This blog is in chill-mode, but you'll still find archived posts and book updates/events.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

And the Reigning Champion Is...

SNOWDUDE!

Everybody reach toward the computer screen and give Snowdude a congratulatory stroke on the lovely, morning-shadow-sandpapery cheek! As the first place winner of our prestigious debut gallery of Knocked Down Hunks, he deserves it.



It was a riveting race up until the very end! With earlier doubts about his hunky stamina squashed (drug tests during training showed no measurable quantity of hunk steroid Real Bean in his blood), Snowdude started off strong and hopeful. As his wife cheered him on from the sideline, he scored a slew of votes within minutes of taking off from the starting line. But despite this momentum, victory wasn't quite in reach - not with opponents Sleepyhead and Scout lapping hunkily and hungrily at his heels. Alas, Snowdude pulled in enough votes close to the finish line to keep him in the lead, clocking in at first place!

CONGRATULATIONS, SNOWDUDE!

To view the runners up and all nominees for this gallery, or to submit your own hunk for Gallery #2 by the June 15th deadline, visit the Hunk Gallery.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Insomnia Thoughts

Greetings, Sleeping Beauties!



Ahhhhh...a loopy, insomnia-spurred, 2:59 am post. Sitting in the living room in T-shirt, undies and moose slippers, hair piled on top of my head, a half-eaten bowl of ice cream on balanced on one armrest. I must look like a woman who just underwent a bad break-up. Which I sort of did, actually: a break-up from sleep. The dim corner lamp is on and Tebow is glaring at me, wondering why I'm typing loudly and disturbing his sleep. Sorry, dog. You'll survive.

Why am I awake right now?

Perhaps it's because K, about an hour after we had crawled into bed at 11:30 (and just as I was entering the throes of sleep), randomly and abruptly turned toward me and asked if I wanted to have sex.

I suppose this must be some remnant of his 13-year-old self, or whatever age it is when boys wake up at night with hard-ons? Who knows. I thought it polite of him to ask, though, and - although a bit half-asleep - was up for some midnight action nonetheless. So aforementioned action took place, and I did my customary shriek of "PULL OUT!" - my current preferred (and highly scientific!) method of birth control. The whole event - from brief foreplay, to sex itself, to panicked shouting, to post-sex clean-up with a t-shirt (not the t-shirt I'm wearing now, thank you very much) - successfully kicked me out of sleep mode, leaving me wide awake and staring grumpily into the darkness.

K, his spooge happily released into the wild, fell instantly - and irritatingly - back to sleep. Fine, whatever. I'm happy for him, glad to know he's now in the bedroom breathing rhythmically and dreaming of sugar plums while I sit here in my moose slippers, the clock ticking agonizingly toward the time when I'm supposed to get up.

Fucker.


* * *

Can I just say: why is middle-of-the-night TV so unilaterally awful? Denture and sleep aide commercials, mostly. Reruns of bad sitcoms, like Full House. It's disturbing, because it gives me a glimpse into what the world must be like for certain people out there, awake like me at this very moment, yet way worse off. Like, people in hospitals, for example. People in the cancer ward, up at night while somebody comes in to replenish their anti-nausea pills. People in old folks homes. People losing their minds. People without any friends. I remember reading somewhere that "the unhappier people are, the more TV they watch." There were scientific studies to show this, of course, as there are studies to show (and not show) everything that matters.

I honestly hope I don't become a frail 90-year-old lady sitting alone in a rocking chair in a single wide trailer, eating mushy food straight from a can, awake at night with the soft blue light of the TV casting a haunting glow on my face, Kevin long gone because the men usually seem to go first, no grown children checking in on me to make sure I've taken my medications. I hope I've got some well-cemented friendships to keep me alive during those elder years, people to drink martinis with and play bridge.

Tonight, I hereby make a pact with myself: I'm going to look out for my friends, and not let anybody grow old alone. I'm going to start an old folks commune where we all move in together and eat meals and a bit wooden table with candles and a checkered tablecloth, play jazz music, and sleep in a pile on the living room floor.


* * *

Another possible reason for my awakeness. Tonight (I guess I should be calling it last night, actually) I had drinks and N and C, my Baby Lady friends. That is, the gals who were pregnant with me, and whose babies are now nearly two years old. N is preggers again with a girl, due in a month or so. I always enjoy my time with them, because we connect. We laughed and cussed and ate bacon cheeseburgers. We talked about men and sex and just nonsensical things, normal girl-talky things.

Still, it always produces in me a wave of dark unsettledness, usually somewhere in the middle of our conversation, a combination of craving pregnancy once again, combined with insane longing for bygone days. I get annoyed with myself for carrying around this "thing" that won't dissipate, an ever-present cloud of something. It makes me feel self-conscious and high-maintenance, self-pitying, not the kind of person I want to be.

