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

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The World Just Got Tiny

Greetings from the graveyard shift!

Everything has shrunken, for now, to revolve around the astonishing new creature who arrived (alive!!!!!!!!) on March 26th. And as you know, aliveness is the ultra-high standard that we strive for in the land of KuKd.

Introducing Sean One-Week-Late Murphy LeMoine, formerly known as Fetus:

Flushed and awestruck as a newborn infant is placed on my chest, right after delivery. Wait - that's Sean! I wonder how on earth my five-foot-one frame managed to carry an 8-pound-10-oz baby (!!!):

Here we are, a nuclear family in the traditional, non-knocked-down sense. Feels kinda weird, in a good way:

Eh bien sur, les grandparents. Producing a live baby is a family affair, after all. Touch your computer screen... can you feel the grandparental joy emanating from this picture?

* * *

I swear I've got more coherent thoughts to share, and will do so in my next post. For now, even stringing together coherent thoughts is mildly difficult. I'm exhausted. Happy. Astounded. Afraid. Ecstatic. Concerned. Amazed. Exhausted. Did I mention exhausted?

Signing off at 5:22am, west coast time. I've been up since 1am, working the graveyard shift, and sleep is coming like an opaque cloak falling over my eyes. Nighty night, and back in a few days!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

5 Stages of KuKd Momma with a 4-Day Overdue Baby


Stage 1: So What's it To Ya?

"You really wanna know when he's due? I'll tell ya: FOUR DAYS AGO! Yeah, you heard me right. And yeah, my gangster gear don't fit no more. And yeah, he could drop out right here and now in Seven Eleven, next to the doughnut case - and you'd have to help. You gotta problem widdat? Hey, where ya going with that horrified look on your face?"

* * *

Stage 2: C'mon, Baby! Bring it!

(Later, private conversation): "Dude, WTF?! What'cha doin, embarassin' ya mama like that! Hurry up -n- getcha butt over here! And not in Seven Eleven, fa gawd's sake!"

* * *

Stage 3: Mild Desperation

"So what if eating this whole thing gives me a serious case of watery shits and a mouthful of canker sores? Someone on Yahoo Answers said it can also cause labor! They sounded like they knew what they were talking about (except for all the misspelled words)."

* * *

Stage 4: Acute Desperation

----- Message -----
Sent: 3/22/2010 8:21 AM
To: Office of Susan Warwick, MD
Subject: castor oil with a shot of vodka??

Hi Dr. Warwick - I've gotten a bunch of friends telling me that I should drink a few spoonfuls of castor oil with either a shot of hard liquor or milk of magnesia. Everyone says it works - I mean, causes lots of pooping and maybe some barfing, but ultimately induces labor. I'm intrigued but sort of scared at the thought of explosive diarrhea and drinking this medieval-sounding elixir..have you ever heard of this? Any thoughts on whether it's OK to try?


RE: castor oil with a shot of vodka??
To: Monica M Lemoine
From: KC, LPN
Received: 3/22/10 8:36 AM

Unfortunately this option is not recommended as a way to induce labor. You should try to relax and embrace this last week of pregnancy. If you have more concerns or problems before Thursday certainly let us know and we can try to find an appt to have you seen sooner.


* * *

Stage 5: Chilling Out


"I guess I'll just try to relax revel in the pregnant pregnantness of the impregnation for a while."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Update-less Update

Howdy Folks,

Baby LeMoine is 48 long-ass hours overdue. He's still alive, I'm pretty sure - which is the biological state we're going for. Every once in a while my stomach moves up and down on its own like a self-activating trampoline, which I take as a sign of life. I have to wonder, though, if the Great Being Above purposely does this to people who have been waiting a long time for a baby: makes our babies come late. KuKd people, infertility-fighting people and the like. Is it some final test of patience, of endurance?

(By the way, don't bother suggesting holistic strategies for making labor happen. No matter what it is, I guarantee you that I've seen it, done it, gotten the t-shirt. Eating pineapple? Yup. Eggplant? Yup. Oatmeal stout? Yup. Walking? Yup. Dancing to rap music in the living room? Yup. Sex? Um....not so much. But hey, if your body resembled that of a sore-breasted manatee, you wouldn't exactly feel like a temple of passion either.)


