Saturday, May 25, 2013

And Vacation Days 6, 7 and Ate ...

It takes us like an hour to fill in the gaps of all the stuff we wanted to buy but didn't at Ikea. This includes the unprecedented: I will pee twice at Target in one day. Additionally, I will go to Target three times, which includes a trip over state lines.

We fill an entire room of our house with cardboard boxes, a playground for the cats who are getting exceedingly curious about all of the big changes. I keep expecting to find Hal squatting over a pool of urine he's unleashed on a box holding a vibrating chair. A wicked grin on his face that seems to say: "Oh, yeah? I'll see your 'Getting rid of the coffee table' and raise you a new cat toilet.'"

(Orin is less outwardly disturbed by the constant motion, the boxes, the trips to the dump and Goodwill. He's a much more internally emotional. He's probably scratching poetry into the basement beams).

We take a spontaneous trip to a restaurant that has never interested me. I've got a fever for Gelato, thanks to some Instagramming by S'Fire and VNick. We end up eating an entire poorly balanced, albeit delicious meal: Artichoke Dip with bread, focaccia bread with oil, BLTs on bread and Gelato.

All the while, the woman at a neighboring table glares at us as we talk about the early years when we thought we were down-ramping alcohol intake but were actually still drinking plenty. Either that or she was looking over my shoulder at the lake view and has a sour resting position for her face.

Then Chuck paints and paints and paints. He emerges occasionally in a baggy T-shirt and stained jeans. I try to do things that will also improve our living situation, but none of it seems as massive and productive as painting. So the spices are alphabetized. So the floor is washed. It doesn't seem, comparatively, to be enough.

We're keeping me from the fume-y room so that hopefully someday the PBG can teach us both how to do Math.

Today I don't even pretend to work. I lie around and act like I'm on bed rest. I read, I stare at social networking. I will take two trips to Menards, buying and re-buying.

At one point I stand in front of a display of colorful rubber boots and consider buying a pair. It's been so rainy here, see, and I keep seeing cute women in skinny jeans and tall rain boots and thinking "That's a clever look."

I pick a pair up off the shelf and the smell knocks me out. It's like waiting in the lobby while your tires are rotated. This snaps me from the reverie that I might find fashion at Menards.

Dinner is at a diner in an unfamiliar neighborhood. It has a Wall of Fame for big eaters who consume a designated mount of meat, probably within a time limit. The burger flipper is wearing a shirt that suggests his burgers are big, but not as big as Jesus. Chuck's burger has a refrigerator-worth of ingredients: Avocado, mushrooms, cheese and more. The Flipper breaks the fourth wall to ask Chuck how he likes his food.

"That's my favorite burger," Flipper admits.
Mine is just a plain old cheese burger and it's super delish.

Still, I have some opinions on people who make things and then approach you for your opinion about what they have made. Awkward.

Chuck assembles. I caddy. But first I start crying when I realize it isn't comfortable to sit cross legged, or not cross legged, on the floor and that basically my options are limited to not standing for too long, not sitting for too long, trying to sleep in between pee breaks and taking a time out after ascending staircases.

Chuck's handling-of-the-crying-woman has really gotten good. This no longer shocks or scares him. He efficiently talks me off of a ledge and resumes cursing the makers of the changing table.

We go to dinner in our favorite hotel lobby. A waitress sets wine lists atop our menus as we're sitting down. She notices my belly and rips the drink menu off the table apologizing twice when she slides it under her arm.

This gets me thinking: What if I, very obviously pregnant, ordered a glass of wine with my dinner. Would they give it to me or would they refuse service? Wine. So controversial.

A: They'll serve a preggo. At least at this restaurant. I asked our waitress, not the one who ripped away the wine list like I was being punished. It would be discrimination to not serve a glass of wine to a pregnant woman, she said. She had a friend who was fired when she refused to serve wine to a preggo.

Mostly, though, the waitress seems disappointed that the stiffest thing I wanted was flourless chocolate cake and decaffeinated coffee.

Friday, May 24, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 32 ...

Here I am overpowering Greener. 

I've developed a new appreciation for elderly women. The more elderly, the better. I hopped into an elevator at the clinic yesterday and a woman in her 80s followed me in. I was in the position to man the button pushing, so I looked at her expectantly.

"Floor three," she said.
"Me too!" I said.
"I'm going for a different reason than you," she said, smiling.

