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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Green Lake Bliss

look what i did without a kid!

Greetings, Inquisitive Guests and Regular Readers Alike!

First, I reluctantly-yet-enthusiastically think we should all share an occasional LWIDWAK moment. "Reluctantly" because I am historically very, very bad at posting what other people want me to post, and "enthusiastically" because I think LWIDWAK moments are freakin' cool. Here's mine:

"Green Lake Bliss:"







It was simple, really, one of those times where you make something out of nothing. An autumn day, bright foliage, rippling water, good friends, beer and wine, plastic cups, a scruffy dog, and a camera. We sat around on one of Green Lakes several docks, watched the sky turn from sunlit blue to deep black, and had good conversation while Tebow chased ducks. That's it.

This is one of my favorite ways to spend time, cheap and simple and outdoors, exchanging information with intelligent friends who aren't afraid to belch loudly. What an amazing, kidfree, purely indulgent moment. Wouldn't be a relative hassle to do this with a child running around? Think about it. God forbid they fall into the water or grab an open bottle of wine and start swiggin' from it. And face it: the odds of them getting tired and cranky before you're ready to leave are fairly high.

The concept of the LWIDWAK moment came to me while I was sitting with my parents and friends last night, shoveling forkfuls of gravy-drenched turkey into my mouth, thinking wistfully how perfect a time this would be to have a rosy-cheeked infant (MY infant, specifically - yes, the one I delivered) to pass around from lap to lap. Then, I realized how damn good this turkey was, baby or no baby, and how fortunate I am to have parents and friends that are normal, nice, and near.*

LWIDWAK moments can be anything - a picture, a story, a recipe, a thought. They're for mommas and non-mommas alike, and are not meant to imply that childless living is more fulfilling than childful living. Rather, they hinge on the belief that women - regardless of baby production track record - can and should have valuable childfree experiences that are worth celebrating.

*Okay, the grim truth. LWIDWAK moments are really designed to make reproductively wacked poeple like me feel better. They're like fake chocolate cake for people on Weight Watchers diets - "no really, you like this. It's delicious, this dry-ass cake that tastes like tar." Really, you like this life without kids. Come on - think of all your glorious LWIDWAK moments. As Sheryl Crow wisely pointed out in one of her songs: "It's not getting what you want; it's wanting what you've got." I want my LWIDWAK moments. At least, I think I do.

If you are a blogger and you'd like to share a LWIDWAK moment using the same cool icon as me, click HERE for HTML code. Or, skip the code nonsense and just share!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Random KuKd Advice Generator

Greetings KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

I've thought of a new invention, and it's so cool and innovative that you'll wish you'd thought of it before me.

But first, some background.

Have any of you ever used the Random Recipe Generator for some culinary inspiration? Essentially, it plugs random ingredients into recipe instructions, mixes it up, and bang - you get your recipe. What's great about this site is that if you are ever unsatisfied with the recipe that you get, simply click the "refresh" button, and a new, hopefully improved recipe will appear. I thought I'd give it a try, and here's what I finally got, after multiple refreshory clicks:

Mint Sauce With Noodles Crust: Serves 4

* 130ml apple sauce
* 110g pasta
* 90ml mint sauce
* 80g sugar
* 20g noodles

Instructions:

1. barbeque the sugar
2. slice the pasta
3. heat the pasta in the saucepan
4. throw the noodles away
5. rinse the mint sauce
6. microwave the apple sauce
7. enjoy


I'm not sure how steps 1 and 5 above will pan out, but I'll keep you posted.

Anyway, the Random Recipe Generator got me thinking about KuKd-related medical advice, which I'm beginning to believe is largely comprised of nonsensical blathering. Here are some such MISCARRIAGE PREVENTION TIPS that I've found lately (and I'm not making these up, dawg!):

Don't eat "cramp bark," "false unicorn," and "dong quai. (Damn - I guess I'll have to stop snacking on those yummies during my afternoon break.)

Drink liquid chlorophyll. (Finally, an excuse to suck on my house plants!)

Eat dandelions. (Can't you just picture the job ad? "Dependable, honest woman available to eat the weeds in your back yard. Satisfaction guaranteed!")

