I’m working out, y’all.

*If you give zero fucks about learning about these damn Kayla Itsines guides, or you are in peak physical condition, this post will likely not entertain you. 

So I’ve been obnoxiously posting pictures to Instagram that chronicle my completed #bbg workouts. You’re welcome for that. (At least I’m not selling <insert thing people are selling all over my fucking Facebook feed>.) But here’s the thing…

Fitness people are crazy supportive of one another. I mean, I get it. They’re all hopped up on endorphins and being thin and strong and can’t help but love the shit out of one another, but it’s still a surprise. You post a picture of the human life you created and six people “like” it and one person comments. You post a picture of your fat, sweaty self after doing a terrible 28 minute workout and 26239 people come out of the woodwork to tell you what a badass you are. It’s motivating.  And, frankly, I need it.

I haven’t reported much on the weight loss journey since my ohholyfuckiamsofat post from last summer, but the journey does continue. Through various means I managed to knock about 17lbs off. No small feat, but also kind of a drop in the fat kid bucket. I’m out of Kirstie Alley territory, but I’m certainly not ordering new bikinis. (Let’s be honest, I’ll never be ordering new bikinis.)

It was actually back when I first reported about my Stage Five Fatitude that a friend mentioned Kayla Itsines and the #bbg (Bikini Body Guides). I dutifully paid my $60 or whatever and downloaded the workouts. I even read through them a couple of times while watching TV or making dinner. They certainly LOOKED effective, but I couldn’t speak to that directly, as I never actually DID any of them.

When the Sweat with Kayla app came out and I was offered another opportunity to do the exact same work outs I already paid for, but for additional money, I was like, “yes! sign me up!” I did the 7 day free trial, which didn’t deter me nearly as much as I imagined, and then started paying my $19.99/month. Because why not pay $20 a month to jump around like an asshole in your bedroom?

Here’s what you need to know, in no particular order:

  • There are three resistance workouts, three cardio, and two recovery a week. (Though that’s kind of a lie because the app has me repeat one workout a week.) Resistance workouts are broken up into Abs & Arms (single workout), Legs, and Full Body. In order:
    • Arms & Abs are the most manageable for me. I generally don’t feel like vomiting, I have some success, and feel appropriately tired after.
    • Full Body is the second most challenging, namely because there are always burpees, which are what Satan does when he wakes up in the morning.
    • Legs. Last time I did legs I went downstairs to get water after and fell down the stairs. So there you have it.
  • I am horribly and offensively out of shape. My physical appearance, as poor as it may be, is actually making it appear that I am MORE in shape that I am. It takes me approximately 11 seconds to get out of breath.
  • Even though paying for something you already paid for sounds like a really dumb idea, the PDF version of the workouts can’t force me to work out like the app can. The app basically says “you have to do this today” and then turns on a timer and I have no choice. The PDF was more like my friend who said she’d jog with me, but actually meant she’d smoke pot and each cheesy curls on the couch.
  • Because the workouts are by week and are the same across the program, you can “work out with your friends” (i.e. do a work out in EST and then text your friend in the PST about how terrible it is before she even wakes up).
  • There’s a nutrition guide that people really love, but that I basically ignore. Clearly this woman doesn’t live in New England. She eats kiwis and mangoes. Most New Englanders don’t even know those two words. But it seems to be a reasonable diet plan focused on nutrients and not calories.
  • You need minimal “gear.” I already had some weights, which are needed, and it appears that a medicine ball is in my future. (But you can also get creative… fill a milk jug with nails or something.)
  • Oh and a jump rope. Which may also mean a box of Depends…
  • Each work out is two circuits. You do the first circuit as many times as you can in seven minutes and then do the same with circuit two. And then repeat. All in it’s 28 (7×4) minutes of working out. It’s up to you to modify or slow your pace so you don’t die.
  • If at any point you feel angry and sad, you can hop on my friend Kayla’s Instagram account and look at all the people who are doing these workouts and look like fit little wood nymphs. (Including moms who look WRECKED in their before pictures. Which is double motivation.)
  • Overall the app is a mediocre user experience, but it performs its main function well: shows you the workout and times you.

The real reason I seem to be enduring these terrible workouts is because they make me feel really good. In less than two weeks I feel stronger and I think I look better. As bad as any one workout gets, it’s only seven minutes and then I can do something else. And while there have been times I’ve cursed everything in my presence, I didn’t quit. I kept going, just trying to make it to the buzzer. (There’s actually a buzzer on the app. It’s very exciting.) Plus it’s only 28 minutes. You can’t excuse yourself from 28 minutes. (Well you can. But then you’re just being lazy.)

It’s bad, but it’s not so bad. And I’m doing it. Which is more than I can say about anything else. Like I said, there’s a 7 day free trial on the app, so you can always give it a spin and decide whether it’s your cup of tea. If you do, be sure you tell me so I can bitch with you via text.

My kid was a nightmare. And other true stories.

Happy 4th. (Yesterday.) I was on social media channels a few times. I saw a bunch of adorable kids in gingham and stripes watching parades and looking American and perfect.

