Monday, February 25, 2013

Strawberry cheese ...

Here's what I made, read, took photos of this week!

IN THE KITCHEN

Palak Paneer Pizza: I stared at the photo that accompanied this recipe for an uncomfortably long time. This fusion food mixes marinated tofu, a palak-flavored pizza sauce and pops it onto a crust. Recipe originator uses wheat pita, I used pizza crust. It's so, so, so dang good. It's not hard, but does require a bit of planning to marinate the tofu cubes.

I'm also kind of thrilled that now I have a palak recipe in my pocket.

CONVO OF THE WEEK
JCrew: "I never knew what you smelled like before because you were a smoker."
Me: "So what do I smell like?"
JCrew: "Strawberry cheese."

INSTAGRAMIFICATION

READING
The Fun Parts: Stories by Sam Lipsyte: Lipsyte always tosses me into the crevice between "Too clever, no mas!" and "HAHAHAHA!" With his recent short story collection I've decided that he might be best enjoyed in small doses. That said, I like the unpredictable way his mind works, the way he writes and the grim characters he makes human. Plus he's very funny.

Full review is here.

The Buddha in the Attic
 by Julie Otsuka: It's the early 1900s and a bunch of young women from Japan are traveling to San Francisco by boat to meet up with the husbands they've been hooked up with via matchmaker. Except these aren't the dudes from the photographs and life isn't what they expect.

This story is told from a we perspective and covers the first night, the lifestyles, the children and the way they are herded away to internment camps. It's short. It's powerful. It's not at all a conventional novel.

Full review will be here.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 19

When I first found out I was pregnant I came down with an itchy case of ohshitthisisterrifying. I imagined my body as a package with very fragile contents. I saw all sorts of disastrous scenes unfold before my eyes and felt that maybe the best course of action would be to take a nice long nap in packing peanuts. This had to pass, though. No one can live like that. So I dumbed it all down to a simple pep talk that seems to work:

"Just don't drink any alcohol, smoke any cigarettes and try not to fall down."

Another go-to has become: "Bigger idiots than you have done this." (This is applicable in all facets of life, including parking a car that feels like it was designed for moon landings).

Right now this is getting heavy repetition: "Of course you feel weird. There is an heirloom-tomato sized person reorganizing your internal organs."

I didn't even panic last weeken when I Googled "Pregnant sore belly button." I typed it at a leisurely pace without a quickening of pulse. Curious, but not freaked out. I sensed this was a normal, albeit uncomfortable situation involving a new tenant in cramped living quarters. It doesn't feel nice, though. When prodded, the belly button feels like a funny bone. It also feels like someone is trying to escape from this hole. Maybe, in T-minus 5, this little knot will shoot out of my midsection like a BB pellet. When nicked, it shoots voltage down ones lower abdomen and creates tingles in places I don't want to talk about (mostly because I don't know what they're called). Already with the annoying and we aren't even to the the "why-why-why" phase, I said the Heirloom Tomato, conceding to lie down until it cooled its explorations.

***

For some reason JCrew thinks this is relevant. I'm not convinced she's wrong.



***

She was walking cruising through the Skywalk at a nice clip, an adorable Preggo dressed in green. Her sweater bulged in a perfect circle -- like when you were a kid and stuck a basketball into your T-shirt to simulate, I don't know, teen pregnancy. I tried to make eye contact with the woman. I wanted to shoot her a "Me too! This coat is masking it right now, but ME TOO!"

I wanted to know if she's ever felt like an heirloom tomato had affixed a rope to the inside of her bellybutton so it could repel down the walls of her uterus. She didn't look at me, though. Instead she clacked along with purpose and in my head I quoted from the many pregnancy manuals that crop up in my Googling: "In the second trimester, you may begin to feel more energetic." She was a portrait of that.

I saw her again when I headed back in the opposite direction. She still wouldn't look at me. Her loss.

