Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It was last weekend and I was boring ...

Save for a 6-inch crack in my windshield, I had a commitment-free Friday. At some point I would have to drive to Rochester, but between dropping my car off at a glass-fixer and skirting free of the city limits, the day was my oyster.

We looked at paint samples and considered the nuances of various greenish shades.
I raved about the state of the bathrooms at Home Depot, while working up a frothy lather, seemingly to someone who felt personally responsible for the way they shimmer and smell even more like baby aspirin than the ones at Target.
We went to a record store.

By the time we stood on a street corner, coatless, walked across the street to the pizza place, and ordered a slice of pepperoni, I truly believed we were on accidental vacation. It doesn't take much.

I bought the new Depeche Mode CD because sometimes buying CDs is just so novel.

***

The trip to Rochester took me 3 hours, 40 minutes. I want to say my world record is like 2:57:00. This trip was unremarkable, aside from two things:

1. When I left the windshield-fixer's place, they told me to avoid a power-wash for 24 hours and to not slam my car doors for an equal amount of time. At various points in the drive I imagined that this front plate was going to just tip out of position. That my hair would sparkle with shards, and then blow free in the wind from the highway. That I'd smile and a June bug would be stuck between my front teeth.


2. Blue Diamond Almonds: Bold Wasabi & Soy Sauce flavor. Ho. My. Gah. (Also not bad: Smoked Jalapeno)

***

I settled into my parent's guest room, which is decorated in the art of my late Grandfather Smittley. He favored Native American themes, but from an almost cinematic perspective. A chief surveys the horizon. A woman with a long braid and dressed in skins sits on a horse.

He also has some wild life pieces, like this one. I call it: The Stately Portrait of Hal's Great-Great Grandcat.


Just before burying myself in a super-sized marathon of "The Stand," I noticed a subtle movement in the off-white, woolish carpeting. IT WAS THE BIGGEST BUG I'VE EVER SEEN. I sent a photo to Chuck, who did some recon and determined that this leggy beast wouldn't wrap itself around my neck and squeeze. This bug, apparently, is responsible for killing all the other less-terrifying bugs that might be skulking around the perimeter.

And then I saw another one.


(In the morning, my mom lost her mind over this. She was all "NOT IN MY GUEST ROOM!" "It's ok," I told her. "These bugs kill all the other bugs." "They can kill them from outside the house," she told me. Although, later my niece Mel congratulated me on not committing murder).

***

On Saturday we went to a wedding shower for my cousin Bergen West, who would be your favorite person if you knew her. Consider that she uses her bra as a purse. I studied her confident stage presence and witty repartee. I would be the subject of a shower the next day. She would be a tough act to follow.

***

Ma Pista took me to my elementary school, for purposes that I won't bother explaining because it's funnier to just think she took me there willy-nilly.


THINGS THAT HAPPENED HERE
My two best friends tied me up in an oversized hooded sweatshirt and left me blinded on the playground. I did not narc them out.
The Monday after my First Communion, Jason F. knocked into me and sent one of my new crucifix earrings into the parking lot, lost forever. I cried and had no idea that I would forever be losing one earring or the other.
In fifth grade, I was on my hands and knees and lifted my leg on the telephone pole, a fake dog-peeing scene that was made more realistic because there was a puddle right there. Mr. K. didn't fail to mention this incident at conferences.
When I was in eighth grade, Jeremy M. and I made out in the pine trees on the side of the church.

***

Brother Pista brought the Pistas to town to give me prezzies and go to dinner.

Mel, who favors the geeky side of smartness, handed me a rubber stress ball. I swore that I got a jolt of electricity from her.

"Did you just shock me?" I asked.
She looked at me like I was a fool.
"This isn't a conductor," she said, indicating the ball. Like, obvi.

Here she is sitting at the bar for the first time in her life.


The bartender warned her to behave so he didn't have to 86 her. 