There is a no nonsense-ness to elderly women. They don't treat the preggo like she's an adorable mouse  in a sombrero driving a Barbie car. There is no petting, fawning. Women who aren't elderly are cheerful, optimistic. They pass along war stories, smile and hold doors. The elderly woman has been there, done this, in a time before hand sanitizer and ever-changing standards for car seats and cribs and when a belly was a good place to balance an ashtray. They must secretly think we're all a bunch of pussies.

When we were at Ikea I asked a woman where she got her cart and she said we could have her's. She shoved a heavy box aside while I stood idly watching, feeling like an asshole for not helping out. "Oh!" She said, looking up at me. "I didn't even notice your delicate condition." Delicate. Condition. Eeps.

"I did it, too," the woman in the elevator said. "Five times."
"Five times," I said. "Whoa."

Still, when the elevator opened I pushed out in front of her so I could check in for my appointment before her. Hip checking old ladies is another perk of being a precious mouse in a Barbie car.


This is a little alarming and I'm not sure where it's coming from. On Tuesday before we left for a two-plus hour drive to Ikea, I said to Chuck: "You should probably eat some of that leftover pizza before we go."

This wasn't a big deal. We'd be in the car for a while. Long car rides suck enough without hunger pangs. He's aged beyond his White Castle years. It was just a suggestion.

But then on Wednesday morning I'd made us both toast and I had just transitioned into buttering them when he said he was going to take out the garbage.

"Do you want to eat your toast first?"

And he did want to eat his toast first, but something in my voice sounded eat-your-peas-y. Awkward.


Me: "Oh. I just realized I'm not actually seven months pregnant anymore. I'm eight months pregnant."
Chuck: [Panic face]


Chuck is painting the PBG's room as we speak. We went on a mad dash edition of something akin to Supermarket Sweep on Wednesday and now our living room is filled with boxes holding a crib, a changing table, lamps, a rug, a mattress and more. The bulk of this took less than an hour. It seems that we are going for a sort of PeeWee's Playhouse aesthetic. I keep picturing the classy and subtle photos of nurseries I've scrolled past while looking for inspiration and wondering if our design is going to give her ADD or inspire her to invent brain internet.


A resident took over the first part of my appointment on Thursday. When it came time for the old belly check, I asked if she could give me the baby's general layout. She pushed and prodded and admitted this isn't yet her forte. She couldn't tell the PBG's head from her little butt.

This is like a gift.

"Yeah, well. Before you were born, the doctor couldn't tell your head from your ass!"

(Insert canned cackles from live studio audience).


My mobility has drastically decreased and my muscles are the kind of sore that you get after a long run. I'm reconsidering some life rules about flip flops because bending and tying has become a burden. The other day Chuck took a photo of my toe so I could diagnose why it felt funny.

Then, like some sort of cruel joke, I've started dropping things. It's like my body chemistry and gravity have joined up to create a situation that ends in a symphony of grunts and groans. Chuck suggested that maybe I've always dropped things, but didn't notice because picking it up didn't feel like I'd been shipped off to HotAsHell, Mississippi for Basic Training.

So now, every time I drop something -- my phone, a bunch of Black Olives, my napkin, a barrette, silverware -- I raise an eyebrow as if to say, "See? Being pregnant makes you drop things." Also: You can only get away with making a sad face and pointing at the ground so many times in a single day. Choose wisely.


There are parts of my body that I can no longer reach. And they are the parts of my body that require attention.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cryptic Notes from a Vacation in 2008 ...

Chuck unearthed these cryptic notes taken on hotel stationery from a vacation we took in 2008:

Or, Vacation: Days One through Five ...

We get to the rehearsal at the same time and walk toward the not-church.
"I haven't seen your new car yet," he says.
"Really? Because I gave you a ride home in it during Homegrown," I say.
"Man, Surly Furious."


The groom's dinner is at an downtown space that has been converted from city hall to a big old haunted bar with a grand staircase, a super secret sand stone basement, and official Duluth doorknobs bearing a D insignia.

The groom thanks everyone for coming from great distances and for being related to him and then says that the officiant told them that having a preggo in the wedding party is considered good luck. He directs attention toward me, a squat ball busy baby brewing, and unsure what to do with all these eyes and knowing that I'm prone to quick bursts of tears I say: "Actually, it's his fault." Head nod and thumb point  toward Chuck and golf clap in an attempt to start a mini chain of applause.

