Thursday, August 28, 2008

Am so tired

The latest thing is to wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning and not be able to get back to sleep. Usually not a problem, but today I have a Dr. appointment and don't dare take a nap, lest I miss it. My naps are usually between 2 and 6 hours. My daily schedule looks something like this:

4 am: Come wide awake for no apparent reason.
5:30: Fall back asleep.
6:00: Alarm wakes me up. James hits snooze.
6:07: Alarm. Again. James. Snooze.
6:14: Alarm. Again. James. Snooze.
6:20: Preemptive strike. I kill James, hurl alarm clock through the window.
6:21: Oh. That was just a nice dream. Alarm. Again. James finally gets up.
6:25: I drag myself out of bed, stumble around the kitchen doing *random tasks until coffee, lunch and breakfast are made.
6:30: James comes down from showering, eats breakfast, is alert and sometimes cheerful. I kill him again.
6:40: We spend ten minutes on the couch, visiting. Mostly it's me wishing fervently that he weren't going to work--not because I'll miss him or anything sappy like that but because he is so very warm and his arm is so very comfortable.
6:50: Jame's carpool buddy arrives. I realize that, in the last ten minutes I've magically woken up. Oh. Coffee. Right.
7:00: Finish washing dishes. Putz around for a while, either on the computer or reading a book.
8:00: **Pass out. If I'm not in bed or on the couch already, oops. Black eyes. If I were running from a pack of grouchy alligators, and the clock struck 8:00, I would fall asleep with my head in one of their mouths.
1:02: Realize what time it is. Feel worthless for wasting the day.
1:03-3:30: Waste more time on the computer or reading. Sometimes I clean the bathrooms or do laundry.
3:35: Jump in the shower so I'm not gross when James gets home.
4:25: Start some random task so when James walks in an an air of productivity hangs about me.
Rest of the day: Stuff like cooking and eating and going for walks. I have three comfortable shirts that fit. On of them is striped, two shades of orange. The neighbors refer to me behind closed doors as "the pumpkin".

Between 1:00 and 2:00: Finally fall asleep again.
Every half hour between then and 4:00: Gingerly hoist self out of bed without using ab muscles too much so as not to pee in bed. Run for bathroom. I amaze myself at how fast I can move.

*I am so bleary at this time of day that my routine looks something like this: Turn on burner to heat up butter for eggs. Empty old coffee grounds from yesterday. Get out knife for making sandwich. Oh crap, the butter is burning. Get eggs out. Get mayo and mustard and sandwich meat out. Oh crap. Butter is still burning. Crack eggs over pan... You get the point.

**Somewhere in there are the crazy dreams. While it's been a while since I had the dream about purposely leaving my baby in a public restroom or the dream about how I can't feed her, so she wastes away to nothing, I did dream yesterday that our baby was the most disturbing=looking child known to man. I mean, she looked like a baby, but she had this giant head and face and almost no body. Something that would be cute in a cartoon, but in real life would be horrifying.

We went out last night to help some friends move. On our way down the street, we saw Ed walk out his door with something in his hands. We waved, he waved. I said to James, "It looks like he's going to our house. We came home at 10:30 to find four beautiful tomatoes waiting for us on the porch. Aaaaaw.

I wish I could bake. I'd make them a huge batch of cookies or something. We could have them over for dinner, but then there's the matter of making conversation. What if no one talked? What if it was horribly awkward the whole time? What if I made something they hated?

What if I were more of a neurotic pile of ridiculous?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Running out of fodder. Plz send halp.

I wish I had lunatic neighbors. Now that I'm not waiting tables anymore or riding the bus, my interpersonal interaction is pretty limited to friends and neighbors. My friends are mostly nuts, but not in the oh my goodness this will make a great story kind of way, and my neighbors are pretty normal. They wave. They smile. They mow their lawns. They haven't brought us any pie, but they don't glare at us over their hedges or blow smoke in our faces as we walk past.

I miss people like Baked Potato Man and Strip Club Lady and Mr. Smiley and weirdo bus riders.

(I have a lot of entries about weirdo bus riders. I just didn't want to dig them all up.)

