Friday, May 27, 2005

Viable: French, from vie, life, from Old French

One the lemon: Being told you have a cyst the size of a lemon in your uterine wall will not prevent you from becoming pregnant.

It will, however, increase your risk for miscarriage. And premature birth. And perhaps you won't be able to have a vaginal birth. Or it might be harder for you to get pregnant. But all your doctors will agree that it's okay to still do IUI, provided the HSG comes back normal.

And that's the news we went to New Orleans with last weekend. After relaxing a bit by the side of the pool, Partner and I agreed we'd take the risk. It's pretty exciting stuff-- And I probably haven't been accurately portraying the excitement in our house thinking about insemination in JUNE. Remember the prayers? Okay-- I'll admit I even went so far as to look at potential outfits the kid could wear to my brother's August wedding. I had my top three sperm choices, chosen blind, and Partner had hers, and one was a match. How totally cool. Babies!

We both walked into the HSG yesterday, a little cocky, mostly scared of how painful it might be. After all, they are inserting a needle-like apparatus into the cervix. I strapped on my lead apron and grabbed hold of her hand. I have to tell you, that in theory, this is a cool test. When they rolled the x-ray machine over her, I exclaimed, "That's your pelvis!" There was a general chuckle, and then the iodine got squirted inside. And then things got really quiet. And then the radiologist turned the monitor away from us.

"It looks like it's leaking over there," Partner whispered. A nurse was called into the room and more iodine was procured, and pushed inside again. I could see my partner's uterus move up and down. She was squinching her eyes tightly shut. It looked painful, even on the screen. And then they swung the screen back to us.

"See that there?" The doctor pointed. "That's where your intramural cyst is. So the uterus is really misshapen from that." We nodded. We'd seen this before-- it was nothing new and it wasn't interesting anymore. After all, we made all the lemon jokes we could by this point.

"But see this here?" He pointed again, to a little walnut looking node. "This is a cyst inside your uterus. It's blocking this Fallopian tube."

Now, flashback with me for one minute to a week earlier when we were in Dr. BusyBusyBusy's office and he was counseling us about the lemon. He told us about a paper he wrote back in '83 about cysts that exist in the uterus itself. "Those are the real problems," he blithely spoke, "There like an IUI. Pretty much impossible to get pregnant with one of those."

How quickly did this comment come back to me. How quickly did I wonder if such a recall came to my beautiful partner, lying on a table with legs in stirrups and her uterus up on the screen for all and sundry to see.

After sitting up, the doctor, Dr. BusyBusyBusy's partner, and I have to say a very nice man, had a little talk with us. Now some people might not like his approach, but I have to say, both of us actually appreciated the candor. Still this sentence will burn in my head forever, and I can't imagine how the words sounded to my partner:

"This is not a viable uterus for pregnancy."

Not. A. Viable. Uterus.

I am usually one to crack a joke at a tight spot, but there's nothing here. There's blankness. There's darkness. There is such a total hole of sadness that I can't even express it right now. If you're one of my blog readers, I am sure that you'll hear more about it.

There's no hope here, friends. This is not a diagnosis where a doctor says, "You're going to have a really hard time and it's going to require ART and IVF and all sorts of other crappy things." This is a diagnosis where, to put it bluntly, a doctor says, "You're barren." And it sucks. Especially when you thought you were going to start trying for pregnancy in about three weeks.

I suppose it's better in some ways we didn't try for six months, spend a lot of money, and then get told about this. And even though the RE told us in no uncertain terms what the outcome of the HSG was, I know we both have had moments thinking that he can't be right. That we just need to try anyway.

Partner can do a surgery that may or may not work at getting out the cysts. And if they go in and decide it's messy in there, they might do a hysterectomy, something neither of us think is a great option. And even if they get everything out, and repair the uterus, it still might not be viable. And it's "elective," which as you all know means "you pay." For 3-5 days in the hospital! Fuckity-fuck. Fuck. With a few vodka chasers.

Listen-- I am going to write more about this-- but we're going to meet some friends for some drinks. There's a well of feelings here that we're both having, and I think it opens some very interesting questions/issues about femininity/womanhood/culture etc.

