Friday, September 29, 2006

Perhaps I should just get used to being embarrassed

I was talking to someone at work the other day and stopped mid-sentence when Sticky gave me a good hard kick. Delighted with the movement, I waited for another.

"Are you okay?"

"What? Oh, yes, sorry. What were you saying?"

"Well, you were saying..." I felt my face grow warm, as he reminded what we had been talking about.

Apparently a baby kick has the ability to completely reboot my brain. The next three months should be fun.

Monday, September 25, 2006

More nesting and other miscellany

Brian and I survived a trip to Ikea over the weekend. That's right, we are both alive and still married. Not only that, but we survived putting our new dresser together (no fighting and Brian only swore a little bit), and didn't even have to make a return trip as a result of missing or broken pieces. The Swedish furniture gods must have been smiling down upon us.

The store was amazingly calm for a Saturday morning. We got there just after it opened, found parking easily, wandered the store without being overwhelmed by crowds, and were able to bring the car around to the loading area without any problems. It was quite the contrast from when I first introduced myself to the gargantuan blue monster just off the freeway in Emeryville. That was shortly after it opened, and apparently everyone in the bay area needed cheap Swedish furniture. I was by myself, and somehow managed to enter through the exit. Since I didn't know anything about Ikea at that point, I was confused about why everyone was so excited about a big warehouse of flat cardboard boxes filled with furniture pieces. Eventually I found my way to the showroom, where I was overwhelmed by crowds as I moved in the opposite direction of the big arrows on the floor. I was never brave enough to return to an Ikea until after we moved to the east coast, when we made the mistake of attempting to buy new furniture the same weekend that all the new students did. That trip required about 3 return trips, all of which I made Brian do on his own on his way home from work. (I'm not entirely sure that Potomac Mills was on his way home, but he was the one who was taking the car each day, and his job was in Vienna which is in Virginia and Potomac Mills is in Virginia, so I assumed they must be near each other. My concept of the layout of this area still leaves something to be desired.) So making it through the store so easily was something of a relief. And we only came out of the Marketplace with three things we hadn't planned on buying.

Plus, now I have a cute little dresser that will be used as a changing table and can hold all of Sticky's cute little clothes. My nesting instinct is once again temporarily satisfied, even if I didn't convince Brian that we need a new dining room set. I figure all I need now are diapers and a carseat. That's all one really needs to have in order to have a baby, right? Well, and boobs to feed her with, but I've decided not to shop around for those and just use the ones I've got.


(Who needs a segue when you can just put three little stars up there and change the subject? Worked for Herb Caen.)

(Ha. I just compared me and my blog to Herb Caen.)

I've always believed in the mind-body connection, but in the past year that I've been regularly attending yoga classes--what I think of as real yoga classes, not just stretching classes--the connection has become even more clear to me. In my first trimester I was incredibly anxious most of the time. I continued to attend my yoga classes, find that they helped me relax for the hour and fifteen minutes I was there, and that that relaxed feeling often continued with me for a few days. I struggled with the balance poses, though. I've always been able to find my balance fairly easily and enjoyed the challenge of poses like tree and eagle. But during May and June, I felt incredibly shaky in those poses, often moving closer to the wall in order to give myself more of a sense of security

Yesterday I woke up in a foul mood for no apparent reason--the kind of mood that would have me bursting into tears when Brian asked me how I was feeling. I coaxed myself out the door to my prenatal yoga class, telling myself and Brian that yoga would straighten me out. It didn't occur to me until the teacher had us move into tree pose that my mood would affect my practice, but as I began to shift my weight onto my left leg--usually the side where my balance is the best--I felt wobbly. It took a few tries before I could remain in the pose without tipping over. Balancing on my right leg was even more of a challenge, and even in a warrior flow series I felt shaky.

Today I woke up in a much better mood. I'm going to a regular hatha class tonight, and I think my balance is going to be better.


My short term memory seems to be fading. I print a document, leave my office to pick it up from the printer, forget what it was I was doing, go into the kitchen to get a snack, and then return to my desk. Then someone else finds my document on the printer and brings it to me. I keep a notebook of all my phone calls at work, but I think I am going to have to record the details of all the in-person conversations I have as well.


I saw my first Monty Python movie over the weekend. Somehow, all I'd ever managed to see were Flying Circus episodes. A friend in college had a box set or something of those, and Brian and I spent a weekend with the flu our senior year crashed out in front of the TV watching those. Anyhow, the movie was hilarious, and I don't know how I went so long without that silliness.