It doesn't take. None of it. And, in fact, no one moves, coughs, or even shuffles uncomfortably. It's just ... silent. So I just quietly turn purple and take a sip of water.

The bride has climbed to the back of a party bus and is holding a glass of wine, taking a few minutes to decompress. She looks down at her left had and says, dizzily, something like:

"Holy shit. I'm married."

We watch at least 15 consecutive episodes of "Lost," stopping only to order Taco Pizza. Two days later Chuck will still be feeling the burn of leisure pains.

I drop off some paperwork at the hospital and a woman answers all of my questions mid-sentence in a way that I would ordinarily find disconcerting and maybe ... rude. Except that she has an accent so the whole thing feels like being admonished by Julie Andrews. Which is a little pleasant.


Chuck paints the trim of the PBG's bedroom. He does this while drinking a can of inexpensive domestic beer, which I call "American Dad Painting." Meanwhile, I clean. I come across what is either a mouse latrine or some sort of larvae colony. Either way, it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.

We wake to crews chopping the bunches of branches that were ripped from the trees lining our street. It's 8 a.m., a little early to be thinking about the wood chipper scene from "Fargo."


I'm standing in our bedroom wearing just a robe. When Chuck walks in, I open it in classic flasher mode. He stops and says:

"Man. Science."


We take a big ass shopping list to the Ikea near Minneapolis, primed to fill the back of the space shuttle with so much Swedish. "We're going to have to pull the trigger while we're there," Chuck says and I agree that since we're driving so far, we'll totally have to pull the trigger. We leave with an impractical (albeit adorable) dresser that will allow the PBG to feel like she's living in a comic strip. We also get an end table. It's just normal.


We meet Fannie for dinner, share a bunch of meat. We walk outside and I lift my shirt so she can see my belly. I lift it again when she says she wants to push my belly button. We drive back to Duluth.


Chuck assembles a new end table while drinking a can of inexpensive domestic beer, which I call "American Dad Assembling."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The wedding of the century ...

It's 6:30 a.m. and I'm spinning a nasty scenario of what it would look like to oversleep on this day. I don't have to work too hard; I've already had this nightmare. Me, messy ponytail and sleep creases, sweat pants cinched at my bra line as JCrew's wedding party files past me. Then I realize that in my haste to order a preg-friendly bridesmaid dress I've selected something in denim.

I decide to stay awake, an easy decision when I remember that I still haven't tried Burger King's Bacon Gouda sandwich. It's a rarity to be awake during BK breakfast hours so I should take advantage. This is brave, considering I don't have a lot of aesthetic leeway right now. Adding a greasy face and salt bloat doesn't exactly scream FORMALWEAR!


The sandwich is okay. I see no evidence of gouda.


JCrew is getting her hair washed when I get to the salon. There are a few ways to approach her under these conditions: 1. tiptoeing and super casual, like it's a coincidence that you're at the same hair place on a Saturday morning. If she asks for a splash of mimosa, you say "How much booze, m'lady?", 2. Get right there in her face and say: "How you doing, Future Mrs. Seadawg?! Nervous, huh? Huh? Huh?" I choose the former.

"What are you looking at having done?" the stylist asks.
"Something like that," I say, indicating the head he's already working on. "Or a little loosey goosey, low bun. Maybe all pulled over the side, but not in a severe way."
"Okay, but that's actually three different ideas," he says.
"I know," I admit. "I was hoping you'd pull something you liked out of all of that."

There is a wind of hairspray. Tight curls. The deconstruction of false eyelashes. JCrew's makeup man invents a lip color for her, which must rank higher than having a signature drink. Her hair is down and wavy, with a braid for cinching her vail. With makeup, she looks like a 1960s starlet.


I hope with the intensity of the sun that the flower girl doesn't walk in while I'm slipping into my dress. I don't want to be the personification of this biology lesson about the pregnant female form. The fabric cannot contain evidence of my now outtie belly button.


There are photos taken in a big old fancy house filled with deep colors, paintings, crannies where one could easily get lost, a members only club that has to be haunted. I'll be reminded of this hours later when I am on the second floor retrieving my belongings and hear a woman singing. Chuck says it sounds like a TV has been left on; I prefer to think that it's something smoke-like that floats through the hallways. (Turns out it is an employee using a bathroom).

Two photographers tag team a shoot in a library area that feels like a cover shoot for Vogue.