***

A few weeks ago one of my friends asked if I was feeling alienated and I said yes. But I'm also feeling very not alienated. Like, everyone who has ever inconveniently dropped a 7-pounder into the world is willing to talk about the most gruesome of things with me. There is no need to whisper the word "Hemorrhoids." Not around here. We also burp freely in these parts. Not to mention what happened involuntarily and loud as a toy from a novelty shop while I was shopping for Cinnamon Toast Crunch at Walgreens.

***

Naming a human being is not nearly as easy as it was to name two cats. That time we just considered a favorite novel and yanked names of favorite male characters Hal and Orin Incandenza. Madame Psychosis if one had been a female. This time he's made a rule: No naming our child after a messed up female character in a novel. That's how Lady Brett Ashley got ix-nayed.

I like a lot of names -- at least for girls. The process goes like this: I think of a name, test it against the last name (the last name is a verb, incidentally, which can get dangerous) text name to Chuck.

He responds something like: "Really? You don't look at the name Annalise and immediately see Anal Ize?"

And so it goes with every name.

***

This week my body has changed shape every day. For the first time in a long time I stood naked in front of a mirror. My circles have begat circles. I tried to remember who I looked like. The answer: A crude pencil drawing from an antacid commercial, animated to show a person's bloat after daring to eat chili.

***

Today in the car I was singing along to Stray Cats and felt movement from the litter bugger in the lower middle quadrant. I wondered if I'd triggered it with my warbled "Stray cats strut, I'm a ladies' cat." Maybe you like the music I roller skated to! I thought. But there was no response to Phil Collins, so that theory is out.

I also wondered if all this togetherness between us is why I can hear my mom's voice so clearly in my head.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A complete analysis of 'Be Well' ...

The first time I was "Be Well"-ed I got stuck, head cocked and arm dangling. It was like being fed the wrong line in the Giant Play of Life. The teenaged clerk at the drug store had handed me my receipt, smiled and said "Be well." I didn't know what to do. It felt off to respond "You too!"

"Be well" calls for something dramatic. "And also with you," followed by a reverent head bow. I didn't think fast enough the first time and ended up answering with a noise that sounded like I was gargling salt water.

Her greeting stuck in my head as I left the store. "Be well." Such a strange thing to say, although, really not. I let it go by the time I got to my car. She's 18. She's experimenting. Back when I was a teenager bored with writing the same-old "Have a nice day" on the back of restaurant receipts, I used to come up with far lengthier things to scribble. "It's been a pleasure to serve you. Please come back to the Alpine at Eastwood! Christa." I prided myself on a unique, handwritten pleasantry with each purchase of a Yo! Burger.

She did it again. A few days later. Receipt, smile, then: "Be well." This wasn't experimentation. This was a THING. This is how she talks. She's AP English-ing the people shopping for Gold Bond and Neti Pots. This is clearly a one-woman crusade, I decided. She probably also insists on responding "I'm well, thank you" instead of the customary grunting of "Good, you?" Now it was getting interesting.

Today I was picking up a prescription (and a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch) at the pharmacy -- the opposite side of the store. One of my favorite kids was working. He's probably in his 20s, has messy hair. Once I wrote some fan fiction in my head about how he only dates women that he meets while they are filling birth control prescriptions on his watch. Now I sometimes forget that it isn't true.

He rang me up, handed me my bag and said: "Be well."

Mind. Blown.

Now this REALLY means something, and it's something big. It's more than a one-woman crusade or AP English or the socially acceptable way to talk to Gold Bond fans.

A FEW THINGS THIS MIGHT MEAN
1. The obvious answer is that there was recently an all-employee meeting and someone from corporate drove in from Deerfield, Ill., to spread the message of "Be well" among the store's cashiers.

"'Have a nice day' isn't going to cut it," the suit said. "These people are at a drug store. There is a good chance they're sick. When you say 'Have a nice day' you're basically saying 'Shut up about your eczema and try to have some fun for once.'"