Avoid herpes. (Is anyone out there NOT trying to avoid herpes?)

Eat chocolate daily. (Can do.)

Don't eat flour. (No can do. Screw that.)

Use organic tampons. (Is anyone else imagining a field filled with tall, swaying, grassfed, free-range tampons?)

Travel by air.
(Yes, I've always found it relaxing and fetus-nurturing to peruse issues of Sky Mall magazine.)

Eat animal organs. (Um, no.)

Have lots of sex. (This one seems counter-intuitive, from a physics standpoint.)

Don't be underweight. (Noooooo problem. Not now, not then, not ever.)

Don't have a previous miscarriage. (This one totally makes me think of that Cher song: "If I could turn back time...I'd take back that other miscarriage, so you'd stay, new fetus!)

Don't have contact with reptiles.
(You mean I can't bring my pet boa constrictor to class with me anymore? And you were so GOOD at eating my naughty students, Mister Slithers!)


SERIOUSLY, who comes up with this shi*t! Now, are you ready for my NEW INVENTION idea? This is top secret, people, so don't you go out and try to steal my idea:

A Random KuKd Advice Generator!

It'll act very similarly to the Random Recipe Generator. Go to the website, pay your $1 fee, and the Generator will spit out some randomly generated "tips and tricks" for keeping a fetus alive by inserting various nouns into template instructions. Here's a sampling:

Don't eat _________.
Do eat____________.
Drink____________.
Don't drink_____________.
Mix ____________ with ________________ and chew it slowly.
Rub ______________ on your skin and shout the word ____________ at the same time.
Write__________________ hundred times while standing on your head.

Now, just randomly insert nouns into the blanks above (this is what my wonderful new machine will do for you): plastic cups, fried cheese, nail polish, textbooks, boogers, tequila, airplanes, Vaseline, extra virgin olive oil, pomegranite juice...

You get the picture. How cool is that!

Oh, and by the way, here are the sources of those lovely tips above:

Sources:
http://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/
http://www.preconceptionhealth.org/miscarriage_cause.htm
http://www.joyfullivingservices.com/preventingmiscarriage.html

Happy reading!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

KuKd Word: HALLUC-I-KNOCK

Greetings, Pregnancy Pee-Stick Hoarders and Inquisitive Guests!

So, you've been feeling a little nauseous lately? Craving chop suey with a side of kimchee? A bit on the fatigued side? Detecting some fluttery movement in the abdomen? Belly ever-so-slightly more distended than usual?

Sorry to break it to you, but you're halluc-i-knocking, and all of those symptoms are mere halluciknock-tions. Pull up a chair and take out your composition books, boys and girls. It's time to write down our new KuKd Word:

HALLUC-I-KNOCK (ha-LOO-sin-ock) - Hallucinate + knocked. The act of being completely convinced that one is knocked up, even though one isn't. Halluciknock (v), halluciknocktion (n), halluciknocktional (adj).

Characterized by imagi-nausea, phantom phatigue, fake food cravings, false flutters, and a bogus burgeoning belly.

As usual, a related anecdote (you don't think these words spring out of nowhere, do you?): During the second half of a particular month in the not-too-distant past, I was halluciknocking to the full extent of the law. It was like someone had snuck LSD into my flax flakes. I was exhibiting all of the classic halluciknocktional symptoms outlined above: the waves of nausea followed by intense excitement (THIS IS IT!), the belly flutter (I had no idea a recently fertilized egg could actually KICK, but I'll go with it for now...), everything.

And then, like that ice cold shower bringing me down my glittery rainbow halluciknocktional high, look who showed up three days early:



That's right: the Obnoxious Red-Clad Aunt. You know who I'm talking about.

And with that, my halluciknocktion came crashing to a halt. Now I know better - and I ain't falling for all those symptoms next time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In Defense of Self-ASSvice

Greetings, Lovelies!

Two seemingly unrelated stories: A while back, Murgdan posted something about Grandma giving infertility-related, unwanted ASSvice (which I guess is, by definition, unwanted), and her post was - like most of her posts - hilarious, honest, and sad. Later, I was talking to a TTC friend about things - especially ASSvisory things - NOT to say to people who can't seem to produce living breathing babies. You know, things like:

"You weren't meant to have kids."
"You're better off without kids."
"Just relax and it'll happen naturally."