Not that I'm complaining. Bitching a little bit, I guess, but that's just because I'm impatient. I really, really need and want for this thing to become reality and not just a dream, so I can finally relax and believe it's going to happen. I feel fine overall, walking and working, socializing and going to movies, taking showers, doing girl-push-ups in the living room, eating dark chocolate from Kevin's "secret" stash (yes, he's one of those skinny bastards that can eat one teensy-weensy square of chocolate each day and be satisfied with that, just that, and nothing more). I'm grateful that body didn't get the urge to release this baby early, all thin and jaundiced and frail. Nope: this little guy's got to already be in the 8-9 pound range, if the size and feel of my whopping belly are any indication.

What's more, at least you're pregnant. I can hear the message bubbling through the atmosphere, having now lived with one foot inside of the KuKd/TTC/IF world for several years now. It's funny the messages that you hear as you go through life and have different experiences, messages that would've otherwise landed on deaf ears. I wouldn't have heard this message before. I would have taken pregnancy for granted, taken positive outcome as a given, been utterly unaware of the painful glass wall through which other mommas and wannabe-mommas might view my current circumstance. But I get it now.

Which leads me to the big, huge, huggy, lovey ball of emotion I want to hurl at anyone reading this wants a baby but doesn't have one (by the way, I classify myself in that category still, for now). I want to say thanks, first, for the outpouring of support for me and for Sean sparked by my last post. It means everything, that support, especially coming from KuKd/IF/TTC mommas who - through their own pure grace and compasssion - manage to still have room in their huge hearts to celebrate someone else's pending motherhood, someone else's pending baby. That's a LOT of space in your heart, more than I imagine most people having.

It makes me wonder if I, too, am one of those big-hearted people. I know I haven't always been. If I had, I wouldn't have balked at the idea of going to my friend C's daughter's first birthday, a year after Zachary's stillbirth. I wouldn't have pulled the stillbirth-card right then, but put it aside to support my friend.

But I feel inspired now to be a better person, someone who gives more and takes less. I feel like loss and death have turned me into such a taker over the years, a needer, and less of a giver. Shit; I can't even be bothered to donate five bucks to NPR, even though I listen to it every day on my way to work. I should really try to cough up some change where change is due.

Back to the subject of babies...part of me wants to say...sorry. Sorry? Sorry for being pregnant? That's not quite the right word, but what IS the right word to describe this feeling, the feeling of compassion toward others who don't have the thing I have at this exact moment? If I could wave a magical spooge-propelling wand to give others lasting, thriving pregnancies, I would? Like my friend B, for instance, who made Sean the paper origami-crane mobile. She's been wanting a baby for some time. I know it's a source of pain for her. And yet, she's genuinely happy for me, for Kevin, for Sean. I've got this weird urge to say Hey B, I'm sorry. I'm sorry my cervix sucked up spooge. I wish I could pass along some of this spooge-sucking energy to you. But that just seems like a damn strange thing to say.

Anyway. Everybody should look at the IF/TTC/KuKd community and feel instanteously inspired to do good in the world and show genuine compassion for others, even in the face of your own personal struggles. I wish everybody would.

Those are the thoughts de jour, this strange purgatory-day in Seattle, where K and I are floating between parenthood world and non-parenthood world, neither here nor there. Thank you, again, for the glowing well wishes. I'll certainly post an update here once something update-worthy occurs.

Peace, world!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dear Fetus

Dear Fetus,

Can I still call you that? Fetus? Or have you graduated to the level of "baby" by now? Why don't I just break all societal rules for a moment, and call you what your dad and I have known you to be for some time: Sean. Sean Murphy LeMoine, that is. As in Sean Connery. Sean Penn. The late Sean P-Diddy Combs. A humble, boring, single-syllable Irish name. Not very creative, but this is the name that spoke to me and your dad the loudest, spoke of all things real and simple, outdoorsy, saltwater-scented, grounded - just like the you of our imaginations. Not the fluffy and frivilous name of someone who might disappear at any moment, like Copernicus or Octopusian or Atticus Dillwinkle.

Just plain Sean. A strong, shimmering, earthly name that seems most likely to keep you here.

Allow me introduce myself - the woman I am at this moment, eight-something PM on Monday, March 13th, 2010. I am your mother, the person inside of whom you are now floating blissfully in a cocoon of dark watery warmth. I know; isn't it weird? That's me, the sound of that heartbeat trumping yours in loudness and vibration, the whoosh of blood through vein and arteries, the shrill voice belting out songs in the car!