2. The dewy-eyed 20-something in the pharmacy is sleeping with the young woman at the front of the store. It's still pretty hush-hush because management frowns on inner-store relationships. But someone savvy is going to figure out that Romeo has picked up the cute clerk's quirk. It was probably fun at first, getting the employee discount on the cherry-flavored heat-activated massage oil. But you can only do that so long before a person's linguistic ticks seep into your pores.

3. "Be Well" is the new "No Worries." "No worries" has always sounded awkward to me. Dreadlocky and vegan. I think I've said it twice, and both times I felt like I was wearing a verbal Halloween costume.

Monday, February 18, 2013

MELK! ...

Whenever I think of vacation -- the word as a concept -- I think of the time we stepped off a plane at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank to unusual heat. I took off the sweater that had been a necessity in Minnesota, tied it around my waist and stepped out of a shadow and into direct sunlight.

My shoulders were sunburnt within 30 seconds. True story.

It's hard to put the past seven-plus days -- this year's winter vacation -- in the same category. But I will say this: I'm very happy with the champagne-colored blinds we hung in the upstairs bathroom. Like, seriously thrilled. When we got a new curtain rod for the bedroom, replacing one that was permanently sagged under the weight of two monster kitties, I almost did a cartwheel.

OTHER WAYS WE SPENT OUR WINTER VACATION
Perfecting moves inspired by Michael Jackson
Considering which came first: The teenaged stoner who works at a  pizza place
or the teenager who becomes a stoner because he works at a pizza place? 
... regardless: Fake plastic. 
Car buying=So much waiting=Zombie Tsunami

Nacho date
BEAR(ish)! at Lemon Wolf Cafe in Beaver Bay. 
"Ugh. That smelled like shark diarrhea." -- Chuck. 
Home Depot: Take One
No Jacket Required
Shits getting real. 
One-third of Communist Daughter at living room show. Isn't that just like a songwriter to say his worst-favorite song is your first favorite song. 
Melk. 
Anyway: I didn't make anything. So this is just what we've watched and I've read.

WATCHING
House of Cards: Finally. Netflix TV. This 13-episode series is about a White House biggie big, new journalism and behind the scenes wheeling and dealing. Think "The Wire" kind of, think "Damages" a little. It's pretty good. We ate it in two or three big gulps.

BOOKS

The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein: Esther Kohler moves home after college graduation, which has darker roots than just Gen Y slack, and gets wrapped up in her neighbors' super-sad story while trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life.

Full review here.


The Beautiful Indifference: Stories  by Sarah Hall: This is a mucky collection of seven short stories torture, dead insects and bloody muzzles.

Full review here.

Wild (From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail)by Cheryl Strayed: It was hard to read Strayed's memoir of her 100-plus days hiking the Pacific Crest Trail because of her (admittedly) poor planning. The last time I read something about someone taking off like this, the kid ended up dead in an old bus in who-knows-where Alaska. But it's gripping enough and will probs inspire some wanderlust.

Full review here.

Where'd You Go, Bernadetteby Maria Semple: This is exactly the book I would want to write. Bernadette is a bored former innovative architect negotiating an entirely different world in Seattle. And then she disappears.

Full review here.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Space invaders ...

Friday, after three days of shopping, test-driving, selecting and trunk cleaning, I traded the red-hot, 2-door, Honda Civic I'd driven for 10 years in for a small SUV-ish kind of vehicle.

This was like trading my Barbie car for GI Joe's jeep and twice while taking goodbye pix I had to stop to announce "Ok, I might start crying now." This would be normal. I cried in Target's maternity clothing section once because everything in there looked like it was designed for someone who moisturizes and has hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. Crying over my old car would be nothing.

I didn't cry though. Stifled it both times. I was happy to stop visualizing stuffing a car seat into the back of the Civic and balancing it on top of a Martin Amis book I've yet to read and a cashed can of Sugar Free Rock Star. The Honda Civic, at least the coup, is compact. An infant-length arm, extended from the back seat, would still be close enough to me in the front seat to stick its tiny wet finger in my ear. It's a car for someone who never knows when she might have to jam.