My kid was awful. Just terrible. He made a three-day-weekend seem like a prison sentence. By Saturday afternoon things were fragile. Sunday evening my marriage was starting to fray. And when we finally reached Monday night, everyone had to retreat to their respective corners so there was no bloodshed. It is a wonder to behold how a single 37 inch person can fuck things up so thoroughly.

The good news (if that’s how we want to categorize it) is that this appears to be age associated and completely predictable. Late two/early threes are notorious for their shittiness. Unfortunately, no amount of warning can adequately prepare you for the psychological and emotional damage that a toddler can exact over a three-day-weekend.

What I struggle with the most is actually how much I struggle. I’m 32 years old. I am a fully grown human being. I have pretty well developed coping skills. I’m good with conflict resolution. I have sound logic and reasoning skills. And my toddler gives ZERO fucks. If my husband and I had a dollar for every time the phrase “walk away. just walk away.” was uttered in our house, we could both retire. And yet for all our chanting walkawaywalkawaywalkawaywalkawaywalkawaywalkaway we can’t actually walk away. We’re locked in some intellectual death match with a tot. I’ve experience more logical and redemptive communication with cats.

And the stubbornness. Oh sweet lord the stubbornness. This is why people of the olden days resorted to physical acts of violence. Because it takes an incredibly well controlled and evolved human being to get to the brink of sanity and not be overcome with the urge to exert physical force over a lesser being. And I’m not even talking about beatings. Even just a well placed flick. Because when your child tells you for the 2736974120382039 time that they WILL NOT CLEAN UP their blocks and you’ve wasted 682 minutes of your day asking, and you’ve taken away everything you thought they held dear, and you’ve reasoned, begged, yelled, threatened and there are still mother fucking blocks all over the floor… your ability to keep your shit together is questionable. Worse than that, when you’ve sacrificed your plans, your desires, your activities in order to do the activity that should most appeal to your child and then they act like a domestic terrorist, you begin to question the very meaning of life.

We’re currently in the stage whereby all perceived offenses are of equal weight in his eyes. Not having the right color juice is as egregious an offense as refusing to allow him to play in the hose or trying to give him away. (Just listing the kinds of things that brought our weekend to its proverbial knees is giving me PTSD.) There’s usually a light whimper, followed by the introduction of a baby voice, which then becomes a fake machine gun cry, that then devolves into a full on melt down. (And then usually one of us walking swiftly out of a public place while our child confirms to single people within earshot that they are the superior species.) The single most terrifying thing about three year olds is that the truest and quickest way to incite a meltdown is to give them EXACTLY what they want. What? What is this you say? Yes. Exactly. Give them exactly what they want and they will most certainly meltdown. Because they hate you.

For example. Aut has been totally into bike riding recently. (We got one of those bike seats that you get when you have a child under 4 and you no longer care about how uncool your life is.) Generally speaking, he loves riding around on the back of the bike, going fun places, seeing new things. So we planned on an awesome bike ride on Monday. We were going to bike up to Marblehead and stare through the gates of yacht clubs at rich people. We told him… and he melted down. He didn’t want to bike ride. Turns out, he’d found a long-forgotten set of paints in his cubby and all he wanted to do in the whole world was paint. (Painting is a cruel invention by people who hate parents.) After much hmming and hawing, we consented. He could paint outside. In his underwear.

We went outside. It was beautiful out. We set up a drop cloth, staple gunned a canvas to the fence, got out the paints and brushes, slathered sunscreen on him. And feeling like THE BEST PARENTS IN THE WHOLE WORLD we set him loose on his artistic endeavors. Which lasted about 14 seconds.

The sun is too sunny and it’s on my head. We got him a baseball cap.

I need something different for my eyes. (Because THE BRIM OF THE HAT WAS NOT SUFFICIENT.) We got him his sunglasses.

I’m thirsty. We made him hold out but eventually realized this was not the one to nail him on when it was 90 degrees outside. Got him water.

I need different paints. Go fuck yourself.

I want to paint on the fence. Not on your life.

I need to wipe my hands. Shouldn’t have stuck both hands in the paint.

I want to do yoga with Mups. No, you’re painting.

I want to cut all my fingers off in the air conditioner compressor. Nope. [wailing]

I don’t like painting. Well, too bad. We got this all set up. You’re gonna paint. [more wailing]

I need a snack. We just had breakfast. You’re fine. [repeated slower and screaming I. NEED. A. SNACK.]

The sun is too hot. Sorry, we’ll talk to the solar system about that.

I need Buzz Lightyear. Buzz is napping upstairs. [whimpering, but surprisingly no wailing]

I really want to stick my entire hand into the A/C compressor. Ask me again and I’ll probably let you.

I need to go into the basement to get something. No you don’t. [full-on, mind blowing meltdown]

I want to go for a bike ride. You’re dead to me.

I don’t want to exaggerate, so I’ll say this was all within the span of about 11 minutes. Conservatively I’d say six tantrums and one meltdown in 11 minutes. Because we were doing exactly what he begged us to let him do.