What's a car, you ask? Never mind. You'll figure those things out later.

Back to introductions. Monica Murphy LeMoine is the name, age 34. Pisces and proud. Irish and English descent, not that that's unique in any way. Thinker, emoter, flawed. Frequent laugher. Loud. College English instructor, wannabe writer, extrovert. Born as Monica Lee Murphy in Hollywood, California. College degrees in French and English. Coffee addict. Red-wine hater. White zinfandel-lover. Bacon-obsessor. Dance-party maniac. Studied abroad multiple times. Spent 2.5 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan, known to foreign service people as "Ickistan" (and with good reason). Loved it. Married to a brilliant, quiet guy with loads of common sense, which you'll certainly inherit to make up for marked deficiencies on your maternal genetic side.

You are 39.5 weeks along today, and due to emerge any minute. That's a remarkable feat! You are, after all, the first to make it this far in this particular mother's body, the small string of siblings before you having lived too-short lives due to things we can't control. Yes, pat yourself on the back for showing such perseverance and fortitude! You kept chugging along when my own capacity to hope felt weak and shrunken, when cynicsm took over. You've kept going, kicking my insides, relentlessly optimistic about your own positive destiny - like an obnoxious little Polyanna fairy landing on the shoulder of a grumpy old scrooge who thrives on grumpiness. You've stamped out my grumpiness, and forced me to hope.

Oh, there's still plenty to be grumpy about. Pay attention to your first big life-lesson: life itself is a miracle, and nothing is ever guaranteed. I finally realize that now. Something could still happen - anything - to keep you from entering this world alive. Even after you make it through the tremendous hurdle of birth itself, you could still be snatched by the billowy, translucent arms of Mother Nature. Who knows what that old broad is up to, what plans she's brewing up for you.

But don't let that scare you, snuff out your own optimism. Because ultimately, you've become a symbol of hope - not just for me, but for the handful of eager and loving people surrounding you and awaiting your safe arrival into the "outerworld." That is, the place that I'm writing you from.

(Are you sufficiently freaked out by this conversation?)

Just a quick preview of what your new space will look like - because it sure as hell isn't going to match the dark reddish globe in which you now float. It's a room, just an ordinary room that we still use as a semi-office space. But there are some things in here that make it yours, and that - hopefully - will help connect you to the past. I thought long and hard about how to do this in a non-ghoulish way, how to create a space that's yours, yet that honors the male-this and male-that which came before you but didn't make it this far. Particularly, I want you to have a piece of Zachary with you, to know that you have brothers in some strange cosmic form. Zachary would have been a nice older brother to have, right in the midst of his terrible twos by now, probably throwing shit across the room and head-butting you at random. Wouldn't you have loved that? Of course you would.

Notice, on the walls in the pictures below: Mom's Amateur Stillbirth Art. A fish, a butterfly, and two primary-colored flowers. Everyone told me not to throw these out, so I didn't. And now they're yours. These were painted just days after Zachary's death, in a time span of ten heavily-focused hours, with hardly a break to pee or have a snack. Just paint flung furiously on canvas, powered by all the sadness and yearning building up in my heart.

Ultimately, though, they were pictures of hope - and that hope is now you.

Notice the hanging mobile of folded cranes. See that? Yes, that's a handmade gift from B, a treasured friend of our family - and one who has struggled for some time to have a baby of her own. See how compassionate, gracious, and kind she is - thinking of you even despite her own frustrations and disappointments? It's a lesson we can all learn from, one that I'm hoping you'll pick up through osmosis as you stare up at those origami cranes. Plus, they're just cool-looking.

And there's us, your dad and I - waiting for you. And Tebow, your canine family friend, already guarding your space fiercely. And books - your own personal library - all gifts from people waiting for you.

See how cool the world looks?

C'mon over.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

When a Friend Disappears

Hello, Guests and Regulars!

First, the good:

I had several great, productive days in a row - the kind that feel as though I just applied some kind of cosmic dental floss to my life and cleaned out the dark, disorganized corners. The kind that Real Simple magazine makes look so damned easy if only you follow their bulleted lists of tips-n-tricks. Check this out:

1) Got caught up, for the most part, on grading essays. Wow. That never happens.

2) Windexed the sticky, coffee-stained top of my desk at work AND filed a bunch of papers. Wow. That REALLY never happens.