In both cases, I initially thought to myself, oh yeah! I get those bits of assvice all the time! But then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that in fact, I don't get those all the time. At least not from other people (maybe that's a hidden blessing of stillbirth: people just have more of an intuitive, tangible, dead babyish reason to know better).

Still, why were these things so eerily familiar? Is somebody whispering assvice to me in my sleep? Finally, I realized who the unsolicited assvice-giving culprit is:



And that got me wondering if ASSvice is okay, when given to oneself. Is it sort of like how I imagine it must be to criticize one's own kids? You can dish it yourself (yeah, my daughter is a total shit), but can't take it from others?

It wouldn't be possible for me to recount all of the self-assvisory conversations I've had in my head the past year or so, during which K and I have been trying without success since last summer:

K and I pulling up on our bikes in the town square of a Slovakian village, downing two 15%-alcohol bottles of chilled beer, checking into a guest house, and enjoying some loud vacation sex. Self-assvice:

It COULD happen right now, but honestly, I'm better off without kids.

Money in our "fun savings account" that wouldn't be there if we were paying for childcare. What to do? Next year's vacation, a kitchen remodel, a new puppy. Self-assvice:

We SHOULD still build up a kiddie account, but I'm better off without kids.

Thinking selfishly about my own needs for attention, puppies, nap time, espresso, happy hour, rainy days for writing, cartwheels in the living room, overseas flights, dance parties blasting profanity-filled hip hop.

I'm a selfish person. Not meant to have kids.

Absolutely hating the obsessed, depressed, ever-pining-after-baby-making-success person that I sometimes fear I'm in danger of becoming. Pitch the thermometer.

Relax, and it'll happen as soon s you stop wanting it so bad.

Maybe I should smack myself for being insensitive toward my own wants and needs. Maybe I should quit self-assvising. Maybe it's all a psychological safety net, as aforementioned hoardable friend pointed out it might be, and I should really be self-angstigating instead.

Maybe I should constantly reassure myself that I'm most definitely NOT better off without kids; that I'm meant to be a mother and I'm just pretending I should be a writer instead; that I absolutely LOVE the smell of poopy diapers; that I'd readily and ecstatically I'd give up any and all personal and financial freedoms if I could only have this one thing, a baby; that I'd better not relax or it'll never happen; that the power to write a twenty-bazillion dollar check for IVF-gender-selection-whatever is in my hands and I'd better grab a pen and get going; that if K and I don't emphatically engage in intercourse every other day for the next eight years I'll be doomed to reproductive failure and my ovaries will turn into shriveled cantaloupes; that all I really want is a baby to fill that spare bedroom and why the fuckity-fuck-fuck can't I have it.

But I can't, and won't (at least not in public, except for rare moments of painful, licking-the-computer-screen, brutal honesty that make me even cringe).

Why? Well, if I say those things enough times, I start to believe they're true, and feel as though my inner core is literally melting away into a blue blob of unrecognizable goo, forever altered by my KuKd status into an unhappy and angry and victimized-feeling person who can no longer live in the moment, accepting, zen-like, Martha Stewart, calm. Not the Mom that Zachary would want or hope me to be. I can practically hear Zachary's wise voice from the Mad Cool MTV RealWorld Penthouse for Bitchin' Stillborn Babes asking me:

"Yo Mom! Where you at? What happened to the old Mom you used to be?"

I withhold the urge to correct his grammar (he'll learn the hard way when he doesn't get that first job he applies for because of a missing auxiliary verb on his resume), and take my cue to start self-ASSvising again.

We all deal with hardships in different ways, and I suppose self-ASSvising is my own way, my only defense against my own self-angstigational attacks. If I DO surrender to sadness and longing, then in the highly plausible event that I never DO have kids, I fear I will have sold my soul to my own losses, consumed by them, ever-doomed to a life of wishing I had something more. To that kind of life, I say: HELL FUCKING NO.

I'm pretty sure Zachary approves, for now anyway (although I'm waiting for the day when he's like, 'wait, are you saying you're better off without me?')

