Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays, With Singing

Hi!

Ish and I arrived in Boston on Monday night after not TOO much airport drama. My downloaded tv shows worked very well to keep me totally distracted, except that I'm almost too ashamed to let you know what series I finally decided on.

Um. I agreed that "Lost" might not be so great, seeing as it's based on a plane crash. I likewise decided that getting into Gray's, what with the whole weird pregnancy plot points, also might not be such a good idea because I'm crazy and tend toward hypochondria.

Dexter seemed to win the most votes, but I think it's something Ish and I would like to watch together. Also, I'm a little concerned about watching something SO serious and violent even just in premise -- I want drama but not too much tension. I'm also waiting to watch The Wire for both of those reasons, too.

Oh, and bonus points to those of you who recommended Arrested Development. Ish and I own them, watch them regularly, I have probably seen every episode at least four times. I don't think any show on television has ever been funnier or more clever. (Cleverer?)

So yeah. Whatever. Gossip Girl.

Anyway, in case I don't get to posting much in the next few days (lots of wrapping and cooking and family-ing going on), I wanted to let you know that I contributed to Neil's Holiday Spectacular.

I actually re-wrote "Santa Baby" into a super cheesy, bloggy version. Then I sang it with a karaoke accompaniment. And THEN I futzed around with Garage Band and iMovie and made it into a video on YouTube. Except by the time it got compressed and re-compressed to actually SHOW on YouTube, all my hard work (seriously, HOURS) were for naught, because you can't see anything I did. It's all fuzzy and impossible.

But! You can see the whole amazing concert here (Sizzle rocks it), or watch the video embedded below. With my sincerest apologies.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The "Other" News

Okay. So let me say that the CVS test on Thursday went very well. (I mean, as well as it can when you have a stabby needle stuck into your abdomen while you get to watch on screen, hoping it doesn't jab the limb off your Spot.) I'll post about the whole experience -- aren't you lucky -- soon.

Before we get to that, I wanted to post about the rest of the story. Because, hi! There's a LOT going on in my/Ish's life right now. (Stuff that has nothing to do with my deciding to become a redhead, though that also happened over the weekend.)

As you may or may not know, Ish works in the wine industry and commutes to Napa every day. That's a long-ass commute -- about 75 minutes with no traffic. Meanwhile my commute in the opposite direction, down the Peninsula, is nowhere near as many miles...but I'm traveling in prime SF/Silicon Valley traffic. That makes my commute about 50 minutes long.

Now. My work schedule can be very, very demanding at times, but it's entirely cyclical and dependent on when our conferences take place. Ish's job rarely demands long hours, but even if he "only" works from 9 to 6:30, he leaves by 7:30 a.m. (a full hour earlier if he goes to the gym) and arrives home by 8 p.m. Assuming I'm not in the throes of a conference, we eat dinner around 8 or 8:30, watch some television, talk, have a couple glasses of wine, and head to bed between 10 and 11. This is all totally thrown off once a week for my rehearsal and any night Ish does comedy (during conference season all bets are off completely).

The bottom line is that we don't see much of each other during the week, and when we do, we're usually in some sort of catch-up, slow-down, veg-out mode.

And you know? Some professional couples are fine with this. In fact, some couples even thrive on this sort of my life/your life type set-up. We just aren't that kind of couple.

Quite the contrary. We can't keep living like this is something we've uttered to each other on more than one "Sorry, I have to work late" occasion, or following the second 9 p.m. dinner in as many days.

Annnnnnd now that I'm pregnant, if all goes well, I am due right smack in the middle of the busiest time of the conference year. Which won't work, on so many levels.

So um. You know I adore San Francisco with all my heart. I love city-living, and I will continue to tell myself that San Francisco will always be here; we can always return. It just doesn't make sense for us right now. Not the space, or the expense, or the rave-partying neighbors, or the proximity to work.

And that is why we have decided, when our lease is up in February, that I will be leaving BlogHer* and Ish and I and our four cats and Spot will be moving to Napa.

Oh, and darling IIFs, if you think that seems totally and completely unreal, like, the craziest thing I've ever written, surely I can't be serious, is all this really happening?...well. My friend? You are not alone.

Hey, it's the new hair color...uh...everything!




*Want my job? Read all about it here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Three Strikes At The Super Mega Extreme ULTRAsound

Strike One

When I first found out I was knocked up, the infertility doctor's office wanted me to come in right away to give me an ultrasound. I guess to be sure I wasn't faking it, even though they'd already made me do the blood test thing. So I did go in, and the doctor stuck that microphone-looking ultrasoundery thing up there (yes, "up" not "over") and searched around while Ish and I stared quizzically at the screen and I tried to pretend I was having a normal morning.

"I'm not seeing anything," The doctor said, looking at the black-and-white blur.

And I immediately thought what any possibly-probably-maybe pregnant woman in stirrups with a giant camera up her hoo-ha would think: Don't tell me I'm doing this for nothing.

Mind you, this is the same doctor who also couldn't see my ovaries with the vag-mic. At that time, he'd said my ovaries weren't showing up either because they were "hiding," or because they were too small to see or produce eggs. Potato, potahto.