But mostly right now what it does is suck.

I'm now taking pre-natals and nearly choking with sadness on every pill.

Heinz 57 Uterus Problems

So sweet on a plate. Not sweet in your uterus.

We are very sad in our house.


First of all, thanks everyone for the comments of hope and emails too. I talked to Dr. Dyke, and it's not really fair to make this story, so let's come to the point and tell you that I am probably okay. There is indeed a cyst on my ovary, fairly large, but it could be anything-- the endometriosis or leftover from ovulation-- and Dr. Dyke suggested that another ultrasound be done in three months. If it has grown in that time, then she'll be concerned, but otherwise for now I am sound.

The only other surprise has to do with Partner, and right now she's not sure she wants me to blog about it.

More later.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Worry Machine

I didn't write about it on the day it happened, but on the day we left for NOLA, I had an ultrasound for my painful ovary. First of all, I didn't think that a mere 36 ounces of water could make me have to urinate quite so badly. But one hour after the guzzle, I had to pee like a racehorse. I squirmed in my seat in the waiting room, wondered how I was going to stand up without wetting my pants, and nearly hyperventilated every time a nurse opened the door and called a name. For some reason I thought that once she called my name, my agony would be over, but as soon as my name was called, I realized it was just beginning. Of course I didn't get to pee-- they still needed to do the ultrasound! The pressure of that little mouse like camera sliding back and forth over my stomach... Agony. I kept trying to tell myself there were points in my life where I needed to go worse than that. All those drunken nights-- I mean, a drunk's need to pee gets pretty intense at times, but in reality, this was pretty bad. It wasn't made better since I could see the full bladder winking at me on the screen. And the tech kept saying, "Yeah, your bladder sure is full!"

After about 40 minutes, I was finally allowed to pee. I must have urinated for five full minutes. As I was peeing, a voice came through the door that we would now have to do a vaginal ultrasound. The dreaded dildo cam. Usually the concept of a toy like this would excite me to no end, but this time around it only made me nervous. My ob/gyn did not write a prescription for this, and my wild mind reeled and leapt to many conclusions. Incidentally my mind has not stopped jumping since this point, and it isn't showing any signs of getting tired. What was it they needed to see more clearly? Even I could see that my right ovary was easily twice the size of the left ovary. There was also quite clearly something on it. And the measurements never ceased. And there were all these little solid black dots.

Once I went out, the tech made me "insert" the camera myself. This was a little like beginning to masturbate with a crowd watching. Unfortunately, it wasn't fun at all. I had the dildo cam going for at least another 40 minutes. This put me on the ultra-sound table for nearly one and half hours. I tried to calm myself down by telling myself that perhaps this was normal. But it's not. When Partner went for her vaginal ultrasound (a mere hour later at Dr. BusyBusyBusy's office) it took all of four minutes to get a clear picture of what was happening inside her womb.

I waited until today to call Dr. Dyke's office. I left a message with her nurse. When there was fifteen minutes to go before the office closed, and I hadn't heard anything from them, I called again. This time the nurse picked up the phone and told me she hadn't gotten a chance to talk to Dr. Dyke yet, but as soon as she did, she'd call me back.

Here's the thing: if my ultrasound was clear, wouldn't she just tell me that? (What are you witnessing here is an inside exclusive look at mind gymnastics in motion. I tell you, I'm going for the gold!) When I left the hospital last Thursday, I felt like crying. I could hear the techs whispering to each other, "Is that attached there?" and "Did you get a measurement of that?"
My father's mother died very young from ovarian cancer. I bet you can predict my next mind-leap. I won't even say it. But I can tell you it's all very scary.

That being said, I should relate that I have always been a worrier. When I was in second grade, my mother bought me a book called Thornton the Worrier, about a rabbit who worries about everything. It was supposed to console me, but I think it made things worse. Thornton goes along worrying everything to death, and then he meets this man who doesn't worry about a thing. But this dude's house is perched on the side of the cliff, and Thornton is quite rightly worried that it's going to fall off the side, and it does. Doesn't this vindicate Thornton's worrying? I think there was another lesson the book, but the fact that I forget it means that what my mother hoped to accomplish with this book was lost.

