Thursday, June 29, 2006

Seven Things

I was tagged by Fertile Soul, and since I have absolutely nothing better to do, I’ll play along, even though I did this a while back on my old blog.

Seven Things I'd Like to Do Before I Die:
1. Figure out why its so hard to come up with seven things I’d like to do before I die. Am I that boring? Maybe I’m just too content at the moment.
2. Write a book, get it published and have proof that at least one person paid full price for it.
3. Become proficient in both English and Western riding.
4. Travel Europe by train.
5. Find or invent a pill/patch/elixir that will completely eliminate sea/air/car sickness without turning me into a zombie.
6. Learn sign language.
7. Be debt free.

Seven Things I Can't Do:
1. Speak any language other than English (sometimes I have trouble with that too).
2. Make that clucking sound you need to make to get your horse to do what you want it to do. Very frustrating.
3. Read music or play an instrument.
4. Add in my head.
5. The splits. Never could get all the way down, even when I was a 10 year-old competitive gymnast.
6. Watch one-on-one violence, even boxing.
7. Go for more than a day without telling my hubby how much I love him. Awwwww!

Seven Things That Attracted Me to My Partner:
Ooooo, good segueway!
1. No matter how many bad things I told him about myself, he never wavered.
2. His relationship with his Mom (always a good marker).
3. His dichotomy – he’s a man’s man in many respects but he’s very sensitive and compassionate.
4. He never gets jealous when I go out with my girlfriends.
5. He always calls.
6. He’s a great cook.
7. He’s very silly.

Seven Books That I Love:
1. The Time Traveler’s Wife (why haven’t you read this book yet?)
2. The Crimson Petal and the White
3. The Phantom Tollbooth
4. Frankenstein
5. Like Water for Chocolate
6. The Prince of Tides
7. The Griffin & Sabine series

Seven Movies I Watch Over and Over:
1. An American in Paris
2. The English Patient
3. Chocolat
4. Dangerous Liaisons
5. Sixth Sense
6. Amadeus
7. Henry and June

Anybody else who wants to do this, be my guest!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Life Goes On

Not everyone gets a happy ending in the fertility game. I didn’t. I was saddened this week to read about a couple of bloggers (also without happy endings) who are considering shutting down their sites. Saddened not only because I will miss their voices but also because it means there are a couple fewer voices who are saying, “life goes on” -- proof that there is life after infertility. There are those bloggers like Statia who’ve been around for a long time and are writing about their struggles with infertility (among other things) right now, who will probably continue to blog no matter what the outcome of that pursuit is. My original blog was IF-centric, so when I made that turn in the road I decided to start a new blog. But I didn’t disappear, I still have things to say and I hope I am contributing somehow, that I have a perspective that is mostly missing from the blogosphere.

I’m not defined by my childlessness any more than a mother is defined by that role alone. All of the things on my list have contributed to who I am today, shaped me, influenced me. I also have a list of accomplishments and talents, yet I give more weight to the negatives than the positives. Maybe that’s just my nature, or maybe that’s just the nature of people who’ve been through a bunch of shit. I’m not judging anyone who decides to stop blogging – it’s a very personal yet a very public forum and we are all privileged to be invited to share another’s experiences and thoughts.

I’ve been thinking about infertility in the animal kingdom lately. I am seeing young does with tiny spotted fawns in my neighborhood, and I wonder if there are deer who can’t conceive. My friend’s mare was recently inseminated using frozen sperm after a fresh IUI cycle failed. I asked Willow what the success rates are for horses, naturally and using ART, and she didn’t know. They haven’t done much of that kind of work at this farm. I do know that it’s expensive and big business. I saw a TV show once that showed a prize mare being inseminated with a prize stallion's sperm. The mare conceived, but they only allowed the embryo to grow for a certain period of time before they flushed it out of the mare (in a sort of enema procedure) to be implanted into a surrogate mare for the remainder of the gestation. Apparently pregnancy and childbirth were too dangerous to allow the prize mare to carry her own foal.