The wedding is at a deconsecrated church. All the grandness of an old Catholic Church with none of the pesky judgments. There is a pipe organ, a trumpet player, an opera singer performing in Italian. A reading from the book of "Jane Eyre." A sermon by a paster who is also a regular on local stages. A handfasting ceremony.

It lasts the exact amount of time I can comfortably stand on 3-inch platform heels. My groom partner and I have barely hit the back row of seats afterward and I'm already carrying them. (Flip flops have been approved for the remainder of the day).


The party bus has neon lights, a speaker system and decorative bells. A groomsman has stocked a cooler with four brands of CabSav, which is served in plastic cups, and beer. The bride wants to decompress to some Iron & Wine or Bon Iver, neither of which screams "party bus." A few songs later and The Greeter has downloaded ABBA and is spinning "Mama Mia."

"Have you ever been on a party bus filled with people drinking wine out of keg cups?" I text Chuck.
"Have you ever gone to a wedding and then sat at a bar with two people you don't even know for two hours?" he responds.

We're taken to a remote location. A two-minute walk into the woods for photographs. Then down another path to a rocky area by the river. Then back to a scenic bridge. It's about 30 degrees and not quite not raining. It takes two people to carry the bride's dress over the bramble.

I wonder if I'm going to start crying, if the snot will freeze like icicles hanging from my nose.

The next day, one of the photographers will post a photograph from this expedition, proving that it was worth the hike. But damn was it cold at the time.


The mingling is fantastic. Oregon is in from Virginia with her husband (and gave us an adorable ironic onesie that says "Raised by Wolves" during the groom's dinner), Bri Guy is in from DC, our Unemployed Friend drove up from Des Moines and other assorted friends not seen in recent history are primed for the hugging. Not to mention that by the end of it, Chuck and I have hired a Norwegian nanny.

Dinner includes buttered crackers with horseradish and a pork loin with a fruity salsa. The cupcakes are pistachio or strawberry flavored, the cake is lavender honey. There is a candy bar complete with soft Irish candies and assorted other flavors.

Chuck and I wander off by ourselves to a lounge to sit quietly and not talk to anyone for about 15 minutes. We're just in time to catch the baby performing a floor routine in my belly.

There is a photo booth and we wander in in groups to take weird shots. BriGuy and I perform dueling pregnant Mick Jaggers.

The responsible people pack up, and those willing to contribute to the shit show remain. Groomsmen dance in a circle around JCrew. Tiny Dancer grabs her hands and hops around to the Jackson 5. Somewhere along the way she has learned how to dance Gangham Style.

Her high school guy friends have kicked off their shoes and replaced them with high heels.

Chuck and I slow dance clumsily and decide we should probably go home now. Hugs are re-administered.


We eat a frozen pizza, watch an episode of "Lost" and pass out.


I wake to a text from CHRISSIE recommending an Australian true crime movie she has billed as "Lifetime-y."

I bite.

We spend the entire day in front of the TV.

Friday, May 17, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 31 ...

This is the week we have been eyeballing for months as the shit-gets-real week. This is sitting at Perkins manically pecking at a $2 bread bowl with Ranch dressing, European history text book at the elbow, starring at the word Huguenot until it's eaten by your pupils.

This is when you look blearily at your lab partner, ignore the Tom Hanks-shaped mole on his neck and think: We'll probably never see each other again. Wonder if we should bang it out.

This is when you take up smoking. (Metaphorically).

This is crunch time, son. Extended time off to concentrate our cleaning-building-painting-tossing efforts. It feels a heckuva lot like senior year finals.

Chuck has been on vacation for a week and he's been chiseling away at a daunting to-do list. (We didn't even bother listing chores, we just wrote EVERYTHING on it). This is remarkable because we are both the kind of people who wander around Menards, slide our fingers down the spine of a new bedroom door, consider the cost, whether it is capable of keeping the cats from having a spontaneous Pampers party, nod and say: "Yes. We should get that. Tomorrow. Tuesday at the latest. Now let's figure out what color to delay painting her room."

Now we're operating under a new mantra: "We've just got to pull the trigger."

As in: "We'll order the crib on Friday," Chuck said. "We've just got to pull the trigger on that."

There have been trips to the dump, a bedroom cleared of its contents, doors and paint purchased, the introduction of a garbage can with an actual lid, shelves built and a Belinda Carlisle poster hung in the garage.