3) In a spurt of love and wifey-ness, took it upon myself to do what is ALWAYS Kevin's job and not mine: paid the five or six bills that had been quietly stacking up on the table for a few weeks. And I even recorded all payment details in the checkbook register! Wow. That most DEFINITELY never happens.

4) Dutifully went into every room and watered the houseplants, which I've known for the past month are probably dying slowly of dehydration. For some reason, even with that knowledge, I couldn't bring myself to water them.

Yup - feeling organized and on top of my Martha-Stewart game.

But look: we wouldn't have "good" if we didn't have "bad," would we? Life can't all be fun-n-games, a spirited Karate Kid montage of getting inexplicably hyper-organized! Oh life, complicated knocked-down life. I am continuously amazed at the weird, long-lasting after-effects of dead-baby-motherhood, how one's dead-babyness goes away for a while, then resurfaces in the oddest and most unexpected ways. It makes me wonder how it'll manifest itself next year, five years from now, ten or twenty. Will it shrink into a lump of coal in my psyche, only to balloon out into a cloud of all-consuming gray dust every once in while, a melancholy triggered by god knows what? Will I think of Zachary while I'm old and white-haired, swinging on the porch of the elderly-folks home where nurses feed me Jello?

Case in point:

After all that joyful and twisted organizing of home and workplace, I went out with C and N - my Baby Lady friends - to our favorite pizza joint for our regular girls' night out. Then, I came home and plopped down on the cold front steps in the dark for a few minutes, rested my head on my hands, and allowed myself to feel melancholy. Not melancholy from being with them, but from being without.

I'm pretty sure I've talked a lot on this blog about the strain a pregnancy loss puts on a friendship, particularly when one co-prego friend goes on to have a healthy baby and leaves the KuKd loser behind like uglier, less coordinated one who didn't make the talent show. Your uterus, your genes, your luck, your something just wasn't good enough to make the cut - sorry, kiddo.

C and N, well, were those friends. We were a trio with due dates all within weeks of each other, back in autumn 2007. And of course, I didn't make the cut. I sort of dropped of the planet for a while after that, not really able to interact with them as I had in the past, for obvious reasons. And miraculously, simply because of their stellar character and amazing capacity to let go of me while never really letting go, we remained friends at a more-or-less distance throughout it all.

Now, being 39 weeks preggers: we've been back in full swing. Suddenly, the topic of babies is allowed to come up, the unspoken rule of "we don't talk about babies EVah" now obselete. It's like this weight lifted off all our shoulders, and as my belly gets bigger, we've been hanging at the pizza joint with correlating increased frequency, reliving - in my mind, sort of - that shared fantasy of "what's to come!" that we had back in 2007. What's to come! Parenthood, the three of us! Together! OK, I'm a bit slow to catch up, but here I am, coming into the finish line!


The melancoly: N'S MOVING HALFWAY ACROSS THE COUNTRY. And she's moving few weeks! For good reason: job opportunity for her really hot husband. Honestly, I'm happy for her. I get it, the need to move in search of better things. Kevin and I have done it countless times in our nearly 8 (!!!) years of marriage.

Oh, I know. It seems so trivial and who cares: N's moving. Big deal. She's packing up all her things, her 2.5-year-old son who was going to be Zachary's first experimental gay lover, his little baby sister who came later, all the chipped dishes and books and toys and pillows and clothes in their house. was supposed to be, finally, OUR TIME! If I were to revert to my 10-year-old self and blubber woefully to my own mom with my lower lip quivering, that's what I'd say! Now was supposed to be the time when I finally catch up to N, the time when we both have kids in unison, when the imagined future that we always talked about could finally (albeit in a slightly different form) come to fruition. These were the golden days, coming up! The N-and-Monica-special-co-mommyhood friendship I'd dreamed about!

But it really, oddly stings somehow, losing - in a geographic sense anyway - this treasured friend. She's not just a friend: she's a huge, hulking piece of my KuKd story, that black second half of 2007, the swirl of sadness and disappointment that year represents. She's a character in my life, a major player, one of the many large reasons why losing that baby hurt. It meant losing a friendship, a certain type of friendship that was loved and wanted. She and that achingly cute son of hers are so intertwined in my head with my own achingly cute son, the boy he would have been, that to have them both disappear is just...unnerving somehow.

JUST as I near the edge of this new baby-having cliff, off she goes. To Chicago, of all places!!!!!!