And like I said, the very worst part is how ill prepared we are to cope. It’s impossible to ignore, but equally as impossible to correct. Stupidly I allow myself to imagine these scenarios whereby we’re doing these things happily and peacefully as a family. The hubs is drinking coffee on the porch, I’m doing yoga on the driveway, Aut is painting like the gifted painter we will joyfully discover he is. But it’s never anything like that. It’s screaming and whining and trying not to lose our shit at how unbelievably insufferable he can make 15 minutes in the sunshine. And then the guilt when he says something like “why do you always yell?” And I feel so terrible but I also want to be like “why do you always try to make me insane?” But I know he’s 3 and he doesn’t know why he does it. He just does. And my job as his mother is to cope. And get through it.

And I don’t want to wish his life away. I don’t want him to grow up too fast. And inevitably there’s some gray haired woman (as there was this weekend) who says “enjoy every moment” at exactly the wrong time. And I get it. I know she’s wistful and hindsight is rosey. But these moments are not enjoyable. They’re trying and terrible. They make you question yourself. They push you to dark places where you have to look hard at yourself. And that’s an unexpectedly difficult part of parenting– seeing yourself through your child’s eyes. Because every now and then, you won’t like the person you see. But this too shall pass. And tantrums about paints and Buzz Lightyear will be replaced by heartbreak and humiliation and things that will make us long for the days that the absence of Buzz was the most meltdown-worth part of the day.

But for now, we cope. We parent. We continue onward. Knowing they won’t be 3 forever… for better or worse.

Author Paints
A brief moment of happiness and reprieve. 

 

 

And today. And boobs.

I’m having a hard time today. I’m having a hard time coping with the grief that I feel for so many people I don’t know. I’m having a hard time building bridges instead of walls. I’m having a hard time focusing on being happy and present, when my mind wants to wander to a black hole filled with fear and anxiety. I want to go home from work. I want to pick up my child early. I want to eat something fluffy and cheesy for dinner. I want to put a lot of hard shit on pause for a while.

I know a lot of people are feeling that.

But I can’t. Not today. Because the grief has to be grieved. And the hard conversations have to be had. We have to get through this, not over this. All of this. Not just the acute stuff, but the big stuff. We have to keep talking and debating and saying honest things to one another so we can make progress. And it’s tiring. It’s always so tiring. I know. Because I’m married. And that’s all you do when you’re married. Have hard conversations and fight the urge to give up. Because giving up is so easy now and so fucking hard later. (And because I don’t want to die alone. So…)

We have to keep going.

And while I can’t make that easier or better, I can distract you for a while by talking about boobs. My boobs.

My boobs are terrible. My boobs were sacrificed on the alter of over-achieving parenting. After two merciless weeks (because pro-breastfeeding people can be BRUTAL; don’t argue) of attempting to get Aut to latch, it became abundantly clear that he wasn’t gonna. His mouth and my nipple were a failed arranged marriage. The kidney transplant that wasn’t going to take. He did not want my boob. (Which, merciless breastfeeding people were also cruel about. So fuck you, again.) Because organic, imported from Germany formula was going to poison my child, give him autism, stunt his mental development, and keep him from getting into college, I only had one choice. I had to pump. I had to hook my titties up to a pump four times a day for 9.5 months. I pumped first thing in the morning. I pumped in the only bathroom in my entire building (which happened to be unisex), while evil bitches knocked ceaselessly and told me it was “unfair” that I was using the bathroom to pump. I pumped when I got home from work and before bed. Sometimes I would accidentally oversleep and wake up in a soggy pile of bed linens. I pumped on airplanes and in shopping malls. I pumped in parks and in my car. I pumped and pumped and pumped.

And when you pump, you squeeze. You treat your breasts like misbehaving Plah Doh. You squish them and poke at them. You live in a constant state of fear about not getting all the milk out and ending up with clogged ducts. (Been there. Spent 5 days in the hospital. And kept pumping.) You manhandle them in ways that young boys dream about.  You shake them and mash them to make sure every, single drop of that delicious, liquid gold makes its way out.

And while you’re breastfeeding, your tits look fantastic. If you’ve ever forgotten, go to a children’s swimming lesson. You can tell the infant moms from the toddler moms by tits alone. The infant moms have perky, swollen boobs that have a strange mix of utility and sex. The toddler moms look like they dropped their tits into their bathing suits and then lost them. Poof. Gone. While you’re breast feeding, there is all sorts of blood flow and tissue and milk working in glorious symphony to make you look like a porn star. It’s amazing.

What you don’t know is that they will deflate. You’ll wean your little angel, and for a few weeks you’ll be like “SWEET! No more milk, but my breasts are amazing still and everyone was wrong. I’m going to end up with incredible post-baby boobs!” And you’ll be naive and wrong. And premature.