Don't worry - I've got all my defenses and brilliant answers set up for when that question comes, along with other hard ones, like "since you smoked pot in high school, why can't I?"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

1-800-2-Bullsh*t

Greetings, Inquisitive Minds!

I, like you, had great hopes when I first heard of 1-800-2-Cha-Cha.

Wait, everyone here knows what 1-800-2-Cha-Cha is, right? If not, grab a chocolate frosted cupcake and a dixie cup full of apple juice, kids, and gather 'round for today's lesson on pop culture. Then Miss Monica will tell you why 1-800-2-Cha-Cha is bullsh*t (that's a great compound word to memorize, by the way).

1-800-2-Cha-Cha is, quite simply, the number to call when you're out drunk with your friends, and suddenly need to know the answer to a burning question. Here's ChaCha's official explanation of how it works:

"ChaCha is conversational, fun, and easy to use. Simply ask your question like you are talking to a smart friend and ChaCha’s advanced technology instantly routes it to the most knowledgeable person on that topic in our Guide community. Your answer is then returned to your phone as a text message within a few minutes."

Talking to a smart friend? THE MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE person on that topic? Gee whiz! What could be better than this!

So, at an unnamed time in the not-so-distant past, I decided to give ChaCha try. I called and was immediately greeted with an automated female voice, friendly and spunky:

"Hi! What's your question?"

I covered up my mouth a bit, because I was surrounded by people on the #174 bus, which suddenly seemed a little quieter than usual.

"I want to know if I'm pregnant," I said cautiously, adding my age and the first date of my last menstrual cycle in case it mattered, and then hung up.

Within 30 seconds, I received the following text message:

"Wait one week and then do a home pregnancy test."

Are you kidding me? What do you think I am, a freakin' retard? Those smug, useless bastards. Thanks for your help, ChaCha. NOT.

Five minutes later, I had a better idea, a different brilliant question to stump them. And actually, I was more than a little curious about what answer they might give. So I called back.

"Hi! What's your question?"

"I want to know if I'll ever have a living, breathing baby," I said. "I'm thirty two years old, and I've had one stillbirth and one miscarriage. Oh yeah, and that was me that just called a few minutes ago."

I hung up and waited eagerly. This one took a little longer. Two minutes later, I got the following text:

"ChaCha is working on your question."

SWEET! By this point, you can imagine how excited I was. I mean seriously - this could very well determine my entire future life, my world view starting today, my total outlook on life. Go home and immediately get four more Westi-poo puppies and cash out that little send-our-kids-to-study-abroad savings account for a stainless steel refrigerator? Or start perusing strollers online again?

Finally, I got an answer:

"It probably isn't feasible to discuss this topic over text messaging."

WHAT!!!????!!!???!!???!???

It was embarrassingly disappointing, this response, and now I'm still left to wonder. Underwhelming and bland. So much for 1-800-2-ChaCha, aka 1-800-2-Bullsh*t.

Oh, and for the record, I'm not knocked up.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Microsoft Wacked

Greetings KuKd strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guest!

If you use Microsoft Word a lot, you're probably familiar with "overtype mode" and "symbols." My question is, what in god's name is the point of these two wacked features? Just to make word processing more cumbersome and confusing than it already is?

Let's start with overtype mode. That's where anytime you go back in your text and want to insert additional words or letters, it automatically types over the old text, erasing it completely. That's just wacked, Mr. Microsoft. Why the hell would anyone EVER want to just type right over something they typed before, making it vanish altogether? Am I missing something here? Is there some greater, biblical purpose served by overtype mode? If I wanted my text gone, wouldn't I just delete it on my own? And even more wacked is how easily one can accidentally get stuck in this wretched overtype mode! I finally figured out it's caused by inadvertently hitting the "insert" key. GAWD.

Moving on to "symbols," which appears in the drop-down menu under "insert." Every so often, I click with great optimism on "symbols," hoping to find what I actually need: something normal like a check mark, a small box, a copyright sign. You know, earthling symbols that regular people use on a daily basis. Instead, I invariably end up with panel filled with what resemble some kind of alien letters beamed down from Mars, called everything from webdings to wingbats to kit kats to unicode hex. What the heck ARE these things? And why are you giving me the option to choose different fonts, different subsets, different something-code hexes, Mr. Microsoft, when all I want is a simple checkmark?