Afterward, I met K at the tavern. As I always do after my get-togethers with N and C, downed half a glass of wine in one gulp and launched into the dull pang of sadness that had settled down onto my insides, about how perhaps we SHOULD get knocked up again, because that would bring back the life that once was, erasing all of the crud in my system. Pregnancy: the answer to everything! Riiiight.

He always listens and nods because he loves me, but I stop after a few sentences, tired of hearing myself talk about this dull subject, and remembering what I already know: there's only so much a person can hear the same thing over and over again, so much giving & listening & sympathizing that one person in a relationship can do. That's what KuKd does to a woman, or at least what it did to me: turned me into a taker, needer, over-thinker, talker. Well, it's probably the case that I was those things already - stillbirth only magnified those (not so great) qualities.


* * *

Going back to the communal old-folks house one last time: when we start this thing, however-many-years from now, let's treat ourselves to a Clapper for the dining room. The Clapper is one of those products that has always intrigued me, yet that seems like something you're not supposed to buy until you're a senior citizen. We'll use our house Clapper to celebrate our oldness, and to entertain ourselves by clapping stuff on and off.

* * *

Attempt to carve out a hour or two of sleep before waking-up time? Or just brew a pot of coffee and head in early, pausing for a mid-day nap on my office floor? Decisions, decisions. It's getting light out. Insomnia sucks nuts.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Abundant Bible Madness

Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas/Daddas and Inquisitive Guests!

See this link?

http://www.knockedupknockeddown.blogpsot.com/

See it? It's the link to this blog, right? Right? Isn't it? Well, click on it to find out for sure. Go ahead, do it and see where it takes you. DON'T GET SUCKED IN, THOUGH! I expect you to return here right away, so that I can finish my story! You're MY FRIEND, not theirs! Got it?

Okay. Did you click on it?

And, I mean, wasn't it fucking WEIRD?

(Let's see who's really smart! Anyone who can tell me the difference between that website address and MY blog address gets two smart points!)

So, this morning I went over there and clicked on the "Contact Us" form. I just couldn't help myself. Here is exactly what I wrote, copied and pasted:


Greetings, Abundant Bible!

My name is Monica, and I am founder of the stillbirth and miscarriage blog, Knocked-Up-Knocked-Down, which lives at the URL http://www.knockedupknockeddown.blogspot.com/.

Several of my astute readers have recently brought it to my attention that if you accidentally type "blogpsot" instead of "blogspot" when trying to visit my blog,
you arrive here instead:
http://www.knockedupknockeddown.blogpsot.com/,
which is THIS site - Abundant Bible! Isn't that amazing? What a serendipitous and perplexing discovery, a puzzling phenomenon!

I simply couldn't help but write to you and ask you how and why this occurs - if you have any insight on that. Is it simply sheer coincidence? Or is it intentional? If intentional, what compelled you to make
http://www.knockedupknockeddown.blogpsot.com/ one of your URL addresses? Or was it I, perhaps, who somehow - acting subconsciously through the will of God, naming MY blog after YOU? Was it my destiny, maybe?

I did take the liberty of perusing your site for a few minutes, just to see if there WAS - in fact - any connection (even a tenuous one) between Abundant Bible and my blog content, so that I could perhaps steer my readers to your highly informative website. Unfortunately, I was not able to find anything on your site regarding pregnancy or pregnacy loss (other than abortion), at least not that I could tell. Is there something here that I might be missing, something that could be useful to me or my blog readers? If so, please do let me know! Even something on medical termination might be related - that is, abortion when done for medical purposes.

(I did read up on the "Drinking, Swearing, and Drugs" section, but mostly for myself, since I am certainly guilty of the first two. And the drugs, if Claritin counts. There was a bit of Mary Jane, but that was when I was young and stupid. My readers aren't the types to drink or swear, and would never go near mind-altering substances, so I won't bother referring them to that section. Thank you though - I do feel enlightened after reading it.)

ANYWAY, going back to the original purpose of this message, please let me know if you have any thoughts on wny our URL addresses are so uncannily similar. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Peace and Sunshine,
Monica L., Founder/EditorKnocked Up, Knocked Down
http://www.knockedupknockeddown.blogspot.com/


After clicking "Submit," I was instantly swept over to a screen that said this:

Dear Visitor,

Thank you for contacting us. We enjoy hearing from our visitors, but regret that we may not be able to reply, though we try to read all correspondence. The Bible says in Mt 9:37,38-THE HARVEST TRULY IS PLENTEOUS, BUT THE LABOURERS ARE FEW. PRAY YE THEREFORE THE LORD OF THE HARVEST, THAT HE WILL SEND FORTH LABOURERS INTO HIS HARVEST. We apologize—we do not have enough helpers to be able to respond to most emails.