(That's sarcasm, folks. I wanted to scream at him. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, YOU DON'T KNOW? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I'M EITHER FINE OR INFERTILE?)

Anyway, back to the recent past. The doctor eventually angled the vag-mic into a wildly uncomfortable position, like he was trying to poke at my belly-button from the inside. Suddenly a spot appeared on the screen.

"Oh, there it is." Nothing in his demeanor or facial expression changed when he said this. Perhaps he was wondering what to order for lunch. I wanted to kick him in the face. (Wouldn't have been too hard, seeing as his head was about level with my stirrup-ed heels...)

He then went on to explain, while continuously prodding at my uterus all Alien-through-the-stomach-like, that he couldn't get a good reading but it seemed as though Spot was exactly six weeks, 5 days old. Which would put Spot's due date at June 25. Which is exactly what BabyCenter had already told me and it didn't have to come anywhere near me with a giant, lubed-up vag-mic.

He concluded our meeting by saying I should schedule an ultrasound with the Ultrasound People who were apparently located "downstairs." Because they have better equipment and will be able to confirm that Spot is fine and has a heartbeat and everything. Um, okay.

I didn't leave that appointment feeling reassured in any way.


Strike Two


I returned a week or two later to get the Better ultrasound done. While still early, I was hoping that I would see Spot moving or doing something cool. Like be demonstrably alive.

This time, I had to show up with a full bladder. They tell you to drink 12 oz of liquid an hour before your appointment and to hold it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I say to you OH MY GOD. I pee every four seconds as it is. Trying to hold 12 ounces of water for an hour+ is absolutely torturous. But I did it.

I showed up, signed in and sat in the waiting room crossing my legs and trying to think about very dry things. Eventually my name was called (15 painful minutes late, mind you) and Ish and I were escorted into a room with the high-tech ultrasound person called a "sonographer."

You want to know how I know she was called a "sonographer"?

Because. I went in, took off my clothes from the waist down, got up on the table, laid back. She took out her OVER THE BELLY wand (yay! no vag-mic!) and proceeded to see if she could find my bladder so she could press down really hard on it. At least, that's what it felt like. It was painful and weird. AND HERE'S THE BEST PART. The screen was not visible to me. Ish could see it and the "sonographer" could see it, but I could not. I had NO idea what the screen looked like. I just watched her face.

Finally, she spoke: "Do you know why you're here?"

Was this a trick question?

"Because they want to confirm that I'm pregnant, and the age of Spot, and to make sure there's a heartbeat."

She continued to make faces at the screen while testing to see how much longer I could handle not leaking all over the table. She did not, however, reply.

"Uh...so...do you see a heartbeat? Does everything look okay?" I finally asked her in desperation.

And do you know what she said?

She said, "Oh, I can't tell you."

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She pointed to the sign on the back of the door. It read something like, "Sonographers are not permitted to make medical assessments. If you have any questions, please contact your doctor directly."

I thought I would cry, but luckily I had all the pain and uncomfortability of a near-to-bursting bladder keeping me distracted.

And just when I thought things couldn't get any more fun, she put the "over" wand away and busted out with the "up" one.

"I just want to see if I can get a better reading with this one."

Sigh.

When it was all over, and I had gone to the bathroom, and we were heading out of the office, the "sonographer" said that the doctor should call with my results by the end of the day. She added, perhaps taking pity on us and my bladder, "There is a heartbeat. It's just -- there's more than that, so be sure to talk to your doctor."

It then took TWO DAYS for me to hear from the doctor's office. Wondering what "more than that" meant. Maybe Spot had a heartbeat but no feet? Maybe there were three Spots? Who knew. So when I finally heard from the office, all the person on the phone said was "Oh, everything looks fine." Which is certainly better than any alternative, but COME ON.

I then had to schedule my first "normal" appointment with the "normal" OB department, I guess because the infertility people consulted with the "sonographer" and decided I should be scooted on over to the "regular pregnant people" office. Or something.


Strike Three

My appointment with the normal OB nurse wasn't until about two weeks ago. And while my appointment was mostly to tell me all the normal stuff -- don't eat sushi, don't use hot tubs, take pre-natal vitamins, sex is fine -- it started off with an ultrasound.

This time, I was pretty excited. I figured I was at about 11 weeks and should be able to see something. Dooce had seen a little thing flapping around by this time. Surely I would, too! Surely there would be an improvement over Spot and "reflection on sonographer's face"!

So out came the vag-mic.

Again, it took some prodding and poking before the nurse could see anything. At least she offered, "It's because of how your uterus is tilted." Good to know, I guess. Hi, my name is Kristy and I have a tilted uterus.

But then again, there it was. I could definitely see Spot on the screen. I couldn't see movement or make out limbs or anything like that, but there was a thing, and it had a head and a not-head, and I was very happy.

Again, however, the nurse just squinted at the screen.

"It's not a very clear image." Sigh. No, of course not.

"I've heard that being overweight can affect the clarity of ultrasound images. Do you think that's what's happening here?" I offered. No one had mentioned anything about my weight ever, so I was curious.

"That can happen, but I don't think that's the problem here. I think it's just the angle of your uterus."