A couple of times on Friday I thought of the day I bought it and the way my mom said she knew it was The One from the look on my face when I returned from my test spin. That was New Year's Eve, 2003 and I was beaming. It was my first non-hand-me-down car, my first major purchase, and it was a red hot little number. In the past two years its redness had begun to embarrass me. It seemed the exact shade of my arrested development.

"I've had that car for my entire adulthood," I told Chuck, who saw no reason to get sentimental.
"You got it when you were 27," he said.
"Oh. Yeah," I said. Still, it felt true that I'd been so young before that. I barely remembered the Antifreeze Guzzler With A Bitchin' Heater that preceded it.

This car feels good, safe, wrapped around our bodies. It can handle snow, which was on my must-have list, it has easy access to its backseat. It has a room to haul tons of stuff to Goodwill. It looks a bit like the Ford Taurus station wagon I drove in high school; It looks a bit like a space ship. We took it up the shore on Friday and circled the city with a poorly plotted list of errands today. I'm digging it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 18

Pregnancy resources tend to use foods to describe the size and shape of what's inside you. In those terms, I've now got a bell pepper living in my cantaloupe. Back when it was kumquat-sized, I couldn't really visualize a scale on the average kumquat. Then, while grocery shopping, I saw a small container filled with kumquats and my mind was blown. I wondered if I should buy them, but I couldn't imagine eating something that had been used to describe what was inside me. It seemed like cannibalism.

I'm feeling things that I believed are caused by the flutters of a little person and I have a great curiosity about what's happening in there. If I were the star of a movie made specifically for the Sy/Fy channel, this thing would be pushing at my abdominal muscles with freakishly bony fingers until they creak open. Then there would be this "Here's Johnny" moment with a head and a not not charming smile. At least that's what it kind of feels like.

TO DO LIST
Today we traded in my very impractical decade-old red, 2-door Honda Civic (with moon roof) for a responsible 4-door with hatchback crossover. It looks enough like a compact SUV to distract me from the fact that it looks more like a station wagon.

THE DREAM
In my dream I've had the baby and I'm home from the hospital, but they wouldn't let me bring her home because we didn't have the right car seat.

"This is, like, your biggest fear right now," Chuck says when I tell him.

Instead of being angry with myself or the hospital or car seat makers in general, I'm mad at my parents for not being there for us. My dad is coy and non-committal when I scream at him on the phone; My mom, he tells me, is either at 8 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. mass and she'll probably help out when she gets home. Probably. He seems amused that I'm in such a rage. Like it's adorable.

I'm yelling. Throat cinched, red-faced yelling at anyone and everyone.
"My baby is two days old and I haven't even seen her yet!" I shout.
No one senses the urgency in this.
Finally I'm told that the baby is waiting for me at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. When I get there, she's standing next to her stroller. She walks over and wraps her little arms around my neck. I try to remember if it's normal for a 2-day old baby to be able to walk, or if this just happens sometimes.


BOTH GINGERS
Chuck: "In 15 days we find out whether we're having an Emma Stone or a Malachi."

Adorable and likable film star
Sociopathic muscle behind "The Children of the Corn."
OVER A RACK OF RIBS
"Did I ever tell you about the old woman who came into my hospital room and milked me?" CHRISSIE asks.

We're at the Buffalo House, first visit ever, because a week ago I saw a commercial for ribs and now I want to go crazy on half a rack and a house salad.

"No," I say. I'm eating them with a knife and fork, like a civilized human being instead of, like, a Flintstone.

She tells a story of giving birth to her now 7-year-old son and and drugs so strong that even her arms are numb. She's hardly aware of what's happening when an older woman, a lactation specialist, comes into her hospital room and begins tugging at her nipples.

