Thursday, August 31, 2006


Yesterday on my commute home, someone offered me a seat on the train.

I was so suprised that I refused her offer.

Monday, August 28, 2006

How to entertain yourself on Metro when you've finished the Sudoku

I stepped onto the nearly-empty last car of the train, sat down in one of the first seats, and immediately regretted my choice: the young man behind me was talking on a cell phone. But even though he was talking in a loud cell phone voice, he did at least seem to be wrapping up his conversation.

“Excuse me,” I heard a woman behind me and across the aisle say after he hung up. “You aren’t from this area, are you?”

“No,” he told her. It was a safe question on her part: from the conversation he was having, it had been clear he was in town to visit friends.

“Well, they recently passed a law about using cell phones on the Metro. It’s actually a $25 ticket.”

“Oh, I didn’t know.” He sounded very apologetic.

“A lot of people who aren’t from here don’t. It just passed and they don’t have signs up on all the trains.”

I bit my lip and tried not to laugh, as the young man apologized and the woman assured him that it was all right, that she was just trying to help him out. I wanted to turn around and look at them. Because of where I was seated I couldn’t even glimpse their reflections in the windows, but the man across the aisle from me was also suppressing laughter.

Last year for Christmas Brian gave me a book of lies to tell children. I’m thinking there ought to be one of fun lies to tell tourists.

Friday, August 25, 2006


When I went for my ultrasound last Friday, I was signing my file and noted the last date on it: “August 25, 2004,” I had written beside my name. I pointed it out to Brian.

“I don’t think I was thinking very clearly when we were here last year,” I told him. “I got the year wrong.”

I hadn’t been thinking clearly. I was terrified. When I signed that file it was part of the paperwork before the ultrasound to find out why I was spotting. I was nine weeks pregnant and praying silently that everything was going to be okay, even though I knew it wasn’t.

We had seen a heartbeat about two weeks before—a small, regular flicker on the screen—so I knew what to look for when the grainy black-and-white image appeared on the screen.

It wasn’t there.

I went home that afternoon to wait to eat ridiculous quantities of Ben & Jerry’s and wait to miscarry. I told my bosses, who didn’t know I was pregnant, that I was sick and I would be out for a few days. That was on Thursday. I didn’t miscarry until Sunday night.

I had decided Sunday afternoon that I would call the next morning to schedule a D&C. My fear of the anesthetic had made me decide to wait, but I was tired of waiting. I was ready to move on. I planned out the next couple of days as the cramping became harder to handle. I alternated between forcing myself to relax into child’s pose and pacing my bedroom, as I attempted to slow down my breathing and deny what was happening.

And then there was blood, lots of it, and the blood and the pain were something of a relief. At least I wasn’t waiting anymore. At least I wasn’t going to have to go to the hospital.

I took three more days away from work. Even though only one person in the office had known I was pregnant, I couldn’t bear to face anyone. I spent the days reading the news about Hurricane Katrina, eating ice cream, and talking on the phone and IMing with a couple of friends.

I didn’t want to talk to most people. When we told friends and family what was happening, we made it clear that I wasn’t ready to talk to anyone. But I needed those friends. Those friends who promised me that things would be okay. Who let me talk about it. Who let me talk about anything but it. Whatever I needed at that moment.

At least I wasn’t surprised by the intensity of the grief I felt. It seemed reasonable to me. It took awhile to work through, which also made sense, and when I began to reach the other side of it, I was very conscious of the change. I wanted to go out with friends again. I could look around me and appreciate the world. I wasn’t full of hate that I didn’t have any place to direct. I don’t think I was clinically depressed during those weeks, although I know Brian and my friends worried about it. I think I was dealing with grief in the only way it can truly be dealt with, and in the end I was okay.


It wasn’t until months later, until after my original due date had passed, that I got pregnant again. Sometimes I wonder about that connection. Knowing that day was my due date was sad, but I didn’t become depressed the way I had feared I might. I was simply very conscious of it, and I felt relieved when April 1st had come and gone. Getting through that date was freeing. I didn’t have a baby. I wasn’t pregnant. But I had made it and I was okay.

And then I was pregnant.

I was ecstatic and terrified. It had been too soon to test, but I had. It was too soon for the test to show a result at all, but when I looked down, there it was. I am not one who is willing to wonder if that second line is really a line. It was a digital test and it said “pregnant.” I was shocked.

