Saturday, March 31, 2007

Farewell, my old friends

Today I say goodbye to a couple who have stood by me for more than a decade. They met up with me during my first PhD program and have moved across the country with me—several times, whatever the reason.

OK, so the situation’s not really all that dramatic, but today I will be retiring my favorite pajamas. I bought the set from Target: a longish shirt and shorts made of the softest cotton, both in green. They were perfect (and very necessary) for me. I had no pajamas to speak of at the time and was living with roommates. My old tank tops and athletic shorts did some of the work, but real pjs seemed like a good idea. And this set was on sale.

Since I bought them, they have only gotten softer and are just about the nicest thing to have against my skin. But, as will happen, they don’t look so great anymore. The shorts have those spots along the top where the elastic is visible, plus a hole in the back right where I snagged them once. The top is ripped along the left bottom vent; its collar is worn all over with several holes at random intervals. Trillian has been begging me to get rid of them for ages.

And then yesterday morning, as I sat on the couch in my nightshirt, Scooter came out of his room to join me. We cuddled, as we often do. And in the middle of an embrace, he looked at my collar and exclaimed, as he poked a finger in one of the holes “Oh no, your shirt is broken.” I tried to explain to him that sometimes old clothes get like that, but they still can be worn. He, however, was insistent and replied with this: “Maybe I buy you a new one at the shop.” I gave him an extra big hug for that and have been using the anecdote to elicit adoration of my child.

But then we were in Old Navy today, having ended up there on a longish walk. We weren’t looking for anything in particular, but then a nightie caught my eye (specifically the “oxygen” one). I went over to look at it and discovered that it was an amazingly soft material. I turned to Trillian and said, “If you let me get this, I’ll get rid of my green pjs.” She immediately jumped at the suggestion.

Now the silly thing is that if I had simply said, “Oh, I want this,” she probably wouldn’t have batted an eye. Nonetheless, I’ll keep my end of the bargain and repurpose the old pjs (rags or possibly even baby wipes). And maybe Scooter won’t have to worry about his mother wearing “broken” clothing.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Today's ticklings

  • Cleaning out my “Spam” folder in Gmail, the text-ad at the top reads “Spam Quiche” or “French Fry Spam Casserole” or “Spicy Spam Kabobs.” Seriously, have some spam you’re trying to use up? Check your “Spam” folder.
  • The United States Postal Service will be releasing a set of Stars Wars stamps in May. They have strict rules about how long you have to be dead before you can get your face on a stamp? But a sci-fi blockbuster? Definitely its time has come. And not just a single stamp, but 15 that will be presented in the style of a movie poster. AND people can vote on which one is the best; that one will be re-released individually at a later date.
  • I will probably buy a sheet of the Star Wars stamps.
  • Even though it will require a special trip to the States or asking a favor of a family member.
  • Building elaborate houses out of Lincoln Logs and Kapla Blocks (both birthday presents) so that Scooter can “blow your house down.”
  • Making plans for the day that revolve around taking Scooter to the doctor for a suspicious eye (red-rimmed and watery, but not looking like pink eye) only to find a note on the door saying they were closed because his wife had gone into labor. This would be the doctor that Trillian was absolutely positive was gay.
  • My son running around the apartment in a shirt, underpants, socks, and a single yellow Croc.
  • Discovering I have about 5 days more to grade this stack of undergraduate papers than I had budgeted for myself. Especially since I had been aiming for today and I still have 45 left to read. But 45 over 5 days? Piece of cake!
  • Finishing a post mid-day instead of at 10pm at night.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Global Warming Wednesday: BYOB (bag, that is)

Back in the States, we used to recycle our plastic bags at our local grocery store. Every time we thought of it, we stuck a bunch of them in the stroller basket and would put them in the designated receptacle before shopping. And this was not just at Whole Foods—every grocery store took them. So I’ve been a bit surprised to discover that I can’t recycle plastic bags here.

On the other hand, it has made me stop and think about the number of bags we collect in the course of regular errands. When I was walking a dog several times a day, we actually used them and they could go into the Green Bin. But she has been gone for about a year now. Since we’re not in the habit of tossing them, they started taking over the space under our kitchen sink. Sure, we used a couple a week for small trash cans, but that was it. Finally, I took a bunch into Scooter’s class—where they’re used for wet clothes and the like.

But I also was reminded of the saying, “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” Although all three are important in reducing our impact on the environment, those three actions are given in order of descending efficiency. So while recycling is good—recycle everything you can where you are—it is best to reuse what items you can. And even better is consuming less.

And so to my action for the month: bringing reusable bags when I shop. Now this is very straightforward at some place like Whole Foods. There, they encourage the practice, selling good quality reusable bags at a low price and crediting your purchase 10 cents per bag you bring back. Two of the three bags I regularly bring with me come from them, though the one is an insulated bag we bought in the States that makes the clerks up here green with envy. One bag holds just about the same amount as one of their paper bags and the other two hold significantly more, so we can usually fit most of our weekly shopping into just those three bags.

I was feeling pretty good about that until I took stock of just how many bags I end up with from other places. Occasional trips to Shoppers, the campus bookstore, even our organic butcher—suddenly we’ve collected a fistful of bags. And so an increased effort to bring bags with me. The organic butcher, unsurprisingly, approves of the insulated tote; we ended up in a conversation about An Inconvenient Truth last time. On our trip this past weekend to Loblaws, for those items Whole Foods just doesn’t carry (goldfish crackers and pullups being the big items), I brought in my usual bags. The cashier looked at us a little funny, but didn’t say anything. Outside of the big box items, everything else fit into our bags.

Now I haven’t been perfect. Going to Shoppers this week, I intended to pick up a prescription for Trillian and only one or two other items. Of course, I ended up with more than an armful—Gatorade on sale and Trillian’s been sick—and had to accept the plastic bag proffered in order to get things home. And I’m sure I’ll cause some confusion when I bring my own bag in next time. I also haven’t figured out what to do about our nearby take-out place that always has our order ready to go in a plastic bag when I arrive, especially since that is how they bring it out of the kitchen.