"At least she didn't bring a stool," Chuck answers.
"Anyway," Chrissie says, "I guess what I'm saying is: Shit is going to get milked and weird."

WILD AND CRAZY
I find a bit of satisfaction, and grotesque curiosity, in Steve Martin becoming a first-time father at age 67. That's loads older than us.

"Congratulations," Chuck says. "You managed to get pregnant at a younger age than Steve Martin's wife."


THE OTHER DREAM
And then there is this dream, which I'm having versions of: I'm at RT Quinlans, except it's an outdoor bar, and I drink a 22 ounce mug of Amber Boch at a rate usually reserved for drinking my daily dose of Tang.

I belch, order another.

I drink it halfway down in two gulps and realize I better slow down. Then I worry: I know people who have had a beer or wine while pregnant, but none of them have ever mentioned getting hammered at RT Quinlans. I see my friends in a circle, smoking cigarettes together and start to join them. Then I remember that this is definitely off limits.

Chrissie sidles up next to me and looks at my beer. I wonder if she'll think it's nobigdeal that I'm pregnant and drinking or if she'll flip.

"Whoa," she says. "You better slow down."

I wonder what she would say if she knew about the first beer. 

THE BUMP
Chuck rubs the bump and insists it has gotten bigger just today. 
"I think it happened when you bought the car," he says.

Then things got gooey ...


Me: "Aw. We fell in love in this neighborhood." 
Chuck: "We did. And when I think about falling in love in this neighborhood, I think of a night when we were first dating. We met up at the Round Up Bar and decided to go back to my apartment. We'd driven separately and as we were leaving you handed me a CD and said 'Listen to the first track on your way home.'

And that first track was ... 'Sexyback' by Justin Timberlake." 

Me: (Cackling)

Chuck: You were watching a lot of 'TRL' in those days.

On being the only diner at a diner in the mid-afternoon ...

The floor mats are piled on the steps while the shop's one waitress mops the entryway. "Are you open?" you ask, one foot dangling over this rubber cannoli. She scurries to remove it from your path. Hugs the mats, slow dances with it before dropping it back in the entryway.

"Yes, yes," she says. "Sit wherever you want."

You wonder if there is a rule about empty diners, kind of like there is a rule about ordering the fish special on Mondays. Something like: Don't eat at an empty diner because its likely the cook has grown lax about hygiene in his boredom; Don't eat at an empty diner because an unused grill tastes like baking soda. It takes seven years to digest the food eaten in an empty diner.

You know there is a rule about opening a diner in a space where other diners-restaurants-fast food places have failed, but that seems to be something that just the lay public knows and are keeping from the food industry people. You can see where the heart would rule the head here. Emotionally, it feels like a great location the way some places feel haunted. Intellectually, the place looks like a great spot for a Going Out of Business Hot Pastrami Sandwich Sale.

The waitress sets a glass of water on the table, disappears.
The cook comes into the dining room, looks around, takes your order.
You want a hot sandwich, chips. He nods. He looks like Sinbad.
The waitress returns and continues cleaning, disappears.
The cook carries your plate into the dining room, looks around, sets it on the table. Spins, returns with a single napkin.
When he goes back to the kitchen, you grab silverware and more napkins. You try not to eat like a beast.

The waitress returns just in time to see you spill half-a-plate worth of Ruffles on the floor.
"Sorry," you say.
She shrugs it off. In an empty diner, sometimes the waitstaff spends its time wishing for new things to sweep and disinfect. You know this. You worked in an empty diner once. That's the winter you learned  everything you know about Reba McEntire.

The cook goes into the back room; The waitress goes into the back room. She comes out and he calls her back. When she leaves again you hear him stage whisper: "Ask her if she wants more water." She walks past your table, spins as though it's a second thought and says:

"Would you like more water?"
"No thank you," you say.

Now, suddenly, a child has appeared and he's dragging a mop across the floor. You see that all of these people working here are related, probably siblings. They're talking about family matters while you finish your sandwich. You feel like a hitchhiker privy to boring intimacies, your head rested against the back window of a station wagon.