I do, however, recognize the truth that it's usually the one thing that I don't have a worry about that bites me in the ass. The things I fret about rarely come to fruitition. Case in point, my most recent trip on the plane. I had no worries about nail-biting turbulance from hell, but there it was. Instead I worried about taking off, landing-- both of which proved to be no problem at all in their beautiful smoothness.

So, I am sure I am worried for nada. I'll keep trying to calm my overwrought mind with such a thought, but until I hear from Dr. Dyke or her nurse, I'll be at the bar, with Thornton.

Home Again, Home Again: Redux

Well, we're back again. Our weekend in New Orleans was super. Number one, it was h-o-t, HOT! Above average temperatures, and I mean above average. Easily into the 90s. My brother's girlfriend's parents (did you follow that?) told us that their car temperature read 104 on Friday afternoon. And while those in the South may have not appreciated the heat, I certainly did. If you haven't guessed by now, I hate the Michigan weather. I literally cried last night when I realized how shitty the weather was going to be here for this coming week. When I woke up in New Orleans yesterday at six am, the temperature was 72. It was clear and there was, believe or not you Michigan readers, SUN. (It's still there, I promise you. I saw it. And seeing is believing.) When I landed in Michigan at noon, it was raining, dark, and grey. It was also only 50 degrees. I hate it here. I don't know quite when I turned into a lizard, but it's who I am now, and so it's hard for me to live in this stupid cold place.

Although the trip was fantastic, I did think at one point I was near death. We had one of those infamous horrid plane trips. In fact, after we were through the worst of it, the pilot came on and told us how sorry he was, and if he had known how bad it was, he would have never left Detroit. We dropped hundreds of feet numerous times. We were swaying back and forth (almost worse than the free drops) and you could hear the wind slamming into the plane. At one point, the plane was diving nose down, and I am sure this was the pilot's attempt to get us out of the horrid air pockets that was causing the drops, but it was disconcerting, to say the least. Almost everyone was hanging on to their chairs or seatmates. One assshole insisted in releasing a loud "woo-hoo" every time we'd have a particularly long drop (and I mean a couple seconds, and if this doesn't seem long to you, then count in your head "one mississippi two mississippi" and think of your plane dropping straight down for that time period). No one thought he was funny. Except for him, the plane was deathly quiet. The stewardesses (can I say that still?) were strapped down in their little jump seats until the last 25 minutes of the flight. It was hell. I was scared shitless and prayed every good prayer I know to Our Lady nonstop. To top it off, when we finally got off the plane and into the car taking us to our more than perfect NOLA destination, a fucking wasp stung my finger, which ended up swelling to more than twice its size and itching the shit out of me for the entire weekend.

It was good I suppose that all the shitty stuff happened in one night-- that way it cleared the rest of the weekend to be perfect. Baby Brother's graduation was easily the nicest graduation I have ever attended, but I think there might be something about a private school college graduation to that fact. Did I say I was proud of him yet? I am really proud of him.

I also could very used the constant and socially sanctioned drinking at all hours. I opened each day with either a mimosa or bloody mary, and just kept going. Even on Sunday when we brunched at 10:30, I could drink! Again, this godforsaken state thwarts me: Here in Michigan one cannot order a drink until noon. Oh, how provincial! And now here I am, still sitting in an office at quarter to eight (by this point in NOLA I would have already had at least two evening cocktails), and I haven't yet had a drink. I'm off to do that quite soon. Ah well-- as I just said to a friend, I'd move to the South if it was just a little more blue. Until then, well, here we are.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

You Wanted a Kvetch, I'll Give You a Kvetch

Inspired by The Other Mother, Robin, I have decided to take her invitation to kvetch seriously. Here goes:

I joked in the last post about baby costs, but it is scarily true that this kid and subsequent kids are going to cost us a lot of money. Partner had a wee breakdown when she got home from work last night. I know it doesn't help that work happens to be the most stressful it has been in years for her, and that she feels like she's carrying a lot on her own. And then she thinks about taking time off to have a baby. There's no federally mandated paid-leave time when you own your own company.