If you have repented and asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior as a result of this
website, please tell us and ask for the free booklet to help you get started in the right direction. To do this, we will need your postal address. For those looking for additional information on Bible prophecy, we recommend
http://www.whatliesahead.com/.

The Bible Desk Staff
OK, I'll admit I was mildly disappointed to learn that I might not get a response AT ALL. Who knew that there were so many people contacting Abundant Bible! At least they promise to *try* to read my message, and provided what seems like a valid excuse for not always being able to reply. Nobody is going to argue with Mt 9:37,38. Certainly not me, anyway. (I was thinking, though, if somebody DID ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior as a result of that website, and they requested their free booklet to get them started, it would kind of suck to be ignored altogether. I think I would feel cheated somehow, and be like, where the fuck is my booklet!)

I'll keep you posted on whether I ever hear back. Don't cross your fingers, though.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pipeline of Healing

Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

Okay, all you visual learners out there! This one's for you.

A couple of months ago, I went out for a drink with a momma - let's call her Susan - whose daughter had just been stillborn. Susan needed to talk to somebody who "gets it." And boy - if stillbirth isn't something I at least sort of "get" by now, well, I may as well throw in the towel and give up trying to understand anything in life.

We got connected through a variety of circumstances that aren't important. At the time, I was knocked up x3. I did not divulge to Susan my reasons for ordering a gin-and-tonic-without-the-gin, because I didn't feel it prudent or sensitive to tell this to a woman whose baby-loss was still so fresh and hurtful. Nobody needs that, thank you very much.

She talked, and I listened. I preferred it this way, because I'm generally bad at knowing what to say, even when it involves something that hits so close to my heart. It was surreal, hearing my former self reflected in Susan's words, recognizing her perception of reality as the EXACT WAY in which I saw the world during that dark and brutal time in my own life, just weeks and months after losing my son. Still in shock, hypersensitive to others' comments, crushingly disappointed. At one point, she asked me if I ever had trouble "feeling." She said she felt this strange sensation of numbness, and was waiting on edge for the inevitible tidalwave of emotion and sadness to hit. All I could do was just nod my head and mumble heartfelt-but-not-very-helpful responses, things like: "Yeah, I felt that, and still feel it sometimes. So yeah, you have lots of numbness to look forward to." or: "Yeah, your life pretty much sucks right now."

I'm sure those are the exact kind of uplifting things she needed to hear. See? I told you it was better to just kick back and listen.

During our conversation, and on the drive home, I had this sudden, strange image of myself being in a very different place than she. Her: just a few weeks after her loss. Me: about a year-and-a-half after mine, and knocked up again. It was one of those moments where you don't quite know where/how/who you are, until you see yourself juxtaposed against somebody else. Sitting across that table from Susan made me see how far I've come since 1.5 years ago. And I don't mean it in a bragging and obnoxious, "look how I have my shit together!" kind of way. It's more just a, "look how much my perception of reality has changed since then" kind of way.

This led to my newfound mental picture of what I call the Tunnel of Recovery, where KuKd mommas/daddas - and even our infertility-fighting counterparts - coexist.

It looks like this:



Way up front, in the closer (and therefore bigger-looking) part of the tunnel, is the event itself - the loss. The loss of a baby, of a fetus, of a vision of oneself as a parent at all. As time goes by, you start to heal, and you move along that pipeline - off into the distance. You're still there, in that same tunnel, and you can still communicate with people in different segments of that tunnel - just like Susan and I were conversing. It's just that your own segment - wherever in that tunnel you happen to be- looks and feels totally different from how it used to feel, back when you were in a different place.

(Being a classic visual learner, these are just the sorts of bizarre things that pop into my brain on long car rides, so just indulge me and roll with it, dawg)

I'd say that Susan was way up there toward the front, in that close-up part of the tunnel. As for me, well, I'm off in the distance, over that first little bunny hill you see in the picture, where the tunnel turns small and squiggly and faint. I'm not saying there's a light at the end of that tunnel, either, as in a definite way out of it for good. I gave up hope for that a long time ago, kids. It's just that time really is the thing that heals, pushing you along, up and over various obstacles, to where everything gets easier.

I should also point out this blog as a solid example. This blog was started...oh...almost a year after Zach's death, somewhere in the middle of that pipeline. There's no way I could have started it any sooner, found anything remotely interesting or tongue-n-cheeky to say about the death of a baby. No way, Jose. I was too busy looking down at my empty body, feeling pissed off at the world. It's taken lots of time and hindsight for me to get to where I am today, looking back, analyzing what happened, drawing out truths and laughs where I can see them. It's like picking up rocks in a forest, looking for cool bugs underneath them. Susan will get to that point too.