Within about 6 months the sag appears. The “life” that your boobs had begins to die. They take on a new relationship with your belly. Rather than resting-on or grazing your belly occasionally, they flop upon it. With a harrumph. For me, the worst part was the stretch marks. The incredible 40 EE breasts that I developed while pregnant and breastfeeding (I am not fucking with you– 40 EE– A, B, C, D, E, EE) had stretched and pulled the skin of my boobs to the point of no return. All that squeezing and kneading and mashing while pumping only made it worse. I had ruined boobs. I had… sad sacks.

And body shaming doesn’t really affect me. What affects me is when people talk about celebrating my sad, wounded boobs. I do not want to celebrate them. I want to mourn them. And then have them lifted, tucked, pumped, and injected.

But for now, they just sort of sit there in my bra. Like little puddles of forgotten pudding in a flavor no one likes (except your husband, because he’d eat spoiled pudding in shit flavor if it meant he could have pudding whenever he wanted). Every now and then I take them out and look at them, give them a pep talk, and then watch them retreat. They’ve given up. Which I understand. I don’t blame them.

 

 

Why David Sedaris isn’t in love with me

“You were a mess.”

Those were my husband’s encouraging words to me after waiting in line for two hours after a Sedaris reading at Boston Symphony Hall on Wednesday. When I responded that I hated him and wanted him to jump off a bridge he responded, “No. It was really cute seeing you completely lose your cool and be so ridiculous.” Jesus, thanks.

Here’s the thing, I don’t stalk celebrities. I don’t generally talk to them or bother them or try to tell them all about what good friends we would be. Mostly it’s because I realize that I don’t want to be friends with them. I want to be friends with whomever they play on TV. (There were two celebrity instances that broke this mold, both not optimal. One involved Tom Brady and the other The Boss. But those are for another time.)

I’ve been going to Sedaris readings for almost 10 years here in Boston. I have even been to some alone, which, if you know me, you know is a Huge Deal. I don’t typically do anything like that alone. I can’t even eat alone unless I have a stack of papers and a Very Important, Very Busy look on my face. But I have, indeed, bought a ticket for one and sat my ass in a seat at Symphony Hall on more than one occasion to hear Mr. Sedaris tell me all his stories. Tell ME.

I really, really believe that he would benefit greatly from the remarkable friendship we would have if he would just give me a chance. No, seriously. I actually believe this.

But every year when it comes time for audience questions or book signings, I slink down in my seat and get all nervous and sweaty palmed. Again, if you know anything about me, you know I don’t ever get nervous or sweaty palmed. I could stand up in front of 20,000 people and talk about any random topic without so much as a butterfly, but ask David Sedaris to be my friend? OMG NO.

This year was different. This year I decided that I was going to wait in line with my book and I was going to have him sign it. I was going to use that time to seduce him with my wit and charm and by the end of it he would be begging me for my home address. I even went one step further on the crazy ladder and wrote him a note. Unfortunately the only paper I had in my purse was a print out of the contagious disease page from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, but I did not let that deter me. I told him we needed to be pen pals and then outlined in great detail why this was going to be so wonderful. I explained that I had tried to just BE his pen pal by locating his address on the internet, but that I didn’t want to exhaust too many resources because I knew it would look creepy. (I also left out the part about how, if I was taking notes during the last ten years, I could probably use random context clues to triangulate his location in England.) I told him about how normal I am and how I would even send the occasional care package. The note was wrapped about a business card so that he could Google me and see just how normal and pen pal worthy I am.

The line after the show was long. Two hours long, in fact. And that was after I bought some other random author’s book so that I could cut to the shorter line. (I had to have him sign it, which was awkward because I hadn’t the foggiest idea what the book was about or who he was. And he was Indian and you know how my humor doesn’t translate with the ESL crowd.) For the most part, the hubs and I spent the two hours chatting about random stuff to keep my mind off the fact that I was just hours away from the biggest moment in my life. I was going to have 5 minutes to charm the pants off of my idol. The only writer I’ve ever actually admired. The only writer I KNOW needs to be my friend. Occasionally the hubs would ask what I was going to say and I would just look at him with that “stop talking or I’ll puke on your shoes” look and he would laugh and tell me he really did support me. He thought it was great that I was going for it. (I now realize he was mocking me.)

Adding to my stresses was my outfit. About six weeks ago I bought this dress thinking it would be something a little different. By something a little different, I apparently meant “dress like a fat hooker.” I don’t know what my deal is. I know that I am chunky and I know I need to lose the weight, but I go into these strange empowerment phases where I suddenly get all “power to my body” and buy things that, upon reflection, I have no business wearing. Between that dress, the no makeup, and the 68 and raining hair, I looked every bit the crazy stalker I was going to convince him I wasn’t. Oh, and I was breaking in some new over the knee boots, so I looked like a swashbuckling hooker. Because I had a limp. Like a peg leg. From the boots.

Unbeknownst to the hubs, I had decided that the best way to get David to warm up to me was by telling him that my husband had a fatty tumor. My best friend David had told us all about his fatty tumor during the show and I knew that this knowledge would make him feel some kinship for me. He would definitely say, “that’s all I need to know. Let’s go get ice cream and then head to your place to watch Hart of Dixie on Netflix.”