Brian and I have met with a couple of doulas recently, and we settled on one easily. I had worried that we wouldn't like the same person, but in the end it was no trouble at all. One woman we met with for what we assumed would be a 30-minute interview. We talked with her for two hours and thought she was fantastic. Another came by our house over the weekend. Within a few minutes of her arrival, both Brian and I knew that we wouldn't be able to have this woman attending Sticky's birth. I feel like such a freaking hippy for saying this (but hell, I'm talking about doulas, so why not?), but the negative energy she gave off left me stunned. I have a feeling that she and I agreed on most things, but her approach to things that she didn't like were hostile andaggressive . We spent about half an hour with her, and after closing the door behind her, we looked at each other and said "Not her." At least she helped make our decision simple. And it was nice to know that Brian and I are on the same wavelength.


It makes me happy that there are nice people out there. I worried when I got to the Metro this morning and saw "MAJOR DELAYS" in red letters on the screen. My sciatica was killing me (I blame Ikea), and I didn't want to wait forever for a train. I only waited a couple of minutes, though, and when I boarded the crowded train, a woman promptly smiled and stood up to give me her seat. Most of the time, especially in the morning, I don't take a seat when it's offered, as I don't really feel like I need it. But since my seven-minute ride took half an hour, I was relieved to be sitting down.

iTunes tech support

Are you having problems with iTunes 7 for Windows? Here is some handy tech support from The Husband:

How to replace iTunes 7 with iTunes 6

Unfortunately, iTunes 7 is a lemon. Many people have reported that music playback on Windows machines is scratchy or stutters, particularly when running other applications in the background. We went through all of the troubleshooting steps on this Apple web page, and none of them fixed the problem. In desperation, we decided to try to install iTunes 6 instead.

All of the problems went away.

Here are the steps we followed:

1) Look for a file called "My Music" -> "iTunes" -> "Previous iTunes Libraries" -> "iTunes Library -date-", where -date- is the date you installed iTunes 7 and thus wrecked the sound quality. If you don't have this file, weep quietly for a moment. You're probably going to have to rebuild any custom playlists.

2) Download iTunes 6 from Apple's web site. (Click the "Download - 36 MB" link)

3) Back up any custom playlists. (We didn't end up needing the backups, but just in case.)

4) Uninstall iTunes 7, using the Window Add/Remove Programs control panel.

5) Reboot. (C'mon, this is Windows.)

6) Install iTunes 6 using the program you downloaded earlier.

7) No reboot. (Wow! This is Windows?)

8) Start up iTunes.

9) See an error saying the "iTunes Library.itl" file was created by a later version of iTunes, and cannot be used.

10) Panic. But not for too long.

11) Go find that "iTunes Library -date-" file we mentioned in step 1.

12) Kiss an iTunes developer, if one is around. If you don't know any iTunes developers, just send Steve Jobs a sexy photo. Not all products are sensible enough to backup old versions of configuration files during upgrades.

13) Copy the file "iTunes Library" to "iTunes 7 Library." (You don't need it, but backups are good karma.)

14) Copy the file named "Previous iTunes Libraries" -> "iTunes Library -date-" over the top of the "iTunes Library" file.

15) Start up iTunes.

16) Check if the problem is fixed.

17) Be groovy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

But not so embarrassing I won't tell the Internet

You know what's embarrassing? Being caught crying in your office by a coworker.

But what's more embarrassing is trying to explain to said coworker that you are crying because you are very hungry and you just want to go to the kitchen and heat up your lunch, but someone recently reheated some fried chicken and the smell in the kitchen and hallway makes you too sick, and having the coworker offer to go fix your lunch for you.

And yes, I totally took her up on that.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Don't tell the Blue Jays

Overheard on my bus home yesterday:

Man #1: Y'hear about that guy that shot up that school in Canada?

Man #2: Man, that wasn't in Canada. That was Montreal.

Man #1: Montreal is in Canada.

Man #2: No, it ain't, man. The Nats was the Montreal Expos 'fore they came here. They don't got baseball in Canada.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Career change

We now return you to your regularly scheduled all-pregnancy-all-the-time programming.

I quit my job.