To finish up this bit of philosophizing, I leave you with one of the few pictures I have of myself when I was in Susan's place - WAAAAY up at that godawful front of the pipeline - a month or so after Zach's death. Acquiring Tebow the Westi-poodle was a very conscious and deliberate move - I needed something to mother, and damn it, I needed it NOW!! Kevin certainly wasn't going to argue.

God, I looked like crap back then - I probably hadn't showered in days when this picture was taken (why didn't anybody offer me a comb, at the very least?), and my smile the fake and brittle kind, because even though I liked this small furry mammal okay, he wasn't the real deal. Oh, and I was always wearing Kevin's sweatshirt, because it mercifully swallowed up my body and smelled like Kevin.



Now that I'm thinking about it, I really hope I was at least wearing deodorant.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Something from Nothing

Greetings, KuKd Strong'uns and Inquisitive Guests!

A few oh-so-important updates before my real post: 

FIRST, the lingerie saga. Scroll down to my last post if you aren't in on this...shall we say...little mishap.  For the record, the lingerie did eventually get worn again, utlized in a snot-free manner, appreciated in a way that Victoria herself would approve of.  I just had to make sure the world knew that the ending to that chapter was a happy and delectable one. 

(KuKd Mommas, get out there and buy something sexylicious if you haven't already! My current sense is that your man will like you in it, no matter how theatrical/self-conscious/fat/ridiculous it makes you feel, and no matter how far from a Maxim supermodel you consider yourself to be. This comes from a person who is very, very far from being a Maxim supermodel. If I can do it, you can do it! And of course, I expect a full report afterward.)

SECOND, regarding the lovely, spine-tingling, mouthwatering KuKd HUNK GALLERY: Because the Blogger poll is silly, I cannot simply add new KuKd Hunks to the gallery at random, and then add those lucious Hunks' names to the poll to be voted upon in droves. I had hoped that this would be something I could do, but alas, it is not.

SO.....

Every month or two, I'll announce the winner of the current gallery - which should not be a surprise, since anyone can see on the righthand side of this blog who is the current reigning champion. Note the number of days you have left to vote. (Listen up, SNOWDUDE! On the one hand, I hate you for beating my own Hunk thus far. On the other hand, I love you for being such a scrumptious, snowy, snuggleworthy ball of knocked-down sexiness. Truly, you are an achingly mysterious man who draws out a conflicting array of emotions in this poor girl's troubled heart.)

Once the current gallery closes and winner announced (damn you, Snowdude!), I will then start a new gallery with a new deadline to submit your Hunk, and I will make that announcement. As soon as I have at least THREE (3) Hunk submissions, the new gallery and accompanying poll will begin. You can - AND SHOULD! - resubmit your Hunk each time! Don't feel shy or vain or weird for doing this. You can bet that I'll be submitting MY personal Hunk each time. My only request is that it be a different photo. Seriously, let's get some variety here. Send your hunk-o-picture with a caption and a nickname to monica@exhalezine.com.  

With that, let me set JUNE 15th as the next Hunk deadline, giving us all a bit of time to scramble around and dig up those hot pictures of you-know-who. Don't worry, I'll remind you of this later.

Moving on.

* * *

Have you read Eat, Pray, Love like everybody else and their grandmother has? I remember tossing it begrudgingly into my backpack just as K and I were leaving for Ecuador, four months after Zachary's stillbirth. It was one of those books that I had refused to read for the longest time, similar to refusing to watch Titanic, because everybody was buzzing about it. Which meant it couldn't possibly be any good. Finally, I succumbed to the hype, toting it along as a mindless "beach read."

If you haven't read it, here is what I recall being the gist, from the sandy/beachy/sunny/cocktaily cobwebs of my memory: it's a memoir, written by heroine Elizabeth Gilbert, chronicling her own traveling around the world in order to heal from a nasty divorce. She is an obnoxiously pretty, blond, rich, talented person who gets paid lots of money to embark on this culinary, spiritual, and romantic journey self-discovery (and write about it), which makes me insanely jealous. But anyway.