For awhile now our life of wanton spending has come to a close, and of course, we aren't deluded into thinking that having children will be an economic boon to us, it's just we thought that extra tightening of the belt would come after having the kiddies. Nonetheless what we have painfully come to terms with is that we can't even tighten the old belt-- it's too big! Pretty much we need a new smaller belt. And it can't be a nice supple leather belt; the new smaller breath-squeezing-out-of-us belt isn't even pleather, it's vinyl. And colored shit-brown. You know the brown I am referring to, don't you? And we can hardly afford to even buy this stupid new belt.

I am sure there is something taboo about talking about how much your kid cost you. And ultimately, if insemination works with the IUI, we'll have gotten off lucky. Our health insurance, which we of course pay for as small business owners, actually does a decent job. But don't forget we're out-of-network with Expensive Aggressive Clinic, so many things are covered only by half, and we'll pay the other half until we meet the deductable. And others, like the IUI itself, the insurance will totally ignore.

To wit, I'll give a quick run down of costs associated with two lesbians, trying to have a baby using bought sperm and reproductive assistant. To start with, a brief list outlining the costs associated with merely getting half of the baby-making material, aka, splooge:

  1. Pick your donor: A limited amount of information is free online. But do you want to see a baby picture? Ha! That'll be $20. Want to hear the donor in his audio interview? Another $20. Read the long donor profile, $12. Get the Kiersay Temperament Sorter? $15. Or order any number of "combo" packes from $27 to $81 dollars. Keep in mind you will order several of these. After all, you are talking about the genetic material of your future kids.
  2. Buy the sperm. Do you want it washed? Ready for IUI? $355 a vial. If you think you want your child to be able to contact the donor upon his/her 18th birthday, the cost goes up to $455 a pop. Doc we saw yesterday says for each insemination, he'll use either one or two vials, depending on the quality of the sperm. I say it better be DAMN high quality for those prices! If you want to cancel, change, or exchange, it all costs money. Restocking fee, what? Keep in mind, each vial contains a whopping .4 to .6 cc's of sperm! Or more than 10 million little guys! When you think of it this way, we're getting ourselves a real deal!
  3. Ship the sperm. Uhg. If we lived closer, we could pick it up ourselves for a mere twenty-five dollars. Otherwise, we have no idea how much this is going to cost. We have to call them for this information. But we do know that we have to "deposit" $500 for the tank. Presumably, we'll get this back.
  4. Store the sperm. For all you hetereosexual readers, look fondly upon your partner's (or your own) gonads. Free storage! For those of us without sperm at our immediate disposal, we have to provide little apartment dwellings for them. Our clinic will hold a four-room dwelling for a year for $220. Sublets are okay. CCB will house our little swimmers for $335 a year, but it's unclear how many-- is this unlimited? Like a little sperm mansion?

Whew. Did you think this was the expensive part? Oh-ho-ho! How wrong you were! Before you even get pregnant, go visit at least two doctors in an attempt to find someone who will help you make a baby. Then get referrred to an IVF clinic. (See previous posting about how this clinic will make damn sure they will get money out of you at all costs.) The super (he really was great) doctor you see will recommend an ultrasound. $300. Perhaps some of this cost will be covered, perhaps not. Then he definitely wants an HSG done, in order to make sure this insemination thing isn't a futile effort. (The office staff was very reluctant to schedule this for Partner after she was finished ovulating, but as we pointed out, there's no worry about an impending pregnancy with us-- Don't forget, folks, we have no sperms!)

Provided these initial tests get the desired results, the path for insemination is cleared. Of course we had to buy little ovulation predictor kits, $25 for six. We got two boxes. Let's hope we use 1/12th of what we bought and save the rest for my turn at this grand game. Next month, with the help of God and a few policemen as my esteemed grandmother was fond of saying, Partner will start peeing a stick on day ten of her cycle. When the OPK turns positive, she will immediately, and very early (emphasized repeatedly-- early! early!) call the IVF clinic, who will schedule an appointment the very next day for an ultrasound. Another $300. If there's a dominant follicle, the sperm will be dethawed (about 2 minutes in the microwave... kidding!!), and squirted into Partner's uterus, via a long long needle through the cervix. Nurse Ratchett herself will do this for the bargain basement price of $550. If the doctor needs to be present for any reason whatsoever, or even if he sticks his cute little head into the room by accident while this is going on, the fee goes up!!

