Friday, December 30, 2011


So we did the work of having big talks yesterday, and things are better.  We actually mentioned in the midst of it, "I guess this is the work of marriage."  The heavy lifting, the excavation, the surgery, the tune-up. 

In the midst of being furious yesterday, I stumbled onto a beautifully written blog by a 34-year old widow about her husband and grief and moving on.  A good reminder of how much I have, and how much I have to lose.  As you go post by post, you see how, in the daily web of a marriage, so many facets of your life get intertwined with another person. 

Side-topic: I continue coming to terms with the fact that I decided to change my last name to his (our) last name a few months after the wedding.  I did it with some bitterness and lots of discomfort, based on the faith that later on I would be glad I did.  Tons of people are glad they didn't, and that's fine, but I read a comment on a different blog the other day.  A woman said that no one in her highly educated urban group of friends changed their names, including her, and now that it's many years and two kids later - kids who took the dad's last name - she says she regrets not changing her name because she didn't realize how "profoundly" her whole life would be connected to her husband and children.  It is profound, name change or not.

(The reasons marriage is profound are the same reasons it is such a travesty that it is not legal for all same sex couples. no fair, no fair, no fair.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011


So Christmas was lovely, it really was.  And as that glitter fades, husband and I are in reality-land of having to have some Major Communication about some tense subjects. 

I worry over whether I have shared too much with my close friends - vented in too much detail.  Are married people supposed to keep personal things private?  But what do you do when there's communication breakdown and your head is about to explode - just keep it to yourself?  I'm no good at that.  I'm having trouble sleeping as it is.

There's a difference, however, between airing dirty laundry about some temporary boyfriend versus a permanent husband.  I want others to think we are perfect for each other and are doing well.  We are doing very well overall, but sometimes a wife needs some girl talk advice.

Yesterday's strategy of calming down through drinking has, predictably, resulted in a day-long headache and melancholy which does not leave me well-prepared to talk it all out later tonight and reach sensitive shared solutions.  sigh.  No one said marriage would be easy.  It's just that the ways it is hard are ways I did not expect. 

Scrubbed clean

For a year now, my favored bathroom stall in the busy university bathroom down the hall has featured graffiti that said, "You are beautiful."  Today it was all scrubbed clean.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Counting to 28

Just got out my calendar and counted to 28, my pen moving number to number from November into December.  The relief of having an explanation!  This crushing sadness does not mean that I actually hate my life and all of my loved ones - it's just PMS again, with the big 28 on the horizon.  And it will pass.

But knowing it will pass doesn't make it much easier to endure, since I know this is only the beginning - soon the pain will come, the sleeplessness, the painkiller haze, the fatigue, all layered on top of this sadness, anger and irrational resentment.  I could find a reason to resent kittens right now, gumdrops, rainbows, what-have-you.  I received a particular kind of hug yesterday that infuriated me for hours.

Good news that I should be able to summon some elusive holiday cheer by Christmas.  Until then, duck, and hug carefully.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The asking

As part of my volunteer work, I am expected to circulate a "Friends & Families" letter to my loved ones, encouraging them to contribute to the organization.  It's a reasonable idea, but holy awkward!  These are people who just gave wedding gifts to me a year ago, and now I'm asking them, in the holiday season, to send checks to an organization just because I'm asking?

Considering who to send these letters to is a poignant way to realize that most of the people I know and love are broke, in debt, barely hanging on.  Man, my generation is kind of f***ed right now.  Life as the 99%.  I really can't bring myself to send letters to people who I know are in credit card debt, or a friend whose wife just got laid off, or my traveling musician friend who lives out of her car, or my friend who can't afford a much-needed rehab treatment, or the mom whose rent is being paid by her mother due to poverty.  These friends, I realize, are the ones who have supported me through having endometriosis, and who would understand why I would be requesting funds for an organization working on the disease.

I'm sending the letter to my parents, brother, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, with many prayers that I don't offend anyone.  I'm not sure if this sort of "asking" is more common in upper-class families, but I've never heard of it in my family.  Class boundaries are fascinating and seemingly never-ending.  I rewrote the letter a hundred times, eliminating a layer of ego in the writing each time.  (But take out too much ego and there's not much letter - or me - left.)  Since it's a topic I'm passionate about, and I love writing, it's tempting to pen a dramatic saga of my journey with endo.  But my goal is a sort of pure transparency - here is the situation, give if you feel called to.  No sales pitch, no theater curtains opening and closing, no recreation of my endo pain on the page.  If checkbooks are opened in the midst of this endless recession, so be it.