I read most of it, skimmed through the boring parts, neither loving nor hating it, finding certain parts compelling. There was one part in particular that I felt was compelling, and that has stuck with me ever since. I was pretty sure I loved this little gem of insight so profoundly that I e-mailed a friend about it from a guesthouse in Quito (certainly with Kevin's hand on my bare knee and one or two or three rum-n-Cokes in my system). Sifting through my old e-mails, trying to remember what exactly that little bit of wisdom was and why I loved it, here is what I found, excerpted from a December 2007 e-mail:

There's a book called "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I speed-read it during our week on the coast.  The book annoyed me on some levels but one important message I carried away is how the Italians worship the art of doing nothing - or, of taking some very simple ingredients or circumstances and making fun, festive merriment out of it. That is, of being in the moment, being where you are, not constantly planning and worrying. I really want to make sure I achieve this, which I think I can do and have done before, but I want to keep doing it. So, when we get back, I want to have a handful of close friends including you over, put out a red checkered table cloth and lots of wine, make pasta and just ¨make merriment out of nothing¨- that is, out of just a handful of friends, simple food, and wine. Can we do that?

xoxo, Monica

That was it.  I was thinking of that now, because...well...this past month or two have been characterized by my own attempts to do just that: make merriment out of nothing.  Lately, I've gotten totally obsessed with taking this childfree life, and doing things with it that I wouldn't ordinary be able to do.  A shrink would probably tell me there is some psychological term for this - Stage 12 of the Grieving Process.  Who knows. 

It's not even a bitter, begrudging, brittle sensation.  It's a real, vibrating, life-filled feeling of just enjoying the moment (apologies for sounding so cliche), not longing or hoping or yearning for something better, but rather creating happy moments in the spaces that would otherwise have been taken up by babies #1, 2, or 3.   Let me illustrate with some examples:

  • Lingerie in a hotel room (snot or no snot).  Sipping wine in bed with sunlight slanting in and a finelooking man by my side. 
  • Dinner parties with friends - several of them.  Setting the table with placemats, candles, and silverware!  Bringing out food arranged on plates: meat, vegetable, starch, in perfect symmetry. 
  • Collecting good people in dark taverns for drinking beers and talking about our personal lives.  
  • Sitting barefoot on a piece of driftwood at the beach with Kevin, each sipping a chilled Corona with lime.  Getting sunburned but not caring so much.  It'll peel off. 
  • BBQed pork ribs for dinner, juices dripping down my forearms. 
  • Wearing sundresses.  Haven't worn those in a while.  
  • Taking a bath with lavender-scented salts.  Soooo girly, but soooo nice. 
  • Coffee with lots of milk and sugar on the balcony. 
  • Breakfast with friends before work: once a week, yummy social-ness.  
  • Writing folksongs in my head during my drive to work, and belting them out in the car.
There are other things.  This is just a sampling.   Yes, I'll say it: I'm valuing the little bit of philosophy that blond Elizabeth Gilbert picked up in Italy (while she was getting paid to travel, eat procuttio, and take Italian lessons with hot men, let me remind you.   I'll bet she's the type that would vote for SNOWDUDE, too!  That beeyatch!). 

Oh, don't worry: it's not as though I'm Polyanna-cheerful all the time.  You can still count on me to be your partner-in-gloom.  For fuck's sake, we all know a KuKd momma can't act TOO happy, or society will get suspicious of you for getting over your losses too quickly!  It's just that right now, at this time in my life, I'm liking the kid-free-ness, and the moments and feelings that spring from that.  

I'll even end on a reassuringly gloomy note: all of this happy-go-lucky-reveling-in-kidfree-life doesn't come without consequence.  I've got a crimson sunburn on my shoulders and chest right now from baseball and beach-combing in the sun today, and a mild headache still from last night's wine.  

(Zachary: please send Mommy a care package from the Realworld Penthouse for Bitchin' Stillborn Babes ASAP containing heavenly elixirs for the sun/booze combo hangover.   Eagerly waiting to hear from you, my wise son!)




Sunday, May 10, 2009

Snot and Lingerie

I am not a lingerie-wearing type of person. I'm just not. Buying some expensive, impractical, lacey little thing made out of silk (that HAS to be dry cleaned, of course) is not something that would ever normally cross my mind, especially not in recent years. The fact of having positively ZERO libido during the months before and after Zachary's stillbirth pushed the concept of sexy undergarments even farther into the reaches of my mind. Poor Kevin went months and months without getting laid. I felt sorry for him, sort of.

Then, not long ago, Kevin hinted semi-jokingly that he thought it would be lovely if he came home from work to find me - AND I QUOTE: "wearing lingerie and scrubbing the kitchen floor." Later, he added: "...or doing dishes."

I laughed at first, of course. We both did. What an absurdly stereotypical, male-dominant, anti-feminist, caveman-like fantasy to have!
Coming home to find your highly independent, boldly headstrong, reasonably intelligent wife (who has a Master's degree!!) doing something as subservient as scrubbing the floor? In lingerie? And ME, of all people, doing such a thing? I am about the biggest slob-o-phile that ever existed, hardly noticing or caring if we go five years without washing the bed sheets or vacuuming. Dirt doesn't bother me, so I wouldn't be caught dead scrubbing the floor.

