Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Rocky Check-Out Story

I've never really gone into the details behind my "infertility", mostly because it's personal, but also because I'm not entirely comfortable talking about it. My body has always been screwy but it's never had effects quite like this before where I've felt so helpless and defeated and very embarrassed at the fact that there isn't much I can do about it but keep on keepin' on--it's usually my brain that puts me in those predicaments. I can lose weight which is on the ever growing list of 2008 resolutions, and I can take fertility medications which I probably will someday when I feel that Must-Get-Pregnant-NOW urge rear its big head. But I've already admitted that I'm not devastated by my Almost Infertility anymore, and it's true, I just have to give you a little more information in order to tell you the story of our trip to the store tonight and what transpired when we approached the checkout with a case of New Castle and a twin pack of pregnancy tests.

What I have is called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Basically, my ovaries aren't creating eggs because they're too busy creating cysts and without those eggs and all the other hormones telling my uterus to begin preparation, I miss quite a few visits from Aunt Flow. It's just one of many side-effects to PCOS which can be, but are not limited to: ovarian cysts (check!), excessive weight gain (check!), sleep apnea (check!), increased facial hair growth (fortunately I've been spared this except for that one solitary chin hair that I have to violently pluck every few months.) In other words, it could be worse.

Overall I've found the problems to be tolerable, but I've gotta tell ya, the missed menstrual periods were killer those first few months. Every time it didn't show I let myself get excited only to be devastated after taking a test. Nowadays, I never expect my period to arrive and I've stopped running out to the convenience store for a new value pack of First Response tests when it doesn't show. Now I put more of an emphasis on making sure I'm not pregnant before I do anything crazy that could be harmful to a baby, like drinking excessively on New Year's Eve.

Which brings us to the aforementioned store where Jon and I were standing in one of the many liquor aisles. He'd already loaded his choice of alcohol, a case of 12 New Castle beers on sale for $12.99, into the shopping cart, and I was staring intensely at the wall of premixed drinks, trying to decide between the Mai Tai or Long Island Iced Tea. Just as I'd gently placed the bottle of Mai Tai into the cart, fairly confident with my choice, Jon reminded me of the conversation we'd had earlier in which I told him that I had to take a pregnancy test before the party on Monday and that I should pick one up the next time we were at the store.

His reminder made me second guess my choice of Mai Tais so I put it back on the wooden shelf, telling Jon that I'd wait to make my decision until after we knew if I could drink or not.

We then went in search of the home pregnancy tests which we found effortlessly. I snagged a twin pack off the shelf and got in line at the register, loading what I'm sure appeared to be an odd combination to anyone; a 12 case of beer and a home pregnancy test on to the conveyor belt. I greeted the cashier, a middle-aged woman strangely resembling my seventh grade home economics teacher, and began fishing through my purse for my debit card.

"Are you expecting it to take?" she asked.

I heard her, but I didn't respond. I didn't know how to. Instead I shoved my face further into my purse and pretended to keep digging, even though I'd already located the card.

"Apparently not," she said.

I finally looked up, card in hand, and asked "Huh?"

"Well," she began, cocking her head to the side and grinning, "what did you just buy? I could've sworn I just scanned a pregnan.."

"Oh!" I interrupted, just as I attempted to scan my card through the reader but my hands were shaking so much that I missed, and the card went flying through the air and landed two feet away.

"I have no idea," I admitted, scrambling to reclaim my card and get the hell out of there.

At this point the young trainee standing at her side began to look a little uncomfortable, as well as the equally young girl who was then placing the test in a brown plastic bag.

"Do you have any children?" the cashier asked me, completely ignoring my discomfort in our conversation.

"No," I said, defensively.

"Then this will be your first! You must be so excited!" she squealed loud enough for other cashiers to glance in our direction. "You will just love being a Mommy!"

I quickly signed for the purchase, shoved the receipt into my purse, and began pushing the cart out of the lane, ignoring the woman's wishes of a Happy New Year and best of luck to us in parenthood.

Jon leaned into me while we rushed for the door and whispered, "That was really embarrassing."

"I know," I said, "I felt like a teenager buying condoms."

I'm willing to admit that I acted immaturely. I shouldn't have gotten so defensive and uncomfortable, and even though I was, I should have done a better job of hiding it. I have to stop running from social situations like this, or at least stop pretending that they aren't happening when they really are. But I'm also going to say that this woman had no business getting all up in my business like that, and assuming that a) the test would be positive, and b) that I wanted it to be positive. I'm not angry about it, but I am taken aback, because she really straddled that line between being friendly and being intrusive.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Singing on the Rooftop

I got a KitchenAid!!