There’s a gelding at the farm who is an orphan, his mother died in childbirth. He’s bad-tempered, ill-mannered and has to be kept segregated because he bites, both horses and humans. Willow said every orphan she’s ever seen is like this…they don’t bond with other horses or their trainers if they lose their mother, and it takes a long time to turn them into a horse that is safe to be around, or maybe to ride eventually. Interesting.

I’m rambling a bit today. I’ll leave you with another list of band names, just because.

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
Vancougar (an all-girl punk band from my home town!)
Panda Riot
Apostle of Hustle
Rancid Hell Spawn
Hockey Night
Kleenex Girl Wonder
Smoking Popes
The Redneck Manifesto

And finally, my favorite of this group: Leftover Crack

P.S. Thanks for the birthday wishes. I lied in my last post, my birthday was this week, not next week, Thursday in fact, the first full day of summer. D got me my own riding helmet so I don’t have to use the old nasty ones at the farm. He’s so sweet and supportive. And how was your week?

Monday, June 19, 2006

From Russia With Love

Yesterday I was whisked off to Berkeley by a girlfriend, she took me to see a dance concert for my birthday (which is next week). Not just any dance concert – Baryshnikov. Mikhail Fucking Baryshnikov. He is quite possibly the only 58 year-old on my Men I’d Do list. Wait…how old is Sting? Anyway, he started a dance foundation in NYC in 1979 and these pieces were created there, it’s called Hell’s Kitchen Dance and this was one of only three state-side performances. I saw him once before in the early 90’s and I never thought I would get the chance to see him dance live again. Who could have predicted he’d still be dancing 15 years later? It doesn’t matter that he isn’t doing the astounding ballet leaps and never-ending turns that he used to, his line, extension, control and stage presence are still phenomenal. Part of the performance involved a movie projected behind the stage of a very young Misha in rehearsal, while the real man’s shadow danced beside him, sometimes standing still and watching the younger man perform amazing feats of grace and athletism and sometimes matching him step for step. The finale piece got a tad self-indulgent for my taste (people walking around on the stage bumping into each other or sitting in chairs staring at each other isn’t dance in my book), but it didn’t matter, because my Misha was right there, in the flesh, a mere 100 feet from me. *Sigh*

After the performance we walked two blocks and had dinner at a lovely restaurant then drove back to the South Bay for frozen yogurt. A day hardly ever gets better than that. Both photos by Annie Leibovitz.

The History of Love
Synopsis from the Library Journal: A boy in Poland falls in love and writes a book. When World War II arrives, both the love and the book are lost. Leo Gursky, now in his eighties and living in New York City, struggles to be noticed each day so that people will know he has not yet died. Meanwhile, 14-year-old Alma Singer wants her brother to be normal and her mother to be happy again after the death of Alma's father. In a quest for the story behind her name, Alma and Leo find each other, and Leo learns that the book he wrote so long ago has not been lost. Krauss (Man Walks into a Room) develops the story beautifully, incrementally revealing details to expose more and more of the mystery behind Leo's book, The History of Love. At the end, some uncertainty remains about a few of the characters, but it does not matter because the important connections between them are made.

I really, really wanted to love this book. I’ve read reviews where the writer professed it was their favorite book ever. Me…not so much. It ended up being that I was in love with the idea that the book was trying to get across, of having an “absolute belief in the uninterruption of love”, and using a book as the vehicle in which that love travels, as opposed to loving how the author chose to present the story. Honestly, I got confused at times, and I consider myself to be a fairly sophisticated reader. I’ve read several reviews that said the book needs to be read a couple of times to catch all the nuances and put all the pieces together. The way I read the book probably didn’t help, I generally read a chapter each night before going to sleep, and it’s now obvious that in certain parts some continuation is required to maintain the timeline and the characters. Has anyone else read this book? I would recommend it, even if it was frustrating at times.

My third riding lesson today went very well, even though I was on a different horse than the previous two lessons. Willow seems extremely pleased with my progress and keeps telling me how good I am for someone without any training, a natural it would seem. I don’t think she’s the type to blow smoke, and she has a lot of students. It feels good to be proud of myself, and secretly I didn’t know how long I would have wanted to continue if I felt like a klutz. I know I said I would give myself a learning curve and blah blah, but unless I’m good at something right off the bat I quickly lose interest.