Why do I need to feel awkward about every damn thing I do?  It's exhausting.  Clearly, I fear judgement and criticism.  I hope with time, my voice gets louder and the other voices get quieter.  I'm working on it.

You can contribute to the annual campaign of the Endometriosis Association if you choose to at this link.  Email me if you'd like to know more about the organization.  Do any of you have endometriosis, or a loved one with endo?  Have you ever written a letter like this?

The Kardashians inflame my sinuses

Turns out, it is not good to watch Kim Kardashian's disintegrating marriage on TV right before going to sleep.  When I wasn't tossing and turning from the inability to breathe through my clogged sinuses, I was having the weirdest dreams of being in that crazy condo with those crazy false eyelash people.  I'm not a regular viewer, but it's oddly compelling to observe her misery and disappointment in her husband being filmed just a month into her marriage.  You can see her thoughts of "this is tooooooootally not working. Shit." as she continues to go along with the reality TV semi-scripted shenanigans.  She deserves some of her bad press of course, but it's kind of a sad situation for all involved.  And so annoying that she keeps referring to herself as old at age 30.  OK, enough commenting on other people's absurd marriages...

In other news - I have come to terms with sacrificing my breathing to the Allergy Gods in the spring and summer and early fall.  WTF is up with winter congestion?  No fair.  I just downed my first Sudafed since early fall and can't wait for it to kick in, my little red friends.  My sinuses are prickling with inflammation, heavy like two saddle bags that hang outside of my face.  Sorry if that's too gross.

I'm terrified of what will happen if a potential pregnancy/nursing overlaps with allergy times.  Fellow allergy moms, what did you do to breathe?  How do you handle the sleep deprivation of normal parenting plus the inability to nose-breathe? 

Friday, December 9, 2011


Today's discussion on A Practical Wedding is stirring things up for me.  It's about whether we DESERVE to be a bride.  While I've moved past the bridal thing (thank God), I still get stuck on whether I deserve things -- deserve to be the center of attention, deserve an excellent career requiring ambition and drive, deserve to take public risks long before a reward is visible, deserve to speak truth to power and stand up for myself.  One commenter hit the nail on the head and said that the discussion is really about how women manage shame.  Hmm, very interesting.  Shame is such a strong word. 

I'm sick of walking on eggshells.  I'm sick of being so muddled with insecurities that I can't even discern what my dreams are for myself (contemplating a career move but - to what? how? and how do you know that's what you really want?). 

Mystery readers, have you always felt you deserved XYZ, or is it a struggle?  Do you think it's related to shame? 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Baby dream

Last night I dreamed that I gave birth.  It must have been a dream, since there was no pain.  I was all by myself but I wasn't scared.  Then I nursed.  I knew what to do.  It was a boy.

Real life seems disappointingly mundane after a dream like that. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Coming up through the cracks

From a long interview with the nonfiction writer John McPhee in The Paris Review by Peter Hessler, in answer to the question, "Are you concerned about outlets for writers dying out?"
But it’s just unimaginable to me that writing itself would die out. OK, so where is it going to go? It’s a fluid force: it’ll come up through cracks, it’ll go around corners, it’ll pour down from the ceiling. 
I love this view of writing as an unstoppable amoebic force, like The Blob.  Even though the publishing industry is undergoing huge changes and neighborhood bookstores are few and far between, writing will prevail.  I believe blogging is a great example of what he describes.  This is me coming up through the cracks.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rugged terrain

Upon leaving for the day my boss says to me, "It gets kind of rugged, sitting there, doesn't it?"

Me: "Yes, it is a lot of sitting."

Boss: "Well, see you tomorrow."

Me: "Have a good night."

Rugged is an interesting word choice.  He has never referred to the unique agony of this atmosphere before.  I wonder what he thinks of me sitting here, and how he feels about his sitting.  In enormous contrast to the teeming university hallways outside our little block of offices, we might as well be one of those silent nun convents.  (No wonder I'm surprised when students hold the door for me - see post below.)  For almost the whole day, we are silent, in an otherwise silent office, in office-rooms next to each other, each with open doors. 

He is thirty years older than me.  We can hear each other typing.  I worry over whether he can hear me chew when I eat at my desk, and whether that sound might disgust him.  Sometimes he plays music softly, and sometimes I do.