On the plus side, my desire to avoid collecting plastic bags and experiences like this are encouraging me to be a more mindful shopper. I try to consider before I leave the apartment whether I should grab one (or more) of the bags hanging on the coat closet handle. And then, if I do end up shopping when I’m out, I am much less likely to grab extra items if it would mean the difference between carrying the item out in my hands or taking a plastic bag. So by reducing the number of bags I use, I seem to be reducing other consumption as well. It’s almost like two steps in one!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Five not-so-little things

Sandra over at Sunshine Scribe took part in an interview game and answered 5 questions from Mama Tulip. Now we’ve moved another space, and I have offered to answer 5 of Sandra’s questions. I have to say, I was floored by her questions. But it has been fun to dive inside myself for a little bit and mine for the answers. So here goes...

Sandra: If you could relive one year of your life again, what year would you choose?

Me: A surprisingly easy question for me, as I have said to many people that 30 was my favorite year. I turned 30 just about 6 weeks after Scooter’s birth. While motherhood wasn’t exactly a cakewalk and I didn’t have it all figured out yet (as if I do now), I was starting to get my rhythm back: I was healing (though that took longer than expected), breastfeeding had gone from painful to pleasant, my instincts were kicking in.

I tell people that I had everything I wanted I at 30. Trillian and I were mostly settled into our house; it wasn’t big, but it was ours. We had no debts beyond the mortgage and a small student loan. I was teaching and felt that I could actually make a difference in my students’ lives. And I felt cozy in my little nest of love.

And it’s not like I only had that for a single year, but that was the first moment that I felt like all was right where it needed to be, and the realization itself brought extra joy.

(A close second would be my first year with Trillian. I sometimes miss that heady whirlwind of first love, sprinkled with a healthy dose of lust. But there was no Scooter then.)

S: What will you miss most about Canada if you move back to the US?

M: Right now, Trillian and I are very homesick, though it’s not for a place that exists yet. We look forward to a day when we will be able to put roots down in a community, get another house with a garden and a dog run, send our kids to the neighborhood school. And I’m pretty sure that will be someplace back in the States.

Nonetheless, I can quickly think of something I will miss. I suspect that this experience is based at least in part on being in Toronto (or at least a liberal, metropolitan area), but I will definitely miss the security that Trillian and I feel in our relationship. Whenever I cross the border back into Canada, I refer to her, without any hesitation, as my wife. Because she is, in a very real and legally binding sense. Our relationship is not at all ambiguous here.

I had long thought that marriage would not make a big difference to us since we have drawn up many of the legal documents that help approximate the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Yet it makes a huge difference to me on a psychological level to know that all of those things are absolutely ours up here, no need to fight or go waving papers in people’s faces.

That’s not to say we won’t be able to find a state or locality that will recognize our relationship on some level (as a ‘domestic partnership’ or ‘civil union’ if not a marriage), but that requires the mental juggling of keeping track of what each border crossing (out of city, county, state, or country) means to the definition of who we are to each other.

S: What would you most like to be remembered for by your son?

M: For most of my life, my defining characteristic has been my intellect. It has helped me earn a living and been a source of pride. People are impressed when they hear what my field is (or what I used to teach), and I enjoy the acknowledgement that I am a smart woman. But then I had my son. And as much as I want to raise him to appreciate education and the joys of thinking, as much as I want him to appreciate my intelligence (outside of the teenage years when he will be convinced I know nothing), it’s no longer the most important thing.

Now I am so aware of how much more I treasure things like kindness and respect. And so what I want my son to remember about me most is something I find hard to put into words, more a feeling than anything else: a sense of embrace. When he thinks of me, I want him to feel that he is enveloped by warmth, kindness, and an understanding that he is loved for everything he is, no exceptions. I want him to feel this through my words, my actions, and my physical presence. I want him to remember what our hugs are like, beautiful moments in which we connect and that is all that matters.

I also want him to remember how I read Thomas the Tank Engine books to him, giving the engines different voices and never letting on just how tired I was of the Island of Sodor.

S: There are a lot of great environmental charities out there. If you could give a million dollars to just one deserving one, which would it be and why?

M: This is a hard one for me. I’m amazingly good at finding things to quibble with about various charities. And right now, for all of my environmental fervor, most of our charity dollars go to gay and lesbian groups or child-related charities. Greenpeace was the first environmental organization to reach my consciousness; as a teenager, even without much money to call my own, I gave them about $15 a year. But I don’t really like a lot of their tactics—too guerilla-ish, which is not my thing (which shouldn’t be a big surprise given my other answers here). And I’ve heard mixed reviews on a number of other groups, so I actually had to do some research to come up with my answer. I started by looking at how different charities rank in terms of using the money they raise responsibly. This site gives me a head start by giving me a list of the A’s. There are a couple there that don’t match my philosophy, but I could happily hand a million dollars over to most of them. There was one name, however, that stood out for me as soon as I saw it. That would be the Earth Island Institute. Their mission and the means they have identified for achieving it match most closely my own philosophy. EII serves as something of an umbrella organization for a number of projects worldwide. They provide the administrative know-how and other support for people who might otherwise not have the chance to see a project to fruition. Right now, there are more than 30 projects in EII’s directory. Some focus on specific geographic areas, such as the San Francisco Bay waterfront, Lake Baikal, and the Tibetan Plateau. Others focus on the dissemination of information, in various countries, about topics like travel, among specific populations. Never mind that they were largely responsible for making American tuna “dolphin-safe,” one of my earliest environmental concerns.

So yeah, I would give them that hypothetical million. And in the meantime, I think I can find $40 or so to join.

S: If you could be a super hero, who would you be?

M: I don’t know that I can come up with the name of an existing super hero. Some of this is a less-than-encyclopedic knowledge of them, but a larger part is that I have such a hard time seeing myself in those roles. As I mentioned a while back in reference to Buffy, I identify with Xander; it was not a popular choice, but my defense boiled down to my admiration for the fact that he does not have the advantage of any particular powers and yet he sticks it all out.

But to get a little closer to answering the question, let me refer to a book by my favorite author, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. Not to go through the whole plot, but the heroine, Hari, finds herself in martial training, and it is obvious to her that this is awakening some part of her heritage she had never known before. This before unknown piece of her leads her to greatness in battle, and this is something she attends to from a sense of duty and a desire to protect those she loves. But after the climactic battle, she recalls stories that tell of this same power having been used for healing in ancient times. That is what I would want to be, a sort of super healer.