If this doesn't work, we'll try drugs, whereupon the pricetag goes up to about $2,000 a try. And if that doesn't work, IVF is the answer, and that pricetag starts around $9,000. (We'll move on to try our chances with my uterus before going there.)

I am quite sure that people don't grouse about this for a number reasons, some of which may be a general uncomfortableness with money issues. As I am usually the number one meshugana regarding money, it's funny I am so public with the costs surrounding our future children. But mostly I think people don't harp about it because it's probably considered bad taste to feel discomfort with how much any of this costs. After all, it's a kid! Kids are priceless! Right? .... Right?? See here how the cyrobank makes you feel about this. You just get done reading about all the fees and feel weary and downtrodden, and then click on "The 'Cost' of Children" and subsequently feel like a giant turd for resenting any of this. Of course, you'll do anything you need to finger paint, skip down the sidewalk in pouring rain, or go to Disney movies! (Are they really presenting this as an perk?) (And anyway, once upon a time in my life as a preschool teacher, I actually got paid for doing this things, not vice versa!)

And even though I am acting shitty about it, I do know it's worth it. But I can't be all green fields and flowering trees about the whole thing, not yet anyway. Not until I am sure this is going to work, and at that point, and that point only, will I be totally reassured. In a way this all seems so academic now-- that is everything I hate about academia, like the totally theoretical theory that doesn't seem to affect AT ALL anything in real life. Everything we've done so far seems like that-- but worse since we are spending thousands for this fanciful theory. I think that once the theory of a baby becomes reality, all of this kvetching will be forgetton, erased, and downright stupid.

Let's just get there already, eh?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Frequent Flier Miles

Partner and I have a favorite credit card. It's the one that gives us frequent flier miles for buying things. We've treated this card well, so this spring on our Paris/Menorca trip, the card treated us to some free plane tickets all around. We were very happy with the card, and made sure we let it know this by using it freely across Europe. This card will also be letting us go gratis on our trip to New Orleans this weekend for Baby Brother's graduation.

Now let's see if the card can help us get a baby too!

At the IVF clinic today, there were many good things happening, but the meeting with the "payment lady" was not one of them. Of the 2,672 forms we filled out today, approximately 2,192 dealt with how the clinic would get paid. I am almost sure we completed paperwork that said if we didn't pay them cash, we could pawn our less-vital organs like kidneys and livers. For partial payment. (But of course I liked her the best, especially after she referred the samples from the cryobank as "splooge on ice.")

Pretty much I feel like we've placed a mortgage on the baby, and we still don't even posess the sperm yet.

But think of the miles we're going to rack up, and up. And up. And up some more. The places we could go! I've been dreaming about a barge trip through the canals of southern France. St. Lucia. And Partner I know wants very badly to visit India. And the South Pacific-- Tahiti. Fiji. (This could quickly turn back into another game of "I Want It.") Yes, please.

I just wish we could get the miles, the trip, and then the baby.

Monday, May 16, 2005

What I Want

Forget the brother. Here's what I want.

I mentioned it to my mom this weekend, and then she called me to tell me that was what she was getting the kid for graduation.

No, no, no, MOM, you misunderstood: I said I want it, not I want you to get for Baby Brother.

Seriously, we have regular XM, and I listen to it all the time. I love XM. Pretty much it's either "Real Jazz" or "Hear" on the radio around here.

There's a larger component to this "I want" thing though, because I want things a lot. My list of 'want' cds is long right now. (Beck, Guero and Springsteen Devils and Dust are quite high on my list.) I want a lot of plants to put into our non-landscaped yard. I want an herb garden, with a little gurgling fountain in the center. A fountain that is made up a huge boulder with a hole drilled through the center, and water just bubbling out the top, ever-so-slightly. I want almost everything from Smith and Hawken. I want a new bed. A king size bed. I want all the totally adorable baby clothes we saw in Paris. I want to still be in Paris. I want it to be warm out. I want a martini on the back deck. I want someone else to cook dinner tonight. I want a housecleaner. I want someone else to go move my car into the garage. I want a new car.