Crying is my response to a lot of different emotions. I cry when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when I'm confused. But when all those things hit at once? I freeze. It was four in the morning, and I was frozen. For an hour I sat, not thinking, not crying, not feeling. It wasn't until I woke Brian up and told him and felt his arms around me that I cried.

I told a few friends almost immediately—the friends that I knew I would need in case something went wrong again. One of them asked me how I was feeling about it.

“I’m okay,” I said.


"Well, I alternate among being blissfully happy, being in complete denial, and freaking the righteous fuck out. Which I think averages out to 'okay.'"

I was totally serious, and it’s completely true, even though typing it makes me laugh. I was terrified, but the joy of being pregnant won out. The checker at Whole Foods complimented my necklace, and I burst out with the news that I was pregnant. I called to schedule my first prenatal exam. I started thinking about baby names.

But every day I worried. Even when I would eat to settle my upset stomach and then feel sick ten minutes later because I had eaten, I would worry that it was all in my head. I felt guilty for being so afraid. The baby deserves for me to be happy. He deserves for me to love him, I told myself. And I did love him. That wasn’t something I could stop myself from doing, no matter how afraid I was.

Now “he” is a “she.” I’ve heard her heart beat. I’ve seen her little feet. People are starting to be able to tell I’m pregnant just by looking at me. Still, I’m anxious. But I just felt her wiggle.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I didn't think I'd have to confront body image issues while I was pregnant. Certainly I expected to be concerned about getting my normal shape back after Sticky is born, but worry about it now? When I'm barely showing? That's a bit of a surprise. Maybe that was naive of me.

Over the past couple of years as more of my friends have begun to have children, I’ve heard some of them complain about the weight they’ve gained, worrying that they’re getting fat. “You’re not fat,” I tell them. “You’re growing a baby. You look fantastic.” I didn’t understand how they could worry about their weight while they were pregnant. Then, back in June, I put on my favorite jeans and couldn’t get them to button. I knew I was pregnant and that I was supposed to be gaining weight. And in some ways I was pleased to know that something was really happening. But when I looked in the mirror I didn't really look any different, so I just felt fat.

I’ve never been obsessive about my weight. If I realize that I’ve been overindulging and that my clothes are feeling a little snug, I stop eating ice cream and start going to the gym a couple of times a week. I’m never what you’d call skinny, but I’ve found a size that I’m comfortable with and that I can maintain while still satisfying my love of all things sweet.

But I guess I'm a little more weight-conscious than I thought. Whenever I read in my pregnancy book about what I ought to be weighing at a certain point and realize that not only have I stayed within that range, I’m at the low end of the range, I breathe a sigh of relief. I carefully study photographs of myself and this new body to see if the weight's all in my middle or if I'm gaining all over. Floating around in the pool provides temporary relief from the heat and my sciatica, but I have been reluctant to go because it means going out in public in a swimsuit.

It is getting a little bit easier to accept the weight gain and changing shape now that I am feeling (and looking) a little more pregnant (although not enough that anyone's offering me a seat on the bus), rather than just tubby in the middle. Walking by a shop window last week, Brian pointed out a dress he thought I would like, but added, "I guess that probably wouldn't really work for you now, would it?"

"Nope. The waist is...well, it has a waist. And my waist is sort of...missing right now." And I could laugh about it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I don't watch much television.

Because I don't have a television to watch. I get a huge kick out of saying "I don't watch much TV," when someone asks me if I've seen a particular show. "Oh, I don't either. There are just a few shows that I'm into," people respond quickly. Apparently most people think I must be morally opposed. But it's not that.

When Brian and I moved in together after college, it didn't really occur to us to get a television at first. Neither of us had watched a lot of television while we were in school, so there weren't shows we missed. I could listen to Giants games on the radio. Brian didn't seem to miss watching Lakers games. It wasn't some "kill your TV" kind of attitude; I simply didn't feel the need. I suppose the fact that we were living in Santa Cruz at the time didn't hurt either. We knew lots of people that didn't bother with TV, and people didn't seem to think it was weird that we didn't have one. Or maybe they just didn't say anything.

When we moved to Washington and I started grad school, if I admitted I didn't have a TV people thought it was weird. People here are more likely to ask why we don't have a TV set, and while I was in school, I would say, "Because I would just watch it when I'm supposed to be studying." It's true, too. When I travel for work, one of the first things I do when I get into my hotel room in the evening is turn on the TV. Maybe it's only because I like the noise to fill up the empty room, but I'm afraid that's what I'd do at home too. Most of the time I can't find much I'm interested in (although there's always an episode of Friends or Seinfeld on one station or another), but it doesn't take long before I'm totally sucked in.