Now I'm on vacation, too, so watch out to-do list. I'm coming at you (slowly, breathing heavily ... and with no ability to bend over).


My boobs have burst well beyond their potential, but remain small in comparison to my bulging belly therefore nullifying any joy I might have taken from teetering near the C zone. A few days ago I tried wearing a bra-bra rather than a sports bra and was alarmed by the visual of two sagging milk sacks when I looked in the mirror.


I was confused by a status update by a high school acquaintance who wrote that her surprise baby turned a year old.

"Did she not know she was pregnant?" I wondered and used modern technology to see what was going on a year ago and whether it was possible that she had whatever is the adult version of a bathroom stall baby during prom.

Turns out she knew she was pregnant, so Chuck and I started aging her baby from birth to present day in three month increments -- again using modern technology. At nine months we were greeted by an image of a toddler using Fisher Price toys as a ladder to gain access to the TV.


At one year she was digging in the refrigerator either for the bottle of milk or the box of leftover pizza.

Shit shit.


Tomorrow I am in a wedding. In some countries this would automatically qualify me for the Olympic decathlon.

"You aren't going to go into labor during the wedding, are you?" asked the groomsman who will be holding me upright in 4-inch heels during aisle times.
"No, no," I told him. "I'm not due for two months. ... But if I do, it's probably going to ruin your shoes."
Alarmed face.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

So, um, that was a hickey ...

In the spring of my sophomore year I acquired, the usual way, a sliver of a hickey from my then-boyfriend. It was fun at the time, the hour of makeout we used to cram in before my curfew, but something I regretted the next morning.

There it was on the left side, mid-neck. Not the sort of thing I could hide during long jump season when I spent much of my time in a track uniform and a ponytail. Thankfully it was a little chilly that Saturday in Pine Island, so I stripped down only long enough to compete then returned to something damn close to snowmobile suit level in its hickey-hiding potential.

Some of my teammates who were more seasoned in the dueling arts of Having a Hickey and Having Parents assured me that mine was barely noticeable and I shouldn't worry about it. I agreed, eventually. True enough. It could just be a scratch or a burn from the barrel of a curling iron. They told me if I combed it with a plastic comb, it would dull in intensity.

"Is that a hickey?" my mom asked me on Sunday as I waited for my boyfriend to pick me up for a day date.

"Oh my gosh, no," I said, then composed my most spontaneous, most elaborate lie ever, complete with an authentic eye roll. "Everyone was making fun of me about it on Friday. They noticed it after I came out of Mr. Z's office so they were all saying that Mr. Z gave me a hickey. ... I don't know what it's from." It was perfect. I hadn't introduced any imagery involving my boyfriend and distracted her instead with a locker room full of girls teasing me about the gym teacher, an attractive man, yes, but the unlikely source of a hickey.

It seemed to pass without question. My hickey and I were safe.

I mention this because today I saw a high school-aged kid who had been pulled over by two police cars. That kid had the most righteous hickey farm on his neck, the kind of thing that would require the suction of a Grade A vac.


Coming Clean is a series in which I confess to the various crimes and bad behaviors of my youth. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 30 ...

Reenacting sleeping with my new body pillow, which I've named "The Seahorse." Cat not included. 
I have a friend who doesn't have any kids, nor does she want them. But, she said, she kind of wishes she knew what it felt like to be pregnant. To her I say: When the scientists invent this simulator, strap on the weighty pack and set the dial to Week 30. 

Week 30 is, so far, my favorite week of pregnancy. 

Earlier this week I was doing some writing and noticed my sweater bucking. There were frequent belly jabs, the most activity I've witnessed yet. At one point I poked my right side and received a high-five in return -- or whatever it is called when a 2-pound person either rams her knee or else head butts your finger. And then an entire half hour passed with me, literally, navel gazing. 

How the hell am I supposed to get anything done, I wondered, when the little Incredible Hulk is rearranging her living space? It's so fascinating! 

This has happened multiple times a day since then. Just this morning Chuck tapped at my belly button and was greeted with a rolling wave of skin. We looked at each other wide-eyed. Sometimes it's like a sea creature cruising just below the surface; Sometimes it's like my belly button is struggling to say something. 


I found a spider on my arm, wiped it off and it landed in our bed. That was worse, so I picked it up and threw it on the floor. Chuck witnessed this and seems to think it was a behavioral anomaly. That I've had a more hide-in-the-other-room approach to bugs in the past. Who remembers these things.  