Okay, I didn't really. I am still here, still working away. But this week I gave notice to my direct bosses that I do not intend to return to work after maternity leave. It seems early to make this decision, but because of the way the work in this office is funded (all grants and contracts), I felt my bosses needed to know sooner rather than later.

I've been surprised how ambivalent I've been feeling since I made this "official." I've known since long before I got pregnant that I was going to stay home. It's what I want. It's what Brian wants. When I first announced I was pregnant, a couple of friends asked what I was planning to do about maternity leave, and I told them happily that I was planning on "maternity quitting." But whenever I was asked at work, I was non-committal, refusing to say one way or another what my plan was. Now I've said it, and while I am happy with my decision, I am somewhat anxious about it: I really enjoy my job; I am still paying off student loans for the degree that helped me get this job; and I have no idea what it's really like to be a mother. But this is what I want, for myself, for my family. (Oh, crap! We're going to be a family!)

I am a planner. Maybe I don't take it to the same extremes as some people, but I like to know what's going to happen in advance. Well in advance. And I like to be the one making the plans to make things happen. I don't like letting go control over plans. But I figured out this week that actually finalizing plans actually makes me a bit crazy. I guess that's why I plan a trip six months in advance, only to buy plane tickets two weeks before I leave.

So we have contingency plans. Lots and lots of plans to help settle my neurotic, hormonal mind. Right now the plan is to stay home for a few months and see how that goes. If it seems like it is the right decision, we'll stick with that. If I find that I am the kind of person who is just not cut out for being a stay-at-home mom, then I will can look for another job. I am leaving this job on good terms, but I think if I do want to continue to work, it is time for me to move on to another experience. That may mean moving back to the west coast; that may mean staying put in the DC area. I feel okay about that uncertainty because there is a plan in place for either of those options, as well as for the option of having me continue to stay home with Sticky.

It seems as though I've got all my bases covered (although I know there must be something I've leaving out), which means I can direct my anxiety toward reorganizing the rest of our closets.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years

Traffic was slow this morning in the HOV lanes on 395. As we inched toward the exit for the Pentagon, everyone on the bus was quiet, lost in their thoughts or reading the paper.

I watched a plane on its ascent from National climbing across the grey sky over the Pentagon, and suddenly my mind stopped drifting and I remembered the date. I saw other people on the bus turn to watch the plane, and I imagined that we were all thinking the same thing.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The troops are being shot to bits, but the horses are safe

Yesterday I received two email messages from my congressman regarding the horse slaughter legislation he was promoting. The first was alerting me that the bill was to be under consideration that afternoon. The second arrived that evening, proudly announcing that the bill had passed.

According to Congressman Moran's email, 90,000 horses are slaughtered in this country each year:
The reason so many horses are treated in this manner is that the overseas market for horse meat is very lucrative. So-called "killer buyers" purchase horses at livestock auctions, from families and individuals believing their animal is going to receive good treatment. Instead, these unscrupulous buyers then turn to one of the three foreign owned horse slaughter houses (the only horse slaughter houses in the country) who put these proud animals through a painful rendering process. The byproduct of these actions ends up on the dinner plates at fancy French, Dutch and Japanese restaurants overseas.
I have been vegetarian for about three years now. You might think I would be against the slaughter of horses, but I'm having trouble being particularly concerned about the animals' plight. I generally tell people that I am a vegetarian not for ethical or health reasons, but for conceptual reasons. I do not think it is wrong for humans to eat animals. Certainly I am concerned about the conditions that animals are treated in and I know I benefit from eating less animal fat, but mainly I don't eat meat because the whole idea of eating an animal started to gross me out. Should I be more concerned about horses than I am about other animals that are used for meat?

Maybe I only feel this way because I don't feel any particular attachment to horses. I've never been on a horse in my life, and I'm a little bit of afraid of them, to be honest. What if this were cat slaughter legislation? Would I feel differently then? I thought about that last night as my cat curled up with me in bed. I certainly wouldn't be sending her off to the slaughter house (although I would totally threaten it when she wakes me up in the middle of the night to play), but I don't think I would be in favor of that legislation either. If other people in this country or in others want to eat cats, that's their business. I'm not going to eat cat meat, and I'm not going to send Cecilia off to the slaughter house when she reaches the end of her little kitty life, but I can't see defining eating cats or horses as wrong when it's okay to eat rabbits and pigs.