I can die now.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Craziness

A crazy thing happened last Sunday when I stopped to think about what I would write about the Beer Tree Party--I realized I had one day and one week to finish my shopping, clean house, bake cookies, and prepare for our Christmas Eve Party. Twenty-six people are coming to our house tomorrow for dinner, dessert, and the family gift exchange and I didn't have anything done. So, needless to say, I spent the past week fighting the other snotty-nosed shoppers, wrestling with sticky sugar cookie dough, and trying to make sense of the piles of junk mail that managed to multiply on every table around here. I went full-throttle until I just bombed yesterday. I refused to do anything except stare at the Christmas tree for most of the day. It wasn't happy times, I tell ya.

We're pretty much set otherwise. I currently have a pound cake in the oven and a few finishing touches to work on tomorrow before everyone comes over. Overall I'm satisfied with the gifts I picked out, and I keep telling myself that it's only family coming over. They aren't going to nit-pick at that thin layer of dust on the bookshelves in the bedroom, and they aren't going to razz me about the pile of paperwork hanging around on the computer desk. For the most part I can just close the doors and no one will notice, and more importantly, so what if they do? It's just family. Get a hold of yourself, Katie.

I've had to remind myself over and over that this holiday isn't about having the prettiest tree or precisely wrapped gifts. It isn't about perfectly frosted cookies or whether or not the wood floors shine.

It's so easy to forget that sometimes.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


My niece said to me the other day, "Geez, Katie, you're so random!"

I'm not entirely sure what she meant by it, but I'm sure I'll only prove her right with this entry.

My backyard looks like a Thomas Kinkade painting. The snow is coming down in long streams and the last hour gave us two inches.

A few friends and I made an impromptu trip to Pittsburgh last night which proved for a very fruitful 30 minute shopping spree at IKEA before the employees kicked us out at 9:15. It sucked to have so little time, but at least all indecisiveness had to be thrown out the window and every movement had to count for something. I walked away with two gifts and two photo frames for myself.

The grocery stores are a mad house around here. I had to circle the parking lot for 15 minutes before I found a place to park! I didn't go anywhere near the mall today. I was too afraid those people would eat me alive.

Beer Tree Party tonight! Details tomorrow!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Schizophrenic Friday

An example of how screwy my mind is working today:

As I was driving down a long stretch of Route 18 this morning I found myself stuck behind a slow moving Chevy HHR, that according to the temporary tags, had been purchased only a week ago, but already its new white paint job had been splattered with this winter's salt and grime and the car was looking a bit more gray than white. And although I didn't have any pent-up hostility towards this vehicle for moving below the speed limit the entire way or for taking an extra 5 seconds longer to resume driving after each light changed from red to green, I felt a strange urge come over me after noticing the "Go Blue!" Michigan State license plate frame attached to the rear hatch. I really wanted to jump out of my car, unzip the flimsy black jacket given as a company Christmas gift, and flatten the chest of the Ohio State hoodie I was wearing underneath against their driver's side window and shout "Suck it!" as loud and as often as I could while the light remained red.

There was no malicious intent involved. I just thought it would be funny in a raving-lunatic-sports-fanatic kind of way.

You probably won't believe me, but I'm not even an avid college sports fan. I only own the hoodie because it was a mere ten dollars and the inside was incredibly soft and warm.

The urge subsided as quickly as it had appeared, and thankfully, I never acted on it. I allowed myself a few short moments to wonder what the hell I was just thinking as traffic began moving again, and then I proceeded to put The Postal Service's This Place Is A Prison on triple repeat and wondered where this song was when I was trapped behind the bars of my high school.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The End of the Cold War

400 mini white lights - $12
Box of 100 assorted gold ornaments - $20
9 white poinsettias - $6
Putting an end to all the bickering - Priceless

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Suppose They Were Real

I was sitting in the living room today, staring at a tree that still doesn't look quite right to me, when Jack came creeping into the room and climbed into my lap. He laid his head in the hollow between my chin and my collarbone, and placed his paw on my shoulder with his front leg crossing my chest as if he was trying to hug me as tightly as any dog could possibly hug a human. I chuckled and hugged him back, scratching behind his ears. I'm convinced that he read the look I was giving the tree and somehow sensed my urge to run out immediately for new decorations. The hug was his way of saying, "Please don't go, Momma. I don't want to go in my room today."

That's when I decided that Jack was my clingy one. He'd be the type of child that would hang from my every limb like a monkey. He would cry every time I left him with a babysitter. He would take it personally every time I needed a moment to myself, even if it was just to use the bathroom. He would be a good, rule-biding kid because his number one goal in life would be to make me happy. He would grow up to be a straight A student, the class treasurer, and earn a scholarship to Harvard for fear I would trade him in for a new model if he did anything less than perfect.

Macy, on the other hand, is my mischievous toddler stuck in her terrible twos. She would be defiant, laughing maniacally or forcing a staring contest every time I told her NO. She would have to touch everything and break over seventy-five percent of everything she touched. She would be too smart for her own good, and know that the easiest way to get my attention was by being naughty. She would grow up to be a mediocre student who is disinterested in anything homework related. As a teenager, psychologists would diagnose her with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and she would milk it for everything it's worth. She would graduate high school by the skin of her teeth and spend her early adulthood flaunting her stuff as a waitress at Hooters.