After two hours of waiting, and a very awkward signing of The Other Book by The Other Author, it was time. There he was. Sitting at the little table with his pen and personality just waiting. I took a deep breath and turned to the husband. And he was gone. He had gone about thirty feet away to stand in the corner. He was pretending not to know me. I blame this entire unraveling on him.

Have you ever heard the term “word vomit”? It’s exactly what it sounds like. After that night, word vomit has a new meaning for me. I actually visualize type writer style words flowing from my mouth, covered in some kind of viscose nasty, hitting the table and splashing my best friend in the face. I should have aborted my pen pal mission, but I couldn’t. I started with the book and who to sign it for. I tried to pull up a picture of my son so he could see who he was signing it for. Total disaster. It pretty much looked like I was making up the kid. I immediately switched to the Fatty Tumor Plan, but with the husband hiding in the corner I was going to have to yell at him to come as proof. And if you know my husband, you will not be surprised to learn that he all but looked up and said, “what fatty tumor?” My best friend David was UNBUTTONING HIS VEST to show us his tumor while my husband just stood there. Panicked, I vomited some more.

“Well, at least it’s a fatty tumor and not skin tags. His grandmother had hundreds of them. Like fringe.”

WHATTHEFUCKCAROLINE?!

“Skin tags?” David asked.

“You know. Those horrid floppy skin pieces that grow on people. Totally gross.”

He reached into his pocket and pulled out his notebook and jotted down the words “skin tags.” (Now, for as poorly as this whole thing turned out, at least I can say I inspired him to write in his notebook.)

If you weren’t already visualizing my profuse word vomiting accurately, be sure you take into account the sweeping hand gestures I am employing, and the acting out of the husband’s grandmother (God rest her soul) covered in skin tags.

I realize that my  time is waning. The book is long signed and I still haven’t connected. He clearly does not find me charming and my options for wooing him are pretty much nil. I pull out my note, which now feels entirely creepy and not even a little bit charming. I start explaining veryquickly how I’ve written him this note, which isn’t creepy at all, about why he should be my pen pal. I’ve never seen such an obvious “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me” face in all my life. Ever. He opened his mouth to speak and I silenced him.

“Just take the note. Maybe you’ll feel bad about what a hot mess I am and change your mind.”

He took the note graciously, holding it like one might hold a baggie full of human shit.

“Okay. Thanks.”

I knew I’d failed. I didn’t even want to take my signed book off the table because it represented the door of friendship being slammed in my face. In that moment I think I managed to accidentally look like the saddest, most defeated person to ever walk the earth. I looked at the line of people behind me, many of whom I’d been mocking just minutes before, and realized that they were all going to be BFFs with David Sedaris and I wasn’t. I was going to end up on some kind of list. I’d inexplicably be unable to get tickets to next years show.

Walking home, I tried to get excited about the fun note he wrote for Author and how exciting it was to meet him, but it was an act. I’d flubbed epically.

“On the bright side, you may have inspired him to write something.” said the husband.

“About skin tags?” I asked, remembering that I’d inspired him to jot down the note.

He didn’t reply. He looked at me with pity for the first time in our relationship. He didn’t have to say it. I knew. The words were hanging there like yellowed sheets on a clothesline.

“No. Not about skin tags…”

But what’s it really like to have a baby?

She asked me because she was on the fence about whether she should have them. I remember that time in my life. I think I’m still at that time in my life. Should I have kids? But she was asking me seriously. I was her closest friend with real baby insight. What was the deal? Do the heart melting moments outweigh the bad stuff? 

Well. Yesno. 

As usual, I am a focus group of one. There seem to be a lot of people out there who think having babies is The Most Fun Ever. They are all like, “Oh my god! And then I get to quit my job and FINALLY buy that house in the ‘burbs and make crafts All. Day. Long. and sing songs and OMG I cannot wait!” And I think those people are actually incredible. Those people have a different genetic make up than I do. I think my kid is awesome. All two hours a day I spend with him. And then I like to put him to bed and think about how I can’t go anywhere because it’s basically illegal to leave the house. JUST IN CASE. (There’s a lot of just in case in parenting. I want to tell people to go ahead and stop talking, just in case I get violent.)

But when posed the question, “it is totally worth it?” I really can’t answer simply. On the one hand, I have a tiny person– I own a 28 inch human being. He has tiny human pants and little New Balance sneakers and he thinks I am awesome. Like, really awesome. He sees me and he’s all oh thank god it is you I have been waiting on you since forever and i have no concept of time so that’s basically my whole life. And he smiles and makes ‘ahhoooohhh” noises that are pretty funny because he thinks I’m totally following what he’s telling me. Mimic him and his mind is blown. We speak the same language!

No, tiny retard, I have no idea what you’re getting at. 

But then other times he is a tiny life terrorist. He’s the biggest, most selfish dick bag in the history of the world. He wants what he wants when he wants it and that’s exactly thirty seconds before it’s humanly possible for you to have it. All the toys in the world aren’t shit compared to an outlet or a live wire. He stole everything I knew: my life, my professional life, my social life, my sex life. I put meat into a blender and then taste it. Pureed meat. Shit is fucked up. He’s turned my cat into a manic depressive who no longer stares out the window, but rather tries to throw his body against the screen in an attempt to break through to his death.

