Saturday, October 31, 2009

Invasion of the Body Snatcher: Month 1

A week and a half ago I found out that I'm pregnant. Holy crap. No need for congratulations - it wasn't exactly some feat of accomplishment. In fact, the running joke in my house is that it was the first thing my husband did when he came home.

You know what the craziest thing is? It should not be that much harder to get into grad school than it is to become someone's parent.

I debated whether or not I wanted to post about this on the blog or keep it a secret until the rest of the IRL people knew. But the advice and support available to me offline is pretty limited and I figured what the hell. If something bad happens, I'd probably post about it on here anyway.

I did not expect it to happen that fast. Not in a million years. That said, the timing of it is perfect because I'll be due in June and I get summers off from work. I was 2 days away from calling my GYN and asking for a new Rx for the pill when the test came back positive. It's amazing how that works out.

So here I am, 8 weeks pregnant this coming Monday. I'm not sick at all which is fantastic, but I do get cramps like a motherfucker and I'm not allowed to take anything stronger than Tylenol. Not even extra-strength Tylenol. I am also exhausted most of the time. I told my husband that getting out of bed in the morning is like trying to re-animate a corpse with nothing but a set of jumper cables and a D battery. I sleep like shit, getting and staying comfortable is nearly impossible, and it doesn't help when 4am finds you down on all fours on the floor trying not to cry as your uterus throws a violent temper tantrum inside your abdomen.

Nope, not a whole lot of sunshine and roses here. Nosirree.

I am also a complete and total airhead. I knew the stereotype of the pregnant brain and all that, but holy shit they weren't kidding. I have all but left the house without pants on. The other day I was driving on the highway, moved over into the right lane because my exit was less than a mile away. And in that .75 mile or so distance, I forgot what I was doing and drove right by the exit ramp. That has never happened to me in. my. life.

I went out and bought the obligatory What To Expect When You're Expecting. It's pretty boring, but I appreciate the information. My other book, though, was worth every last damn penny I spent on it, and that is The Girlfriends Guide To Pregnancy. HI-LAR-I-OUS. Author Vicki Iovine is now my idol. The wit and humor in that book is so fantastic and needed that I haven't been able to put it down. In fact, I am currently reading the section on what to bring to the hospital even though I am 9 months away from that point. I just can't stop reading.

Something I wasn't expecting:

I have been cool as a cucumber about this whole thing. Not overly excited and yuppie-psycho, but not pessimistic and brooding either. I've been very zen - accepting it, allowing myself to be happy about it, willingly taking on the responsibility, mentally preparing myself for the possibility that it might not work out this time around.

Yesterday afternoon I saw the slightest potential sign of something going wrong. I knew on a rational level that it was 99% likelihood of nothing and that I was probably being paranoid. But when the possibility entered my head that I might lose the pregnancy and it felt as if I had some evidence right in front of me, I lost my shit.

I always thought, given what I know about my family's reproductive history, that I could face something like that with the understanding that it is not my fault, that it happens, that it's so early, etc. But when you're looking that demon in the eye, it's a totally different fucking story. It was in that moment that I got to feel what it's like to be a mother instead of just the earthly vessel that I feel like the rest of the time.

Everything is fine. At least for now and as far as I know. My first appointment isn't until 11/10 and next week I have to get the H1N1 vaccine since my job requires me to visit about 14 schools a week and some of them have just closed down due to the swine flu. Hopefully the vaccine doesn't make me sick because I've been running on E for weeks now.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kitchen Adventures

I have made some seriously cool stuff in the kitchen in the past week or so. Inspired by the book Julie & Julia (not the movie, haven't seen it yet), I made 2 Julia Child recipes: Oeufs en Cocotte avec Sauce au Cari, and potato-leek soup. The eggs were awesome, I loved the curry sauce. But in truth, it is way too much of a pain in the ass to be any kind of practical breakfast. However, the claim that it is a powerful hangover cure is spot on - IF you can drag your sorry ass out of bed to cook it.

The potato leek soup was also pretty damn good. I had never eaten a leek before in my life, had no idea it was a type of onion. Used a potato ricer for the first time - I am pretty convinced it would make some damn good mashed potatoes, texture-wise.

I had found a recipe in one of my cookbooks for a casserole that sounded tempting, though in general I am not a fan of casseroles. It was for Southwest Chicken Tortellini Casserole, and goddamn was it good. I have been craving spicy food lately like nobody's business, but while this dish wasn't actually "hot" spicy, it had a nice, soothing spiced tone to it. I plan to kick it up a notch next time.

Today I am attempting to make chili for the first time. I LOVE chili. I am starting with the basic recipe found in the Betty Crocker cookbook (the bible-sized one). I have a couple of tweaks planned, including Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with chiles instead of the plain diced tomatoes, jar salsa instead of the canned tomato sauce, and simmering with a seeded jalapeno or two to add some kick. The recipe calls for the chili to simmer for just over an hour, but I plan to simmer it for at least twice that long. Any tips for me from fellow chili-lovers out there?

It's a cold, shitty, rainy New England sunday - I think it's got "CHILI" written all over it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Unexpected Twists and...Christianity Internalized?

We thought we were all set. The condo was sold, we had found a house we loved, A was finally home from the military and we were all like "Let it rock, baby!"