This week's appointment was a quick hitter: check baby's heart rate, measure the belly, exchange witty banter. "Boring week, huh?" the doctor said. "ARE YOU KIDDING?!" I asked. "IT'S MY FAVORITE." He chuckled. He's heard this song and dance. The non-invasive appointment, the final days of full mobility. People like Weeks 30 and 32, he said. 

Also, the PBG, the doctor said, is in a breech position -- which is no big because we've got time for her to shift into a head-first dive. 

I like picturing her in the breech position. Me, sitting on the couch watching "Lost." Superimposed with the PBG at stomach level also sitting on the couch watching "Lost." Me, driving the Space Shuttle. PBG, sitting at wheel level watching. The bambino as a tiny Buddha presence, her legs crossed in front of her. Or those little Russian nesting dolls if they were see-through. A joey. Regardless, "Breech baby, breech baby there on the sand from July to the end of September" is stuck in my head." 


We also had an appointment to double-check the kidney situation. (She still only has one). And to meet with a specialist about what will happen when she's born (ultrasound, antibiotics, checkups). Our guy mapped out her urinary tract on the paper used to keep the exam bed sanitized and I felt horrible thinking about making another generation that will be keenly aware of her urethra. 

Before all of this, there was another ultrasound where we saw images of the PBG for the first time in 10 weeks. Her cheeks have gotten chubby, her lips pouty, her nose sloped into something decidedly Pista family. At one point we saw her throw the sort of frown-y face both Chuck and I would make if were rudely awakened. Then we saw, live action, the corners of her mouth turn up into what looked like a smile. (Cry cue). 

The tech gave us three portrait-like pictures, composites of what her face probably looks like. All of this sort of feels like we're adopting a baby from the moon. Like we've been Skyping with her and now we're just waiting for her to slip into her space helmet and make the trip. 


I'm sick. I have the terrible cold that I skirted all cold season. Nose, throat, head, fatigue. Last night I was trapped in a situation where snot began to shine above my upper lip and the only way to thwart it was to takes swipes at it with a knit stocking cap. 

I stayed healthy all sick season and developed a theory that, while Chuck and my friends were felled by the ick, I was staying strong because frequent urination was leading to frequent hand washing which was leading to a germ genocide. 

I bring this up ALL the time. 

".... because I pee so much," smug nod. 
"... convinced the reason I haven't gotten sick ..." eyes wide, earnestness. 

Except now I'm sick. 

"It's because I was bragging so much," I told Chuck. 
"It's because I was sick and other people were sick," he said. 
"And because I was bragging about not being sick," I said. 
"No, not really. It's because everyone is sick," he said. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Adult Contemporary Series: 'Only the Good Die Young' by Billy Joel

When I was 20, I thought that three months was an acceptable amount of time to wait before dating my best friends newly-exed boyfriend.

One time we were at a bar and he pointed out a guy in a softball uniform and said:
"See that guy right there?"
"He's the best hitter in town. ... Someday that's going to be me."

At the time it seemed admirable. Like a goal. These days, if someone said that to me I'd roll my eyes hard enough for my irises to strike brain.

Sometimes he would get drunk and tell us about the tattoo he was going to get: A cross with OTGDY written in an arc above it right on his arm. Only the Good Die Young.

He said it would be in honor of a sister he lost. Maybe that's true. But one time I watched him blow through a stop sign on a country road, cross Hwy. 52 without pause, and land in a ditch on the other side. He'd fallen asleep, with the assistance of a few post-game brewskies. So maybe it was something he expected for himself.

At 20, I thought we would probably get married. Sometimes I imagined a life with bleacher slats embedded in my thighs from the thrice weekly softball games. At 22 I figured out a good rule of thumb:

If your best friend sells her stock, probably don't buy it from her.

The Adult Contemporary Series explores the hits of the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s and what they meant to me, inspired by a song heard while listening to Adult Contemporary radio in my Adult Contemporary Car. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Touchy luck ...

I always consider myself a lucky person. This is, admittedly, based on suspect evidence such as: I always get a great parking spot outside of Barnes & Noble. Chuck thinks it's all a bunch of hooey. If I was truly lucky, a bird wouldn't have crapped on my arm that one time in Brooklyn. That the appearance of a man with a hose less than a block later doesn't counter the fact that I was shit upon in the first place.