***

Ma Pista planned to make a frittata for breakfast, which I ixnayed in favor of eggs and hash and Pillsbury orange rolls, the Sunday brunch of my childhood. This is not unusual. I'm super into a lot of stuff I liked in the 1990s (like noodles with butter and parmesan cheese, Herbal Essences). I'm assuming this is some sort of pregnancy regression. Anyway: So. Dang. Good. 


***

I made a huge (pink) haul and returned to Duluth.

***

The "It's (Insert Day of Week) and I'm Boring" is a series that Jodi and I do to pay homage to the beauty of old-school blogging.


Monday, April 29, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 28


I slept like horseshit on the eve of my third trimester. This reformed stomach sleeper has had a dickens of a time adjusting to side sleeping. First it feels like my left shoulder is going to cave in, then my right. No comment on my ever-increasing rib-span, see also: Sci/Fi network. When I seek reprieve on my back, I imagine jugs of amniotic fluid and a butternut squash-sized person pancaking my organs. 

I hate when the Google searches are right. That I will, in fact, be increasingly uncomfortable on this homestretch. I like to think that I'm an exception. This sort of wonder-being who barely blinks at the 30 pound backpack strapped to my front. Throw me into a pack of pioneer women. I could squat over a hole, squirt out a kid and have the berries picked by noon -- all with a ebullient newborn latched, no handed, on to my teat. This reverie is interrupted by my eternally itchy stomach and my new rule: Yes, stranger, you can touch my belly. But please dip your hand in Cocoa Butter first. 

So I bought a body pillow. That is what the internet says to do. It's a complicated candy-cane shaped bit of padding that is supposed to help me sleep better. Secure my belly, provide back support. The preggos in the photographs look serene. Like seahorses floating through Lisa Frank's world. I expect to join this cavalcade when mine arrives in the mail. 

Exhibit A:
YEAH, YEAH
The week 28 doctor's appointment was brief: My blood pressure and a little chat about the Glucose Tolerance test that had a happy ending: "You mean I can stop compulsively eating cottage cheese?" Puzzled look. "Just eat healthy." 

The doctor pointed out where her head is situated, mid-left quadrant, which has made it fun to guess which body part is making my stomach quake. "So if her head is here, she's 15 inches long, and her feet are here ... that feeling must come from her ...  peeing?" 

This time when he used the now-familiar descriptor "wild" to describe her, I pretty much rolled my eyes in a "yeah, yeah, yeah" way, but couldn't contain my inner smirk. 

Then I wondered: What if I was in a room filled with women who gestated under this doctor. And what if we all went around the room to talk about our experiences. And what if during that sharing circle it was revealed that *all* of the babies were described as "powerful" or "wild"? Would we rise up and take action against him? Or would we all secretly believe that our babies were the most powerful, most wild? 

WHO ARE YOU
I was at this thing watching a young ballet dancer and I thought: "Will you be a ballet dancer?" And this was followed by an orchestral combo playing a tango and I thought "Or will you play the cello?" A dozen opera singers took the stage and I thought: "Will you have a big, beautiful voice?" and when the comedians came I thought "Or will you be quick witted and comfortable on stage?" 

Meanwhile, young girl in the front row was dancing between her aunt's knees, just bopping along. 

To my left was a slightly older girl dressed in a nightgown, stage whispering with her mother, noses millimeters apart. 

I imagined the conversation that ended with the willful child refusing to leave home in anything other than her pajamas. That sounded like something our genes would combine to make. 

AS SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF CHUCK
This is what Chuck says I look like: 

FOOTNOTE
It's actually Monday and I'm pregnant. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 27


I had a dream that someone was repeatedly punching me in the guts. Wham. Wham. Wham. It had a totally noir fist-fight in an alley aesthetic. I woke up sputtering and realized: I'm not getting punched in the stomach, those licks are coming from the inside. THE CALLS ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.

***

Went to the grocery store. Forgot to bring my purse.

Tried to drive to the mall to pick up my new specs. Got lost leaving the neighborhood. Twice. Just now had to ask Chuck where we were going when I got lost twice.

Referred to Leif Erickson Park as Leif Enger Park. Twice. Burst into tears.