But then there were issues with his job status that were going to keep us from getting a mortgage. And we thought we were fucked because of the contract on the condo - we were going to have to move in November no matter what. We had nowhere else to live and about a million things were up in the air - could we get the house? Were we totally unable to get the house? Was he going to get this new job that he really wants or wasn't he? WTF were we THINKING, anyway??

We were about ready to kill each other from the overload of stress. I formed a habit of hiding out in a bubble bath for as long as possible as soon as I got home from work. He spaced out in front of a marathon of Supernatural episodes. We drank too much, smoked too much, and argued too much.

And then today, we got word that the condo didn't appraise as high as we needed it to. We could take an additional loss and continue to sell it to our current buyer. We could let the buyer go and reduce the asking price to fit the appraisal. My husband texted me these options while I was on the road, and I responded:

"Take it off the market. And thank god for small favors."

What we needed more than anything else was time. The condo wasn't supposed to sell in 3 weeks. We weren't supposed to need to close on it before A found a new job. We needed time just to find the ducks, let alone get them in a row.

And time is what was granted to us today - in a form that most home-sellers would consider a major setback.

So thank you, Universal Chaos, for working in our favor this time. I raise my margarita glass to you in salute.

On another note, I had a very strange and unexpected reaction to a plot line in one of A's episodes of Supernatural. Now I don't actually watch this show. I was reading a book about Chicago hookers at the turn of the century and the information from the episode came to me peripherally.

Basically, the archangels of Christianity were coming down to earth searching for human "vessels" so they could fight a war against Lucifer and bring about the apocalypse. But they were total assholes - giving one of the brothers stomach cancer as a torture method to get their way, being more concerned with relieving themselves of the responsibility of running heaven than with the suffering and death they were about to bring to the humans on earth, etc.

Michael, Raphael, Gabriel - they were all part of this plot. And they were all dicks.

And this really, deeply, bothered me.

Might I remind you, I am an Atheist. A Catholic-born one, but an Atheist nonetheless. So the fact that it bothered me, bothered me even more.

But my reaction to it was "WTF? The archangels are the protectors of mankind. They are supposed to be the embodiment of kindness, perfect love, and compassion! What the hell kind of bullshit are these writers trying to spin??"

And then I gagged in my mouth a little for even having that reaction.

My grandmother, when I was growing up, was very into the stories of the angels. She claimed to have seen them, and spun fantastical tales of the presence of angels on earth. When I was 4 or 5 years old, I spent every night praying feverishly, asking for an angel to come to me. Obviously, no one ever showed up. I was very upset that my grandmother could see angels and I couldn't. Really, this was probably the first domino to drop in my long and twisting path to Atheism.

The best explanation that I can come up with is that my feelings were aroused in the same way that they are when a beloved fairytale or novel is bastardized for television or the movies. It's not that I believe in angels, but goddammit, you're going to characterize them in the way they were meant to be and has always been told! As in, Michael is supposed to be the most beautiful, most powerful, and most loving angel that ever existed - not some douchebag that smites people for not conforming to his will.

But still. Strange, huh?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A New Chapter, Or a Different Story?

When I announced on this blog that I had decided I was done with academia, I expected a lot more push-back. I anticipated scrolling through comments like "What?!" and the like. But I didn't get that. Instead I received supportive, "make the best choice for you"-esque comments. My first reaction to this was: "You guys thought all along that I couldn't hack it, didn't you."

It's amazing to me, how much weight has been lifted by letting go of the whole "I'm going to make a difference in this world" mantra bullshit. I still question myself frequently, wondering if I'm taking the easy way out, or whether I was cut out for it to begin with.

But it's been a major paradigm shift. It's never easy when your entire world outlook changes overnight - when something that used to be marginal in its importance becomes crucial, and the thing you always thought was necessary becomes minor at best.

I had carved myself out a small niche in the world of academic bloggers - a world I no longer feel a part of. In some ways I feel ashamed for backing out of the fight for women academics. In some ways I feel that I have minimized my potential in exchange for peace of mind. In many ways I feel like "the one who gave up." I'm sure that many of you probably think these things about me as well. And that's okay.

I lost a huge amount of readership during my transition. I think that's a big part of why I disappeared for awhile. When you no longer feel there are readers to whom you have an obligation, you begin to wonder what the point is. But I made friends here. PhizzleDizzle, who is one of the awesomest chicks I have ever met, is now way too far away for an in-person friendship to feasibly work, and that makes me incredibly sad. Though I wish her the best, as always! And to all of you, I still support the work that you do and the dreams that you have, and want everything you want in life to happen for you.

That said, I hope many of you will still follow this blog as your look into the path not taken, at least not yet. The path where husbands don't live hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away. Where roots are put down in a small New England town, where jobs are only 40 hours a week, where domesticity is not a dirty word. Where, if nothing else, we can all find out together exactly how long it will take an academic-at-heart to go completely stir crazy before she throws herself back into the rat race.

I'm not quite sure of the direction this blog will take in the coming months. I'll figure it out as I go along. But the title was always "Pieces of Me" so no matter what, I won't truly be deviating from the original intent.

I thought about "outing" myself on the blog, but I've said too many not-nice things about people to do that comfortably. So instead, I will offer to out myself on Facebook to those of you who don't mind outing yourselves in return. If you'd like to get to know me more personally, see who I am, etc., shoot me an email at and I'll give you the link to my facebook profile.

In the meantime, I hope you will continue this journey with me as I figure out what is most important to me and blog about my progress.
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