I want a baby.

Okay, and just so you know, I typed that list in about two seconds. No joke. There's a lot more, and I am slightly ashamed to admit I could probably blog for a week straight with just "I wants." This was merely a free association.

We are so lucky, and we have so much already. What are we filling our lives with? What are we lacking? Or feeding into so intently that even though I am totally happy and content with life, I can still look through a catalogue and be ready to buy something on every page?

Wow-- and how did that happen? All I really wanted to do was express how cool I thought mobile XM probably is...

Okay, but what do you want? Off the top of your head? Your really selfish wants... admit all!


This is a plea post-- My baby brother is graduating from college this weekend. We're going down for the event, and looking forward to at least a little warm-up. But the problem is that we have no gifts for either my brother or his girlfriend. We had the best of intentions to find something in Paris, but of course, it didn't work out. We leave Thursday. Anyone have any good ideas?


Friday, May 13, 2005


I have a giant cold sore coming out today. Even the Denavir is not zapping it like it usually does. Last summer, three days before the ceremony, I felt a cold sore coming on. Of course-- high stress usually leads to an outbreak for me. I called my old dermatologist who had me come in right away. There was a steroid shot waiting for me and three prescriptions-- Denavir, Prednisone, and Valtrex. It was totally embarrassing filling these scripts since two days before I had come in with a note for Ortho-TriCyclen. Usually I don't like to mess with my menstrual cycle, but the moon was so aligned that I was going to get my period either on the day of the ceremony or immediately after. There was no way I was going to let that happen, so I treated myself horomonally. Anyhow, I am quite sure that my pharmacist now thinks I am a giant slut-- birth control and major herpes medication in a span of less than a week. Oh well.

While I vacation this year, I noticed my neck itching like crazy. Actually, just under my chin. It started after a little sea bathing. I kept itching away, and then realized that little dots were forming. Ah, I recognized this. It's happened to me before. The first time it was right before I started my freshman year of college. We were in South Carolina, and it was making me nuts-- the itching! My father looked at it and thought perhaps it was impetigo. I had just finished a summer stint working in a toy store, so exposure to this was possible. Of course, I felt dirty and awful when thinking of it. I am a pretty clean person, and at one point in life was taking two showers a day! (I've cut down to one now, kids, it's okay.) Euh. The rash went away and has only recurred a few times since there-- maybe this time was the fourth time it has been back since I was 17.

The itching, like all previous times, was absolutely horrid. Partner kept telling me to go into the pharmacia and get some antibacterial ointment, and I resolutely refused until one day we were in the city of Mahon. I popped into a nice little chemist shop, and asked the man behind the counter, as best as possible, if he had anything for my rash. He looked at my neck in a horrified manner and just shook his head. He didn't say a thing, just sat there shaking his head with an odd mean little frown.

"See," I said to Partner as we stumbled back out in the bright Spanish light, "that's what I got for listening to you-- being treated like I had leprosy! It's just a fucking rash!" She agreed the man was odd about it.

Two days the itching was still making me nuts. The only thing that made it feel better was the sea. Here is where my Gramma was vindicated in her opinion that the salt water cures everything, a position I heartily espouse myself. But once out of the salt water, the itching resumed, and it appeared the rash might be spreading. Since we were again wandering a city, this time Ciutadella, I agreed to try a pharmacia again. Two people in white coats were standing behind a very old fashioned wooden counter. I asked the pharmacist if he spoke English. "A little" he told me, in Spanish. So again in Spanish/English/English/Spanish we tried to communicate. I showed him my rash. He took my arm and lead me to the door, tilted my face up, exposing my bright red blistered neck to the sun. "This happen before?" he queried as he touched it. "Si, si! It has!"

"Er-peas," he said to me. "Er-peas! Es Er-peas! Er-peas! No sun now." He left through a doorway and Partner and I looked at each other.