OK, enough of the sap-fest! Now it’s time to swap positions. Who wants me to interview them? Leave your request in the comments or email me, and I’ll try to come up with similarly delving questions.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Frak me!

If you haven’t seen the Season 3 finale for BSG yet (and plan to), don’t read this! Seriously, you need to see the show first; don’t read spoilers!

People attached to the show had promised that the season finale would blow our minds, and it delivered for me. Given one of the taglines for the season—One dies. One is a Cylon. One finds Earth.—I had an inkling of what was left. Starbuck died a few weeks ago, so that meant I could look forward to discovering one of the final five Cylons and some hint of Earth (though probably not much more than that).

The first half of this episode, while good, was pretty straightforward. A definite highlight for me has been Baltar’s trial. This has not been very popular with Trillian (who has been half watching the episodes); I think she would have been happy to see some character, any character, take it upon him or herself to rid us of his presence once and for all. And I’ll grant that there was a not small part of me that really wanted Roslin to throw him out of the airlock.*

But I have been entranced by the trial precisely because it engages a dichotomy I see in the capital punishment debate. At the gut level, I understand the desire simply to rid the world of scum. Then a combination of my intellect and heart take over. The death penalty is achingly final and there is no room for error. Better, and I believe this to the depths of my soul, to let 100 guilty men go than to wrongly convict 1 innocent man.

And so with Baltar, as despicable as he is. Here is a man who has gone beyond all that is decent to ensure his survival. I still don’t think he regrets his actions on Caprica, even though they led to the destruction of mankind. He certainly doesn’t regret his relationship with Caprica Six. But Lee was right—Roslin put out a blanket pardon for all actions on New Caprica. Everyone was given a clean slate, regardless of which side they were on and how many deaths they may have caused. Except Baltar. And as slimy and low as the former president is, who can say that he or she would have made any better choices in the same situation?

And then... Then they went and really frakked with my mind. We were not given one of the final five Cylons; we were given four. Tigh, Tyrol, Tory, and Anders find themselves face-to-face, having been drawn to an unused part of the ship by music that nobody else can hear. As they stand and stare at each other, they all come to the same realization. They are all skin jobs, Cylons hidden among humankind. All four were part of the insurgency on New Caprica; all four have been determined in their efforts to free mankind from the Cylons. Tigh remarks that he has been in the fleet for 40 years, fought in two wars. He has been the slowest to accept Athena and still makes plenty of snide remarks about toasters. Tyrol knows the most intimate details of the fleet’s maintenance. He built a Viper from scratch in order to give the fleet that much more fire power against the Cylons. He was head of the labor union on New Caprica and has been instrumental in fighting for the common man. Tory has been the president’s assistant since Billy’s death. She truly believes in Roslin’s leadership. Even on New Caprica, when Roslin returns to her role of schoolteacher, Tory sticks with her and tries to help her rescue baby Hera. Anders was stuck on Caprica during the original destruction. From the remnants of his pyramid team, he creates a small band of rebels who hamstring Cylon operations. He recently began the switch from civilian to Viper pilot.

Trillian had guessed that Tigh was one of the final five. Back in the Temple several episodes ago, D’Anna looked upon the final five and said to one, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know it was you.” As Trillian pointed out at the time (and again last night), Tigh suffered the most in physical terms on New Caprica, losing an eye to her torture.

With Anders, I am reminded of how utterly intrigued by Starbuck many of the Cylons have been. Back when Baltar slept with her, the Six in his head makes suggestive remarks. When she’s held at the Farm during her return to Caprica, all of the Cylons seem particularly interested in getting a hold of her DNA. So how ironic that she ends up in the arms of a Cylon (who doesn’t know he’s one).

Tory and Tyrol are not quite as earth-shattering to me, but it does mean we have another hybrid baby. Wonder how Cally will feel about that!

But it’s those last few minutes that finally did it for me (and has Trillian taking the show off of probation). Just after those four meet, Cylon Raiders appear on Dradis—they have finally caught up with the fleet. Lee immediately shucks his civvies and jumps into the nearest Viper, even though he is not officially back in the military yet. As he flies in search of some Raiders, he is buzzed by a ship. A little bit later, it comes alongside. And there is Kara Thrace, Starbuck in the flesh. She reassures him—she’s back and she has found Earth. Fade out. Frak!

Back to the tagline. “One dies. One is a Cylon. One finds Earth.” There has been some buzz in the discussions I’ve skimmed about the possibility that one person fulfills all of those. Now there is no denying that Starbuck is the one who died. And it appears that she has found Earth. So is she also a Cylon? Is she the fifth, the one who has not yet been revealed?

The answers will have to wait until January 2008. It’s going to be a long 9 months!

*Trillian now has a T-shirt that says “Re-elect Laura Roslin (or she’ll throw you out an airlock).” Mine is a little more simple and, I feel, eloquent: Frak Off.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Riding it out

I should be grading undergraduate papers right now (oh, the grammatical horrors!). Or I could be finishing up the favors for my son’s class for his birthday. Or maybe working on my assignment for Tuesday.

I’ve been trying hard to be upbeat and pleasant, not letting on to the family member who doesn’t know, not wanting to give an opening to the two who do. But, as I told Trillian this morning, I’ve used up my nice. Family leaves town tomorrow and my presence is required only a little this week, so I won’t have to force myself too much over the next few days.

I am certainly sad—I put away the pregnancy journal with that October date, I look at the maternity clothes I had moved into my closet and drawers and know I should put them away again, I consider the schedule I made for the next year and how perfectly the birth fit into what I need to accomplish.

But more than sad, much more than sad, I am angry. And this is not what I’m used to. Usually, I simmer and hold a grudge or skip right to sad. No, it’s not healthy, but that’s my pattern and what I expected to feel. Instead I find myself overwhelmed by raw anger, the sort that makes me want to scream and punch walls.

First the anger was at my body for not being able to stay pregnant. I understand, on an intellectual level, that there was some sort of anomalous chromosomal abnormality, not anything that could be foreseen and nothing that is even that likely to happen again. But I still feel betrayed by my own body.

Since this all began, the cause of the anger at my body has changed. It appears that it will not be able to take care of the problem on its own. I go to the midwife this week for some tests and to decide about going for another ultrasound or to a doctor, most likely both. At the least, I will probably end up with a prescription for a medication to cause strong contractions so that my body will finally release everything since it is unwilling to do that on its own.