But, all we got was Ed. I suppose we should be thankful for Ed Next Door, but I was hoping for a lunatic.

The day James and I bought the house, we came by just to look at it and dream a little. We hadn't been there in a while, and found a prairie restoration project taking over our yard. There was a lawnmower of dubious quality hanging out in the spider-infested shed. We didn't know what to do.

Three days later, we came back to start work on the house, armed with industrial-grade cleaners and disinfectants. Our lawn now resembled a golf course. Huh.

Later that day, I saw an older man puttering around in the side yard between our houses. I grabbed James and told him we needed to go ask if he had mown our lawn. We went out, introduced ourselves, and yep, Ed was the lawnmower man.

He continued mowing our lawn for a good month, month and a half until we moved in and figured out that the lawnmower did, indeed, work (though it does have a broken wheel bracket that annoys James to no end; there are certain perks to being heavily pregnant--one of them is getting out of the less-fun yardwork).

One of the conditions in the sale of our house was that the seller provide dirt for grading around the house. The basement flooded during our freakish monsoons, and part of the reason was that the ground around the house sloped inward. So, the seller bought 12 metric tons of dirt and had it dumped in the driveway. That's about 12 times too much dirt. We don't own a truck or even any kind of equipment to load a truck with that much dirt, so we had no idea what we were going to do with all of it.

It just sat there in the driveway forever. With the chunk James had taken out of it, it looked like an earth elemental baring its gaping maw at our trash cans. I imagined innocent squirrels passing by, never to be seen again. One day the sky looked like tornadoes, and James and I made nerd jokes about not being afraid of the dirt because it was weak to wind. Then it started to grow weeds and looked less and less elemental and more and more just plain trashy. What to do?

Ed knocked on the door one afternoon. I answered. "Hi! I was just wondering what you were planning on doing with all that dirt!"

Oh no, I thought, we bought a house next to one of those guys--a yard nazi. I braced myself for a tirade and said, "We have no idea! The seller provided it for grading around the house, but it's way too much. We have no idea how to get rid of it all."

Ed said, "Oh! Well, do you mind if I use it? I just dug up a couple trees, and I'm looking to level things out back there." It would have been inappropriate for me to kiss him, but I thought about it.

Then, a week ago, we came home to find our kitchen window broken. The hole in the screen indicated that it was a pretty small rock that did it. We found little pieces of that red volcanic landscaping rock all over our kitchen. It seemed pretty likely that Ed kicked it up with his lawnmower and had no idea what had happened. He had mowed that day. What to do?

James decided to go over there and casually ask if they'd seen anything. Without accusing, he also mentioned the possibility that the lawnmower might have kicked it up. If we'd lived here five years already and had solid relationships with them, it would be one thing, but we weren't about to go accusing our really awesome neighbor, even if it was 99% likely that it was his fault.

Ed didn't know what had happened, he said. James didn't push it. After all, we've gotten hundreds of dollars worth of free lawn care from the guy. His denial kind of left a sour taste in my mouth, but unless he or we knew for sure that he'd done it, there always remained the possibility that some kid with a nice slingshot and bad aim did it. We're going to be living here a while; it just wasn't worth it.

The next day, Ed came by with a little paper bag. "Hi! I was thinkin'. I don't know if my lawnmower kicked up that rock or not, but I'll pay for the window." He didn't say it with that put-upon, passive-aggressive tone of voice you might imagine. He just said it. I immediately felt better about the whole situation.

I told him, "Oh! I don't think you need to worry about it. We have no way of knowing for sure how it happened. Really."

We chatted a bit, then he held out the paper bag to me. "I got these tomatoes from my garden for you two."

I think I scared him. He had no way of knowing how I feel about tomatoes, and with my pregnancy taste buds, any food I like is more of an obsession than a favorite. "OH MY GOSH I LOVE TOMATOES THANK YOU SO MUCH." He kind of blinked. I felt silly. But really, no one has any idea what kind of lengths I would go to for a good home-grown tomato.

"You're welcome." Ed seemed a little befuddled.

"Sorry. They're one of my favorite foods, especially when they're from the garden. Thanks a lot."