That's wacked!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Bang for your Organizational Buck

Greetings, Martha Stewart Wannabes!

The other day, I had this sudden urge to post some Martha Stewart Know-It-All-ish piece of housekeeping advice, what with all the holidays coming up. Like, "Ten Steps for Surviving Thanksgiving With That Obnoxious Aunt!" or, "Make All of Your Holiday Gifts with a Ball of Yarn and Five Bucks!"

Then I was like, who on earth am I to give housekeeping advice?! Puh-leeze. I'm about as un-Martha clueless as they come. So I thought I'd talk about what I consider to be a useful tidbit from work last month, something that's stuck with me ever since, and has lately been governing the way I "keep house." Let's see what you think of this idea.

This idea came out of "Professional Development Day," which is where all faculty and staff at my school get to ditch work, go to taxpayer-funded yoga and sustainable living workshops that supposedly make us better employees, and take lots of cookie and coffee breaks. Hey, I can handle that. The workshop I reluctantly attended was called something like, "Balancing Your Life and Maintaining Sanity." I know: SOOO Women's Day Magazine, the same old crap we read over and over again while standing in the grocery store check out line, right up there with "Lose 10 Pounds in Two Days!" Tell me something I haven't heard before.

It was, in fact, basically a bunch of fluff talk, and I ended up doodling swirly designs on my day planner and daydreaming about cupcakes heaped with frosting. But there was one zinger the speaker tossed out, pointing to it enthusiastically on her Power Point presentation, and it has stuck with me ever since. I can't remember the exact wording, but it was something like this:

Economize your organizing efforts to get the most bang for your buck.


In other words, figure out those little things that take a mere five minutes to do, but that produce hours and hours, possibly even days or weeks, of positive, stress-reducing results. Five minutes??? That I can do. So here are a couple of my personal examples of Five Minute Sanity Savers (gak! already, I'm sounding like a magazine). There are many more - I've got a growing list that numbers at about six or seven.

ONE, inspired by a recent e-mail from a hoardworthy friend, is: CLEANING OUT THE FRIDGE. This is a classic example of a Five Minute Sanity Saver. First, I scrounge around in the back for "mystery Tupperware containers" filled with god knows what. I use my breath-only-through-the-mouth technique (a skill learned in the Peace Corps, back when I had to use pit toilets brimming with foul-smelling excrement); scrape the contents out into the trash (if I recall it being something particularly gross, like ancient refried beans from the Aztec era, I might pitch the entire container...wasteful and politically incorrect, but nobody's keeping track); purposefully unfocus my eyes so that I don't inadvertently see a carpet of fuzzy mold covering the contents; and immediately scrub the empty containers out with hot water and a soapy sponge. Next, I pitch any jars that contain just 1/8 an inch of content left - mayonnaise, jam, BBQ sauce, etc. Finally, I toss anything else that can be tossed, and reorganize everything left - putting veggies, meats and cheeses in their proper drawer, shoving beer cans onto the correct shelf.

Five minutes of mad organizing, dealing with potentially disgusting food matter, and inevitably feeling like a bad, food-wasting person, and then BOOM - it's done. And the benefit is literally days - weeks, even - of feeling more in control, more organized, more sane.

TWO would have to be cleaning and organizing the surface of my office desk space. Seriously. Every so often, I feel buried under grading and planning and going to meetings and everything else that teaching entails. So I discovered a few weeks ago a simple trick for feeling infinitely more on-top-of-my-game: staying five minutes late at work to organize my papers into neat and logical stacks, throw away unneeded things, put the pencils back in the pencil drawer and paper clips back in the correct metal compartment in my desk, and run a wet paper towel over the entire exposed desk surface. Five minutes, but MAN, what a difference.