Hmmm, that makes me wonder how I stuck with the IF treatments for so long?

Friday, June 16, 2006

We're Running Out

We are officially running out of names. Not just for children, although that’s gotten completely out of hand lately (check Ollie’s blog for a list of this year’s celebrity ridiculousness), but for cars and bands as well.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be inside of something called a Yaris. According to the official Toyota site, “Yaris stems from a goddess in Greek mythology, named Charis, who was a symbol of beauty and elegance. We used the German expression of agreement, “ya”, because we think this new name best symbolizes the car's broad appeal in styling and is representative of Toyota’s next generation of global cars.” Yeah, OK. It’s a little too close to yonic for my taste, which is the opposite of phallic in case you didn’t know.

Totally OT, but did you know that yahoo is a real word? According to this site put together by a literature professor, it means “A coarse, filthy, smelly, bestial, barbaric, bipedal creature only vaguely resembling a human. Jonathan Swift coined the term in Gulliver's Travels, applying it to a race of humanoid brutes in contrast with the civilized race of intelligent horses, the Houyhnhnms. One wonders what the internet search engine Yahoo thus implies about its users.” Indeed. Good thing I always use the other one.

Then there’s the new Honda Fit. It’s not so much the name that bugs me as much as the first slogan “The Fit is go”. WTF? I guess it didn’t translate well from Japanese to English.

There’s also the Dodge Nitro, the Ford Edge, the Nissan Versa and the Volkswagen Eos. Not only are the names dumb, but they aren't even interesting. Why come out with a new car that looks like something else already on the road? And where's my flying car already?

This MSNBC article from August 2004 asks if U.S. drivers are ready for tiny Smart cars...since it's now almost 3 years later and they still aren't ready for U.S. freeways, my guess is no. I would love one of these things. They aren't very practical for long distances, but for city driving and quick trips, I think it's perfect. Here's a picture of me standing next to one that was parked next to Marie Antoinette's private residence on the grounds of Versailles, one of many we saw in England and France on our honeymoon in August 2000. Would you buy one?

Moving on...over the past several months I’ve been compiling a list of the most unusual, interesting and ridiculous band names that I’ve come across. They fall into several categories, the first one is names that are clever puns, wordsmithing or parodies of other band names:

Trailer Park Rangers (genious!)
The Wailin’ Jennys
The Velvet Teen
The Tender Box
The Bloody Hollies
Ether Aura
They Might Be Vaginas (the song was called Party of 5 In My Underpants – really awful song, but loved the name)
Archers of Loaf
Duck & Cover

…then there’s the nonsensical names:
Toad the Wet Sprocket
Neutral Milk Hotel
Gorilla Biscuits

…and the ones just looking for shock value:
Goblin Cock
Butthole Surfers
Screaming Foetus
Pretty Girls Make Graves

…and the ones that follow a naming convention of some sort:
Bon Savants
Go-Kart Mozart (extra credit if you get the reference for this one)
The Dead Milkmen
The Moping Swans
Heartless Bastards
Kitchens of Distinction
Gustav & The Seasick Sailors
Kind of Like Spitting
Fat Tulips
Scissors for Lefty
Evil Dick & The Congregation
Vulgar Boatmen

I’m not passing judgment on these bands or their music (except for the aforementioned TMBV), in fact I’m a fan of some of this music. Maybe my true calling is in etymology. There's no money in it though.

The Wailin' Jennys -- This is Where m4a
Go-Kart Mozart -- Donna & The Dopefiends mp3
(right click, Save Target As)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Time Has Told Me

My blog has become more of a diary of late, as opposed to writing about feelings or emotions or my thoughts on various subjects. I suspect that we all go through phases like this. I kept a diary for a long time as a girl, until I learned that my mother was reading it. I was absolutely livid. Horrified. I got very brave and wrote a final entry that said something to the effect of, you can stop reading now, I won’t be writing in here anymore, and I will never trust you again. I’m very surprised I didn’t get the strap for that; maybe she was embarrassed that I spoiled her fun. On second thought, nah, I doubt she’s capable of embarrassment.