We said goodbye, I took the tomatoes in and whispered sweet nothings to them. One of them wasn't quite ripe, but the other looked beautiful. I ate it that night, and it was one of the best tomatoes ever.

So, we like Ed. A lot.

But I still wish we had a crazy neighbor. It's way too difficult to make a good story about nice neighbors.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Because I'm still five

The highway two houses to our north is under construction. Heavy construction. They tore up the whole road several months ago but couldn't do anything for a long time because of the flooding. Well, now they're back at it, and they are working away with much zeal.

The first few mornings I was here by myself, I thought the house was going to come crashing down around my ears. It's like a mild earthquake that lasts all day. The whole house shakes, and all the light fixtures rattle. I know in my head that the house is sound, but the fraidy cat part of me keeps screaming "OLD HOUSE! YER GONNA LOSE IT AND BE IN HORRIBLE DEBT AND HAVE NO PLACE FOR YOUR BAY-BEE TO SLEEP!"

Kind of like when I get up in the middle of the night to go pee (every thirty seconds), I'm afraid to flush the toilet because I've seen and read It about eight times too many. I also have to look behind the shower curtain every time I go into the bathroom to be sure there are no zombies/dead people/undead people taking a spa day in there. Yes, I do this at other people's houses, too. Sorry. Don't worry; I don't judge. My shower regularly looks worse, I can assure you.

Ever since I was little, I've made up rules for all the crazy nighttime fears.

Monsters under the Bed/in the Closet: If I'm completely under the blankets (except my head; have to be able to see and breathe), they can't get me. But! If any part of the blanket dangles over the edge of the bed, all bets are off; they'll be able to cheat and pull the blanket off and get me (this has made for some very hot, sweaty nights). The same goes for limbs dangling over the edge. To this day I have issues with anything hanging over the edge of the bed. Which sucks because it's pretty comfortable.

Basements: If I can make it to the light switch or to a certain step (laundry room at our old apartment: bottom step--there was good lighting; basement in my grandparents' house: top step), the monsters won't be able to get me. In my mind, the monster's scabby hand is juuust about to grab my ankle when I flip that switch or hit that step.

Outdoors at Night: No safe rules, except to be accompanied by someone. Even flashlights just make you a target. Better say your prayers.

Plumbing at Night: Once I flush, if I can make it out of the bathroom and set foot on the carpeting in the hallway, It can't get me. If I turn the light on, too, but I hate doing that because it wakes me up.

House Shaking to Pieces from 7 am to 3 pm: Nope. No safe rules. Except homeowner's insurance. And the possibility of suing for damages. If I fall through the floor into the basement and miraculously survive, I will probably be permanently insane. Can you imagine the kinds of spiders that would stir up?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Big Honkin Giant Child

I'm here to talk about the ultrasound today. She refused to show her face, so we didn't get the sweet 3D ultrasound. But! Everything looks normal and healthy.

And she's also measuring around 6 lbs 7 oz. At 32 weeks. This is 96th percentile for size. If she goes to term, and if she grows at average rates (about a half a pound a week), we're looking at a 10.5 lb baby.


I was all optimistic about toughing it out and not have an epidural or anything, but dudes. That's a seriously huge baby. I'm 5'5" and weighed about 145 pre-pregnancy. And that was about the upper end of my crazy weight fluctuation. I'm usually between 135 and 140. I have small bones. And am a sissy.

Now, ultrasounds aren't totally accurate when it comes to estimating size; she could be as small as 5 lbs 2 oz. Oh, but that still spells out BIG FREAKING BABY IN FUTURE. It could go the other way, too; she could be about 7 lbs. 11 oz. right now, which means a full-term baby the size of a sheep.

I'm going to quit now before I get any more drama queen.

*I should add that, one, my uterus (because I'm twelve, I shudder every time I read/hear that word, but sometimes there's no getting around it) is also measuring about four weeks ahead of the general rule of thumb (1 cm per week of pregnancy). That's not a totally hard-and-fast rule, of course, but it's there.

Also, giant babies run in James's side of the family (James was 10.5 pounds). Normal-sized on mine. Giant heads, though? We've got them in spades. Two clans of supercephaloids are converging in my womb as we speak. Big shoulders, too (they almost had to break James's collarbone to get him out).