But yesterday morning, I woke up feeling strangely inspired to run over to Victoria's Secret, which I knew was situated somewhere in the bowels of the crowded shopping mall down the street, to at least see if anything there was on sale.
No harm in doing that, is there?



The timing was perfect, because this was to be the weekend of our customary, monthly "urban getaway.”
We had put in a low Priceline bid for a fancy-shmancy 4-star hotel in downtown Seattle for one night, where we would gorge ourselves on a sinfully vegetable-less, butter-infused dinner at a French restaurant, drink lots of wine, and...well...you know the rest. This also happened to be Mother’s Day weekend, a time which – as we all know – is usually fraught with emotional peril for the millions of miscarriage-and-stillbirth “mommies” out there. “Mommies” like me, grappling with the surreal fact of having briefly been a mother in the scientific sense, yet with no real living child to show for it.


What better way to embrace my newly baby-less life by boldly surprising Kevin with my first piece of real lingerie, waiting for him on our hotel bed in my slinky outfit as he stepped out of the shower?


So I told Kevin I was off to run some boring errands, and drove to the mall instead, my heart going pitter-patter. I felt oddly as though I were doing something illegal, something that might land me in hell, something my prune-faced 4th grade teacher Sister Estelle would surely frown upon. I guarantee you, she would give me a hard whack with her rule if she knew what naughty number I tried on. It looked like this:




Black bustier. Made in Italy. On sale. Attached to something like these:


I felt strangely excited, trying on these foxy items, as though doing something sinful and anti-jesus - like gorging myself on peanutbutter cookies before dinner, spoiling my appetite. I'm pretty sure that grown-ups aren't supposed to purchase things like what you see pictured above. No, no. Grown-ups buy practical things, like frumpy flannel pajamas.

But, seeing myself in the mirror, I suddenly decided: I was sick of being a grown-up, a feminist, a flannel pajamas-wearing prude! Screw grown-up-ness! So I bought it - the entire ensemble - and one other thing - something white and simple and less over-the-top, just in case I decided later that the black get-up was too, too much.

That evening, we drank wine and had a lovely dinner of roasted chicken, then met up with some buddies from work for an apertif in the hotel lobby. Good times. I secretly wore the bustier underneath my dress, which I only felt brave enough to do because of the nearly full bottle of wine we had shared before leaving our room. The plan was that later, when we returned and Kevin was taking a shower or his usual post-beer piss in the bathroom, I would quickly pull on the panty hose and snap everything together (the sales associate had given me a quick lesson on how to do that in ten seconds flat), yank my dress over my head, and be lying there seductively in bed in my Victoria's Secret ensemble when he emerged (not scrubbing the floor, but at least meeting HALF of his fantasy criteria!).

Perfect plan, right?

It would have been perfect if, on our way back up to our room after drinks with my work-buddies in the lobby, we didn't run practically head-on into the LAST group of people I expected to see. It was a giggling gaggle of ladies from the Seattle Urban Expecting Parents Meet-Up Group, the group of which I was THE original founder almost two years ago, which has now exploded to include hundreds of members.
I was the social queen-beeyatch of this group back in the day, head organizer of prego-lady parties and potlucks and trips to the market and prego-massages. Of course, when Zachary was stillborn, I dropped out of the group, passing the organizing torch over to this gal named C.

C was there, amidst this gaggle of mommies, some of whom I recognized from that time when we were all comparing belly sizes and drinking virgin cocktails together. They all kept hanging out, and still do - their kids growing older in sync. They were there for an overnight "girl's stay" at our hotel for Mother's Day - a little Mother's Day splurge for themselves.

"MONICA! Hiiiiiiii!" they said, and we did the small talk thing for a few minutes, the hugs and smiles and "how are yous" and "how's the baby" and "you're pregnant again? wow!"
The newer members had heard my name but obviously didn’t know why I’d abruptly left the group, and I wasn’t up for sharing. C turned positively white, watching my face, biting her lip. Kevin and I just smiled and hugged, brushing off the questions.

“It didn’t work out,” we said. “Have fun, ladies!”

That was it - just a brief conversation before Kevin and I heard the merciful "ding" of the elevator, and we high-tailed it out of there, up to our floor. Kevin did jump in the shower right away, as I thought he would, and I carried out my plan as best I could, determined not to let disorienting melancholy settle in, keeping me from carrying out my big surprise. I sat on the edge of the bed and pulling off my dress, snapping those gartery-strappy thingies in place.