Saturday we attended a wedding of a girl that used to march in the band that D and I taught together in 1989 (that’s how we met). We hadn’t seen her in a long time and we felt slightly out of place, overdressed for one, and not knowing more than a handful of people. To be kind, let’s just say there were some interesting fashion and hair choices. The men of the party were in kilts, which were an unexpected surprise; although we should have been tipped off by the exceedingly Scottish last name of the groom.

We also found out that my California Dad, the father of our best friends, is in the hospital. He’s had heart trouble for a while now and it’s gotten to the point where they are going to put in a pacemaker. I know that he will be fine, but having two people you love in the hospital is not a good feeling.

After the wedding we visited D’s Mom at the skilled nursing facility, which is a lively and often noisy place. The buzz of the call button at the nurse’s station right outside her room is incessant; she says it goes on day and night. There’s a woman down the hall from her that can’t speak very well but is very vocal. I hate to be unkind, but she sounds like a goat. A very cranky goat. The family hasn’t gotten very far in making a decision about What’s Next, I’m staying out of it as much as possible, but I’m supportive of D’s thoughts on the issue. At this point it’s hard to tell what her immediate needs will be once she leaves, but it’s clear to everyone that there is no way she can continue to live on her own without someone checking in on her.

Sunday we dropped the dogs off at the groomer for their summer haircuts and enjoyed a leisurely brunch and a wonder-filled hour at a combination antique and flower establishment. I don’t even know what to call this place. There are several outbuildings and an old house on the property, filled to the brim with French country antiques, textiles, books on gardening and pottery, encased in every flowering plant imaginable, in pot groupings set up to look like small gardens. I saw fuchsias in color combinations and flower-shape that I’d never seen before, as well as a rose that smelled like lemon. I believe it was a Johann Strauss.

Today was riding lesson #2, and we worked a bit on a posting trot. For those of you non-equestrians, that means rising out the saddle for one beat of the trot and sitting down for one beat, up and down, up and down, matching the horse’s rhythm. As you might expect, this is more comfortable for both horse and rider than the sitting trot, which they make you learn first. Willow said I got the hang of it much faster than most of her students, and praised my straight back and “soft knees”. They don’t feel soft to me, especially now, but that’s nothing a few Advil can’t fix.

I went to the gym after my lesson, I’ve been feeling quite fat lately. On a small frame like mine 5 extra pounds can really make a difference, and I’ve easily put that on in the last few months. For some reason we’ve been eating a lot of sweets lately – pie, cake of various kinds (birthday, wedding), ice cream, pastries. I’ve also not been able to get to the gym as much as I’d like, damn work schedule! I bought a new bikini for our houseboat trip in September, so I have a little time to undo my bad habits.

So…things are good. Despite his mother’s failing health, D has been upbeat and extremely loving of late (not that he isn’t usually); I’m finally taking riding lessons, the financial consulting company made a decision on software so I can get started on several clients next week…and yet…I’m not happy. I’m not unhappy, I just can’t shake that feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. I know it’s the PTSD, I just don’t know what to do with it. I probably read too many infertility blogs, there has been so much bad news lately, and I empathize so much with what they are going through. Dare I say it, part of me feels guilty that I got off the train when there are others older than me still fighting. Like I said before, sometimes I wish I could skip forward a few more years so I could be clear of the general childbearing years. Is that a copout? I know Julianna is struggling with this right now too, how to be happy with the lot you have while you are still in pain from the failure. I don’t know if time will heal this wound; I have open sores from 20, 30, 40 years ago that are still fresh and raw.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006


Congestive heart failure, or heart failure, is a condition in which the heart is unable to adequately pump blood throughout the body and/or unable to prevent blood from "backing up" into the lungs. In most cases, heart failure is a process that occurs over time, when an underlying condition damages the heart or makes it work too hard, weakening the organ. Heart failure is characterized by shortness of breath (dyspnea) and abnormal fluid retention, which usually results in swelling (edema) in the feet and legs.