***

My new favorite thing is a 6-inch meatball sub, toasted, from Subway. The sandwich artists have just noticed this week that I'm pregnant. There has been no reason to look at my blossoming mid-section until I finally walked in without a coat.

"I wondered when you ordered the meatball sub," one says. "You never get the meatball sub."

I laugh.

"So, have you had any weird cravings or anything?"
Everyone always asks that.
"Yeah," I say. "The meatball sub."

***

There are a few scientifically impossible things that I truly believe: That if I don't sleep in my sweatpants, the baby will fall out of my body; That if the cats jump on my belly, it will pop like a balloon.

***

My stomach itches like crazy. I haven't spent much time looking at it, but took a quick peek the other day and noticed what looks like the markings of a tape worm. Odds are it isn't, though, probably just stretch marks.

A few nights ago I oiled myself up in Bath & Body Works, turned off the light, tried to sleep and then bolted upright. WHAT IF B&BW IS TOXIC?! I heard in my head a smug, self-righteous voice saying: "It's not just what you put in your body, it's also what you put ON your body."

I sat on the edge of the bed Googling "Pregnant belly Bath & Body Works" and never found a real result that I could trust, but saw rumors that pre-2010, the lotion had a different formula.

WHEN DID I GET THIS LOTION?! I screamed.

Then, finally, I decided that I can't be the only pregnant person in the world to be wearing a half-inch coating of Plumeria on her pregnant skin. Bigger idiots than me ... I repeated my mantra.

Still, I bought Cocoa Butter, the recommended lube for such issues. I orbited my belly with the stuff, my hands like spastic planets. Feels so, so good.

***

We've settled the Great Nursing Chair Issue of 2013, deciding on a multitasking piece that is both glider and recliner. And pink with white piping.

The pink part feels a little frivolous. What do you do with a pink chair, anyway, after she's off the teat and on to, like, sporks? When we're over this middle of the night bonding period and she wants a toy box in her tiny room instead of furniture. On the other hand, part of me likes that the first major purchase for the PBG is super impractical.

Mom, via text: What if you decide to have another one and it's a boy?
Me, in my head: HAVE ANOTHER ONE LOLOLOLO MIGRAINE PARTY ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE TAPE WORM MEATBALL SUBS.
Me, via text: Well, he'll probably turn gay.
Mom, via text: (silence).

I tumble for you ...

I just now finished making red thai tofu for dinner and cleaning the kitchen just as I heard Chuck drive up after work. I started the dishwasher when his door slammed. I sat down at the computer and was typing when he walked in. I felt like a very successful 1950s housewife, something I've never aspired to be, but just this once, hey. She makes it look so effortless, he must have thought.

Anyway, here is what I made, watched read, whatever.

MAKING FOODS

Lemon Cheesecake Bites: Needed to bring dessert to a bridal shower. Guest of honor isn't into dessert. Decided to learn to make cake pops and bring cake pops. Watched video of cake pop-making and thought it looked easy enough, but required a certain level of art-n-craftery that is beyond me. Wondered about mini cheese cakes. Considered a lemon kick. Eschewed a crust in favor of a 'Nilla Wafer each.

They turned out unattractive, so I had the flower girl give them a decorative squirt of Whipped Cream. All told, they were okay. Not the sort of recipe I'll now be known for or anything.

MEAL TAKEN IN PUBLIC

Grilled Salmon from Restaurant 301: This was so good that I almost decided to eat there every single night. Also: The salad had snap peas, which tasted like licking a summer day.

RANDOM PHOTO OF DIRTY SNOW
Do not eat.
WATCHING
The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey (2012): I know nothing about Hobbits except their hilariously thick feet, but this movie was fantastic and super exciting and then it just suddenly ended and I wasn't expecting it so we did some reading and learned that it's part of a SERIES of movies. Why is everything part of a SERIES of movies.

Stoker: This is the best movie I've seen in 2013. For realsies. Creepy, or maybe not, girl's dad dies on her birthday and her shiny-fanged uncle comes to stay at what must be a mildew-infested castle. Her mom, Nicole Kidman, likes to get all oozy goozy about Mr. Convertible and then people start going missing and holy hell this movie is great.