Most of the time I still don't miss having easy access to television. During big sports events like the World Series or March Madness, we can walk down the street to the brewery to watch the games. Having gone to school for public policy, I have plenty of friends who were having groups of friends over to watch the debates in 2004. We joined Netflix and can watch movies on our computer.

This week I started wondering about our decision, though. It never occurred to me that when we had kids we might get a television. It's not something we talked about. But then I read about Grace Davis's suggestion to write about the books, music, movies, and television shows we want to share with our kids in honor of the 37th anniversary of Sesame Street. Instead of thinking of my favorite books (A Wrinkle in Time! The Little House books! Ramona!) or of the fantastic children's music I've added to my wish list, I immediately thought, "We have to get a TV so Sticky can watch Mr. Rogers." Because as much as the Sesame Street theme song makes me smile and in spite of my love of Big Bird, I have my fondest childhood TV memories of watching Mr. Rogers. Can I deny Sticky the happy routine of watching Mr. Rogers change into sneakers and cardigan (always hoping it's the red cardigan today)? The Trolley-Trolley music? The reassuring voice addressing him directly?

We may end up revisiting our decision. Perhaps Brian can create some sort of TV set that only gets Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. But maybe that's not necessary. Looks like Netflix has several Mr. Rogers DVDs to choose from.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Because "WTF?" didn't qualify as kind or helpful

Last night I stepped onto the right-hand side of the escalator down to the platform at the Foggy Bottom Metro station. I heard some grumbling behind me and turned to see commuters making their way around a family of tourists who were standing (single file, at least) on the left.

"Number one rule for riding Metro is to stand on the right on the escalator so people can pass on the left," I told the tourist mom in what I hoped was a kind and helpful voice, "especially at rush hour."

"Oh, but we need to get the train on the left side," she replied.

At the Foggy Bottom station there is ONE escalator going down to the ONE platform where trains in BOTH directions arrive. I tried to find a way that her reasoning made sense, and opened my mouth to say something else, but then I walked away to wait for a train that would be arriving on the left side of the platform.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Lesson learned

Even if it is beautiful and cool in the morning and there are views along the river that look like this:

Potomac River from the Billy Goat Trail

and you get to see lots of little animals like these:

teeny tiny toad


swimming turtle

big toad

it's not a good to hike on trails that require you to climb over a lot of things like this:

The Billy Goat Trail

if you look like this:

Elizabeth on the Billy Goat Trail

My back hurts. A lot.

Mt. Shasta

Last weekend Brian and I went to Mt. Shasta to attend a friend's wedding (which was the most beautiful wedding in the history of weddings, I'm pretty sure). I had never been there before, and I'm very sorry that it was such a quick trip to the West Coast, as I would have liked to spend more time exploring such a spectacularly beautiful area.

Mt. Shasta

We stayed at the Shasta MountInn, which I selected based on the exclusively excellent reviews on, where we had a view of the mountain from a cozy bedroom. The owner, David, is an incredibly kind man. When I called to make the reservation, he asked whether we were coffee drinkers and how long we were staying in the area. After we arrived, he made sure we had good directions to get to the wedding. The next morning, we sat and talked with him in the kitchen while he prepared a delicious breakfast. And when we left, he asked us to send him an announcement when Sticky is born. I actually think I'll take Sticky back there one of these days.

Also, I think I'm starting to look a little bit pregnant:
Elizabeth outside the Shasta MountInn

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Note to self

If you are ever again living in a rental unit that has two locks on the door, but you are given a key to only one, ASK FOR THE KEY TO THE OTHER. Otherwise the condo association maintenance unit might manage to lock you out of your home, and you might not notice until after 11 pm on a weeknight, when there are few neighbors awake to help you out, and you'll have to depend on a friend in California to coerce someone at a cafe in California to let them use their computer to look up the after hours help line, so that you can wake someone up to bring you a ladder to help you break into your own home. Which is really not how you want to finish off a lovely evening of baseball, especially if that evening was already less lovely than anticipated because the Giants blew the game in the end (Note to Armando Benitez: What the fuck, dude?) , and especially when you have to leave the house at 7 am the next morning to catch a flight to California and you haven't begun to pack yet.