brother gets digestible snippets. I apparently "can handle it."

As clearly evidenced by the sea of nightmares claiming me last night.

At this point, I wake. Try to shake it all off, and fall into another dream, this time with M's father willingly deciding to go get euthanized too. Again, cheerfully packing a bag, giving his rationale to us. What the fuck. Then it all turns weird. Those bits are slowly fading out of my memory. But I have a feeling the first half of the night is going to stick with me for quite some time.


Back to reality: the tumor in dad's lung has grown. The chemo hasn't worked. A new drug and protocol were started yesterday, but odds of it holding back the disease are minimal. There is no fix anymore. There will be no remission, simply a buying of time. I left work early last week and went to spend a few days with them. To hear the doctor say it myself. To see how my dad would react. To help get things in order. Finances, directives, powers of attorney.

Fuck. Just fuck.

I didn't cry while I was there. Not once. Because I am the one that handles shit, you see. So the tears come when I don't expect them. In the car on the Turnpike, in the shower, while making dinner. Typing.


It was actually a really lovely visit if you ignore the reason I came in the first place. I took mom out of the house to drink good beer and eat fried pickles. I perched on the couch and let my dad explain the nuances of The Y*ung and the R*stless that I was clearly missing. Oh, he slept with her, oh I see. Oh she thinks that's her sister but she's really not.....ok, got it.

My dad joked and laughed and didn't take offense at things. Our relationship would be very different if there were 70 other years like this. But this is where we are now. And unlike in my dream, right now dad is willing to do anything to buy himself a little more time. So a new chemo started yesterday. We'll know fairly quickly if there is a benefit to it or not.

Meanwhile, I knit the hat that he requested. What color? "The color of hair."

Ok, dad. You got it. Whatever you'd like.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Analogy Project

There is already a stunning collection of posts painting pictures of infertility and loss with analogies ranging from mountains to islands to trains to tracks to radishes.

Yes. Radishes. Here is my submission. An older post, but still one of my favorites.

There's still time to share yours. What images have you used to try to explain your situations to others? To yourself? Which ones resonate most with you?