When he came out, I had the outfit on, but not lying seductively anywhere. Instead, I was sitting on the floor in the corner bawling my eyes out, getting snot on my lingerie and not caring. Kevin silded up next to me because he knew what was going on, and we stayed there for what felt like hours.

So much for my surprise "sexy evening." Of all the nights to have a crying fit - and I really don't cry that often.

* * *

You know, it was one of those situations that just hurts, and there isn't any rational reason for it, or way to explain what it WAS exactly, that I felt. Was it sadness? Jealously? Anger? Resentment? Longing? What was it? I have no idea - a swirling mix of all of those things, terribly, terribly strong. I couldn't escape it or suppress it or anything, not even with a kick-ass black bustier and thigh-high panty hose on my side. Maybe it was the wine in my system, or the sheer unexpectedness of it. Like, one past life colliding with this one, interrupting my plan for a sexy, surprising evening. Remembering suddenly, viscerally, what it was like to hang out with those gals, what the world and the future looked like back then, so different from what reality is to me now. Associating, perhaps, their voices and faces with movement in the tummy, joyful imaginings of good things to come.

All I know is that it ruined my entire plan, resulted in snot on my lingerie, and caused me to wake up this morning looking like a puffed-up sea monster, the way people look when they cry really hard for a long time and the go directly to bed. Oh, and I had a slight sore throat from breathing only through my mouth all night, my nasal passages incurably blocked with snot. For a moment, I thought I might have swine flu, but now I'm pretty sure it's not that.

Ah, well. All is not lost. Kevin WAS pleasantly shocked by the outfit, and said all the right things, assuring me several times over that it looked good, even with the puffy face and snot and all. It's kind of nice that my lingerie has now been "christened" with my own snot. Somehow it feels more "mine" than it was yesterday morning when I first brought it home. I'm keeping the black bustier and its strappy, lacy accoutrements for another evening when I'm more in the mood.

(I've already told Kevin he shouldn't hold his breath for the floor-scrubbing thing, the poor guy).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hunks! Hunks! Everywhere, Hunks!

Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

Today is your day! No matter what other less savory things might be going on in your life, good things await you starting right now. That's because you are about to witness one of the FINEST SELECTIONS OF HUNKS on the planet. Thought Cosmo's 2008 list brought you hotness? Think Patrick Swayze looked good shirtless, back in his Dirty Dancing days? Think President Obama is drool-worthy enough to drool over?

Well, you ain't seen nothin' yet!

Introducing the first and only Knocked-Down Hunk Gallery. Check it out, show these beautiful male specimens some love, cast your vote, and then get back over here and tell me how ridiculously awesome it is, to have our very own Knocked-Down Hunk Gallery.

One logistical matter - in honor of legitimacy, I've set the poll to where you can only vote for ONE HUNK. Is this okay? I could set it to where you can vote for multiple hunks. In fact, I could see it becoming problematic to be forced to choose just ONE HUNK from such a fine, hunky selection. If you have an opinion, please do share it in the comment section. This is a democracy, after all, and I take my duty as purveyor of fine hunk-age and electoral captain VERY SERIOUSLY!!

And of course, if you've been too shy to submit your man's photo yet, NOW IS THE TIME to embrace the hunkiness! It's not too late! Photo with caption can be sent to monica@exhalezine.com.

Life is good! xoxo

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coming Up for Air!

Greetings, KuKd Mommas-n-Hunks and Inquisitive Guests!

I've slacked on the blog this week - naughty me! But it hasn't been without good reason.

First, there's the May/June issue of Exhale, which essentially took over my waking life for the past several days in a row. One would think it would be easy to put that thing together - it's just a cutsey little online zine, after all! Not even a REAL magazine you can hold in your hands! But somehow, it always takes up more brain power, time power, hand power, coffee power, food power, and wine power than I think it will, especially when I wait until the very last second to get started on it like I did this time. Little snags just crop up all the time; I'll be cruising along, thinking it's done, and boom - I'll find a comma splice. Or boom, a "they're" instead of a "their." Or boom - a broken link. Or boom - something else that just looks like crap.

So yeah, there was Exhale.

Then there was my book project. Some of you know, I've been working on a memoir for a year or so, also titled Knocked Up, Knocked Down. Not that anything in my life is more memoir-worthy than anything in anyone ELSE'S life out there. It's just that this is how I decided to channel some of my pent up grieving and profanity-spewing energy, which I never quite figured what to do with. For the record, I think we should ALL write memoirs, because weaving a story from your own life is, I'm finding out, about the most cathartic thing you can do (second only to taking a Calgon bath).