She tried again to use the super-mega-extreme-ultra-sound to figure out when my due date was, exactly, but said the image wasn't good enough to say for sure. It was looking like July 1, but that might not be accurate.

She finally stopped with the wand, gave me the rest of an exam (your left nipple might be flatter than your right nipple, are you planning to breast feed?), and told me to meet her in her office. There, we discussed all the fun, DON'T DO THIS WHILE YOU'RE PREGNANT stuff.

Decided it was probably best to stick with my original due date of June 25, but it could be later (this sucks only because I am very VERY anxious to be out of this first effing trimester of terror), and scheduled my CVS test.

For today.

But I'll get to that.

My point, really, is that I feel pretty good and am trying to be positive and confident. But I already feel like I'm at a disadvantage. I've had THREE ultrasounds, and none of them were especially conclusive. No swimming or flapping around. Nothing but medical professionals squinting at the screen.

I left that last appointment and went home and cried. Maybe next time will be better.


* * * * * *
I go in for my CVS test this afternoon. CVS is, essentially, an early amnio. They stick a large needle into you and take cells from the fetus and then watch those cells develop for a couple weeks. At the end of that time, they can tell you most conclusively about any genetic disorders Spot may have.

Unless there are complications, we will find out if Spot has Fragile-X, among many other very scary-bad chromosomal disorders.

I don't know what we would do under the various possible circumstances. Probably nothing, probably in every case. But we want to know, and we want to know sooner than later. That is what we decided.

The chance of miscarriage is supposedly increased, though they aren't sure by how much. Current figures say anywhere from 1 in 200 to 1 in 360. I'm trying not to think about that.

Instead, I'm trying to think about getting to see -- hopefully, finally, for real -- a good, solid image of Spot. One that doesn't make the medical professional holding the vag-mic squint and go mute.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, December 15, 2008

You Don't Have To Read If You Don't Wanna

This flood of blog posts is the result of a lot of things. Mostly, it amounts to the fact that there is no longer dissonance between my personal life and the rest of my life, so I'm just oozing with all these thoughts and ideas that have been banging around in my head for two months (and in some cases, longer). I hope to keep it up.

And assuming I DO keep it up, I don't have any idea what all I'll be posting about, other than "my life." Which is what I have always posted about. Given the current set of circumstances, that will inevitably mean writing about being pregnant. That will also eventually (and Fates-willing) mean posting about the child I have. It will not mean changing the tenor of this blog. I will always curse and drink and totally over-share.

My point is, if pregnancy and child-related posts bore the shit out of you, then I guess that's my loss.

Right now, I am dealing with the fascinating issue of -- wait. Let me interrupt myself to paint you a real-time picture:

Right now, I am actually dealing with the fact that I just got back from lunch and am wearing some of it. I had to go to two different local establishments, because after I purchased lunch at the first place, I decided the smell of the food made me nauseous. So I went to a second place. I got back to my desk and opened my sparkling water and it exploded all over me and my desk. Then I dribbled salsa down my shirt. This following a bizarre incident with the microwave this morning where my coffee also exploded and I went to clean the microwave and then the door got hinged to my bra and I almost took off with the microwave dangling from my boobs. In the office. Usually I work from home on Mondays and now you know why.

But as I was saying.

Right now, I am dealing with the fascinating issue of gaining weight as a pregnant lady who is overweight to begin with. Regardless how you feel about Dooce (love her, hate her, don't know her), I think it's awesome that she's posting pictures of her growing "bump."

I will not be doing the same.

Between my first and latest doctor's appointments, I have lost about five pounds. However, none of my old pants fit me anymore and the weight I do have is all moving around and confusing me. Yes, confusing. Between eating more, eating mostly better, being very bloaty and gaseous (sorry, but true), and my uterus rapidly ballooning, I don't know what the hell my body is doing. I am losing weight and expanding, and, well, YOU try and figure that out. (I don't mean mathematically, I mean instinctively.) Last night I showed Ish my new "bump" and he was very sweet but also delicate in pointing out that the "bump" doesn't start out by forming there (just under the boobs), it forms lower, like around there (pointing to around my belly button). Meaning my bump was either gas from all the gourmet, low-sugar, non-caffeinated, non-artificial sweetenered sodas I've been drinking, or perhaps the result of 42 too many sugar cookies. Either way, not a baby bump.

Damn it.

But on the other hand, I look at it this way. Eventually my tummy will be protruding madly. And while many skinny pregnant women tend to freak out about that kind of weight gain ("I look so fat!"), I will be thrilled. Because I will have a huge tummy and it will NOT be from being fat, it will be from being pregnant. I actually think this will be a freeing feeling. I have never, ever wanted to show off my stomach -- even when I've been far thinner than I am now -- and yet now, when it's going to be fuller than ever, I can't imagine not wanting to show it off.

This new discovery almost makes up for the sudden lack of soft cheeses from my diet. Almost.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Writing Blog Entries Like A Hormonal Maniac!

Hey, have you ever tried the Pregnant During The Holidays Diet? It's going awesome.