This Must be the Place: Sean Penn plays an aged rocker -- maybe channeling Robert Smith, eh? -- and lives as an eccentric blah blah blah in Ireland. When his father dies, he takes on pop's life mission and what a strange and meandering movie that is actually pretty good.

Compliance: This is the worst most rage-inducing movie ever and I guess based one some real junk. The idea: dirty prank caller calls fast food joint and claims to be 50. He accuses a cute young thang of stealing from a customer and takes the manager through an increasingly suspicious obstacle course of ways to help out the local PD. It starts with strip searches and ends with a hummer and the whole time you're screaming at the screen, AW, C'MON!

Ken Burns: The Central Park Five: PBS played the new Ken Burns' doc this past weekend and whoa. You'll rage, you'll cry. About five teens accused of raping a woman in Central Park in the late 1980s. They were innocent and coaxed into confessing and thrown into lock up only to find out, years later, that they weren't guilty. Blerg.


READING
Clara and Mr. Tiffany: A Novel by Susan Vreeland: It's the early 1900s and a feisty young woman has taken a job working for the other Mr. Tiffany. The one who favors stained glass creations over jewelry and who lets money drizzle through his fingers. Lots of early NYC scenes and crusading women, both good. Also lots of very descriptive parts about creating stained-glass lamps and windows and mosaics and it gets a little dry.

Full review will be here.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1) by JK Rowling: Okay, fine. I'll read Harry Potter. It will make my dreams even more interesting than they already are. WHICH SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE.

Full review will be here.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgeraldby Therese Ann Fowler: This portrait of Zelda Fitzgerald paints her as an artist who was unable to ever reach her potential artistically because of that old fuddy dud F Scott (as opposed to the version of the couple that has F Scott stunted by his crazy wife.

This was okay. Full review is here.

I TUMBLE FOR YOU
I'm going to start doing double duty with things I put on the internet by dishing content over to Tumblr since Google Reader is going kaput. Links to blog posts from right here, book reviews for Minnesota Reads, Instagram photos, Tweets, etc. I'm here. So if you're a Tumblr person, let's be Tumblrs together. If you're not, proceed as though this never happened. All blogging will still occur in this space. (At least, this is the plan. But I cannot be held responsible for having not a lick of follow through).

Thursday, April 11, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 26


Chuck and I are up abnormally early for a Saturday to go to the 8-hour cramfest version of a Childbirth Preparation Class at the hospital I plan to fill with my moo-iest birth sounds in mid-July. There are like 15 couples gathered in this room and we've all, as instructed, brought blankets and pillows. Just like on TV.

I already think it's weird enough seeing pregnant people in the world.  Usually it happens at Target and I feel like there should at least be knowing eyebrow raises barely perceptible to others. This must be what it's like to be a member of The Skulls. Now we're in a room filled with a diverse mix of preggos and it's mind blowingly creepy. It has a 1970s sci/fi pod-living ness to it. There's a special walk and a shared look that seems to say: I can urinate on demand. I probably just did.

There is the token Juno. There is a foursome of couple friends, the women both dressed in preg-chic and the men look like high-fivers who will bring novelty cigars to the waiting room. There's a woman whose super savvy sister is her birth coach. She looks seasoned and I wouldn't be surprised if there was an infant beneath her shirt -- maybe even her own -- suckling as we speak.

I'm always kind of testing the waters for pregnant friends and quickly learn this is not my crowd. When the woman next to me says she's 37, I turn to her in a very playground way and say, "I'M 37, TOO!" But that will be about the extent of what we have in common, so I close with "Well, see you at kindergarten roundup, I guess" and shrug.

We are asked to go around the room and introduce ourselves: Name, estimated due date, how the process has been, weird cravings. I always want to be memorable under these circumstances. The best, if you will. So I throw out some untested material, but a topic that I'm certain will kill.

"I'm Christa. I'm due in mid-July. I guess my weirdest crave has been old school cafeteria tacos. You know, the kind with cheap, sloppy meat and hard shells and wilted lettuce, slathered in Ortega. Anyway, the tacos at Burrito Union were too good. I guess the closest ones I've found are at Taco Johns."