So there it is: economizing! Bang for the buck, that is. Cleaning out the bedroom closet, on the other hand, can wait. It's a complete wreck, but I never look in there anyway - and that's a project that will surely take me more than five mere minutes. Bah!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New KuKd Word: ANGST-IGATOR

Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

Thanks, world, for indulging me in a little bit of boo-hoo sorrow for that last post. It really felt good to spew some depressing, Oprah-Winfreyesque word vomit, but I feel better now (isn't that post-puking feeling the BEST?!?). Like a toddler who falls down on cement, I've wiped my nose on the back of my hand, and now I'm just sitting here contentedly on the futon, with Tebow farting directly on my thigh (no joke).

Before I reveal the meaning of our new KuKd word, let me admit that I was a bit over ambitious when I first put out the whole "KuKd Word of the Week" concept.

Probably a post I'd typed after several glasses of chilled Beringer white zinfandel (that always brings out the best posts, by the way), only to realize with great horror how ridiculously many weeks there actually ARE in a year. It was sort of like those occasional whims we all get to paint the living room some bold color. You get all excited and drop fifty bucks at the hardware store on paint and supplies, and then - nine hours into your project, still dealing with all that masking tape and paint on the floor and trying to get right up to those edges of the trim - you're like, screw this. I'm going out for a cheeseburger. Anyway, the weekly-word project has now turned into a whenever-a-word-pops-into-my-head project. Ya feel me?

Without further adieu...this week's/month's/whatever's KuKd word is...drum roll please...

ANGST-IGATOR:

Instigator of angst. That is, a person who tries to drag you down to their own level of sadness/dejectedness/anger, possibly in a subconscious attempt to make themselves feel better. Otherwise known as a gloomy groupie, a joy blocker, depresstigagor, a sadness starter (angstigational, angstigationatory, angstigate, angstigationally).


A related anecdote, to put this word into context:

Just last week, I was sifting through some old e-mails. I came across an exchange of messages I'd had with one of my dear, hoard-worthy friends this past year, very shortly after she'd gotten knocked down through miscarriage. Her message to me went something like this:

"Monica, don't worry about me. This was really early and I'm doing OK. I'm sure there will be ups and downs over the next few weeks. But for now I'm just fine."

Now, here's the part that got to me, as I scrolled down and read how I had responded to her, certain it would be something perfect, because now - having been through the Ultimate Shitty Event myself, I can SO empathize:

"Even though you don't have a baby to show for it, you were a Mommy (an excellent one, I'm sure), eating and breathing and living for two, and you suffered a loss. :-( I'm so sorry."

There I was, being an ANGST-IGATOR!!! Noooooo! Like, the depressed goth chick in high school whose best friend is acting all happy all of a sudden, and so I clamor to remind her of how bad her life sucks. Or, what my brother refers to as a cock blocker. Don't get with that guy - men are all scum and you hate them, remember? No no, dear friend, you're really not fine. You were a mom, and now you're not. You suffered a loss, and you're still suffering, dammit! Don't deny it! Admit it! Go look in the mirror and say it to yourself twenty times: "I. Am. Not. Fine."

What was I thinking, putting her in the surely awkward position of responding to such a blatantly angstigatory pity party. I actually later called and apologized for saying something ridiculous, and she told something I apparently said once, but no longer remember: "If someone really loves and cares about you, it doesn't matter how stupid their actual words are."

Agreed: it WAS stupid.

Then there are the many times that I've been personally angstigated by other angstigators angstigating angst. Like the e-mail I got on the anniversary of Zachary's DIRTHday:

"This must be a really, really rough time for you. You must be sadder now than you usually are. If that's even POSSIBLE."


Um, actually, that day I was eating a bacon double cheeseburger at Red Mill, special sauce dripping down my forearms, probably talking to Kevin what new bar we should try that night. Still, I felt pressured to respond in a similarly angst-filled way, something like, "Yeahhhh, dude. Totally sucks balls."

So there it is, angstigator! Now everyone go and practice on your significant other ("you know, it really bugs you that our kitchen is so small, so let's just go ahead and drop thirty grand to do that remodel"). Or that infertility forum where you've been camping out lately ("Don't think for a minute that this next IVF will produce results. You know it won't!")

Monday, November 10, 2008

Licking the Computer Screen

Good Afternoon, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

This post is a bit of a downer, actually. I'm sorry to wallow for a minute, especially with all the tizzy fit-inducing excitment of the 2008 eRection, but I'm in a wallowing sort of mood. So briefly indulge me, if you will, and then we'll get back to the good stuff.