But here is my question to you, since I had a slight panic attack today when I realized that I will soon be getting on several planes without the accompaniment of drugs or alcohol. (I know, seriously. What kind of holiday travel is THAT?):

What is the most addictive, most engrossing, most DON'T TALK TO ME NOW I'M WATCHING THIS show I can download to my iPod?

This past October, when I was flying for work and also not drunk or drugged (I am so no fun these days), I downloaded the last several episodes of Mad Men. I hardly noticed the flight at all.

Now I'm not sure what to turn to.

I have been mildly interested in but never seen:
Six Feet Under
Weeds
The Wire
Grey's Anatomy
Big Love

Basically, I'm looking for something that will suck me in and make me not care about the cramped seating, crying babies, uncomfortable clothing, sore boobages, and occasionally terrifying holiday turbulence.

Suggestions?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Next

I'm not sure if I can describe it, and I'm not sure that you even care, but I had been stuck.

Following the big conference last July, I was on an emotional merry-go-round. I was tired and needed a break from just about everything. And then I re-calibrated and found myself preparing for the fall conferences. This, the whole "work" thing, took a lot of time and energy, and I've noticed that whenever that happens my blogging suffers -- I have no creative stamina left to write with (even though arguably, it's the time in my life when there's the most to write about).

During this time, Ish and I were having many many many many conversations about the future and marriage and kids and fertility and balancing hypotheticals and what-ifs. The future held many wonderful, scary possibilities (as it tends to do), but they were all just possibilities. Nothing was actually happening. I felt hopeful but trepidacious and absolutely stunted when it came to blogging.

And now there's so much motion!

Someone asked in my last post why we chose to do this "all" at one time, and my first thought was "Oh hey, I haven't even shared all of it yet." But the answer is that I see this as one big-picture thing. I mean, we want to be married, we want to have kids. Getting engaged was, to me (and I believe to us), a jumping off point: Yep, we're ready, let's move on to "next."

(To reiterate though, we didn't think kids was a likelihood, and we believed with good reason that conception would take months, maybe years of trying...We did NOT expect to have this happen all at once, but so what? I'd take this over the alternative any day and I am nothing but grateful.)

And so speaking of "all of this" -- the funny thing is, I don't even care about the wedding anymore.

Well okay, that's not entirely true. OF COURSE I want to have a big ole' party with everyone we care about, la la la. But far more importantly, I just wanna be married to Ish. And with a peanut on the way, the details around the wedding just don't seem to matter so much anymore.

Anyway!

My point here is just that I feel like after MONTHS of thinking and contemplating and wondering and not-knowingness about what's coming next, I finally know.

And I can finally blog about it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pregnancy Blogging - Like Regular Blogging, But With Less Bourbon

Gosh, I have so much to tell you.

For one thing, thank you for all the well wishes. I kind of expected a lot of random advice and questions, so I'm kind of surprised -- and deeply amused-- that after "congrats" the most commonly expressed sentiment from you commenters was concerning the pee stick.

The truth of the matter is, I discovered I was knocked up on October 20. Five days after we got engaged. I'm due the end of June, and right at about 12 weeks already!

Meaning that --

-- well, actually, meaning a lot of things.

Perhaps most importantly, the stick in the photo is very clean and also almost two months old. But thank you for your concern.

I also have a lot to say about what these last 8 weeks have been like. Terrifying, weird, exciting, good, frustrating, and a little barfy. Not that I've actually thrown up at all, I just feel like I'm going to a lot and then I don't, and instead realize I'm kind of drooly.

Hmm. Did you know that you salivate an extra amount when you're pregnant? Yeah, well, neither did I. You know why we didn't know this? Because no one talks about grown-ups who drool. Oh, sure, people talk about pregnant women glowing, and pregnant women throwing up, but holy hell! There are a LOT of physical symptoms of being pregnant that are lodged between "glow" and "hurl" that's all NEWS TO ME. Like drool. And heartburn. And having a sense of smell like a bloodhound. (I swear, if pressed? I could tell you that there's a little mold on that bagel. In the freezer. Next door.)

But what I really wanted to tell you is the answer to the question that has come up a lot in real life: Did you plan this?

Answer: No. Well, yes. No. Sort of. A little. But mostly no.

For those of you following along, this is old news, but my situation is this: there is a genetic disorder that runs in my family. My sisters and I have discovered that we are carriers. This doesn't have to mean much, because carriers have few if any physical symptoms. However, there are two big concerns --
1) We can have kids who have the full disorder. This happened to my sister, Healy, and her son, Charlie.
2) We have a slightly increased risk of going through early menopause -- early as in, before the age of 40. It would make conceiving naturally impossible. Following the birth of Charlie, this also happened to my sister, Healy.

So then. Late this last spring, my cycle got really funky and uncooperative. And when you take my family risk into account, this is scary stuff. An infertility specialist told me a lot of things that amounted to nothing good. It was very possible that I had missed my window of opportunity, and I felt heartbroken.

For two+ years, I'd known that this was a possibility, I just hoped it wouldn't be the case. When I started having "issues," Ish and I discussed -- along with our future in general -- adoption.