And ... Silencio.

At one point we gather in the back of the room to learn some breathing exercises. I stretch out an old animal print blanket and Chuck says: "You know. This is the blanket from my childhood bed. If it only knew where it would end up ..." and I cackle. We're led through different ways to breath while Yanni goes apeshit on a lute or whatever, but I'm mostly aware of this hard floor and my shoulders caving in on each other. While Chuck squeezes my arm to simulate contractions, I just close my eyes and breathe the normal way.

The front of the room is decorated with juxtaposed drawings of the inner workings of the human body. It all smacks of classic Goofus and Gallant. In one, the innards are tucked nicely into the correct places (Gallant). The other is the pregnant body. In that version, the parts are squished flat into any available space. Like when your already packed elevator stops on the fourth floor and six people with luggage need you to make a little room (Goofus).

"No wonder you can't go to the bathroom," Chuck says.

Mostly we watch a bunch of films: Vaginal childbirth, cesarian child birth, one specific woman's story from first contraction on and Oh The Drugs You Might Try or Not Try. These are a bit formulaic: They are all just a vehicle for what I'm calling The Money Shot. The big moment when the doctor yanks the blood-and-gunky infant into the world and slaps it like sirloin upon the mother's bosom, where it immediately latches on to her nipple -- seemingly for life.

We're in the front row, which makes it extra awkward when I recoil in horror and shield my eyes every single time. On top of this, I've learned what a mucous plug is after vowing to leave that as The Last Great Mystery. The moral seems to be: There is no polite way to get this person out of my body.

"If we had taken this class seven months ago, we would be adopting," I whisper to Chuck.

What they can't show, they use animation to represent: The slice just above one's bikini line, the way a doctor will manually stretch these muscles into a gaping maw, reach inside, root around and yank forth a baby -- then double back to give the placenta a magician's flick of the wrist.

Chuck misses this part. He had to leave early. So instead of taking huge cathartic bites out of his shoulder, instead of squeezing his thigh muscles until I've left half-moon nail divots, I just remind myself how much I love Japanese horror flicks and pretend this is one of them.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Check one, check two ...

I haven't ordered checks for at least as long as we've lived in this house. The few I have left harken back to an address in the East Hillside. Being 2013 and all, I determined I'd probably never have to order checks again. What's the point? They're practically the dodo bird of bill pay. Most things I pay for are automatically taken from my checking account. If not, I can pay online. I would probably forget there was every a such thing as checks except that very rarely an old woman will whip one out at the grocery store and I'll sigh involuntarily as she writes in cursive "Twenty-three dollars and 49/100 -----------," licks her finger, tears it from the leather bound book, updates the balance.

But here in this sleepy Northern town, if you want someone to check the electrical work in your kitchen or keep your basement from spitting sewage on your pile of dirty socks and undies, they prefer to trade their services for checks. This is what is currently standing between me and my credit report: Being billed by someone I cannot pay electronically most often results in me forgetting to pay.

So with a couple of these bills ripening on the kitchen table, I decided to fucking order some checks. This was such an annoying and tedious process that I almost just got into my car and blasted off to 2045, where I could be sure this shit for sure wouldn't happen again.

HOW TO ORDER CHECKS IN 2013
1. Go to your bank's website, click the customer service tab and wade through all sorts of stuff you don't care about while looking for something that might simply say: Order Checks. Impossible. This function is actually located under something called Check and Deposit Ticket Orders. Because brevity hasn't yet hit this corner of the internet.

2. Get redirected to a third-party site where there are all sorts of festive checks to choose from. Love the Vikings? Love cats? Love Yosemite Sam? Let your electrician know with a pack of designer checks. One must scroll to find something classic or traditional. In 2013 it is impossible to own something that doesn't give people a sneak peek at who I REALLY AM DEEP DOWN GO VIKES!