The cook flattens a 2-inch receipt onto your table and takes your plate.
An old man, who has suddenly appeared, rings up the bill.
He asks you about the quality of your food.
You can't remember how it tasted.
Maybe the rule is: You'll never remember the food in an empty diner.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

It's Saturday and I'm Boring: Week 1


Ten hours of sleep later and everyone's got something for me. I wake to:
*A text from Fannie asking if I want her friend's crib and high chair; 
*A text from Chuck warning me not to eat anything because he has gone on a bagel run; 
*A text from CHRISSIE! telling me that Noodles & Co. has the best soda machine; 
*A missed phone call from JCrew at 3:40 a.m.
*A wrong number and hang up voicemail message. 

And the house smells like something. I consider the food possibilities. Not bagels, not waffles, not eggs -- not even the high-tech version Chuck makes using slivers of garlic. No, it's ... vinegar. Like we're living in a vinegar rainforest. 

I wrap myself in a robe and head downstairs and before I hit the bottom step I see Chuck at the table, grey stocking cap pulled to his ears and a matching 20 year old grey fleece shirt. 

"This is a hostile environment," he warns me. He's been awake two hours already so his words come more quickly than I can process. 

"The. Cats?" I ask. At certain points of the day they chase phantoms around the living room, bounce off walls, pounce on air and each other, scream at the ceiling. They're like haunted battery powered Christmas toys. 

"Cats. Broken coffee maker. Vinegar smell," he said. "Then, because of the vinegar smell I had the doors open. So it was cold, too." 

He says the word "noxious" six times.
I nod. 

***

Blah blah blah beeturia. 

***

So now we need a new coffee maker. It's unfortunate that this is an immediate need. Chuck has developed an affinity for Amazon Prime that has packages landing on the porch with regularity. Had we known the coffee maker was on its last legs, Chuck would have shrugged and said: "Why don't we order one from Amazon Prime?" Then two days later -- at the latest -- we'd be the proud owners of a new coffee maker.

This is how he got the plaid pajamas he's wearing right now.
This is how he came to get TheraFlu, even though all the local drug stores have stopped selling it.
This is how we came to get Ivory Soap in bulk at the same time as a sleep mask, a mega scratching post and water filters.
Amazon Prime does not, however, sell crates of Tang. Disappointing.

We've made the ill-informed decision to go to Target on a weekend when there isn't a a) big game; b) winter weather advisory; c) pandemic.

We're cruising up a back alley of the store, peeking shyly into the tiny-person section, when Chuck looks up ahead and says:

"Oh my god. It looks like the apocalypse."

This wide aisle is clogged with people wedged together like puzzle pieces. They all seemingly have a cart or are riding a motorized scooters and no one's making any progress with their movement. Everything is just herky jerky sways and grunts and mouths are hanging open. It's a scene out of "The Walking Dead," I think. I haven't really watched much of that show.

"Quick! Ditch right! Down here!" we cut through a Big Wheel aisle, cackling at what we've just seen. We shift up again and over, sticking to the back roads.

***

"Ohmygosh," I say in the car, stressing my Minnesota accent. "I can't believe we were just at Target and I didn't buy anything. It's like: Who replaced me with a totally different person who can go to Target and not buy something? I usually spend AT LEAST $75 every time I walk in the door. I might as well just open my wallet and dump $75 on the floor when I walk in. Can you believe I just went to Target and didn't buy anything? I can't wait to tell my friends on Facebook."

Chuck rocks back and forth, plugs his ears and hums away the cliche.

***



We sneak in a mid-day meal at the Brewhouse, scoring the best table in the joint. I eat a wild rice burger topped with onions, blue cheese and jalapenos. It's grand. Mid-day meals feel like such a luxury. And, sitting here at this table by the window, I keep expecting someone to come along and ask us to make room for a larger party. That never happens.