This fall, the doctor said he wanted me to take a test. It was the Clomid Challenge Test, where they give you Clomid (a very common hormone used to spark ovulation) for a few days, and they take your blood before and after. If the results weren't so good, the doctor said, he would reommend moving directly to IVF.

SO.

Ish and I had every reason to believe we were looking at a very uphill battle on the road to conception, if it happened at all. And knowing it could take months and years of trying, we were like, "What the hell?" So before we were engaged, before we were even 100% ready to try and get pregnant, together, as a couple, we just said, "What the hell."

My Clomid Challenge Test came back looking okay. We breathed a huge sigh of relief. Hope was not entirely lost.

I went to my doctor for a follow-up appointment, where we discussed next steps. On my way out, I picked up a pregnancy test, because even though I was sure I was not pregnant, I was a couple days late.

I got home, peed on a stick, started fixing myself lunch and checking work email. When I grabbed the stick to throw it out, I was rather confused by that vertical line indicating a plus. Huh?

But...we...couldn't...first time?...not possible...NOT POSSIBLE...

And then I ran to Google because I convinced myself that there was no way it was positive. SURELY a FAINT line means nothing? It has to be a dark line? Right?

Not right, no. (As my friend later said to me: My "faint line" is eating crackers right now.)

I was, am pregnant.

And you can bet that, trying or not trying, it was a huuuuuuuuge surprise to us all.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

"Promise Me"


Because we do not have a Chuck.

A few months ago I hosted a very small, very intimate dinner for an out-of-town guest that illustrates a lot about my life: I got a little worried about what to serve (I have not quite advanced to the level of "dinner party"), so I busted out our nicest dinnerware and made the table very pretty...and then we ate do-it-yourself tacos with ingredients my guests brought from a local Mexican place. We drank a lot of margaritas. Then, after dinner, properly fueled with laughter and tequila, we decided to play the cheesy Comcast On-Demand karaoke. We spent a good two hours singing emphatically to horrible, horrible renditions of songs that weren't that good to begin with.

It was silly and casual and fun and everyone had a good time.

The following week, my friend and I were IMing about our lives, and marriage, and the future, and that seemingly inevitable "having kids" thing. And she said to me:

"Promise me that no matter what, we'll always get drunk and sing at the TV."

There are lots of things that I cannot predict. Fate has thrown some pretty fucking horrible curve balls at me (and some pretty gloriously wonderful ones, too). I have learned maybe too many humbling things, including not to make promises I can't keep.

But dearest friends, invisible and otherwise, please know that no matter what, no matter if it's tequila or bourbon or wine or just love and friendship I'm drinking in, no matter if it's songs or words or blogs or musicals or dramas or home videos that are flickering on the ever-changing screen, no matter what, I do promise.

I promise that we -- you, me, Ish, all of us here at this blog, and even this little peanut --




-- we will always get drunk and sing at the TV.



P.S. The cats would have no part of posing for this photo.


Sherlock tries to rub his head against the stick.


Leon allows the stick to rest on his head, but he does not like it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

I'm Making A List. I'm Not, However, Checking It Even The One Time.

Emotionally, I could not be happier that it's the holiday season.

Physically, the season and all its stupid fucking joyous wonderousness has been a nightmare: colds, sinus pressure, digestion issues, girl problems, and loads more you should be grateful I'm not writing about, even though I totally want to be.

So here's a random update, in list form, because that's probably better than nothing. (Although if I were you I'd withhold judgment until getting to the end of this post. "Nothing" may indeed have been better.)

  1. In the middle of my Christmas music downloading frenzy, I stumbled across one of my favoritest CDs ever. Also, I am lame. But remember, I am (something of) a singer. And when I was in high school and singing all the damn time, I loved Broadway tunes. And NOTHING fit my range or desire to belt out in the car like Barbra Streisand's "Back to Broadway" CD. I downloaded the whole album (do we still call them "albums"? Am I THAT old? Hey, remember when "mix tapes" were actually cassette tapes? Anyone else have a Fisher Price record player when they were little?) and it is as awesome as ever. Nothing makes Highway 101 bearable like singing along with Babs. My chops aren't what they once were, but no one in my car cares.


  2. I had 80-90% of my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving weekend. As I've stated before, I do about 98% of my shopping online, and ship everything to my sister's, since that's where I spend Christmas. This is awesome for a few reasons. While I do miss the tactile experience of touching, looking, and selecting store-bought items, I would have to ship them all anyway. So, that's dumb. Instead, I shop early, send everything to Healy's, get myself on a plane a few weeks later, arrive in Massachusetts and find a bajillion boxes waiting for me. By then, I've totally forgotten what everything is, so I spend an entire day opening packages and being delightfully surprised as I tape and tie and scissors myself into wrapping-paper oblivion. And now that we're ALSO traveling to Arizona to visit Ish's family, I send a bunch of things to Phoenix, too, and repeat the whole buy-online-ship-fly-arrive-open-surprise!-wrap-give process.

    The only problem I have (kind of a sickness, actually) is that I get a little sad when all my shopping is done early, so I have a tendency to add "just a couple small things" over the next few weeks. And then Christmas morning looks like, well, an embarrassment of riches because I've gone so crazy. Even if many of these "riches" are actually things like ping-pong guns and Make Your Own Chocolate Mold In The Shape Of Your Penis kits.