Then there’s the anger that I am now scared. Will I be able to get pregnant again? Will I miscarry again? How would I deal with that? How could I deal with that? And I’m angry because pregnancy is something I enjoyed last time and so looked forward to, something I was so ready for, so convinced was part of who I am right now. And then it was suddenly gone.

Finally there’s the general anger. The “it’s not fair” and “why me.” Now, this would generally fall under the sadness category for me, but this time it comes with an unusual-for-me “fuck this.”

I am trying to channel some of this anger and the months of the calendar I now find myself staring down. It will be late summer, at the earliest, before I can consider insemination again. I am headed into exam time, my summer schedule is full, and I will be enrolling in a Spring seminar. And so I will spend the next several months trying to improve my diet, workout habits, and stress levels. I started a gentle, herbal cleanse, as much for what it signifies psychologically as for the expected physical benefit. And the anger has been handy in finding the energy to workout. So far, it has mostly involved walking, but they are much longer and more purposeful than I could otherwise manage.

But I also know that part of my healing process will involve the loosening of this anger, that I can’t truly move on until I let go of it. And so right now, I release it, some small part of it, into the ether.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Birthday excess

The environmentalist in me is trying not to freak out over the excesses of a 4th birthday.

I had purchased a set of Cars partyware—plates, cups, etc—only to discover we have enough leftovers of Thomas items to handle tomorrow’s family party. Not too disturbing for me since everything is paper, and I know that it will biodegrade. We’ll use the Thomas stuff tomorrow; it goes with the cake and a balloon we have (another item I feel pangs about—but we won’t be releasing it and it’s a sort that can be refilled multiple times and played with around the house). The rest of the party items can be used for our smaller party on his birthday-proper. So most of my environmental guilt is soothed on that.

Then there has been a request for wrapping paper. We kept the gift bags and even the tissue paper from last year, so those are getting some reuse. I had already bought a little “Chinese takeout” style box and decorated it with birthday stickers. That holds a couple small items and will be gift wrap we use again. But I ended up buying a roll of wrapping paper and one bow (for some present that is too large to wrap) today. Again, not enthusiastic, but I consider it reasonable.

Finally, there are the gifts themselves. The child already has way more toys than he needs, but he will have no lack of gifts for this birthday. It works out well that we’re celebrating twice. Tomorrow he’ll get items from Trillian’s parents and grandmother, along with one small item from us. The rest of our gifts and the presents my mother sent (it’s the second time she’s managed to get something to us in time for his birthday) will wait until our second party. I don’t know everything he will get, but there will certainly be more plastic and “made in China” labels than I would like.

We were able to steer at least one present in a better direction. A request was made for us to procure a wagon. This was not exactly what we wanted, but we at least managed to find one online at Canadian Tire that had a metal base and wooden sides. Of course, when we got there, it turned out that the website’s claim of “In Stock” at that particular store meant “On Permanent Back Order.” The other options were plastic, and we really didn’t want a plastic wagon. So we made an executive decision and headed to a store that had some toys we knew we wanted to get for Scooter. At exactly the same price as the wagon we had been sent for was a parking garage from Plan Toys. These toys are made of responsibly managed rubberwood and will fit in with many of Scooter’s other toys—Matchbox cars can drive on the wooden garage as well as anything else.

On the plus side, I only ended up with one plastic bag in all of my errands. And I can try to take solace in the fact that birthdays (and Christmas) and their attendant excess are limited to a very small part of the year. Little by little, what I can manage. This year is better than last, and next year will be better still (especially as Scooter begins to understand recycling and such better and I can make an ally of him).

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Having his cake

We're gearing up for the birthday celebration chez Mouse. Family is starting to arrive and the party at home will be on Sunday--not Scooter's real birthday, but the closest date on which visiting family could be here. For his real birthday, we'll have a small party during afternoon snack at his school.

(Brief aside: As something of a compromise since we don't do the big, rent-out-a-play-area, invite-the-whole-class party at this point, we bring the equivalent of favors to his class. Of course, the environmentalist in me (as well as the part that really doesn't want to perpetuate the manufacture of cheap, plastic toys) tries to come up with something a little different/useful. Last year I folded scrapbook paper into origami cups and filled them with swirly crayons, stickers, and coloring sheets. This year I'm using peat pots and adding some seeds and (again) stickers.)

Scooter informed us a couple days ago that he wants a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake and presents--a music box and a hopping frog. I think the presents are based on some things he saw on "Max and Ruby" or "Timothy Goes to School." But the cake is definitely something he came up with on his own. He has also decided that Grandma and Grandpa must be bringing the cake with him; they're missing and the cake's missing, so it's obvious they're bringing it.

Luckily, one of our presents this past Christmas was a train cake pan. And while Grandma will not be bringing a cake with her, she will be baking it Saturday night; I will be decorating it. Now if you click through to the picture, you'll see that the pan makes 9 small cakes. There will be 6 of us here for the celebration. So Scooter will be having his cake and a whole lot of it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Back into the real world

Even though I've written most of my next Global Warming Wednesday post, I'm not quite at a point where I'm ready to switch back to my usual posting pattern. I'm almost there, but I need to process just a bit more before I get there.

Today I made it back onto campus, got a hug from the friend who knew, avoided most other people, and met with my supervisor. I had been semi-avoiding him for most of the semester. Our schedules have been somewhat opposite anyway, so it hasn't taken much conscious effort, but I also had wanted to wait until I was ready to tell him I was pregnant.

I have been nervous about telling my supervisor, any faculty member really, about my miscarriage, mostly because it is an admission that I have been trying to get pregnant. As I mentioned to my friend, there's no way for me to claim it was an accident--or if I did, that would be an even bigger scandal. Luckily, my supervisor took that in stride and, as we discussed what I'll be doing over the next year, made sure my school plans took family plans into account. The meeting also served to remind me that I'm just about to move into the next stage of my program, and that's a little daunting--but I'm saving the panic for later.

Tomorrow I'm getting a manicure, a little treat for myself. And then steeling myself for the arrival of family in celebration of Scooter's upcoming 4th birthday. Which really does blow my mind when I can pull back for a moment--4? My baby? He can't be that old!