There are times when I think really hard about my son. Those times get further and further apart as time goes by, as the event slips deeper into the fuzzy past. But every now an again, for no reason whatsoever, I'll suddenly remember with precise clarity what it felt like to clutch him awkwardly against my body, wrapped in a blanket from head to toe, just a limp jumble of arms and legs and torso and head. God, I wanted him to be alive. I was like Chuckie's dad - remember that movie? If someone told me I could say a witchcrafty chant of some sort and bring my child back, alive but with a slightly different (shall we say...murderous) temperament, I just might have really done it.

It happened, oddly, on my bus ride to school this morning. No, I didn't stand up and start babbling a witchcrafty chant (believe me, there are enough crazies on the 174 bus to do that for me). Rather, I felt kind of distracted and in a pissy mood, not sure why, and slipped into a deep daydreaming session about my son.

When I got to my office, I did what I do when I'm in these kinds of morose moods. I opened up Zachary's picture on my computer screen, and zoomed in really close, staring intently, trying to soak up every detail of his face, his fingers, each curve, his nose, mouth, forehead, dead skin splotches, hair, everything. The whole big kaboodle. It baffles me that he can be RIGHT THERE, right in front of my face, and yet not really there at all. And the desire to reach into the screen and touch him, pull him out of there and into my arms, is so incredibly strong that I practically have the urge to lick the computer screen. It's like that screen is a window into another world, some kind of Candyland. You are of me, from me, by me. Come back.

For the record, I don't actually lick the computer screen. That would be gross. But I did stare for a long, long time. It's all I have left of him, really. I do have a few other pieces of Zach - some locks of hair in a Zip-loc bag, a metal ID tag from cremation services, a blanket, some footprints. But those are all puzzle pieces, and the photograph is the only thing I have that prove he really existed as a whole.

What's odd is, this is such a compartmentalized thing, this occasional bout of pure yearning. Once my work day starts, poof - it's gone. Out of sight, out of mind, and it's like nothing out of the ordinary has occurred. Like, even now, I feel totally fine.




Speaking of other compartments of the brain, here's a bright side to end this post on a more upbeat note: I'm happy to report that submissions and subscribers to Exhale are pouring in. I'm thrilled about this project - yet another glorious excuse to not grade my students' essays. Yes, right up there with Windexing the glass coffee table and googling "Teff recipes" (my new favorite grain that I don't really like, but want to).

More on "teff" later....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Exhale Call for Submissions! Spread the Word!


Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

Exhale is officially in the works, thanks to all of your encouragement and hard work in helping me choose a title. For those of you just now popping into this blog, let me fill you in on Exhale, so you don't feel like that outsider at the chemistry-and-physics faculty cocktail party, wondering what the heck people are talking about.

Exhale is a brand new, online literary magazine written for & by "intelligent people who can't figure out how to make a baby." It will be published every 1-2 months, depending on how strong my coffee is. It is a space for creative expression for women AND MEN who have been knocked up and knocked down, lost a child through infant death or stillbirth, or can't seem to get knocked up in the first place (or - gasp! - all of the above). It is for babymama/babydaddy wannabes, those of us who have decided to move forward into life without kids, and everyone in between. Exhale seeks readers' personal stories, essays, poems, photography, and artwork that are: humorous, gritty, brutally honest, bitchy, whiney, ecstatic, hopeful, hopeless, pissed off, optimistic, and/or raunchy. We are also looking for regular column writers.

Please spread the word to all of your TTC/KuKd Strong Momma friends out there - and yes, their respective sperm-factories. We need your writing, in order to help make our DEBUT ISSUE, coming right around New Years Eve, a smashing success.

Please visit this link for submission guidelines and to subscribe to the Exhale e-mail list: http://www.exhalezine.com/index.html.

Over and out! Looking forward to your writing, dearies!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And a Few More Title Suggestions...

Greetings, Quinoa Googlers and Eaters...

First of all, VOTE! There, just had to get that off my chest.