My assignments are solitary, for the most part -- there is little opportunity for collaboration, and little reason to talk.  I am saying this as a pretty chatty person who has little trouble making small talk -- there's not much to talk about between the two of us. 

The quiet is unbelievable.  It's worse than whatever you think.  Mixed with the sedentary immobility, it's a recipe for depression.  Humans are not built for this.  This lifestyle calls me to be a not-yet-invented cyborg creature.  It's "rugged" in a way that, honestly, makes it hard to concentrate and get work done.  I feel my ability to be productive unraveling.  My knee hurts.  I contemplate sugar and caffeine.  I envy my husband's endless meetings and scurrying about like a squirrel, his exasperation at the stress of it all, of being needed.  I cling to life rafts in the Internet.  You're reading one of them.

An arm, extended, waiting

It's easy to join the snarky chorus and complain about the state of the world today, and to include condescending complaints about the ways of whatever generation is younger than your own.  I love a little well-placed snark, but for now, here is a morsel of anti-snark.

I work in a gritty town at a large public university teeming with diverse young'uns.  These little teens, with their little thighs in their little leggings with the little boots, and the boys with their carefully chosen sneakers and caps and swear words, trailing iPod headphones and backpacks.  On a weekly basis, the surprise hits me: it is amazing how much these students hold the door open for each other, and for me, and thank each other for doing so.  It softens my heart.  College is hallways and doorways and motion and rushing from one place to another.  I am constantly opening heavy glass-and-metal doors in crowded spaces, such as the walkway that links the building I work in to the student union.  Young people who seem to be not even paying attention pause their forward motion and hold their arm there on the door, waiting for me to take the weight of the door from them in a chain of open-doorness. 

Sometimes it is easy to hold a door open for someone.  Sometimes it's the obvious choice.  But every week there is some young little student who waits a beat or two or five beyond, to hold the door for me, a stranger.  And I realize that I probably would have moved on by then.

Kids these days...  Turns out, they are a good influence on me.  My arm is holding the door for you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Following a chat about a coworker's Thanksgiving family time gratefulness is restored that, though my family is not perfect, they are quite good compared to some other sad situations.  Wow.  People have overcome a lot.  I wish people didn't have such high mountains to climb.


So, Thanksgiving happened...  It was good.  A good tornado. 

It felt sort of like coming into our own as a household, or even as adults, to host this holiday in our house.  All the work to get a new tablecloth, and then a tablecloth pad, and then votive candles, and then make flower arrangements -- it was all worth it.  The table looked awesome.

My husband sat at the head of the table, expressed his thanks, and said a brief prayer.  I sat to his left and was proud of him, of both of us.  And since I can read my mother's thoughts, I can say that she was thrilled and surprised that he did a prayer. 

It's weird to be in these traditional roles, since I don't think of myself as a traditional woman.  I mean, why didn't I sit at the head of the table?  Why didn't he obsess over the table centerpiece?  I don't know, I just know it sort of fell into place this way and seemed to go okay.

Well it went okay except I walked in on a conversation in which a loved one was bragging about something being a good thing, while in fact I know it to be a very bad thing not worthy of bragging.  So that kept me up late into the night as my mind turned it over and over.  If I were a good blogger I'd tell you all the details, but for now, this is all I'll say.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Those Scandinavians do it again

Living in Minnesota for five years while not being from there or Lutheran or Scandinavian or blue-eyed, I eventually grew a little huffy about the Scandi-worship.  If you want to see quiet, reserved Minnesotans get excited, start a conversation about progressive Scandinavian policies in contrast to the US of A.  But sometimes you've just got to hand it to them.  IKEA crap is cheap yet attractive, and their policies are just ... smarter.

Like this article from TIME magazine, "What We Can Learn From The Dutch About Teen Sex."  I wish I could go back in time and somehow secretly place a copy of this article in my parents' hands in 1994.  My whole adolescence could have been different.

The reporter interviews Amy Schalet, author of a new book, Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens and the Culture of Sex.  Schalet suggests that if a society only associates teen sexuality with danger, then sex becomes decoupled from love.  American society doesn't believe teens are capable of love, and doesn't trust them to use judgement, but Dutch society does, according to Schalet.  We talk to teens about dating violence and abusive relationships, but not about what it feels like to be in love.

Schalet characterizes American views on teen sex and drugs as pessimistic and punitive -- we think that if drugs are legal everyone will run out and become a heroin addict, or if teen sex is destigmatized, teens will go crazy.