It’s funny how one can go from pure ignorance to knowing a lot about a medical issue when it becomes personal. D’s Mom has been in the hospital since Sunday morning. We suspect that her condition has been worsening for some time, but she’s only been having shortness of breath for the last two weeks or so. By the time D’s sister took her to the ER her feet were pretty swollen. Since they gave her a massive dose of diuretics, a catheter was inserted so she wouldn’t have to get out of bed every five minutes. Add in a heart monitor, oxygen and an IV and you get about as uncomfortable as it gets. Poor thing; I certainly wouldn’t want to have all that stuff hooked up to me, and I’m not 86.

She’s doing much better now and the hospital is ready to discharge her, but they are mandating she be put into a skilled nursing facility until she recovers to the point where she doesn’t need help to do basic things. That could be one week, it could be three. D and his sister toured several places close to her home today and moved her over. Mom is pretty much resigned to letting her children decide what is best for her, but breaks my heart more than a little – it means she’s lost some of her independent streak.

In the bigger picture her children also need to come up with some sort of long-term care for her. She lives in a seniors’ complex now but they don’t have a medical facility on site or medical personnel to check on the residents. So it looks like she will be moving again soon. She has long-term care insurance and has several income streams, so hopefully cost won’t be a huge factor in figuring out where she ends up.

Even though we all knew something like this would happen eventually, you’re never prepared. D is handling it as well as could be expected, he’s exceptionally close to his Mom. He’s in “let’s take care of her” mode and numb to his own feelings. I’m doing my best to be supportive, but I fear there is really nothing I can do that will make it any better for him. I’m also worried about her, of course, I love her dearly. I’ve never really been able to think of her as a mother figure though, she seemed old and gray and quite fragile when I met her 15 years ago and as time has gone on she’s become more of a grandmother figure. Several times I’ve been asked by other residents at the complex if I was her granddaughter. She’s 12 years older than my parents, so it doesn’t quite work out chronologically, but in action and words she is of an earlier generation.

All that good news needed some tempering, I guess.

My first riding lesson went well, my instructor was very pleased and I didn’t feel like a complete idiot, in fact, I was quite proud of myself. She has a decidedly flower-child name, here I will refer to her as Willow. We decided to start me riding English, even though it’s more technical than Western. Willow said she prefers it because it teaches you to be a better rider, to use your body to direct the horse instead of the reins. They make you do everything, from getting the horse out of the stable, to brushing her down, and putting on all the tack. I was wearing brown suede chaps and an English riding helmet; a bit of a dichotomy for sure. I’m sure I looked very stylish. My horse, Angel, a beautiful chestnut thoroughbred, was true to her name, so patient and well-mannered. She was confused several times, while I was clumsily trying to adjust my feet in the stirrups or get my leg into the right position I was inadvertently giving her commands, and conflicting ones at that. She’s voice command trained, so you never have to use the reins and with just a very slight touch of your heel and a soft voice direction to walk, trot or whoa, she complies. A few times she got going at a faster trot than I would have liked, and Willow told me to take a deep breath and relax into the saddle, and miraculously, she slowed down every time. As she went faster my legs tightened against her, which of course meant, go faster! After the lesson I walked her back to the tack room where we took off all our gear, then over to the barn area for a nice rinse and then back to her stall for some lunch. My thighs were a little sore right after, but the next day I felt fine. I guess that time in the gym has been good for something.

Life’s lessons sometimes make us sore, sometimes break our hearts, but they never fail to teach us.

I had several horse-related songs to choose from to include here, I've chosen the most esoteric. If you like Kate Bush you'll love Happy. Let me know what you think.

Happy Rhodes -- If Wishes Were Horses mp3 (right click, Save Target As)

Friday, June 2, 2006


I have more mother horror stories to tell, but they will have to wait for another day. Lest you think I’ve gone over the deep end and have spent the last week rocking myself in a corner, I’m back to tell you I’ve been too busy to blog. I know: sacrilege! Par for the course for me, I tend to write more when I’m down, which is a real shame, I’m sure my readers don’t want to hear just the bad parts.

So here’s a good news post for you.