Monday, March 19, 2007


The worst of the physical process seems to be over. And, as I said to Trillian earlier today, there’s a part of me that wishes it would have hurt more. The cramps have never even approached the pain I tend to feel in the first couple days of menstruation. And now I just have to wait for things to taper off. I think I was hoping that, just for a little bit, the physical pain might match the mental anguish. I know that I’m lucky not to be dealing with that right now.

I’ve decided to take off one more day of classes, to give myself permission to lay low for another day. And then on Wednesday, I’ll be headed back to campus and a meeting with my supervisor. Since my timetable has now shifted, I will be throwing myself into my school work as soon as I find I can tread water again. With our new timing, I will be even closer to ABD by the next due date. I still would have preferred to stay with our first plan, but this can work too.

My public service announcement for today: Checking in with StatCounter, I see that several visitors have come by way of searches for things like “slow rising hcg healthy pregnancy” and “8 weeks so tired.” I feel bad that these women, possibly very worried about what they’re experiencing, are coming upon me just as I’m dealing with a miscarriage. And I want to make it clear to them that the experiences I had and blogged about, the ones that have landed them here, were a part of my first pregnancy. The one that resulted in the healthy, though challenging, bundle of energy who will turn four very soon.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

What to say?

I had thought to take a few days off, but I find myself drawn to post. To let my friends know that I'm OK. To memorialize some of my feelings.

I began bleeding and cramping last night. Nothing worse than moderate menstrual pain, nothing that would take me to the ER. But a sign that there wasn't going to be any last minute save. No call from the midwife saying I'd misread the label. Of course, I am still without official word, as it seems that the ultrasound office did not get their report to my midwife's office before close of business. But I'm no dummy and I know better than to hold onto a hope that can only be false.

I am struck by the irony that I have not actually met my midwife at this point. I had an appointment at the beginning of last week, but it was canceled when she had a client go into labor. We had rescheduled for this Wednesday. And so the person talking me through this is a voice on the phone. A nice, kind voice at least.

My mother-in-law spent most of the day trying to get a flight to see us, but the weather in the Northeast has apparently snarled all air travel so that there isn't a seat to be had. At least until the end of the week, which is when my in-laws were coming to celebrate Scooter's birthday anyway. While I am not entirely sure that I'm ready to face many people who knew, I would have been happy to have her here.

I am split between detachment and utter devastation. And I recognize this as my coping mechanism, even as I withdraw behind it. I am thankful that the largest part of my mind is rational, understands that this probably does not mean anything for my long term chances of bearing another child and that there was probably nothing that could have been done to change the outcome. This is the part that keeps me going until the quiet times. I will turn to some grading in a bit (poor students, though I really am always fair) and let that serve as my barrier until it's closer to bedtime.

The pregnancy fog, the exhaustion have lifted. And so I find myself doing more than I have in several weeks. Even then, it's not much, since my attention span is lacking, but it helps to tackle small projects as I think of them.

Tomorrow will be a normal Sunday: gymnastics for Scooter, coffee with Trillian, a trip to Whole Foods, some school work. That I can face; it may even provide comfort. But I may take a vacation from classes for the week, just tend to my work at home.

And I may take a vacation from here, or not--I don't yet know how I will feel over the next few days and if this might not be my best therapy.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A bad dream

We’re still waiting for official word on the result of today’s ultrasound. My midwife has checked in with me, both to see if I’d heard anything and to tell me she was trying to track down my records from this morning. But I’m assuming the worst.

As the sign on the examination room informed us, the technician was legally not permitted to tell us anything about the results. After the first part of the exam, the external scan, she said she might show us some of the pictures at the end, but after the internal scan—which took longer than any I’ve had before—she didn’t bring it up again. She did, however, leave Trillian and me in the room for a few minutes with thumbnails of the pictures she’d taken up on the screen. I realized, after staring at them for a while, that I could barely make out some of the labels she had put on them, now in about 4 pt. And for the measurements, I’m pretty sure I saw “7 weeks” and “7 weeks 1 day.” I should be 9 weeks today. So that doesn’t bode well.

After we got home—with Trillian driving, very rare indeed—she made a confession. Throughout her light-hearted reassurances last night, she kept from me the fact that the night before, the same night as my dreams, she too dreamt that I miscarried.

Now I feel the need to make it absolutely clear that Trillian and I do not regularly turn to our dreams for prophecy. While I do have a tendency towards vivid dreams (something I usually enjoy), I tend to approach them as a way of decoding my emotions or as the seed for a story idea. But for whatever reason, pregnancy has brought me dreams of a different sort. And Trillian, who will tell you that she almost never remembers her dreams, has had dreams that are oddly in tandem with mine during this time too.

I have cried a lot this afternoon, and I will be able to talk to the midwife without breaking down when she calls back. Trillian and I will be taking another break, this time for several months, so that I can focus on my school work and Scooter for the time being. Yesterday, I was going to write a post about how I was sad and frustrated after a second visit to the speech pathologist, because Scooter is just enough within “normal” limits that it may be hard to convince people that he needs the services we’re trying to get for him. And so when I emerge from my current haze, I will set myself upon that path.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

On the Ides of March

I had two very vivid dreams last night. In the first, I was bleeding. Copiously, with large clots. And I knew I was miscarrying. I lay down in my dream and willed the bleeding to stop. That is where things went fuzzy. Later in the night, I imagined that I spanned my hands across my belly and felt the baby’s strong movements. I’m pretty sure I smiled in my sleep.

Tonight I am spotting. Not much. It may have even stopped by now. I intellectually understand that this is fairly common and can have no significance whatsoever. And that if this is the worst case, there isn’t anything I can do to change the outcome. But the little voice in my head is panicked. “I never spotted with Scooter.” “I’d already had an ultrasound by this point in my last pregnancy, had proof that the baby was there.” “What about the dream?”

That first dream is, of course, the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the blood, and I told Trillian about it as I told her about the spotting. It was not until after I called the midwife—and established that she will get me in for a walk-in ultrasound tomorrow—that I remembered the second one. I am clinging to that right now, the fact that it was so real that I could almost swear I really felt the baby kick.