A few days ago I had a small victory when he admitted that he didn't believe in luck, but that if anyone was lucky, it was me.

Which brings us to today:

I cobbled together $1.00 worth of coins so I could buy a package of almonds from a vending machine. This took some effort, as I didn't want to use precious quarters. I wanted to exorcise the dimes and nickels from my life. I walked to a nearby vending machine bank and noticed that the price was actually $1.25.

Total bullshit. I'd have to walk back and sift through more loose change at the bottom of my purse.

What if, I thought. I wasn't about to get on my hands and knees and look for shiny circles beneath the vending machines. Getting from the floor to an upright position is a grueling grunt-filled process. But I would check the coin returns on the other machines. Sure enough, in the coffee machine, there was an unclaimed quarter.

Que Suerte! I thought. What luck!

I couldn't contain my grin. I willed someone, anyone, to come along so I could tell the story of this great moment in my personal luck history. Truly, it was like I conjured the quarter. It as unreal. I plugged the coins into the machine, pushed D6 and ...

The almonds got stuck. Half in, half out. I threw a hip check at the machine but knew I was defeated. I shook my head and gave the fates a "you got me good" smirk.

For the record, this doesn't blemish my string of luck. It was a simple reminder to calm down with the victory dance.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

It was the weekend and I was boring: The liplock edition ...

On Friday nights, I always preface my sleep with this: "I'm going to sleep until I can't sleep anymore." When possible, I like to take it well beyond necessity and cast it into recreational. I woke up 11 hours later pleased with my efforts and that of my sleep companion, who was still taking the deep rhythmic breaths next to me. In fact, I stayed in bed longer than him and only emerged when the smell of scrambled eggs made it impossible for me to concentrate on the book I was reading.

With sleeping this long is that afterward, time flies. Before you know it, the non-invasive sounds of music without words has shifted to the sleepy frog voice of the host of your worst-favorite weekend public radio program. You return to the brown noise app attached to the bedroom stereo and think: What a review. I hate your show so much that I'd rather just listen to static.

Is to go downtown, catch a single band, order a large taco pizza to-go and return home at the same time as Chuck gets done with work. "If you're having a super good time, I'll meet you out," he says, and I'm not sure how that is possible. A 29-week preggo negotiating a crush of people during the drunkest week of the year. Sipping water, catching 1/8th of the words said in my direction and, in turn, being cognizant that just 1/8 of my responses are hitting the mark. And none of this happening in the XL sweatpants I wear pulled up to boob level. No, I must wear public pants.

I am having fun. JCrew, Seadawg and I secure part of my favorite piece of real estate, a back corner booth that we share with a single couple crammed into the corner and deep in a lip lock that will extend the length of the evening. They don't pee. They don't go to the bar. They just kiss and kiss and kiss. On top of that, they're wearing the same shoes. Is this how they met or is this something that happened. One introduces the other to the utility of black Converse, something the other had never considered. Kind of like how I'd never had Chocolate Soy Milk before I met Chuck and now I can't imagine a world without it. Kind of like how he had never bought socks in bulk until he met me.

Is an easy sell. I show my friends how I can use the Find My Friends app to follow his journey from West End to the bar. "And here he is on Lake and Superior," I say, pointing to his dot. Sure enough, he texts me from the line outside, which has extended beyond a vacant store front. "It's going fast," he says. "Can you order me a Surly?"

Asks Chuck to take our picture, but it becomes obvious that we are not going to be able to come up with something cute. Her face is in shadow, I keep opening my eyes too wide, a common problem I have. The result is creepy. Chuck studies a failed attempt and says: "I don't know. Why don't you just go with it?"

So we embrace our inner monsters.

Order the taco pizza at last call and snarf it while watching an episode of 'Cheers' that I recognized from the title alone. "This one marks the return of a character," I say, mouth packed with black beans. "Which one?" Chuck asks. "Andy Andy," I say. And I'm right. 

"To sleep until I can't sleep any more," I say, turning out the light. 

I wake even later. Something closer to 1 p.m. Almost as if I went out and got blotto last night, rather than sitting in a hidden corner watching a young couple make meals of lips. I'd have slept longer but the cats are furious that the door is still propped closed with a crate of records. It sounds like Orin is getting close to anger-strengthing his way through the barricade. Chuck lets them in and they immediately fall asleep on my feet. Rage is exhausting.