And really those things are not made okay by him being cute. When he loses his mind–straight from a deep sleep– right as Castle is starting, only to smile and laugh when I go into his room, I frankly think him a deviant little fuck. A tiny human who was sent to this earth to make me think long and hard about who I am and what I believe.

But that’s not an answer. “Is it worth it?”

So I answer like this:

Having a baby is like losing your leg and winning the lottery. Winning the lottery does not make it okay that you’re without your leg, but it does give you enough of a distraction that you don’t completely lose your shit. Your leg is missing, but you’re on a yacht. Would you rather be in a trailer with a leg? Who knows. Depends on whether you felt like going for a jog.

My leg is gone. Blown to smithereens. I have to relearn how to walk and dance and run and everything else I used to know how to do, but I won the lottery, so that’s going to help.

Of course I miss not having a baby. When people say things like, “I don’t even remember what it was like!” I cannot relate. I remember exactly what it was like. IT WAS AMAZING. I drank in bars on weeknights. I made last minute plans. I could get on an airplane without two Xanax and a booster brew and a sincere prayer that the small boy doesn’t lose his mind. When I made a decision, it was with very little than my own comfort and convenience in mind. Those things come dead last now.

No one can tell you whether you should have kids. And that whole, “waiting until we’re ready” thing. Right. You ain’t ever going to be ready. When the tiny human commeth, all bets are off, and the question of whether or not it’s worth it isn’t the question at all. The question is how you make it worth it for them.

 

 

 

NOT what you were expecting.

Everyone I know is with child. Everyone. I am not saying this to be one of those people who has to be the person with the most. There is a chance that you know more pregnant people than I do, but relative to the number of friends I have (very few), it’s a staggering number of pregnancies. I, for one, am totally into the multitude of friend pregnancies. Any opportunity for me to learn way too much about a subject and become a total know it all is instantly my favorite thing. Friends being knocked up = me learning everything you could ever want to know about pregnancy.

As a part of my dutiful pregnant friend training, I’ve picked up some books to read about the miracle of life. As a part of my dutiful blogging, I’m here to share a few key lessons and eye-opening facts that I’ve learned over the last few weeks. (You need to be sitting for this. That applies to guys and gals. You also need to make sure you’re only drinking clear liquids. You don’t want to be drinking milk when you hear what I’ve learned about cervical mucous.)

Likely the most interesting thing about reading up on the art and science of bringing a human into this world is how many things you realize you haven’t known to blame your parents for. Example: the fucked up swirly pattern that is the back of my hair? 100% my mother’s fault. Maybe if that useless milk factory had paid attention to the back of my head, and done the suggested head and follicle massages to avoid “irregular” hair growth patterns, I’d have a perfect ponytail like all the rest of the Heathers. She didn’t, I have the eye of a tornado on the crown of my head.

Thanks, mother.

If you are avoiding having babies because you are bashful about talking about menses, saying the word vagina, or chatting about your sex life, don’t worry. You won’t have to. There is an ENTIRE PREGNANCY LANGUAGE to keep you from ever knowing what the fuck anyone is talking about. This is not funny stuff. I will speak in this language for you.

“Hi! I’m 3DPO and waiting for AF to be a no show. My CM is EW so I’m really hoping we’ve done it! Send BD our way!”

WHAT?

No. Seriously. WHAT?

There’s no talk of periods, only of a woman named Auntie Flow. We can take our temperature vaginally, but can’t say period. Because that would be dirty. Auntie Flow (the period) becomes vilified in these pre-baby days. She’s an evil wench who does nothing but remind you that either you or your husband has failed to accomplish the most basic task. Don’t ever go on a message board if you’re fond of your period. Period fondness is not welcome.

Conception has the power to reverse hundreds of years of women learning to love their vaginas, even find them “beautiful” in their own special, fleshy, purply way. Conception is the anti-vagina. According to conception, your vagina might be a hostile environment, uninhabitable for sperm. (Try to imagine a hostile vagina without a Rambo-style bandana in there somewhere.) It’s hard to heard that you might have a hostile vagina. You don’t want to take it personally, but you do. And then you get hostile. Because no one calls your vagina hostile and gets away with it. No one.

If any part of you is impatient, prone to anxiety, or over analytical, I would suggest surrogacy. Or maybe adoption. One book, What to Expect BEFORE You’re Expecting, gave me such acute anxiety by the 4th or 5th page that I couldn’t sleep. The lists of don’ts was too much for me. No caffeine. Tea is okay, but only certain teas, but there was this study once that suggested that tea could cause flux in blood pressure in .00000013% of women and of those .0032% had a baby who was frowning when it emerged from the birth canal. So, if you can live without tea, it might be best. No one wants a frowny baby. OTC medications should be fine, unless you’re talking about allergy medication, which technically is fine, but it also can dry up your cervical mucous and then what happens? Your vagina gets hostile, of course. So you need to weigh your allergies against the potential of a hostile vag. Tough choice, but it’s yours to make. As for bathing. Fine. If you have to. You really should try to keep your parts from getting too warm, though. So if you’re stressed, you can do anything except relax in a warm bath, drink a glass of wine, or anything else that might actually work.