I've never known two dogs to show so much personality that I could accurately imagine their lives as if they were humans. Between Jack's constant brown-nosing and Macy's brazenness there is never a dull moment around here, and yet I can't seem to get enough of it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Makes For a Scary Ride

There's nothing quite like taking your car out ice-skating, which is what I've been doing every time I've left the house in the last two days. It's less than a quarter mile before I hit mostly dry pavement again, but still. While I understand the city's logic in not plowing/salting my short cul de sac, it doesn't make for fun times. I've been commuting in this stuff for years and I know all of the Dos and Don'ts of winter driving; slow down, watch for ice on bridges, pump brakes and pray really, really hard--I still feel as though today is the day my bumper will meet a telephone poll every time I put the car in drive. There's something about ice that makes me feel so helpless and out of control whether I'm driving or walking on it. What's sad is the way I get over that fear. I tell myself, "Hey! It's not so bad if you total the car, that's what Gap Coverage is for!" Then I try really, really hard to ignore the next thought, that not only the car could be left beyond repair.

So, yep, you guessed it! I'm driving very slowly down my little cul de sac, and I'm gripping the wheel tightly, and I'm pumping those brakes as if my life depends on it until my wheels find asphalt again.

I know that I complained enough about the weather last winter to merit not living in Ohio anymore, perhaps even enough to move to a tropical climate, but the truth is I don't mind the winter. Snow is absolutely beautiful. When all of the rooftops and tree limbs are blanketed in white, and big, puffy snowflakes the size of quarters are falling so fast you can barely see two feet ahead of you--it's magical. Even the cold is tolerable most of the time. Each winter, usually in the very beginning, I feel as though even the blood running through my veins has turned to ice and all the J. Crew sweaters in the world could not warm me, but once I get beyond that initial shock I'm okay with the freezing temperatures. I mean, I am a girl who loves to hide behind bulky coats and scarves. I can't exactly do that in Hawaii.

What I don't like about winter is driving. I can recite all of those Dos and Don'ts to myself for the entire commute, and follow them mechanically, but the fear never goes away. No matter how many times I bring myself and the car back without a scratch I never feel like I have control. Although I obviously do have control, to an extent of course.

Anyway, my company's Christmas Luncheon is tomorrow. We work until noon, head to a restaurant, eat, and hopefully leave soon after. For the past three years I've had to face white-out conditions while driving home from the annual luncheon, so that early head-start has always been nice.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

Scoping out the dessert menu first.

Stalking people through public access records.

Having lengthy, one-sided conversations with dogs.

Writing profanely dirty MadLibs.

Blowing a speaker listening to Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield".

Participating in gossip.

Making to-do lists in an effort to procrastinate longer.

Snow Patrol on repeat... for two days.

Faithfully watching Beauty and the Geek.

Declaring my own snow days.

Letting my mood revolve around the music playing.

Eating the last chocolate chip muffin... or two.

A cheesy romance in-between great american novels.

Threatening to make vegetarian "meatballs" for Jon again.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Difference Between Men and Women

My brother, a psychology major, is baffled by the differences between the male and female mind. He likes to conduct small, informal polls on the couples he meets in an attempt to further understand his studies. And a few months ago, over a pizza lunch on my parents then empty apartment floor, he asked Jon and I what was more important to us: the size of our television or how well the sofa fits with the room decor? For me the answer was a no-brainer. Of course the sofa is more important, but Jon said the size of the TV. My brother smiled and told us we gave the same answers as everyone else he'd asked that very question; men always say the television, and women always say the sofa.

I was reminded of my brother when Jon and I put up the Christmas tree last Monday, because while the colored lights and namesake ornaments look okay, I'm having a really hard time stopping myself from purchasing one of those tree trimming kits with glittery poinsettias and ribbons from Target. I don't think there is anything that makes my husband's eyes roll farther back in his head than spending money on decorating, let alone Christmas decorations that we'll only see once a year. They're a total waste of money he says, and a small part of me agrees, but I could also say the same thing about all of his electronic toys.

I fear this is a dilemma that will haunt us for most of the Christmas season. One way or another I will pick up one of those kits, but it will most likely be at the end of the season when everything is marked down to 75% off.

We also put up outside lights for the first time this year, but Jon couldn't complain about wasting money, because I received them free from my mom's stash. We hung the white icicle lights all along the pickett fence surrounding the front yard, and we weaved the regular lights through the big holly bush and into a few small trees. I'm not sure whether our yard looks more like a fairy garden at night or something out of a Dr. Seuss book, but I'm happy to have outdoor lights regardless.