Second, a few more title suggestions for our up and coming literary mag for KuKd/TTC readers/writers. K honestly liked "Penis + Vagina = Baby, And Other Lies" one best. I know, can you believe it! Please vote on your favorites below. I won't tell you want they mean or the rationale behind them. My attitude is, if you can't figure that out, then it's probably not a good name.

Without a Rubber (...Does Not = Baby, And Other Lies)

Knocked

Knocked Down

Unprotected Sex

Spare Bedroom

Baby Shadows

Almost There

Empty Oven

Grabbing Air

Not a Babymama

Almost Up the Duff

Imaginary Motherhood

Almost Motherly

Sort of Maternal

Whole Milk

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Something Artsy!

Greetings, Blossoming Writers!

I was talking to my friend J today, whose sister R (one of our very blogg-o-readers) is undergoing the yucky frustrations of infertility - failed IVFs and acupuncture and this-and-thats. It made hot tears well briefly behind my eyeballs. I started thinking about how TTC-ers and KuKd Mommas are alike, and J and I agreed that it all involves some variation of grief. Whether you're a KuKd Momma or never-been-knocked-up-but-trying-damn-hard, at some point you realize with dismay that what you thought would be easy is not, and may not - in fact - ever happen. This is a loss of a former self, a loss of a certain kind of innocent optimism. And like any loss, it results in some degree of coping.

Which brings me to an idea that's been percolating in my mind for some months now - the creation of a monthly literary magazine for the TTC/KuKd set, comprised of readers' submitted essays, poetry, columns, and even artwork/photography. There are lot of cool 'zines for so-called normal mommas - but what about the reproductively wacked? I believe that writing is hugely cathartic not just for me, but for others who are at a point in their lives where they need some human connection in this lonely-seeming journey of infertility or knocked-downage. Regardless of what your situation is, you certainly have a unique perspective that others can benefit from. Even if you yourself are not a KuKd/TTC momma or you've already moved on, you most certainly have a unique and fresh perspective to share.

I hope to begin "soon" (knowing that "soon" is a relative term): a monthly literary journal - online for now, to save trees and headaches - comprised of essays, poetry, possibly even ARTwork/photographs submitted by expressive people like you and me. Official call for submissions will be coming "soon!" (I'd LOVE to have a men's column, by the way - how freakin' cool would that be).

But first, I need your votes on prospective magazine titles! Which is your favorite? Any others to suggest?


Exhale
Whatever we're holding our breath for, we all have to stop and exhale at some point. Let go for a minute, debrief, take stock.


Differently Motherly

Is it motherly to want a child? I think so. Is it motherly to be told you'll never have a child of your own? Do we find other ways to mother? Perhaps we nurture ourselves and those around us instead.

Serendipity
I know - you're like, what does THAT mean? I wasn't sure either, so I looked it up. It essentially means the discovery of a good thing while looking for something else, kind of like an unexpected blessing. In search of child, we unexpectedly find voice, humanity, insight, wisdom, humor, strength, self, peace. Someone once told me this word is officially listed in the "top ten most difficult-to-translate English words." Perfect for a magazine name - nobody will know what it means!

Quinoa
See last sentence in "Serendipity" above. Same reason.

Shift
Shifting realities, shifting views, shifting moods. I really feel that life through the eyes of a KuKd/TTC woman is like looking through a prism or a fun house mirror. My only concern with "Shift" is that I fear it might look pretentious - what with all its one-word, simplistic arrogance. "Shift," baby, and if you don't know why this magazine is called that, you're just not cool enough to read it.

Prism
Same reason as "shift" above. There are so many feelings and emotional vomit associated with TTC/KuKd, that this might be an appropriate namesake. I wonder, though, if it sounds too much like some kind of reader for elementary school kids. Like "Reading Rainbow" or some such childishness.


Conception Secrets of the Virgin Mother Mary (how the fuck DID she do that anyway?!)

Just kidding, dawg.

Penis + Vagina = Baby, and Other Lies Your Mother Told You
Another just kidding, dahling.

Ivy
I think Ivy is such a pretty name for a girl. That aside, I picture TTC/KUKD women sometimes as ivy climbing up a trellis, grabbing on to what we can, changing course from time to time, overcoming setbacks, constantly aiming higher.

Other suggestions?