I will be figuratively holding my breath until I can see my answer on the ultrasound screen tomorrow. Trillian tells me this is the younger one’s way of upstaging her older brother. He gave us a scare at 6 ½ weeks with slow-rising HCG levels, so she’s going to wait a little longer and make me bleed. He got his picture taken at 7 weeks, so where is hers already? And this is what I will try to focus on in the meantime: the stories I will be able to tell my second child about the grief she caused me even before she was born.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Global Warming Wednesday: Bagging plastic bags

I remember when plastic bags were first introduced at grocery stores. Being a budding environmentalist, I was concerned about the impact all that plastic would have in landfills. As a nod to my concerns, my parents continued to use paper bags. Flash forward a couple decades (and a bit), and those plastic bags are ubiquitous. Buy something at nearly any store and you will most likely be handed your purchase in a plastic bag. There are a few places, primarily grocery stores, where you can still get paper bags if you ask—-though to be fair, the number of trees and energy required to produce paper bags will give a person pause. And so there is no clear answer to the question, "Paper or plastic?"

To my mind, however, plastic bags remain the greater evil. And I’m not alone. More and more places—cities, countries, continents*—are taking action to limit the number of plastic bags in circulation. Ireland has been a leader in this area. While they haven’t outright banned them, customers must now pay for each plastic bag they use, approximately $0.15 US per bag. Not a lot individually, but that adds up over time. This has led to a decrease of approximately 95%. Now, it is true that more garbage bags are being purchased (who hasn’t used those plastic bags for small garbage cans?), so the net amount of plastic being used may not have decreased by much. But even if there is an increase in the number of garbage bags produced and purchased, those are more likely to make it to the landfills.

Think about how often you’ve seen a plastic bag blowing along in the wind, caught in a tree, trampled down in a gutter. Consider how these bags might affect wildlife that swallows or becomes entangled in them. Now imagine the difference if 95% of these bags simply didn’t exist.

IKEA is taking a similar approach to the use of plastic bags in several countries now, having begun to collect (or announced an intention to collect) a premium for each plastic bag a customer uses. This has been the case for about 9 months in the UK; the nickel-a-bag charge in the US** begins tomorrow. This is not about making extra money either; proceeds from the bag charge will go to an environmental group and they’re hoping that they will be able to wean customers off one-use bags entirely. IKEA is the first company to institute such a charge in the US, but this may be the start of a trend.

San Francisco is currently considering a ban on plastic grocery bags. If you read the fine print, it’s not a complete ban; nevertheless, it targets the largest grocery chains and would create incentive to invest in compostable plastics. This is, of course, mired in city politics right now, concerns about compostables mixed with recyclables and vice versa, money issues, etc. But maybe this will light a fire under other like-minded communities.

If you hadn’t already guessed, this is headed towards my new action for the month, which I will address in whole next week. But if you read through some of the above articles, you’ll notice that even more than compostable plastics and paper bags, the answer to the issue of how to get your stuff home is fairly simple: reusable bags. But as always, that may be easier said than done. And I’ll look at that a bit too next week.

*OK, a bit of an exaggeration. In Australia the banning of plastic bags is still limited to cities. But wasn’t that a great use of alliteration and a tricolon?

**Up here in Canada, I’m feeling a little left out. Charge us too!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The end of an era

Scooter is in the process of giving up his afternoon nap.

I remember when we weaned him of his morning nap. On purpose. It was as he got ready to enter a home daycare, and we wanted to get him in sync with their schedule. That wasn’t too bad, and we still had nice long afternoon naps to make up for it.

The end of the afternoon nap was not our idea. Scooter has been moving in this direction entirely of his own volition. Right now he might sleep a couple times a week, mostly when he’s not feeling well. And most of those instances happen at school and not at home. But even there, when I check the nap board at preschool, I most often see the notation “Rest” next to his name.

We’ve reached a bit of a compromise at home on the weekends. It’s no longer “nap time,” but “rest time.” Most of that is spent on his bed, but not under the covers. Cars and trucks have a habit of making their way into the bed. But at least Trillian and I get a little downtime.

Now, believe it or not, this post is not really about Scooter. Or at least not entirely about him. See, I’m currently in mourning about the end of this era. Even though we get a little downtime when Scooter “rests,” it’s just not the same. Nap time often meant that Trillian or I could run off to do an errand without requiring the other parent to give up whatever work she was hoping to get done that day. It’s not that each of us can’t handle the boy on our own—but I’m sure you other parents understand the craving for an hour or so without being “on.”

Given how tired Trillian and I are once Scooter falls asleep, weekend naps had also become a time for two “together” activities: watching movies with no kiddie appeal and... well, you know. But Scooter at rest is not the same as Scooter asleep. We can hear him chattering, and he has a tendency to wander out of his room when he’s had enough.

It hit me as I was trying to fall asleep one night last week that we could be looking at a very long dry spell. No naps for Scooter. On our way to adding a baby with an unpredictable schedule. And I prefer not to think about what prolonged our inactivity after Scooter’s birth (two words: tearing and granulation).

I’d feel even sorrier for myself, but I barely have the energy now... for the intimacy or the pity.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Another Sunday, more BSG

OK, one more short post before I return to some serious thought--though I may skip tomorrow night since I suspect I'll still have lots of work to do for my Tuesday class.

Beginning of first episode without Starbuck. Ouch. Characters are dealing with the fallout, and I've already shed the first tears of the night. Trillian is officially on strike, refusing to watch if Starbuck won't be on. Never mind that she has been around for the first 15 minutes.* Sample conversation:

T-I wonder if they realize what a mistake they've made killing her off.
M-She's not dead.
T-What makes you so sure?
M-OK, she can't be. I need to believe she's not dead.

We'll see. Three episodes left this season and she won't be back for those.

But now the focus shifts to Baltar's trial. And even if there's no Starbuck, I have been awaiting this story arc with great anticipation. So far the storyline has tapped into the ambivalence I've always recognized in myself when it comes to issues of justice. I am adamantly against the death penalty and truly believe in everyone's right to a fair trial. And yet I cannot deny the many times when I, in my gut, have thought the world would be better off without a person's presence and grown impatient with the mechanations of court proceedings.

Baltar's treatment to this point already captures much of that. He is a collaborator and traitor, undoubtedly scum. And yet he is (almost certainly) human** and (without a doubt) a member of the Colonies. He is guaranteed a trial. And I agree with that.