3. Because this third-party site didn't exist the last time you ordered checks, if you plan to order them today the default is to start at Check #101. This is obscene. I've had a checking account with this bank since before I wore a bra. And back before I got my first bra, my mom explained to me that having a check #10 or #20 would result in laughter from the shopkeeper presented with my purchase of Wet & Wild nail polish and Tiger Beat. "They'll know you're a beginner and they won't trust that you have money in your account," she said. So my first checks were numbered in the hundreds.

4. I could change the number on my first check of 2013, but I have no idea where I left off back when I did still write checks. This is causing me the most boring kind of stress.

5. I decide to go to the bank in person and sort this out with a human being. When in Rome, and all that. This place now has a greeter, who seemingly doesn't trust that a customer can walk in the door and figure out where to go next. She's smiley and I bet her hair smells good and she cops a few moves from Vanna while directing me to the desk of the World's Foremost Uptalker.

6. The Uptalker won't let me start at check 10,000. She snorts, actually. "I've had a checking account since I was 12. And for part of that time, I belonged to Columbia House," I say. "I've written so many checks." It probably doesn't matter in 2013, but for some reason it feels like if I repeat a check number that I used in, say, 2000, I'll get sent back in time and find myself rocking a pair of bib overalls and listening to Third Eye Blind playing on a juke box at a bar that doesn't exist anymore.

7. We compromise.

8. Sometimes people from this bank call me and want to talk about different services they offer and rewards points and other junk and I tend to say something like: "Can't we just not talk about this and keep things the way they are?" And they usually sigh contentedly and agree. But now that I've walked in on my own free will, the Uptalker wants to talk to me about blah blah Zzzz. I have no idea what she's asking or what I'm answering but she seems pleased with my decision.

9. It occurs to me that I sound like Andy Rooney.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It's Sunday and I'm Boring: Cat Edition ...

Right before bed we stumble on "Cats from Hell," an Animal Planet series about felines behaving badly and this sort of cat whisperer who teaches owners how to keep the pets from gnawing light dimmers and taking swipes of flesh samples out of arms. We, and when I say we I mean the four of us, watch rapt. This channel seems to cater to animals and ours can't stop watching. Not even during the commercials.

While Hal and Orin are evil geniuses intent on dismantling our home, their hijinks seem amateurish compared to the cats on this show. When, for instance, a pet consistently tries to burn down a couple's apartment ... well, that pales to the phone call I would make.

"Hi, Cat Whisper. This is Christa. Yeah, we have two cats that just go crazy like twice a day. Well, they just run really fast and chase each other and climb on every surface and yowl and stuff. Yeah, yeah. Well, no, it's not dangerous, per se, but it's super annoying. Sometimes it happens right when we wake up, and ... well, we aren't really morning people so that's the WORST, you know?

"Well, they did spill water on Chuck's Mac Book and now that's kaput. And they ripped up the leather arms of our couch. Yeah. The couch. And Hal, well, he is always scratching at the woodwork. And sometimes Orin won't be quiet when we're trying to sleep. ... What's that? No. No. Oh, no. They've never tried to kill us with a freshly sharpened talon. No, they don't gnaw on dangerous wires. Oh. Ok. Thanks anyway. Bye."

***

I wake to pee three times: Around 6:50 a.m. I find Orin and Hal hugging in a single ball on the bath mat cozied into a corner by the tub. I coo, tiredly, and go back to bed.

I wake again around 9 a.m. and they're still in there in the same position, watching me tinkle and loving each other up.

At 11 a.m., same old story with these cats. This is too adorable to be true.

***

We've made a deal that I'll hand wash the best egg-making pan -- still dirty from last night's dinner -- and Chuck will make his World Famous Scrambled Eggs. Except: When we get downstairs, we find that the cats have shattered a glass candle holder during the night. There are tiny shards everywhere. Probably stuck in the wall. Those slivers and chunks that aren't on the floor are embedded in Chuck's foot and, I'll learn later, my primary shoes.

This requires putting the eggs on hold for some serious sweep-age. I worried last night that Orin was getting Big Ideas from the bad cats. Maybe I was right. At least we're building a thick behavioral file for the Cat Whisperer.