    I am my mother's daughter.


  3. My a cappella group is hosting a little holiday get-together this Friday at our apartment. (You are of course welcome to come.) We'll be singing a bunch of carols and generally carrying on. (I think "carrying on" is a much more festive and polite turn of phrase than "getting shitfaced.")


  4. For some reason, I got very inspired to make coconut macaroons last Saturday. It was my first attempt, and I followed a recipe by Alton Brown. Macaroons do not need to be complicated (my friend who makes DELICIOUS macaroons sent me her recipe after-the-fact and I noted that it did not involve egg whites with any sort of peaks, damn it all to hell). Because, you see, Alton's stupid recipe -- which THANKFULLY came with a video -- involved adding a meringue to the mixture to make them delicious and light and fluffy. It should go without saying that I have never attempted any sort of meringue mixture before. For one thing, I do not have a standing mixer. For another, a lot can go wrong when you try and beat egg whites into "medium peaks."

    Okay, I lie. Only ONE thing can go wrong when you try to beat egg whites into peaks, and that is: you don't. I will have you know that I added the sugar very slowly and kept the hand-mixer going very steadily, AND I'd brought the egg whites up to room temperature, so I was feeling pretty confident about all this peaking nonsense. And still? Nothing.

    I Googled it, and there on the first page was a result that stated, "If you even get a drop of egg yolk in the egg whites, they will not peak no matter what you do." OH WELL THEN. No one told me that.

    Lucky for me, there were MANY comments on the Alton Brown recipe including the one from the woman who said her egg whites didn't peak but she still added them to the mixture and the results were delicious. WTG, other inept woman!

    So I added the unpeaked eggs, fuck it, and the results were delicious, if just a little...gooey. Whatever, I called the finished pieces "Kristy's Gooey Coconut Clusters," dipped 'em in delicious melted chocolate and crushed macadamia nuts and called it a day.

    INCIDENTALLY, what the hell is Alton thinking, giving us a recipe that requires weighing ingredients? Yes, foodies, I know that any cook worth his or her salt (as it were) should have a kitchen scale. But I'm just getting started and didn't even know the no-egg-yolk-or-doom rule. How on earth am I supposed to know the "cup" equivalent of five weighed ounces of sugar? Consider it friggin' amazing that I know that weighing five ounces is NOT the same as reading "ounce" on the side of the measuring cup. MIRACULOUS, I tell you! But next time I have to use Google more than four times in one recipe, I am giving up and serving my patented "bourbon with ice."


  5. I have decided once again that it is time to chop off my hair. Not super-short, but about shoulder-length with lots of layers. My cycle -- perhaps you're familiar? I seriously can't be the only one who does this -- is:
    - Grow hair past shoulders
    - Declare I love my hair long, and decide to grow it "very long"
    - Envision long, flowing, wavy locks, a la Kim Basinger in LA Confidential
    - Start the growing process
    - Ignore that I have the slowest growing hair in all the world, plus split ends
    - Get regular trims; resist urge to allow stylist to chop off all my hair, despite that she really, really wants to
    - Note that my hair has grown a total of one inch in six months
    - Keep at it with greater resolve and determination than ever
    - See pictures of myself from behind with sad, sad, non-growing hair
    - Decide shortish, layered hair is totally cute, what?
    - Cut hair to shoulders
    - Let cute, shortish, layered hair grow past shoulders
    - Repeat
    I'm thinking of going back to red.


  6. I know I wrote all that mostly good-happy stuff about Facebook, but the reality is that it's kind of upped the ante. I have many posts a-brewing in my head about a lot of stuff from way back when. (Actually, I even have a whole box in my apartment full of trinkets and hand-written notes and memorabilia that I have dubbed "blog fodder.") But it's one thing to write about the quirky horibleness of high school when you're thousands of miles and tens of years away from it. It's quite another to write openly and honestly about those experiences when most of the people who experienced it with you are out there, and their smiling faces are just one click away.

    I'll probably write what I'll write no matter what, but it's going to be a challenge to not dance around (my version of) the truth. For example, I hope I am not tempted to write something like, "He was a nice enough guy, he was just misunderstood," instead of "He was a complete asshole," if the latter was my reality.

    Not that Facebook is the only culprit. I don't know if you remember that post I wrote a while ago -- it was about an older gentleman who hit on me while I was commuting into NYC to meet a young, attractive med student for a date. (I will add a link when I have one, I can't find it at the moment). The post was about the what-could-have-been aspect of my meeting the older man (in my head, HOT), seeing as my date with the med student didn't really lead to anything. In fact, for the sake of the post, I called my younger date "forgettable."

    You can imagine how surprised I was to receive an email a few days later from him, asking if he really was that forgettable. No, of course not and that wasn't my point were my sincere responses. HOW DID YOU FIND ME AND THAT ONE SINGLE FRIGGIN' POST??? was what I was really thinking. But right, transparency, blah blah whatever, now we're in touch occasionally, and Bob's your uncle. I think you get my point.

    Writers of previous generations did not have these issues.