***

We stay up until 3 a.m. watching back-to-back-to-back episodes of "House of Cards," the new Netflix-specific show starring Kevin Spacey.

***

*This series inspired by a comment made by Jodi on my last post.

Friday, February 8, 2013

It's Friday and I'm pregnant: Week 17


I was in the same room as an acquaintance, a Woman of Comfort. One of those people you're sucked toward in times of stranger danger. She's a home base, a glass of wine, a lap for your head. We tend to exaggerate our friendliness toward each other. Act like we've met at least more than twice in passing.

She gets me up to speed on what's new with her then looks at me and says: "You look like you have a secret." I was wearing a puffy winter coat that hides what I call "My Pathetic Bump" and sure my face has blown up a bit, but she doesn't see me regularly enough to know what is a normal amount of puffiness.

"Hmm. Really? I wonder what ..." I said.
"Yep. You definitely look like you're keeping a secret," she said, nodded.
"Well, I'm pregnant?" I said.
She nodded. That was it.

A few minutes later I ran into Feisty who just happened to be carrying with her one of those belly bands that pregnant women wear during that in-between clothing period. It keeps unbuttoned jeans from drooping to reveal massive crack and also covers a midsection that might be busting loose from the bottom of T-shirts. Count this as one of those Products of the World I'd been oblivious to just three months ago.

So I guess there's a lot of psychic going on right now.

***

I can't watch my doctor's face when he works. I try to read his every crease and furrow and can whip myself into a frothy panic in just .3 seconds if he purses wrong. So I stared at the ceiling as he rooted around for a heartbeat.

"Powerful baby," he said.
Relief.
Then he measured my speed bump and we sat down again.
"Well," he said. "I think it's a girl."
I put the words "Powerful baby" and "girl" together. "Powerful baby girl." I had to think of lawnmowers to keep myself from projectile crying, which is my new favorite hobby. I figured it was a boy or a girl. But a powerful baby girl. That's something else.
Of course, that's just his guess. An ultrasound tech thought he saw a little winkie at my 12 week appointment, but he didn't mention a specific power-level.

***

This gestation period is maddeningly long. I like my gratification immediate. It seems like eons ago that I sat on that toilet texting CHRISSIE! while I waited for the urinate-saturated stick to activate. I hadn't expected it to be positive. If I had expected it to be positive, I probably would have snuck in another cigarette while I was still ignorant. I was late, but I was newly off the pill and expected some menstrual hiccups. The previous month, for instance, I'd damn-near ruined a pair of leggings with a surprise gusher. This was all very unsettling, as we were staying in a fancy hotel full of white surfaces.

I think it's funny when people wonder if we were trying to get pregnant. Like, at age 37 and age 40, we hadn't yet figured out how to interrupt conception. I believe the technical term for our situation is that we "Were No Longer Trying to Not Get Pregnant."

Or, as The Great Archivist described it: Throwing rocks at a window and then being surprised when the window breaks.

***

I feel very uncomfortable around babies right now. As if each interaction is a mini tryout for the real deal. I like to stand a comfortable distance away from one, peek around a pole and study it. Recently I saw one, less than a week old, and I looked at its parents. Cute, fresh-faced, young. I was probably old enough to be their parents.

On the other hand, every time I lean into someone and say something about my Advanced Maternal Age (scientific descriptor), they reveal that they, too, fell into that category.

Also: Every time I talk to my mom she has a story of a new 39 year old who just had a baby.

***

Speaking of my mom: Something my brother told me is ringing in my head. Apparently my mom said something about "Teaching Christa how to be a mom." Curious about what that entails.

***

Maternity pants are really comfortable and I don't know why people don't just, like, wear them. They're like a hug.

***

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant is my new weekly series because some people find this kind of chatter boring, but in some pockets of the internet it's all the rage. I WANT TO BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

That damn cat ...