I really have this urge to grab her arm and beg her to stay, but what good would that do. Like I said, I'm happy for her. I wish her well.



Anyway, to bring this full circle, back to flossing junk out of my life. This weekend, perhaps I'll indulge in another uncharacteristic organizing spree. Time to channel my selfish friend-hoarding energies into something...presumably...selfless! Something like cleaning the house. Kevin will love it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

KuKd Friend as Survival Tool

Greetings, Scouts-n-Guests!

Yup: I just called you (some of you, anyway) a scout! Hold on a sec, and I'll tell you why.

One of my favorite activities is thinking of books to write - especially when my brain is charged on artifical caffeine energy. K and I both do it, as is true for a lot of other people, I'm sure. Don't you ever find yourself in the middle of ordinary conversation and suddenly you or someone else goes: "Dude! Someone should totally write a book about that!" K and I will get really into it for a while, but nine times out of ten, the idea just sort of fizzles - as so many ideas do.

Only one of my crazy-book-writing-ideas didn't fizzle. The only reason this one didn't fizzle, I'm pretty sure, is that I was driven by such pure, raw KuKd-emotional-pissed-off energy - not to mention loads of coffee to boot - and somehow this gave me the drive to crank 75,000 words onto a laptop over the course of a year or so. It's not officially ready to go just yet, but should arrive at my doorstep in bubble-wrap packaging in a month or two looking more or less like this:

Best of all, it contains some hand-drawn sketches that I shakily produced on my #174 bus commute to work - things like g-string panties fighting with Hanes flowered bloomers, and me clutching my milk-squirting breasts with a horrified expression. Oftentimes there were sketchy old geezers looking over my shoulder as I drew with black marker in a dog-eared notebook - but it didn't bother me so much, providing a bit of eye candy.

But more on that later. For now, I'm onto a different, not-yet-fizzled idea that came to me a long time ago as I was carving my Grape Nuts cereal into a milk-soaked crescent shape. This new book, which I've probably mentioned before and which somebody really should write, would look kind of like this:

Except that instead of "U.S. Air Force Survival Handbook," it would be called "KuKd Survival Handbook." Just a thin, bare-bones guide, the kind you could tote along inside your rucksack as you navigate your way down that lonesome miscarriage/stillbirth path. Good bathroom reading, waiting-for-the-bus reading, sitting-in-the-dentist-office reading.

How cool a book would that be?

I mean, not like there aren't a million other KuKd-handbook type of books out there already. But this one, the one now lodged in my imagination, would be different, dammit! If I get my act together - that is, once I'm able to drink coffee to the fullest extent of the caffeine-while-breastfeeding law again - I'll crank it out myself this summer. I've already got loads of ideas up my sleeve.

* * *

My recent surge re-inspiration to get cracking on this KuKd Survival Handbook started at last weekend's baby shower (hold on, don't vomit on the screen just yet), where I did lots of this:

...and had a long, heartfelt hug with her:

Who's "her" and what's "this?"

Well, by "this," I mean sitting sideways in a large armchair like a knocked-up manatee, unwrapping lots of shiny new childrens' books, and smiling from ear to ear. It was a "book shower," actually; finally a baby-shower theme that I could live with, since the idea of registering for all kinds of made-in-China baby parephernelia was giving me anxiety. This event involved everyone bringing their favorite kids' book to help us get a library started for the baby on the way, with a note inscribed to explain the book's meaning. Man oh man, we got some kick-ass boooks, and man oh man, I was a happy camper.

By "her," I mean J - a buddy from the Infant Loss Retreat that I still remain strongly connected with. I knew within five minutes that she was a keeper. Smart (a lawyer! How much smarter can one possibly get?), cynical, and with a sense of humor. J's daughter Annika was born premature, lived only a few days in the hospital, and died of that horrible necro-thing where a baby's intestines stop working. J's got a 9-month-old son now, so she's been through it all: the losing, and the life after losing.

When arrived at the baby shower, my heart did a little forward flip. I think I just about attacked her, cornering her for a prolongued hug and some hardcore eye contact. There was just so much we both knew that didn't need to be said, this mutual understanding, shared history. A "how are you" from her was different from a "how are you" from anyone else - it just carried a whole new meaning. I can't explain how meaningful it was to have this person from "that life" represented at this event, how comforting it was to know that at least one other person in the room "got it" - the full-on KuKd experience, I mean.