  7. There are many funny things that happen in and around my a cappella group, most of which are hard to capture because the humor falls under the "You just had to be there" category. And even then, I'm not so sure. Last night, for example, we were laughing so hard we were crying because the Soprano I part of "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas" comes in by holding out the word "Christmas," except the way the music is written, the first note goes with half of the word, and the second note with the second half of the word. Meaning the entire first line of the song just says, "CHRIST-." It's not till the second line where the Sop I's get a second note that says "MAS." And let me just tell you -- holding one note on the word CHRIST is hilarious.

    See how uproariously funny that is?

    Don't even get me started on the side-splitting comedy that is "let's figure out these syllables" game. Imagine a very well put together professional woman asking in complete and utter seriousness:"Wait, is it doo-ma-doo-bop-bop (a-doom-a-doom-a-doo) or is it doo-pa-doo-pa-pa (a-doom-a-doom-a-doo)? Because it sounds like you're saying doo-MA but doo-PA is what's written."

    Anyway, this one time we performed at a woman-named-Phyllis's house because she had won us at an auction. And that right there is one of the more ridiculous sentences I've ever typed. We called it Phyllis Fest. The entire experience was pleasant, if a bit odd, and afterwards the lot of us went out for pizza and beer. While at the pizza place, another hilarious Loose Interpretations moment happened. I don't know that I can do it justice, but I will try. (You know that song, "There's a Hole in the Bucket"?)

    Anyway, here goes:

    Roe is sitting at the table, trying to look over the menu, and abruptly takes off her glasses.

    Roe: Oh man. My glasses are so smudged, I can't see a thing!

    Roe then takes off her glasses to clean them. Except after she gives the table and herself a once-over, she realizes nothing she's wearing will work as a good smudge-remover. She looks imploringly at Lisa.

    Roe: Hey, can I use your shirt?

    Lisa, who may or may not understand why Roe is asking, looks a little confused.

    Lisa: Um...okay...?

    Roe: It's just -- I mean, I can't use mine. Is your shirt cotton?

    Lisa: Uh...Does it have to be cotton?

    Roe: Yes, I think only 100% cotton really works.

    Lisa: I uh, I dunno what my shirt is made out of. Here --

    Lisa turns her back to Roe and leans toward her.

    Lisa: Check the tag. I don't know if this is 100% cotton or not.

    Roe grabs the tag out of Lisa's shirt and leans in, then literally falls off her chair laughing at herself.

    Roe, between fits of laughter: I -- can't -- read -- it!

    We look at Roe, not totally understanding why she is laughing hysterically at not being able to read it.

    Roe: Because I need my glasses! AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA!


  8. I have started posting a lot of photos on Facebook. I have so many sitting in iPhoto, waiting for blog entries that may never happen, that pushing them to Facebook just made a lot of sense. Feel free to check 'em out.


  9. I probably should have stopped at 5.



Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Splish, Splash, SPLOOOSSSSHHHHHH!

I know a lot of people who just forgo getting a Christmas tree because they have cats. Cats like to bat ornaments around and some even get it in their heads to try and CLIMB the tree. Lucky for us, our cats are not so much "climbers." It's not even that they're not agile enough -- Sherlock is certainly capable, and Eddie has regained his youthful physique since moving into our current apartment with stairs and room to run around.

So sure, Monster isn't going to friskily climb a tree anytime soon, and Leon -- Ish's older, diabetic cat who weighs approximately a million pounds -- is basically a lump of pudding who moves from the floor upstairs to his dish to a seat at the table and back again as his entire day's workout. He even lies down to drink his water.

But Eddie and Sherlock COULD scale the tree, I just think that they lack the imagination to do so. And that is fine with me because I don't even want to think about the ornamental detritus that would result should any cat decide to leap upon a tree branch.

However.

Last night I was awoken to sounds of rather violent water-bowl splashings.

Now, most of the cats (except Leon) put their paws in the water bowl and splash a little before drinking the water. Sometimes they only drink the water from their paws. I do not know why this is, except sometimes I think they can't actually see the water (since it's, you know, invisible) and so they splash it around to confirm that it's actually there. This happens all the time, and I don't normally pay attention to it.

But for some reason, it was super loud last night. And then I realized that it wasn't just loud, it sounded like a LOT of water.

Of course, at 3 a.m., your brain makes all kinds of allowances for strange sounds coming from a home full of cats: Oh, that's probably just a cat scratching up the entire side of the sofa, but I'm sure it won't leave any marks. Let's go back to sleep now.

And as I was dozing off, noting that the splashing had stopped, Eddie decided to re-join us on our bed. Try as I might, as he was walking all over me at 3-something in the morning, I couldn't help but notice that his paws were colder than usual. And then I noticed that they weren't just cold, they were wet. And THEN I noticed that they weren't just wet, but his entire front half was sopping.

Not what you want cuddling with you.

He was gently escorted to the foot of the bed and sleeping resumed all-around.

Later, at about 6:30 this morning when Ish and I were just starting to wake up, we again heard the very loud water-bowl splashing.Which is when it occurred to me:

You know what? I think Eddie must be...uh...jumping?...into the Christmas tree stand.