As for actually being pregnant. Oh wow. There are a lot of “you better be fucking kidding me” memos here. For starters, no raw fish. You know, because no one in Japan has ever given birth to a heathy or smart baby. Ever. Twinkies are fine, lunch meat is out of the question. Your gas will clear an amphitheater. And you’re now the proud owner of something called a mucous plug. (Assuming you don’t destroy your mucous with contraband like Claritin, it actually plays a HUGE role in conception and pregnancy. So I’ve learned.) Your relationship with your spouse, already strained from the sperm on command antics of the prior months, is at risk. The female is hot and horny thanks to the surplus of hormones racing through her veins. She is also orca fat, something that makes Mr. Midnight shy.

Many men also fear spearing the unborn child. It’s cute that they are so concerned. Kind of. The chances of a man folk spearing an unborn child is about as good as a penis getting stuck inside the vagina. While all ladies would like to flatter themselves by thinking their nethers are bear trap tight, we simply know that’s not the case. Unless your man friend has a 10 inch weapon for a private, the baby will be fine.

It’s not all bad, though. First of all, you’re bringing a baby into this world! (Hear the roaring applause?!) Second of all, your breasts get enormous. Sure, they’re filled with milk and leak every time you hear ANY baby cry, but they’re still huge. Some women even get the coveted glow; a transcendent iridescence that cascades them during the gestational phase. (Other women get disfiguring acne, but they still get the jugs and the new human, so it’s kind of a fair trade.)

Despite the paralyzing fear and anxiety that I can look forward to coping with someday, I’m more than certain that if there was ever to be a time for the blog to really get good, pregnancy would be that time.

My next read will be What to Expect When Your Expecting. Based solely on my experience with its sister book, I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

Any other good reads?

anything for a price

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Those of you waiting to hear the story of Caroline and hubs having dinner in Lawndale, Chicago, stay tuned. The story is simply so unbelievable that I need more time to think about it. In the mean time, let’s have a chat about the year 2009 and the progress we’ve made in the areas of customer service.

Long ago, when I was a small child, I remember flying Southwest Airlines to visit my grandparents in Houston. I was in first grade and flying alone. My parents drove me to the airport where I checked two suitcases: one full of clothes, shoes, hair accessories, pajamas, bathing suits, etc. and one filled only with things I would need to have with me to survive the weekend: dolls, animals, writing utensils. (Case in point– and god rest his soul– after taking me to dinner at the Houstonian, my grandparents took me to see Jack London’s White Fang, a movie about carrying a dead body across the frozen tundra. I was six.) The point, however is that I had two suitcases. I checked both. And then my dad walked me all the way to the gate.

Southwest was thrilled to have me. They gave me an honorary pilot’s pin, a cap to wear, a full sized coloring book, and even seated me in the front seat with extra legroom. (Something every three foot person needs.) I had my own stewardess who cared about my well being, brought me unlimited cups of juice. They even played a game on the plane: stewardesses would ask questions over the loud speaker and people would ring in with the answer, winning free drinks and flight vouchers, not to mention creating a community of passengers who would have sat on the runway for hours just to play trivia and eat honey roasted peanuts.

By the time I arrived in Houston I felt like I’d been on a fun ship. I had pilfered 25 packets of peanuts to eat in the privacy of the stately guest bedroom, and even convinced those friendly stewardesses to give me some extra crayons in case my grandparents didn’t have any at the house. (Which they didn’t. They were missing crayons and general merriment. It had been replaced with the Wall Street Journal and a complete lack of understanding about children.)

It was a glorious trip, all for the bargain price of $139 (or whatever absurdly low price Southwest charged me for that round trip ticket to Houston). Magic. I loved Southwest so much that I flew Southwest nearly exclusively for the next 15 years of my life. In fact, my father, who has very few odd convictions, was convinced that there was never a reason to fly any other airline if there was a Southwest terminal within three hours of where you lived. While attending college at The University of Georgia in Athens, GA, my father insisted that I drive three hours one way to Birmingham, Alabama to fly home at Christmas. One year I even asked for a Delta flight out of Atlanta as my Christmas present. Just so I could come home directly, sans the six hour drive. (No dice.) Eventually when I moved to Boston, I was sorry to find out that Southwest flies to Providence, thus beginning three years of taking a car, a train, and a cab to the Providence airport so that I could then fly to Austin, via stops in Houston, Dallas, and maybe Albuquerque. (Southwest will give you a scenic tour of the Southwest for your low fare, as well.)

The point, however, is that the Southwest brand, with no complications and fine print, created the kind of brand loyalty that encouraged my entire family to go out of our way to fly with them. It’s an incredible kind of marketing, the kind that cannot be achieved in any other way. Customer service can move mountains.