"Yes, sir. All over the floor. Shards. Just shards."

***

So anyway, the eggs turned out pretty great. I think it's the garlic.

***

The "It's (Insert Day of Week) and I'm Boring" is a series that Jodi and I do to pay homage to the beauty of old-school blogging.


Friday, April 5, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 25 ...

New sweatpants. Go Hunters! 
I come to you with aching ribs, new side effect, and further evidence that pregnancy is like a video game. Level One: Manipulate the joystick in such a way that it fires off millions of long-tailed warriors in a mad sprint for the advanced maternal aged egg. Level Two: Accept your first trimester handicap. Uncontrollable vomiting? Exhaustion? Migraine? Proceed toward second trimester finding a way to eat healthy between fits of craving for Tang or Taco Johns. Don't fall down or get punched in the gut at a rock show.

Level Three: You will be given a general outline of the character you're carrying into the final round. Gender acknowledged; Limbs, organs and chromosomes will be counted. Missing a kidney? This will require side missions to meet with experts.

Level Four: Glucose Tolerance Test. Drink lemon-lime glucose drink, wait an hour, test blood. Terrifying video game voice announces: YOU FAIL.

Spend past weekend preparing to take an extended version of the test. This requires consuming 350 grams of Carbohydrates a day for three days, fasting 12 hours, then taking a three-hour Glucose Tolerance Test first thing in the morning. Get blood drawn. Slug down orange-flavored drink. Feel woozy. Get blood drawn again. Again. And again.

"Of course you're at risk for gestational diabetes," JCrew says. "You're 37 years old!"

And you're confused. You never think of 37 as old and you never think of your body not being able to do something, especially something as basic as managing insulin. Heck, you used to be able to take this bag of bones and, through a complicated system of footwork, fling your body 37 feet into a sandpit. This body one time ran 26.2 miles cold, without training. It has a history of doing what it is called upon to do. Except riding a bike. That is torture.

Besides. You've Googled it: Anyone can get gestational diabetes. Screw the 37 years old business.

You pass this time, but not strongly enough to not feel a little toxic. Not necessarily Wilford Brimley zone, but maybe it's time to Just Say No to the donut or the Red Velvet Cupcake or the Peanut Butter Captain Crunch. Trade out the English Muffin for multigrain bread. Make sure carbs are balanced with proteins. Snack on carrots instead of Skittles.

Rue the fact that this opportunity to gain 30 pounds must now be done responsibly. Eat salmon for dinner and think: "Maybe that's not so bad after all."

***

My parents came to town spontaneously on Tuesday toting a gift bag filled with tiny fruit-themed onesies, exponentially increasing the possessions of our PBG. To this point, the only thing to her name is a pair of red and white stripped booties they got her for Christmas. No bed. No car seat. No tiny hats with ears, but I've got my eyes on a few pairs. A bedroom that is still housing a dusty single mattress and box spring, cardboard boxes, books I'm not interested in reading and a pair of flip flops decorated with fake daisies -- which is really out of character for me, I might add.

I think my mom wanted to see what I looked like wearing a soccer ball-sized uterus. That 3-Hour Glucose Tolerance Test was a good excuse to come to town. Also: She seems hell bent on buying us a chair for the baby's room. Like this idea is in her head and now it cannot be dislodged. She will buy a chair for the baby's room and it will be a glider with a matching footstool. Which is great, because, FREE CHAIR. But also tricky. Have you ever tried to find a glider with matching footstool that didn't look like it belonged to the exact opposite people you would want to invite you to a dinner party?

***

Anyway, my mom says my ribs will probably never go back to normal.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Navel gazing ...


Fannie says I'll need a wire cutter and maybe two snips. We're G-chatting and I cringe every time she types it. I believe that a wire cutter will leave jagged ends that I will then have to thread back through my own skin. It will leave tiny tears in my flesh -- and a disproportionate amount of pain. I'm not using a wire cutter, I tell her. It's the worst idea I've ever heard, I don't tell her.