I hesitate to go on and on and on about my book project here, because it just feels kind of tacky to keep mentioning it. But it has taken up about 80% of my brain space these past few weeks, jostling for attention along with Exhale, so I feel compelled to bring it up JUST THIS ONCE. And then I swear, you won't hear about it again until I publish it, okay? Can we agree to that? Okay, good. Here I go:

Last weekend, I finally finished making big, final edits to my manuscript, deleting all of the gratuitous "fucks" and "shits" that I'd been meaning to get rid of (as my mother wisely suggested, that kind of potty-mouthed approach won't get you anywhere with the sixty-something Midwestern reader who knits and makes cookies for church bake sales). She's right, of course.

The other thing I did, after much torturous writing and rewriting and waking up at ungodly hours in the middle of the night grinding my teeth, was write a synopsis telling what my book is about. As some of you know, the synopsis is essentially your book's entire plot distilled down into one or two little paragraphs, and this is what potential publishers and agents get to see first. And boy, they'd better like it. As in, they'd better want to jump right through the computer screen and gobble up those words. They'd better instantly love you enough to invite you out to a cozy diner and treat you to pie and coffee. If they don't, you won't even get a tiny glimpse at your manuscript, and then you'll get so depressed that you blast that sappy Aerosmith song that I can never remember the name of, sit around in your pajamas and cry all afternoon, eating Almond Roca straight from the container (I speak from experience).

Anyway, the synopsis. Another thing which - like Exhale - I thought would be easy. Just a little paragraph you whip out while you're eating your morning flax flakes! Easy! But no - of COURSE it's not easy. It's like, the hardest thing I've ever had to write, because it forced me to think painstakingly about this sprawling, 70,000-word manuscript that I've already spent WAY too much time looking at and thinking about, and ask myself: what the hell IS this about? And how do I put it into words that might make an agent want to come out for pie and coffee with me?

I finally came up with something. Which again, is why I've slacked on the blog this week. Kevin helped me write it, I'll admit that outright. We went back and forth about it for days on end, e-mailing each other revised drafts. You can tell he helped me write it because he used the word "mirth," which I had to look up on dictionary.com. For a brief instant, I wondered if it might be unethical for me to include a word whose meaning I had to look up. In the end, I decided to keep it, because I think that "mirth" is one of those words that makes people look good if they can use it correctly, kind of like "quinoa" and "uptick." And besides, NOW I know what "mirth" means, so if anybody questions it, I can tell them.

I'm going to show you my synopsis, but only if you promise not to laugh or run away in horror. You'd better like it, because I've already sent it out to some agents, today in fact! So you've no choice but to like it:

Knocked Up, Knocked Down

Ever since Monica LeMoine fled overseas to escape her deadbeat college boyfriend, she has prided herself on her ability to seek, find, and embrace whatever makes her feel alive, even when that means literally stuffing suitcases and dashing toward something better. Now happily married and racing into her early thirties, Monica starts a blissfully ignorant new journey toward motherhood with the help of a magical pair of g-string underwear. Over the next thirteen months, however, Monica's infectious vitality is put to the test with the abrupt deaths of her fully formed fetus and subsequent unborn baby boy. As she wanders into a disorienting world of paranoia and mourning for real and imagined lives lost, Monica gropes frantically for normalcy and renewed aliveness, often missing the mark in ways that are alternately agonizing and side-splittingly funny. When traditional grief literature and support groups fail to do any good, Monica luckily finds help in other, unexpected places – from the Speed Stick smell of her husband’s t-shirts, to a hunky Ecuadorian salsa instructor who communicates through undulating hips, to those almost-forgotten pink g-string panties.

Knocked Up, Knocked Down is about what happens when “a shitty news bomb gets dropped suddenly on your head,” as Monica puts it, making life suddenly seem un-navigable. Infused with an undercurrent of mirth that hints at Monica's enduring optimism, it is a classic story of hope's triumph over grief, life over death, with which every parent can sympathize and the legions of struggling un-parents will empathize. We cry with Monica, laugh at her episodes of temporary insanity, and cheer her on to a new beginning.


So there it is, the fruits of my labor this week. Imagine yourself picking up a book and reading the back of it, and finding that there, then settling into one of those big comfy chairs and flipping open to a random page. If you're lucky, you might even open it to the term "hard-on," which is in there somewhere. I won't tell you were. And, as I said, the last you'll hear from me about the book project until something major happens!

Oh, and I almost forgot: THE KNOCKED DOWN HUNK GALLERY!

Yes, that's happening! I'm working on it - getting little voting thingy-dingies as I promised we would. Coming this week, so check back soon! It's not too late to send me your knocked down hunk's picture - send it to monica at exhalezine dot com (why do people do that? put "monica at exhalezine dot com," I mean? I just do it because it's fun to write it that way. I suppose it's to discourage spam e-mail, but I wonder if it really works.)

'Till next time!