But when President Roslin loses it and orders him thrown out an airlock, haranguing him the whole way, you'd better believe I was right there with him. And when they used experimental drugs to try to extract information, I wanted them to push him just a little further. I'm not proud of it, but I also recognize it as a very human response. And I expect to find myself in a similar position over the next few weeks.

*That's all she ended up watching and has gone off to bed.

**Oh, what a loaded word in this context.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

February Just Post

Mad and Jen have just put up this month’s Just Posts. And for this month, I decided I would nominate a post. It seems even more appropriate this month, given that the Thinking Bloggers Award was making its rounds. And while it is true that my nomination for the Just Post honors the person who sent that award my way, it is a testament to the fact that she makes me think too.

When I was in school, somewhere around age 12, I had a classmate who had lived in South Africa for a while. One story he told has particularly stayed with me. He had a black friend who would come and play at his house from time to time. On one particular occasion, his friend forgot his papers when he left to go back home. He was picked up and detained. Even when my classmate and his family took the forgotten papers to the authorities and explained what had happened, his friend was not immediately released.

Then in high school, I had a friend whose mother had grown up in South Africa. She always struck me as a very proper, British woman, which is where most of her family was. But then I found out that she had been involved in the anti-apartheid movement and, in fact, had known Steve Biko, though she left South Africa for the US before the height of protests.

Recently, Cinnamon Gurl over at Write About Here wrote about her travels in South Africa. Her posts introduced me to the country itself, though politics were not entirely absent. One post in particular stood out: Langa means sun. With Sugar Daddy and Swee’pea, she took a township tour which mixed history with the present. As I read all of this, I got a different view of apartheid’s effects than I had ever had before. And it also made me realize how far there is to go—policy and theory are one thing, reality and action are another. What struck me even more is how Sin accomplished this: through simple observations and narration. No lecturing, no sermonizing. But completely thought provoking.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Staring at the blank box, trying to decide what to write tonight. There are two posts--make that three--in particular that have been begging to be written, but I don't think I have the stamina to see them through to the end, or at least the end I want them to have. So perhaps I will get to them this weekend. Nonetheless, the computer's on, I'm not doing anything in particular, and so I feel compelled to post.

What to write about then? I thought about the old mommy blogger standby, my kid. But I can't even muster the usual cutest-sweetest-smartest child bit (even though he is). Then there's the pregnancy, more fertile ground. But look at that, my brain is so drained that I've managed an unintentionally bad pun (both the pun and its poor quality are unintentional).

So in the meantime, know that I'm still here and, even if recent posts would suggest the contrary, there are real posts coming.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Serious thinking is hard

There are so many things I've been wanting to write about. I've started many a post in my head over the past couple days (earmarking the whole environmental thing for yesterday). But my reality:
  • Presentation tomorrow for my seminar. (Big plus--second and final presentation completed by the halfway mark of the semester. Yeah me!)
  • This required actual work. With actual thinking. While pregnant. Unfair.
  • Oh, and Scooter's been home the past two days with some nasty coughing bug. Of course, he's not so sick that he's been tired. No, no naps for him anymore (which deserves its own post). But the cough has been keeping him (and us) up at night.
  • And Trillian's on some serious deadlines right now too, which means both of us have been spending our days juggling our work with Scooter's demands, trying to decide which ones require immediate response (juice--keep the boy hydrated) and which call for a little benign neglect (play with me--why don't you start and I'll be there in a bit).
Nonetheless, I am proud to say--OK, I'm bragging here--that my presentation was done by 10pm tonight. OK, 10:40 if you include time spent printing off my notes and handout on our super slow desktop. Much better than the 1:30am or so for the last one. That's even with several marathon story times (4 1/2 books in one sitting yesterday, many Thomas stories today), a trip with Scooter to buy some treats yesterday, and a whole family trip to the coffeeshop this afternoon.

But I do have to say, I'm thought out and my brain hurts.

Which is why I'm watching an old Simpsons episode and laughing so hard I'm crying. Yeah, bed would be a good idea.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Global Warming Wednesday: Cars

In 2005, California passed a law requiring a reduction in vehicle emissions. In the next 10 years, automakers will need to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from cars and light trucks by 34%, 25% for larger vehicles. Automakers have been suing in order to block the legislation. California has responded by filing a countersuit that charges that cars’ emissions have cost the state millions of dollars. In the meantime, a number of other states have passed or are in the process of enacting the same standards as California.

Automakers claim that the new standards are impossibly high and that to meet them would be prohibitively expensive. Other critics chastise the “copycat” states and suggest that they’ll be sorry, because they’ll be stuck with whatever changes California makes in the future.

Now, I’ve long suspected that automakers could, without too much difficulty, increase vehicles’ fuel efficiency and reduce emissions significantly. Until this time, however, there has not been much incentive; I would even go so far as to say that there has been some disincentive from oil companies. So I certainly am not buying the argument that the new limits are impossible. And then Trillian sent me a link; some scientists got together and built a minivan, using off-the-shelf technology, that surpasses the requirements of California’s legislation. Without, they say, compromising safety and costing only a little more than current models. The press release points out that several of the components used are currently available in some models—combining them leads to even better efficiency.

Now even if their claims are a bit inflated, even if the costs would be slightly greater (but in mass production, I have to believe that could be brought down), this is something to start from. First step of research and development done, time for each automaker to figure out how to work it into their current lines.

Bonus link: In the market for a new car? Want to see how your current one stacks up? Check out this EPA site!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Pregnancy has eaten my brain

So many ideas for posts. But I spent yesterday and most of today doing actual academic work and now am suffering from pregnancy brain doubled. And so I give to you these random thoughts. Amazingly, all pregnancy related.

The nausea is no fun. I still count myself lucky that I haven’t been hugging the porcelain. Yet. I’ve had some incredibly close calls in the past few days. And it seems to be ramping up for Tuesdays. I was about to put that down as all in my mind due to having a class for which I’ve rarely prepared everything, but then I realized that there are very real reasons for the worsening nausea. It is increased by (1) stress(and I definitely experience anxiety over going to this class) an (2) not enough sleep (and I usually get less sleep for a couple nights as I try to prepare everything).