And she made my little Zachary-connection-at-the-baby-shower easy, a little public shout-out to both Zachary AND Annika, a simple wish that they could both be here with us all to celebrate new life on the way. That was it. It felt good to say, and J's presence gave me the balls to say it.

* * *

BACK TO THE BOOK IDEA: KuKd Survival Handbook.

J's presence at the baby shower confirmed: one survival tool that I would put right up front, super high on the "camping equipment list," would be finding a KuKd friend.

No matter what it takes, where you have to go, how much effort it requires: if you've been pregnant and then lost, FIND A FRIEND who not only gets what that was like, but who is also a person you connect with on a real-friend level. It took me months to realize the importance of this, and I swear I spent the first half-year of my post-Zachary life kind of wandering around like this pale, disconnected shell of a human being - a chasm between me and my kid-having friends, another chasm between me and my non-kid-having friends. Before the Infant Loss Retreat and meeting other gals who were walking my same path, I had no damn clue about the importance of this.

I remembered this at the shower, soooooo grateful to have J around, and thought later to myself: gotta write that book. The KuKd Survival Handbook. Gotta add that to the tips-list at the front. Maybe someday!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bake Talk

Greetings, KuKd/TTC-Regulars and Inquisitive Guests,

When it comes to cooking, I've decided there are two kinds of people in this world.

First, there are people who can dig their hands into any recipe, whether from a book or website or their own free-flowing minds, and invariably spin it into something perfectly tasty and aesthetically beautiful in a seemingly effortless fashion. Take, for example, my friend C - who baked this spread of yummy goods for the baby shower (at which I did, per readers' advice, give a verbal shout-out to Zachary, and felt good doing so):

I know, I know. You don't even have to say it: f**king gorgeous. Jen, who hosted the shower, is also one of those superhuman people: everything she cooks, I mean literally and astoundingly everything, is always among the best of that thing I've ever tasted. And she does it with a shrug.

Then, there are who - no matter how good our intentions or how much time and effort we exert - manage to turn recipes into sloppy muck. Cakes turn into the sunken rectangle variety you find at church bake sales. Roasts turn tough. Cookies too crunchy. Or - although the flavor might be there - the food itself looks like a kindergartner made it. When something turns out, it's an accident - and oftentimes can't be replicated. You might have a small repertoire of dishes that you know turn out well - but if a NEW recipe ever works, you know deep down that it worked not due to your tremendous talent in the kitchen - but because some cosmic ray of culinary luck happened to slant its way across your kitchen at the exACT right moment in time. And those sorts of recipes - the kind that turn out brilliantly - will never be duplicated, unless that culinary ray of luck returns.

I consider myself an oft-frustrated member of the second category. Actually, "resigned" is probably a better word - for I've come to accept my propensity to screw up recipes, spill things, drop things, over/under-cook things, or - worse - get tired of a cooking project right in the middle of it, and finish it out the lazy way.

This is what happened when I tried to make these:

Who wouldn't want to produce these as a late Valentine's day treat?

It started off okay: a batch of regular old sugar cookie dough, which I dutifully chilled in the fridge. I always end up wondering why you're supposed to chill sugar cookie dough anyway, because that turns it into a miniature boulder that you practically need a steamroller to flatten. This was no exception:

Hard, rock-like fragments of stone cold dough. Already, I could sense my ambition fizzling. It was getting late, and approaching time to watch TV with my feet in K's lap. So I put away my rolling pin, as well as my awesome heart-shaped cookie cutter - the one I purchased specifically for this once-a-year occasion, and grabbed a knife instead:

So what if they weren't pristinely beautiful rolled-out hearts? Nobody would know the difference. These were more like modern abstract hearts.

After melting a bag of chocolate chips with a wee bit of shortening, I decided to try dunking the full cookies instead of just half-cookies, in order to hide their hidden ugliness and make them look more professionally abstract/modern/chic.

Alas, the full-on dunk didn't quite work, as evidenced above. You can see what happened to the one that got the full immersion: not only did it soak up half the pot of chocolate itself, but turned into what looked like a chocolate dog turd.

So I ended up doing them all in the half-dunk style.

Not exactly what I'd been aiming for, but my friends didn't act surprised, instead gobbling them up out of Zip-lock bags. That's the good thing about being in that humble second category of people: the bar is set so low that people don't expect much from ya. ;-)