"Herpes? Is that what he was saying?" she asked me.

"Yes. Shhh. Stop saying it." I said. "Should we leave? Was that it?" Whereupon the pharmacist reappeared with a tube of cream.

"Four times a day. For Er-peas. Do this 4 times for Er-peas." I think he may have said "er-peas" at least seven more times. (The tube cost me 2 Euros, which in and of itself is shocking. Everything in Europe is more expensive, it seems, except prescription drugs. That same tube at home would probably have run me over fifty smackers, easy.)

I could swear to you that when left his store, I heard him say, "Adios, er-peas!"

Since then I've learned that 50-80% of Americans are infected with HSV1, but only the lucky 10-20% of us get lesions, and that most people are infected as infants! Yet it is only the truly blessed that get to find out their "rash" is herpes in a small Mediterranean town where the pharmacist is apparently also employed as the town crier, calling out "er-peas, er-peas" after you as you walk innocently down the street.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Case in Point

View of the equipment that will ruin my summer.

I wish I could have gotten a better photo of this. The arms look weirdly science fiction like to me. If those Gaudi buildings in Barcelona didn't give me nightmares, then this surely will. I feel like they could reach over and pluck me off my deck.

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Does your work follow you wherever you go? Mine doesn't, at least in a concrete way-- perhaps more abstractly it does. I am thinking about the dissertation or my writing almost all the time. When I am teaching, I find myself thinking about students at really inopportune times, but this is all 'head stuff'. I don't literally have students following me about while I trot across the globe, and for this I am endlessly thankful.

However, this is not true for my poor poor Partner. I can tell you that work has been very intense for her these last few months. They have a high profile build job going, and she's the lead woman on the project. This, coupled with the summer season as the busy time of year for a builder, means work days that easily extend over 12 hours. The Monday before we left for vacation I told her I didn't care how late she worked. Personally, I didn't get home that day until about 9 at night, and had left the house at 6 am. I was bombed. But Partner took my carte blanche very literally and I had to call her a little after midnight and tell her to come home. She's a scrapper and a serious worker, and these are traits that I (mostly) admire about her.

Last summer things were just as hectic around our home(s)-- we had the ceremony happening, moving houses, and the potential buyers of our old home trying to back out of their purchase. It was harrowing. We needed our vacation. We headed off to South Carolina after the ceremony for a week to ourselves in a rented condo, and then planned on meeting my family at our house down there for a week afterward. The first weekend there was incredible-- the sea just outside our window and finally it was hot. But then Monday morning at subcontractor's dawn, the saws and pounding started. It seemed that the condo underneath the one we had rented was being renovated. What could we do but laugh? I mean the sound was nothing if not familiar.

Our old house was in the subdivision that Partner and her associates developed and built. Although Partner worked around the corner, and sometimes this made me insanely jealous as I set out on my 40+ minute commute, it was not an ideal situation. She couldn't even get through mowing the lawn without neighbors coming to her with questions. More than once I refused to let her come to the door when someone would knock after 9 at night or on an early Sunday morning. One of the things I looked forward to about our new home was not having to hear the incessant beeping of a truck backing up, the grinding of gears on an excavator, bang-bang-bang of the rough carpenters, or the barreling down the road of cement trucks. Plus, the dust! If you have ever lived someplace where construction has been going on, you know that the dust in your house is out of control, especially if you don't believe in using the AC, as I don't.

In the new neighborhood, there are only six houses. Last summer, three of those houses were completed, and ours was the last. There were two empty lots left, and neither of them were for sale. Things were looking up for us. We anticpated that this summer would be one of peaceful dawns, with only the wee birdies to wake us up. Then, the lot behind us went up for sale, but at a crazy price, so we didn't worrry. That lasted one week, and we found out our neighbor's brother bought the lot. There were a lot of jokes about the "pee trail" that would connect their two houses. (They are all big football tailgaters.) Ha ha, Partner and I laughed. Funny. Pee Trail. This was last fall, and both of of thought that a basement would go in before the frost, and then most rough framing would take place when the windows of our house were closed. This would not be as bad as framing in the high summer.