I had lunch today with the one friend in my department that I’ve told about the pregnancy. She had pretty much guessed it before Reading Week and then caught me scribbling baby names in my notes during a class last week. So there was baby talk in addition to our usual departmental gossip. Though nothing truly interesting since we were missing our usual third (who was out-of-town).

I’m keeping track of the compliments I am receiving because of the pregnancy. It’s amusing right now since the givers have no idea. A week or so ago one classmate asked if I’d gotten a haircut because it was looking so even and healthy. And then today another classmate mentioned my fair, rosy, radiant skin. The pregnancy glow! (Never mind that I consider my current complexion washed out and red—darn mask of pregnancy that I didn’t have last time.)

I will finally get to see a midwife next week, a couple days shy of 9 weeks. I’ve been able to work things out so that I can deliver at a better hospital than those on the “preferred” list. By this time last pregnancy, however, I’d already had at least two blood tests (with concerns about slow-rising HCG levels) and one ultrasound (that confirmed the pregnancy and its viability). I haven’t even been able to get a second blood test yet. The doctor I saw at the campus clinic only gave me a requisition for one and wanted me to come back for another appointment—even though they don’t do any obstetric care—and the second blood test then. But there were no appointments open until after I’ll have seen the midwife. And I didn’t think it would be wise to sit in the office with a bunch of sick college students for a walk-in visit.

I think I’ll be in bed by 9:30. I should be working on a presentation for my other class. But maybe if I get a good night’s sleep, I’ll be able to hold the nausea off for some really productive time tomorrow.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A geek's anxiety

An earlier post, no waiting for Scooter to be in bed. The reason? I am a geek. Slightly longer explanation: Tonight is the “Maelstrom” episode of Battlestar Galactica. The season has been leading up to this episode (at least for me). Buzz is that Starbuck will die, but not really. Now if you remember, Starbuck is pretty high up on my list of favorite television characters. It’s not just the butch swagger and tough-girl exterior (although that really does it for me). As I mentioned way back when, she had a rough family life and bears the emotional scars. The episode tonight is supposed to tap into that and give us a glimpse of her mother.

I am crossing my fingers that her “death” is not permanent, though I will be unhappy if they turn her into a Cylon or pull a Tasha Yar. When they killed her character off, I lost interest in ST: TNG (seriously, geek!); when they brought the actress back as the look-alike daughter we never knew she had... Let’s just say I’m hopeful the BSG writers can do better.

At least this gives me something to obsess over besides baby names and the work I’m not doing.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Priorities for a Saturday evening

I am behind in my readings and have a presentation next week. The logical thing to do is quite obvious, even to me.

But what is the pregnant woman doing? Obsessing about baby names, of course. Girl names specifically.

We were never happy with the original girl's name we had chosen with Scooter--and were able to forget about it early on when we confirmed I was having a boy. Now we're pretty sure this is a girl and finding it quite difficult to come up with any name we really like.

Our son's name is unusual, and we would like a name that "matches." Not talking about rhyming or sounding similar, but something that meets the criteria that his name fulfills:
  1. Unusual, to the point of being fairly rare, but not made up.
  2. Significant meaning, preferably a tie to history or literature.
  3. Open to nickname(s) that are common.
For this one, we're adding the requirement that the new name not begin with the same letter as Scooter's real name. If it did, three of the four members of our family would have the same first initial--and that's just not us.

Obviously this is incredibly important stuff that must be decided right now! Certainly my professor will understand and agree that this is more important than a presentation on how evidence can be used to determine patterns in politics in no longer existing city councils. (btw, not my chosen field, well outside my interests, but a seminar taken simply to check another course off my list.)

Off to skim an article so that I can pick up some more bibliography. I swear. I will not head over to Baby Name Wizard to watch the pretty graph move along as I check out names.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Confession and complaint

My shame-faced confession: After using public transit nearly every day last semester, I bought a parking pass for the current semester. The reasons quickly added up.

(1) The expectation that I would soon be pregnant.

(2) The expectation of winter.

(3) The combination of 1 and 2: I couldn’t imagine dealing with a dawdling preschooler when pregnant and cold. Or carrying him part of the way, as usually happens.

(4) When I did the math, my monthly pass plus his tickets, the cost was greater than a parking pass. Yes, there are the expenses for gas and wear on the car, but we drive a cheap-to-maintain, gas-efficient Toyota.* Not a Prius, but it is in the best class for emissions (something like a Super Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle).

OK, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way...

Today I was working from home. I had planned on picking Scooter up from school early, before the snow switched to ice. Then the storm blew in. Earlier than expected. Heavier than expected. Trillian and I agreed that it would be best to take the streetcar so that I could avoid driving in the muck.

I dutifully wrapped up and headed out into the cold. The snow had already piled up in some places. The wind was sweeping up my pant legs. I had to shield my eyes with one hand so that I could see even a little bit.

At the streetcar stop, there were several people already there. As we waited, even more gathered. After 20 minutes, no streetcar had come from either direction. And it looked like one hadn’t been by for some time before that—the tracks were full of snow. I decided to head back and drive after all. It took me about 45 minutes to drive to Scooter’s daycare (usually a 20-25 minute drive). And then 80 minutes to get home (because we were driving towards a highway that was practically stopped).

But I’m not going to complain about the time. I consider myself lucky that we made it home safely. And Scooter was a real trooper the whole way home.

Here’s what got to me. I waited at least 25-30 minutes at the streetcar stop. I was lucky enough to have an alternate to get where I needed to this afternoon, even if it wasn’t ideal. As I crossed the street to go get my keys and car, another person said he’d just heard that streetcars weren’t running on our part of the line due to frozen track a few stops up. He was in no way associated with the TTC; I think he had walked down from the nearest functioning stop up the line. Otherwise everyone at the stop would have had no information at all. And there doesn’t seem to be any method in place to get this sort of information to stranded passengers. Seems like a gaping hole to me.

Which reminded me of a fifth reason I decided to go with a parking pass this semester. I was tired of the frequent delays and detours our regular route entailed. Not a problem when by myself in decent weather—it’s a fairly easy, if somewhat long, walk home—but basically impossible when I had Scooter with me. So, for the time being, I guess I’ll be sticking with the car.

* Given the current gas shortage in the area, I smirk every time I drive past the Hummer in our parking garage.