Last Saturday we wandered around our local small town art and wine festival, which around these parts means tie-dye and handmade bead jewelry. We brought the dogs with us and, as usual, they garnered a lot of attention. Tiff and her husband joined us. After a while she suggested bringing a tip jar next time, we could make some big bucks. D and I always say we should start charging $1 per smile; they have those lovable doggie faces that look so happy all the time you just can’t help but smile back. We bought a stuffed train and a whistle for S (he’s big into Thomas at the moment) and headed home.

C and S showed up right at the scheduled time (punctuality goes a long way in my book) and I was happy to see he wasn’t too scared of the dogs. They are an awful lot bigger than he is, after all, but C’s mother has two big dogs so it was a short adjustment period. S is 2½ and just as cute as a button. Here…see for yourself. That's my purple dressing room, D found this old school desk at a yard sale for $15, isn't it great?
He’s charmingly shy and laughs easily, particularly when his Daddy is tickling him. The only time things got a little dicey was when Tucker discovered he had a tennis ball in his back-pack and S was not about to let him play with it. “It will get all slobbery!” he says, stuffing it back inside. He’s quite articulate and very polite for his age, but of course, I’m a little biased. Once again, I’ve fallen in love with a man I’ve just met. He lives in Oregon with his Mom and her new fiancĂ©, but it seems like his parents are committed to making sure he spends time with both parents. Every three to six weeks C either flies or drives up to get him, or sometimes his half-brother (who lives nearby in Oregon) will drive him down when he comes to visit the rest of the family. Suffice it to say the little guy is a seasoned traveler already.

By the end of the evening S doled out many good-bye hugs and kisses, dogs included, so I’m declaring it a rousing success. In a perfect world they would be referring to D as Dad and Grandpa, but considering it was just in January that contact was established, we are pleased as punch with the way things are going. First person to call me Grandma gets tripped on the stairs! C is coming with us to watch a drum corps show in a couple of weeks (that’s how his parents met), hopefully he will be able to come up for a few days to join us on our rental houseboat on Lake Shasta in September, and plans are in the works for father and son to make their first hunting trip in the fall.

On Monday morning I got up early to meet a friend for coffee, then she took me to a local horse farm where she boards her horses and takes lessons. I am in love with this place! In addition to many gorgeous horses, there are pot-bellied pigs, goats, four dogs and too many cats to count. They’re all exceedingly friendly and roam the grounds freely (well, not the horses). This coming Monday is my first lesson. I’ve been on a horse maybe a half dozen times in my life, but taking lessons is on the list of Things To Do Before I Die. When I found out my girlfriend had her horses at this exclusive farm and the lessons were only $35 each, I jumped at the chance (ooooo, sorry, no pun intended). That’s way cheaper than therapy, and it definitely qualifies as such for me. In the three hours I was there I thought of nothing but animals and riding technique, and how beautiful and clean the place was. Seriously, I never saw or smelled manure once, and there must be at least 50 horses there. Noah Wylie’s sister boards her horse there, he was being re-shod while I was there. I couldn’t get a picture without looking like a complete idiot, but I promise I will take one and post it for you. This was the most gorgeous horse I’ve ever seen, a pinto with a long white mane and pale blue eyes, right off the cover of a gothic romance novel. Here's a couple shots I took, to give you a feel for the place.

I’m really going to try to cut myself some slack and allow for a learning curve, something I am not good at. I know I am going to be terrible at first and I will get frustrated and I will be sore, but I hope to continue with the lessons as long as the weather holds out. They have a program there where you can lease a horse if you are in the lesson program, which enables you to come and ride “your” horse whenever you want. Maybe next year I’ll be ready to do that, but it’s nice to know the option is there.

I’m so glad we skipped the Annual Memorial Day Picnic for Rugrats, but I will be attending the cake and ice cream portion of the birthday festivities for our best friends’ son on Sunday, he’s turning 5. Which doesn’t seem possible, I met him when he was 5 minutes old, and that seems like just last year. *sigh* I have a birthday coming up later this month and it’s incredible to me that I will be turning 42. In a strange way, adding another year to my age makes it a little easier to live in the world as a childless woman. In another few years I will be safely out of the child-bearing zone (not counting Romanian IVF patients and celebrities of course) and people won’t find it unusual that I have a grandson. They don’t have to know I totally skipped the mother part and went directly to the next stage.