Guess what? They are just pouring the footings for the basement today. And now one of the lots in our sub is for sale. The amount of traffic coming into a our quiet little cul-de-sac is shocking.

I am telling you, we can't get away from it. I had serious visions of quiet morning coffees on our back deck. Early evening cocktails with goat cheese and warm bread, all accompanied only by whatever cd I choose for the moment. From this upstairs office, I can look out the window and see a red barn, but it's quite clear this pastoral image is going to quickly be obliterated.

And so we go on our little holiday this year, and in our little town of Addaia on Menorca, they were redoing all the roads. Construction in Spain. Unbelievable.

And then off to France, to stay in our little boutique hotel, where we found that, of course, they were doing constuction on the building next to ours. It'd be unbelieveable if someone was going to make this up.

As a firm believer in signs, I am sure this is saying something to us. That Partner was meant to be a builder? Or is that construction is going to ruin our lives? That work will become pervasive if we aren't careful? Or, is it just dumb funny luck?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Here I Am, Again

Vacation for me is love/hate. I love being on vacation; I hate coming home. I have to honestly say I have almost never had the thought that some people do after being on holidays for awhile, the thought my beautiful partner expressed as we were packing yesterday morning: "I had a great time, but I sure am ready to get back home."



I don't know if it says something about work ethic, or what, but I could pander around Menorca or Paris or wherever for a whole hell of lot longer than a mere thirteen days before I felt it was time to "get back to work." Maybe because a lot of "work" I do is writing, and that pretty much goes on nonstop, whether we are on vacation or not? Who knows, but I was most definitely not ready to come home. Yet I was ready to slow down.

Because of vacation timing mixed with semester timing, we had to go to Paris after our week on Menorca, and boy, was Paris tiring. We had only three and one half days, and just went like madwomen. My legs will never be the same. But let me tell you, oh the food, the glorious food. If you go to Paris, you must get this book: Great Eats Paris. It only steered us wrong once, and we think it is probably because the restaurant changed owners in the intermin. (We also got our hotel out of the sister edition, Great Sleeps Paris. I have only the highest regard for this Sandra Gustafson now, and standing in equal, if not greater proportion to this regard is only jealousy for what I imagine is her super life composed of eating and sleeping.)

I went to a few cook's stories, the most fabulous being E. Dehillerin: le specialiste du materiel de cuisine. I am now the proud owner of several escargot dishes, petite madeleine (madeleinettes!)molds, a tool to help julienne comme une francaise, a super rectangular tarte maison, truffles (yes, truffles, and not the chocolate kind!), saffron, and three, count 'em three totally wonderful French cookbooks, all of course, in French. Next time I am in Paris, and it will be sooner rather than later, both Partner and I agreed that I will have to do a cooking school. Partner readily embraced this idea since she felt "it was an investment in her future."

There is, of course, so much to say about vacation, but it was a fabulous trip, and you can bet you'll hear a few stories in the upcoming days while I am trying to get used to the fact that I am, alas, home again.

I do have to say, I have missed you blogging world-- And issue congrats to Law of Ma, Marcia (the "other" other mother) for the pregnancy announcements! And Ms. Ambivalent, aka Beaver Girl -- things seem to be going well (whew)! I didn't even recognize Nat in recent pictures... And Moxie, hurrah, another babe healthy in the world. What crazy happy baby news... ! And I haven't even yet caught up with all my blog reading...

Why did I come home again?

Really? Why did I return? It's raining here in Michigan. I fear another soupy summer when I really just want it hot and more hot. Not that it was steamy in Menorca, but from what I understand, it gets that way. And I was "offered" a job to work on a catamaran for the summer. I am not teaching, and entertained the thought briefly. Just me and Alberto surfing the Med, streaming along with the dolphins and ten English tourist aboard. I mean, really? Did I think things here were going to be better than these pics? I have tried to appease myself with thoughts of an herb garden, but it's not working, folks. And it's still bloody raining.

I wonder if Alberto found someone for that job yet?


Sundown at Cala Turqueta

I begin my new career.