The doctor's office did assure me that estimates taken by ultrasound are not an exact science, and they did tell me what the error was. That's how I got those high and low numbers. It still works out to a decent sized child.

But I am feeling a little better. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I am a new, huge fan of these two websites:

Sweet Vengeance for the Retail/Food Service/Whatever Worker

I Want a Dead-Eyed Baby Cake
--ETA-- Just to illustrate how awesome this website is, there is a post from June entitled "Naked Mohawk-Baby Carrot Jockeys". --

I was rejected. I was surprised at how unpersonally I took it. They did tell me in the email that most articles get rejected because they don't adhere to the rules. I checked the rules. The only thing that they might have been able to get me on was grammar; I'm not sure there's one certain way to make lists. Also, they don't really say what kind of grammar they like. AP? Chicago? Turabian? MLA? Who knows?

But I liked what I wrote anyway. It's not special, but I like it. So I'm posting it here now. There are, of course, just a few embellishments. I like my hyperbole.

Most women immediately work up a list of things to do when they find out they're pregnant. It probably goes something like this:

1) Find a good doctor.
2) Eat well.
3) Until hormones kick in, and you're lucky if you can choke down a pancake once a day.
4) Decorate the nursery.
5) Pat belly often. Look content. Or really uncomfortable, depending on the pregnancy.

My checklist was similar. Until, oh, number four:

4) Buy a house, as your 450 square foot apartment is simply too small for a screaming baby.
5) You want a decent-sized house (room to grow! don't want to move in three years!), so you go with something of a fixer-upper.
6) Fix up house.

For us, six has become a problem. We bought a house in which every single room needed extensive cleaning and a new paint job. When we decided to buy it, I was four months pregnant and had fanciful notions of trotting around the house all day, painting and scrubbing away while my husband went to work and earned money. That did happen for a little while.

And then... third trimester. The cute little bump has become a lead-filled beach ball. I am tiny everywhere else, but my belly--well, strangers keep stopping me on the street and asking when the twins are due. We're not having twins.

I wake up in the morning, fix breakfast and lunch for my husband while he gets ready. Every day, I start with the best of intentions. I have a list. First things are the everyday items, like laundry, dishes, eating, starting dinner for the evening. After that come house improvements: unpacking, putting rooms together, painting, installing blinds.

So I throw a load in the washer, I finish up the breakfast dishes, I eat a bowl of cereal and sip my coffee. And then the couch beckons. She is quite the seductress. We eye each other over the dining room table. I sip coffee. She coos at me. More coffee. A sweet whisper: Just a short nap is all. Just twenty minutes. You neeeed it. You poor tired thing. I gulp down even more coffee, but it's all gone, and I've reached my daily limit. My eyelids lower. Everything goes soft and fuzzy. My feet start walking, but my brain is long gone.

Three hours later, I jolt awake, the child pressing down on my bladder. It's noon, and I've done nothing. But I'm still exhausted. I go back to sleep for another hour. It is delicious, and I want to sleep for another six, but starvation wakes me. I run (waddle) to the kitchen and scarf down last night's leftovers and a bottle of Tums.

That's when I remember dinner. I check the recipe I intend to use. It looks wonderful. And easy! Great. Except, there, at the bottom: "Heat on low 9-10 hours in slow cooker." I wonder how my husband would feel about eating dinner at 11:00 at night.

No matter. I'll just cook some chicken and vegetables. Potatoes. Except that all our chicken is frozen solid.

Well, that's what sandwiches are for.

My husband is getting really sick of sandwiches.

It is now two o'clock in the afternoon, and my hard-working husband will be home in two and a half hours. Maybe I should just buy some bon-bons and park my rear on the couch the rest of the day. I briefly consider this, but the last remaining shreds of my dignity flap in my face, and I get moving.

In a frenzy, I fold up the morning's laundry and start another load. Loading the washer is a special treat. I have managed to perfect a sort of short-term sustainable squat; it's enough bending at the knees that the beach ball doesn't cut off all the blood circulation from my torso, and it's enough bending at the waist that my knees don't scream and expire.