Here's a nice quote:
U.S. parents fear that sex is everywhere and they want to protect kids from it. I argue that you want to have a positive vision that you can lay out there, not a vision of keeping sex away from you. Because then, you have two options: either a very sensationalized unrealistic scoring type of mentality or no sex until marriage. Those are not two good alternatives.
She introduces a concept of individualism very different from America's obsession with lone cowboy sort of individualism.  She says one of the tasks of adolescence is to develop autonomy and self-knowledge, which will inform one's abilities for self-regulation and planning -- two attributes important in preparing for safe, meaningful sex and love.

On disparities, such as the dramatically lower rate of Dutch teen pregnancy compared to the U.S.:
I try to emphasize that sexual health problems are very much correlated with lack of resources and lack of good education and lack of access to health care. One of the reasons that the Netherlands has done so much better is that the poverty rate is a lot lower. The Dutch have scored highest on equity in access to health care, and they do lot better in providing social services. If we want to promote adolescent sex health, we need to provide society with level resources.
I love how she ties in so many things here: culture, parenting, public policies, public health, religion, love.  I was raised with so much shame and judgement about teen sexuality.  I've given this a lot of thought and, even though my parents were doing the best they could and excelled in every other area of parenting, it really ultimately created a lot more bad than good.  I want to do things differently when I have kids, but have few models of how and what.  Reading this article, I felt a glimmer of hope.  Maybe my generation can raise kids with less of an atmosphere of shame, and more discussions about healthy relationships and how to make good judgement calls.  

Not meant to be

Back when I was wedding planning and losing my shit on a regular basis, I thought I had found the perfect wedding officiant.  We had a long phone conversation and it felt so right.  As I was being flooded with relief, she checked my wedding date and realized she would be out of town and totally couldn't do it.  We found someone else to do it who was okay, but not "the one," you know?  Not that "YES" feeling.

I had kept her in the back of my mind - if I ever have kids, I could have her do a naming ceremony as an alternative to a baptism.  Today I was emailing about this with a friend and decided to track her down online.

Turns out she moved to Arizona.  Just another signal to let things go - don't try to hold on to what could have been.  The current of life, it just keeps flowing...

Preparing for holiday with The Endo

It's my first time hosting Thanksgiving, and there are many preparations that need to take place.  Friday I emailed myself a list to accomplish over the weekend, and I hoped to see a band Sunday night, and a friend as well.  So many of these things just did not get done, as once again hours were devoted to just coping with the pain from endometriosis.  (For those of you who aren't familiar, it's like menstrual cramps but worse, and for more days.)  I hope I'll get more done tonight, but logic tells me the pain will actually be worse tonight. 

It's weird how sometimes I'll need to let fatigue take over and just rest, and other times, like when I raked leaves this weekend, I can move through and with the pain.  It is still there, I just can do things through it. 

I felt rather old-fashioned last night as I methodically ironed the largest tablecloth I've ever purchased while wondering if my gravy boat is large enough -- what century is this?  I also have a new deviled-egg platter I bought on Ebay.  I hope this all goes OK.  There is so, so much cat hair that needs to be sucked into the vacuum in the next few days.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My app verus Siri

Some random thoughts:

I have a knack for locating things my husband is looking for.  We've been calling this my Uterus GPS, but last night, holding his beloved iPhone, he said, "No!  It's like your app!  That's your app!"  I'm having trouble competing with this new "Siri" character, the personal assistant who lives in his phone.  He actually says "please" to her when making requests.  It's hilarious.  I've been reminding him of the many things I do that Siri could never ever do for him.  Heh.

I researched Hungarian Matyo embroidery today.  I think I should start a project.  By the way, I am half Hungarian, and I'm a little obsessed with embroidery.  I'll try uploading a Matyo pic.  I'm still learning etiquette on posting pics from other sites, so here is the full link where I got the pic from:

I'd love some advice from other bloggers - where do you get your images from, and how do you provide the source for them when they are taken from elsewhere on the web?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Signing On

Greetings, internetties! Here we have my third or fourth try at starting a blog. I suspect I am getting bolder, so I may have enough guts + things to say to stick with this one.

After months of contemplating a professional blog oriented to an online business I may start, I realized that the only type of blog I am passionate about is an embarassingly personal mish mash of stories and opinions and sharing. And I want a way to extend the amazing community on my favorite blog, A Practical Wedding, by leaving a link with my frequent comments (welcome APW readers!).

Let the storytelling commence!