In bed and read some more while the cats slept in poses resembling something out of "The Kama Sutra." Finished a comic book; Almost finished a short story collection. I feel that I can again show my face near Minnesota Reads without feeling great shame.

To make progress on Operation: Buy Things for the Baby. First I revisit a list of necessities that Feisty sent me months ago and make a list. Then I wander through the baby section taking deep, cleansing breaths. When I start to feel dizzy and sweaty, I stand my ground. "Find sleepwear. Gown-style with an elastic bottom, easy for middle of the night diaper changes," I command myself. Meanwhile, there are a handful of other preggos in these aisles. I smile at all of them, thinking that maybe we can be friends. Talk about what we've gotten so far and what else we need to get and our color scheme. Share a pretzel and feel each other's bellies. But none of them seem willing to commit to a friendship with me. I text Chuck about it and he suggests that it has something to do with my sweatpants.

I find a two-pack of gowns. Then I find crib sheets and a mesh bumper and a waterproof cover for the crib mattress. Then I pick up some nail polish for myself.

There are two women behind me in line at the check out.
"I suppose you're going to ditch me to go hang out with him," says one.
"I already saw him today," says the other. "We went to lunch."
"Oh, where did you eat?" the first one asks.
"In his car," she says.

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. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Pregnant: Week 29

I was lying in bed reading on Wednesday night when I noticed a rippling movement in my stomach area. Who knows how long this has been going on. Visual confirmation. Turns out I'm pregnant or I'm possessed.

The iconic birth scene from "Alien" became a little too real.

The surface beneath my dress roiled the way lava looks just before a geyser erupts. I watched for a long time, too distracted to read. I hiked up my dress and watched undulating skin far longer than it could have possibly been interesting, and well after it had stopped I kept watching in case it started again. And, of course, I took video and fired it off via to a half-dozen people.

Gurgles from christa pista on Vimeo.

Shit gets real at about the 9 second mark when I pan right. Isn't that adorable that I think anyone would want to watch this?

After taking this video, I wondered what it would be like for the PBG to someday see this in utero moment captured. It's the 2013 version of Chuck's mom showing him a grainy 1970s photograph of herself pregnant and saying: "This is when you went to Colorado."


There is a large music festival happening here in D-Town this week and I've been out every night catching at least one band. This has turned Chuck into bubble wrap personified. He guides me through crowds with his arms out like a force field. And if the hippie bros get pushy, he shoots them a fierce face and looks primed for an aggressive windmill move, if need be.


Woke up. Unloaded dishwasher, reloaded. Wiped down the countertops. Went downstairs and ran a load of white clothes in the washing machine. Came back upstairs, made toast, made coffee. There was a time when I couldn't even open my left eye without at least three sips of coffee. This has been one of the most interesting behavioral transformations of the past few months.

"Why are you doing all of this?" Chuck asked.
"I'm not sure," I said. "But I have my suspicions."


I have never been hungrier in my life. Not during epic mid-puberty cross country practices. Not when we became obsessed with kale for a summer. This is the hunger of the emaciated, dragged from the woods with bark stuck between their teeth.

It strikes fierce and sudden and sometimes my only recourse is to dip into the nearest drive thru, the words "Just eat healthy" ringing in my ears. And then I stuff food into my face using both hands.

A few days ago I sat in the Arby's parking lot wondering how often someone doubles back through for a bonus roast beef. I didn't make the same mistake last night. I just ordered two.

I looked in the rear view mirror when I was done eating. There was horsey sauce on my nose.

"Oh, Christa," I thought. "Have some pride."

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

That smell ...

"Can you smell my foot?"
I've barely settled in. My Former Landlord has an urgent tone.
"Can you smell my foot?"

He explains something about an old tarp in his back yard and how it has collected a pool of swamp water. He went back there to move the tarp and stepped in the water and:

"Can you smell my foot?"
By now he has walked up to me. He's sort of balanced on his left leg, his right foot making its way toward me. He's holding it like a display piece. It's getting closer.

"No! No! No!" I say.
He looks puzzled.
"Can't you just smell my foot?"
"No," I say, and finally he understands. "Once I smell it I won't be able to unsmell it. Put it away."

He sits down again and there it is. A moldy waft of expired water.
"I can smell it," I say to him.
"You can smell it?" he asks. And he's already on his feet and making his way toward me again, foot extended.
"No. I can smell it. I can smell it now. I'm not going to sniff it. I CAN SMELL IT," I tell him.