First I'd have to get ahold of the navel ring, which is starting to get sore. Keep it upright and pinched between my fingers. Catch the ring in the mouth of the cutter, cut. Just imagining the jostling makes me nauseated enough. The tugs on my skin as I move into position. My hand shaking as I cut.

"I'll just go to a tattoo shop," I say. I'm sweating. My knees have gone fragile. "I'm sure they have a tool." 
"I still think you should just use a wire cutter," she says. 

***

I got my belly button pierced in the summer of 1995, who knows why. By then it had lost any kind of edgy stigma that piercing might have, but it also wasn't just a natural next step to fill the void between becoming a licensed driver and graduating from high school. I got it done at a tattoo shop in Rochester and it probably cost about $45. I don't think I went alone, but all I remember seeing is the pinch of my skin and something like an allen wrench burrowing through the fold. He slid a tiny ring into position, popped in silver bead and told me to lube it up with Bacitracin and spin it a couple times a day. 

And that was that. Pierced. 

I unbuttoned the top of my jean shorts and folded the waist. I took off my shirt to keep it from rubbing. No one was home, so I popped some Gin Blossoms into the stereo system and danced around the living room. 

"This song will always remind me of getting my belly button pierced," I thought. 

***

Lil Latrell's sister works in a medical field. When she hears the ring is stuck, she suggests icing the area then applying vaseline. I wince. I believe she is envisioning a scenario where my skin has absorbed the ring. That tearing it free will be like removing a tongue from cold metal. 

***

I loved having my belly button pierced. When the next semester started, it was my icebreaker. My "one thing about yourself" I shared the first day of class. I wrote about it in a poetry class and my professor scribbled on my assignment in green ink: "Some people consider the belly button a third eye. Explore!" One night I went to an all-ages dance club and, for the first and last time, wore a half shirt. Then, after three months, the ring got caught on a guy's jeans. The bead popped off, the ring fell out and by the time I noticed, it was gone for good. 

So I did it again. Except the hole had closed and now there was scar tissue. The piecer needed to use a bigger ring and a bigger bead. Now it was this garish thing stuck in the middle of a blueish white stomach. It brought none of the joy of the first ring. I didn't dance. I didn't explore the idea of a belly button as a third eye, either. 

***

My mom's first question was "But what about when you get pregnant?!" A silly argument against a navel piercing. I'm sure that at the time it didn't occur to her that it would take 18 years to find out the answer: Take it out, I guess.

***

Chuck always says my belly button feels like it's filled with tempura. I blame the ring for clogging it with gunk. 

***

"Wait. You have your belly button pierced?" Chrissie texts. "How about I slap it out of you." 

***

It started to kind of hurt a few months ago when my ever-shrinking belly button pushed it into a permanently upright position. I laid in bed and tugged at the sides, twisted the bead, tried to remember how it went in so I could figure out how to get it out. All the jostling made me woozy, so I could never work at it too long.  

It poked out the front of my shirt in a weird way. 
"Aw, your belly button popped," my friend Greener says. 
I lift my shirt. 
"Nah, it's just my ring," I say. 
She cringes.
"You have to get that out of there," she says. 

I am procrastinating. I don't want to take it out. Even though I never really liked the Ring II, little in my life has lasted as long as this clunky old thing. 

***

Hank tells me that his wife had to get her's taken out right around the ninth month. They went to seediest of spots in Minneapolis, where removing the ring was certainly the most wholesome thing to ever happen in the shop.

"The ring's still gone, but the spirt remains," he says.  

***

I went to the tattoo place yesterday, plopped into a chair. The guy, a friendly acquaintance, simply put a reverse wrench-like tool through the middle and opened. He lifted the bead out. I looked away as he worked the ring out of my stomach. 

The whole thing took 15 seconds, maybe, to undo. 

"I feel like I should cry or something," I said. 
It was just so easy. And it really lacked ceremony. 
Now the spot just feels a little raw. 

He told me that there are place holders that work for pregnant women. A long flat piece that will withstand the stretch of my stomach. He also said the hole won't close, and if I want to put in another ring after I have the baby, it'll still work. 

I'm not sure what to do with that information.