I put away most of the laundry, but I leave some of it out, mostly his undershirts and socks. Part of the reason is that he has this bizarrely complicated system of arranging that drawer, and I just don't mess with it. Most of the reason is that clean, folded laundry sitting on the bed is evidence that I did, in fact, do more than nap and eat all day.

I'm sick of stepping in plaster dust and pieces of cardboard, so I sweep the floors. We have a lot more floors than we used to. It takes a while.

It is now three o'clock. Instead of starting on some painting (I can't do much, since there's a very narrow swath of wall within my reach) or unpacking, I decide it's time to clean some windows. The previous occupants didn't believe in clean windows; these are almost opaque with grime. Maybe they wanted to save money on window treatments.

I spend the next hour cleaning a single window inside and out. Every five minutes, I shriek at some new slithering horror (usually a spider) that pops out to investigate the destruction of its home. Then I cackle with glee as I vacuum it up. The neighbors peek out their blinds at the dirty, pajama-clad pregnant lady prancing about in the open window. I keep wondering why no one has brought cake over to welcome us to the neighborhood.

Halfway through cleaning the second window, I hear the front door rattle. My husband walks in to find an insane, smelly woman ready to bludgeon the intruder with a vacuum cleaner extension. He is used to this. He kisses me, asks how my day was. I neglect to mention the naps, though the state of the couch is evidence enough. He puts his lunch things away and sits down to visit with me for a while.

I'm dirty and tired, but he tells me I'm pretty. And he believes it. I stink, but he still puts an arm around me. He brings me a glass of water and asks if there's anything else I'd like. No, thank you, I say. I get a quick shower, but what I really want is another nap.

When I come back downstairs, he's sound asleep on the couch. I wake him up for some delicious turkey sandwiches, we paint and unpack for a while, then collapse into bed.

We've been here over a month and still don't have a nursery. I wonder why.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I've come to understand that every town has its quirks.

Small town South Dakota: Escaped livestock and noisy peacocks. Also, gossipy frontier wives.

Janesville, WI: A burning desire to be just like Madison, WI. And pretty good roads. Which is weird.

Madison, WI: A burning desire to be just like New York City (um, FAIL). Terrible roads. Constant, widespread road construction. I don't really know how those two manage to coexist year after year. Finally, people who think of themselves and the rest of the town as friendly but freak out if the waitress says hi.

Our New Town, WI: THE FRIENDLINESS IS CREEPY. GET ME OUT. Also, an overzealous tornado siren. Reminds me of Ferdinand the duck in Babe.

I don't know what the deal is. When we first bought the house, it was at the height of our crazy monsoons. There actually were tornadoes and threats of tornadoes and ghosts of tornadoes everywhere. Then things settled down, and we still heard the stupid thing every single day. But it was the fair (the grounds are just a few blocks from our house), and it seemed like it went off at 8:45 every night, so we thought it might have something to do with the fair shutting down.

Now the fair is over, the apocalypse is no longer upon us, and we've had one rainstorm in the last two weeks. But the siren is going off more than ever. It went off at 8:30 this morning and then again just a few minutes ago, around 9:15. I'm familiar with noon whistles and such, but this keeps happening at seemingly random times of day.

One of these days, it's going to go off fo realz, and I'll be all like, "Oh, yeah, blah blah blah. Talk talk talk. Show me some action. I'm not going down into that basement unless the tornado is actually in the process of ripping off our roof." And then a tornado will do just that, and instead of running to the basement, I'll lie on the couch and quietly wet myself.

Speaking of our basement (I call it "Satan's Penthouse".), James found a spider down there that, technically speaking, shouldn't even be able to exist in Wisconsin. The single advantage of a colder climate is the reduction in exotic creepy crawlies, both in size and number. Well, this critter was, apparently, an inch and a half across. That's just the body. If I'd seen it, it probably would have looked more like a foot across. With red eyes and telepathic mind control.

I flipped out when he told me about it (What?? I made an exception to my rule. I went down there the other night to help you! You didn't tell me things like that were lurking down there!), but he told me he killed it. Imagine the splatter on the wall that thing made. Yeaugh.

Imagine the kinds of bugs it was killing, though. Including centipedes. Don't get me started on those. You all know exactly how I feel about them.