I guess, as far as being a humorist goes, Orin is most like my good friend Fannie. Fannie is a background entertainer who plays it straight faced. Acts as though what she is doing is of no interest to bystanders when she pretends to push a broom past the open door of the seventh grade classroom. Or maybe, during those old Miss America riffs we committed to video cassette, she can be seen twirling in the background of someone else's talent portion of the show.

Years later she would drive her parent's brown Buick sedan up 36th Ave. to my house, making S curves from curb to curb while adopting a stoic expression, yet leaning into the turns.

Last night Orin jogged through the living room making a little wheezing noise. I assumed cat-asthma or a dust allergy until I noticed he had something in his mouth. He set it on a JC Penney's box leftover from last weekend's late Christmas. He picked it up and trotted out of the room and went off to who-knows-where just as I was placing the object: The clear flexible plastic cover that keeps me from clogging the upstairs shower drain with my hair.

I laughed out loud and thought: "That cat should consider standup comedy."

Then I realized we were probably never going to see that drain cover ever again. Orin knows every cranny of the house and usually wanders around with fur covered in sawdust and asbestos to prove it. I made a mental note to pick up a new one and not to be surprised when I found it in three years next to the pile of microwaves in the storage area.

Except. This is Orin. And he's a genius.

Chuck texted me this afternoon:

"Well, Orin returned the drain thing to the bathroom so today is full of good news," he said.
"He did?! Oh. My. God. I'm dying!" I wrote back.
"I guess he was done with it," Chuck replied.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Leaving Las Vegas ...

My parents were in town this weekend and a waitress tried to poison my fetus by putting champagne and vodka in my mocktail. Good thing I know my booze. It was fun to imagine if I'd not noticed, drank two and tottered home acting all slurry. We would have thought I was feverish, hallucinating. 

What if I'd been an alcoholic, though, and that pomegranate spritzer would have tossed me back into Leaving Las Vegas? SO MUCH FAN FICTION!

Anyway, here's the roundup.
Ghostly likeness
MEALS TAKEN IN PUBLIC
New Scenic Cafe: Sometimes it seems like all of your friends are Instagramming the same great fondue from the same great restaurant in the same week. That's how we ended up at New Scenic (although minus the fondue).

Also fun: Eavesdropping on conversations from groups who are constantly referencing people you kind of know, but don't know-know and using all of your neck might to not turn around and see who is sitting at the table. (But looking far enough to see a woman who was part of a panel discussion with you in the early oughts and remembering that when it was over you sprinted off the stage in shame, declined the offer of coffee and cookies, drove immediately to the bar and somehow managed to get 'faced while bouncing your forehead off the tabletop and mourning your own lack of self actualization. LIFE!

That said: Here's my contribution to the food photos.

House salad with grapes and crispy filo dough and vinaigrette 

Butternut Squash Ravioli
Dessert with French name that includes candied blueberries and my favorite food, lemon curd.
MOVIES
9 To 5: Is it just me, or was this movie on TV every day in the early 1980s? I distinctly remember sitting in my grandparent's living room on a Sunday night while it played in the background. Somehow I came to associate Dabney Coleman with my Grandpa Smittley. I have no idea of its accuracy, but in my fan fiction, he is the kind of man who would have chased Dolly Parton around a desk. And I'm not sure how this is logistically possible, but I don't mean that in a terrible predator way.

Peggy Sue Got Married: Can someone do the math for me on how Kathleen Turner can play Helen Hunt's mother? I understand logistically that Kathleen Turner needs to seem like she is both in her 40s and 18 in the same movie. Still, weird. Anyway, Man. What a golden flick.

IF MY LIFE WAS A NOVEL

Opening sentences would have been: "The pan was quiet. Not even a sizzle. How was she to know that she had burned her grilled cheese sandwich?"

READING
Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir: This is a cute and grim story of a woman who has been told all of her life that her father is dead, only to find out after her 23rd birthday, that he is actually alive. (From a psychic).

Full review will be here.