Unfortunately, my life now is not as simple as it was back then. I fly places that Southwest doesn’t fly, and then I discovered that flying with a mini television in front of your face is worth at least $200 extra, thus beginning my slow divorce from Southwest. But I havent forgotten them. Recently, however, I had a jovial exchange with a JetBlue sales lady (Nancy) that left me wondering why I ever left the warm embrace of Herb and the Southwest gang.

Let’s imagine for a moment my trip to see my grand parents, only this time let’s set it in 2009. The year of the rat bastard airline whores.

When I was a wee thing, I went to visit my grandparents in Houston. I was going for the weekend, and my parents we’re letting me fly all by myself. Me and American Airlines. I couldn’t have been more excited. I showed up at the airport two hours early, with two suitcases packed: one for my bountiful wardrobe, the other full of necessities to keep me from gouging my eyes out while spending three days reading the Wall Street Journal and pretending that Fiber One tastes like Captain Crunch.

When I arrived at the check in, the evil service rep immediately eyed my two princess suitcases.

$50.

(He informs us that luggage is not a necessity when traveling. There are stores: malls, Goodwills, even outlets where I’m going. If I need clothes when I get there, I can always buy them. Airline policy. If people insist on frivolity like luggage, they are going to have to pay for it.)

Dad and I walk to the gate, where he is immediately beaten with a baton for crossing the yellow line without a ticket. As I scream for a medic over his unconscious body, a TSA working grabs me by the arm, insisting that I show him my driver’s license. I pull out my ID card and boarding pass, straining to see my dad over his massive frame.

He needs a valid driver’s license. Now.

I try to explain in Judy Blume language that I am only 7 and I can’t drive. He walkie talkies and suddenly a woman of comparable size and an extra large Dunkin Donuts ice coffee emerges. They exchange important conversation. I am immediately taken to a glass cube where I am left to rot, until a wiry black man comes to pat me down. He asks if I am carrying a concealed weapon. I reply that I am not. He asks if I am carrying coke. I tell him that I can only have Coke when we go for Mexican.

The next twenty minutes are a blur. I vaguely remember being beaten with a pistol and fingerprinted.

When I wake, I am slumped against the peanut cart, and my boarding group is being called. I wander to the front where a snatchy woman named Joy takes my ticket.

When I get onto the plane I settle into the seat in the front row. Immediately a thin man dances through the crowed, hands me a one page brochure. Some thing about a special room for legs. And some numbers. I give him my best “friendly stranger” smile and try to climb up on the seat. He is not amused. He wants $35 cash or check. I’m sitting in a seat with two inches of extra legroom.

I tell him that my dad gave me $40 dollars as special money for my trip. He takes the money from my Polly Pocket purse and throws me a five.

I get scared during takeoff and ask the stewardess if I can have some crayons. No.

I can buy a KidPak for $4.

She doesn’t tell me that I should save my money because if I get thirsty, a juice cup is going to cost me $3 and I’m not going to have enough money. So I’ll end up drinking sink water out of the lavatory to help wash down the fear and anxiety that is coming over me.

When I arrive in Houston I wander through the airport alone, waiting for someone to recognize me. Eventually the businesses start to close and I am alone. Just before I curl up to go to sleep in the internet cubicle I hear my name over the loudspeaker.

It’s them. My grandparents. They’re trying to find me. We’re going to be late for our movie.

Which is fine. Because once we get there the anxiety of my previous four hours bubbles over, exacerbated by the horrifying film and I have a manic breakdown in the middle of the theatre. I lay lifeless in my movie seat, thinking only of how I am going to get home.

A bus, my seven year old self decides.

I will take a bus.

*

My low fare of $139 soars to $926 all because I need clothes when I arrive to see the gparents, or because I sometimes find myself thirsty after three hours in a compressed chamber. Crazy. Plus I have the added bonus of being scarred for life. Super.

How many times have I been frisked and molested in a glass room while my father, the lumbering terrorist, walked through security on his blackberry?

When I called Nancy, my customer service rep at JetBlue, to change my flight to the SAME FLIGHT two days earlier, she cheerfully told me that my flight was actually less expensive, so I would be receiving a ten dollar credit… and that she would deduct it from the $100 flight change fee.

What the fuck.

Flight change fee? I have moved a reservation on one airplane– which is not sold out– to a reservation on another airplane–which is not sold out–and am sitting in the SAME SEAT. Nancy explains that the fee is to cover the convenience cost of the service.

Convenience cost?

One computer just told another computer something that didn’t so much as cost an energy credit to calculate. My Mac is more stressed out by this blog post than the JetBlue system was by my flight change. Does my $90 go towards a relaxing vacay for that poor computer? Who I so rudely inconvenience for my flight change? I certainly hope so.

Poor machine. Having to do all that work.

Alas the cost of flying is now similar to the cost of having your tits redone. You buy the basic package, but you forget you have to buy all the other stuff too. New bras, better fitting tops, mace.

There is no such thing as a $139 low fare anymore.

Farewell.

Farewell.