When I read the above paragraph I also wondered whether the "painful rendering process" these horses really go through is worse than what cows and pigs go through when they are slaughtered. I know there are many people in favor of more humane treatment of animals that are raised for meat, and I can support those beliefs, although since the animal ends up dead and eaten in the end regardless, I often think the humane treatment may be more for our benefit than for the animals'.

My favorite part of Moran's argument in this email is his statement that "this practice is simply un-American. Americans do not eat horse meat. We are taught from an early age to treat these animals with dignity and respect." Why horses in particular? According to Moran it is because they are an icon of the American West. According to a group advocating for the passage of the bill, one of the top reasons is that horse slaughter hurts the U.S. beef industry. (I'll have to look up whether Moran has taken any donations from them.)

I was disappointed to read that the bill had passed yesterday. I don't think the legislation is the right thing to do, and I'd really rather that my representatives in the Congress were working on more important things. In Moran's second email he seems to agree with me; after announcing the passage of the H.R. 503, he says:
Unfortunately, this Congress, with only three weeks left on the legislative calendar, still refuses to tackle the major issues that confront the American people. Issues such as the emerging civil war in Iraq, the exploding federal deficit, the growing ranks of the uninsured and rapid global warming continue to go without debate.
But then he adds:
In the absence of the Majority Party's willingness to tackle these vital issues, passing the horse slaughter ban means that the final month of session will not have been a complete waste.
I'm not so sure about that.

And you know what else bothers me about the whole thing? Apparently the Bush administration is on my side on this one.

The Husband contributed the title of this post. He says that if he could draw, he would create for me an illustration of beret-wearing horse thieves sneaking up on some child's pet pony, drooling, knife and fork in hand. I think it should be a cartoon strip, and in the next panel, John Sweeney and Jim Moran could swoop in and save the day using their amazing powers of . . . um . . . legislation?

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I always thought the "nesting instinct" was sort of made up, or at least that it would only set in during the last couple weeks of pregnancy. But last Friday when I was getting ready to leave work, I remembered how messy the house was and began to cry. I mean, I'm going to be bringing a baby into the house in four months. I don't know how to give birth or be a mother. But I clearly am going to be awful at it if I can't even keep my house clean. When I told Brian about my crying spell over the messiness, he was sympathetic and woke up on Saturday morning ready to do my bidding to get the house clean. I felt much better after that.

Until Monday morning. I went to get a towel out of the linen closet and realized how disorganized it has become. I sat down right where I was to cry for a few minutes, because dude, HOW CAN I BRING A BABY INTO A HOUSE WITH A DISORGANIZED LINEN CLOSET? Everything has since been pulled out, sorted through, and returned to its rightful, organized place. I have a sling, a few cute little outfits, and organized sheets and towels. What more could Sticky possibly need?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


My body image issues seem to be subsiding. Now that I am growing more and even strangers are able to tell that I am pregnant, I am more able to accept my changing body--at least visually. Instead of wondering if people think I've been making too many stops at the donut shop, they know that I'm pregnant, and that's a wonderful thing. (It also helps that my colleagues come by my office to ask how I'm feeling and tell me how fantastic my hair and skin are looking.)

But still I am struggling to accept the physical limitations that pregnancy is putting on me: I keep finding myself frustrated with things I think I ought to be able to do. Things I used to be able to do. A hike a few weeks back, on a trail that I found somewhat challenging (mostly because of my fear of falling) in April, left me limping with pain in my lower back for two days. In a recent yoga class, I discovered that plank pose, which has always given me a good arm workout, actually requires a fair amount of core strength--which isn't something I seem to have a lot of these days, not with an aching back and abs that are moving out of the way to make room for the baby. Speaking of abs, I used to be able to do 500 crunches. Now? Yeah, not so much.

"You just need to adjust your expectations," Brian keeps telling me. "Let go of your expectations," my yoga teacher says. "Practice non-attachment." Easier said that done, but I am slowly but surely taking their advice. While the rest of the yoga class does six sun salutations, I do four, moving at my own pace, putting up-dog in place of plank and cobra, rising carefully from my forward bend to avoid dizziness. I am cautious around the house, requesting that Brian carry laundry up and down the stairs for me, so that I don't do in my back again. I once walked a marathon, averaging a pace of 16 minutes a mile; now I walk a flat course on a treadmill, barely making it two miles in 40 minutes, so that I can keep my heartrate under control.

I figure this is good practice. All this letting go of expectations must be a rehearsal for motherhood.