Ish got up and looked over our bedroom's half-wall down into the living room. He couldn't really get a clear picture, but Eddie was definitely bounding in and out from under the tree, seemingly darting to the tree stand full of water and splashing around in it with both paws.

EDDIE! STOP THAT! Ish yelled. And he did. Or at least, the splashing stopped. (Our cats are surprisingly responsive to our scolding them. I do not know why.)

Then Ish got in the shower. And while I was still trying to rouse myself, Eddie leapt onto the bed again, front half soaking wet again.

All in all, I find this rather cute (if annoying). I'd much prefer the cats take joy in the water bowl under the tree than the tree limbs or ornaments. And I've had my own run-ins in years past with what I affectionately refer to as "tinsel poo," so this is demonstrably better.

But this does not mean that I understand the behavior. Why so much fervor? Why so much splashing? What about the tree stand makes it a super fun game?

Beats me. But I will try and snag a video of it if I can...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wow, Was I Ever Right...

You guys DO know stuff.

Did you read all of your suggestions below? So many good ideas for must-have holiday music! I had a handful of them among my collection already, but was pleased to add a bunch more.

(One thing I forgot to mention -- if you haven't heard them already, Diana Krall does a bunch of the Vince Guaraldi holiday songs and they're amazing. If you like that kind of thing. But then, I LOVE the heartbreaking rendition of Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," so there you go.)

Thing that REALLY surprised me, though, is how many of you are familiar with the dulcimer. How is that possible? How did you learn of it?

Once when my family and my friend Emily's family were in Disney World on vacation together, Emily and I (and our moms) ended up at the American Pavilion in Epcot Center. There, one of the outdoor stands featured and sold dulcimers. The young dulcimer salesman, dressed in a turn-of-the-century costume, demonstrated how the instrument was played. He was the one who told us that the dulcimer was the only instrument genuinely native to America (I do not know that this is true, Liz - I am repeating what a costume-clad Epcot-based salesman told me) and that it was designed to be a stringed version of bagpipes. Then Emily and I, having such rich musical backgrounds, tried to play them ourselves, and managed to plunk out a duet of (I think) "Amazing Grace" in full harmony. We attracted a small crowd. Which meant, of COURSE we HAD to HAVE the dulcimers, of COURSE we would continue to play them, we're practically NATURALS at them, of COURSE this was a smart, if not cheap, purchase. And yes, of COURSE the dulcimers went from "musical instruments" to "wall ornaments" about three minutes after we arrived home.

In other news, I hope you (Americans) have had a lovely holiday weekend.

Following a long and complex series of "plans" (We are going to Phoenix! No, Ish's family is coming here! No, just his parents! No, not until Friday!), at the last minute we ended up hosting three people on Thanksgiving itself, not including ourselves. While not exactly raucous, this turned out to be wonderful, because it gave me a chance to see if I could actually produce a meal of several components for five adults -- including a turkey which I've never prepared before -- without burning down my kitchen or giving anyone food poisoning.

And there was no pressure at all, because my friends would be happy if I served them cold cereal as long as it came with enough wine. (This is why, in fact, they are my friends.)

But then I'm not sure why -- maybe because all the pressure was off? -- I kind of went a little crazy. I did all of my holiday decorating early. I got fancy candles and some silly decorations and thought long and hard about the table setting and centerpieces.


You can't tell, but those are white trees up on the black shelves on the right,
and we hung lights from wall to wall (where the regular lights usually hang).



You can kind of make out the white trees now.
They were only $3.99 at Michael's!



A close-up of nothing in particular.



Those are sparkly red candles on top of the piano you can't see.

I determined I would brine the turkey before roasting it and spent days searching for the right recipes.

So now, since I NEVER ever blog about food I prepare (mostly because I don't ever do it) OR wines we drink, I will now regale you with details of our Thanksgiving dinner. With photos. (For those of you who haven't already seen them on Facebook, that is.)

I should begin by pointing out that at no point did I set anything on fire, and the closest thing we had to a mishap was the cat puking up bites of the autumn leaves that adorned the table.


I picked up real leaves from trees in Redwood City.



And because I thought the table was pretty,
I took about 40 million pictures of it.









You can sort of see that the houseplant (whose name is Victor)
has lights on him. That was no easy task.


The menu was basic but wonderful. We had the turkey, of course. Between Williams-Sonoma and Alton Brown, Tom turned out pretty darn well!





Ish poses with the turkey.

We had a million sides. I made a wonderfully light and fluffy sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top (the secret to "light and fluffy"? I added two beaten eggs and mixed it well with a hand-mixer. Who knew? I've been making heavy casserole for years...). I made an apple-pecan-cornbread stuffing/dressing. Ish rocked out with his family's corn risotto (yellow and white corn sauteed with some cream and jalepenos), and also made pumpkin and pecan pies from scratch. Be still my heart. Bemily pulled up the rear with some smashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and Ben's family's traditional "cheese spaghetti" -- some noodle, egg, cheese concoction that involves bacon. We started with a baby spinach salad. (This all followed the fancy-pants hors d'oeuvres that Tony brought.)


From left to right: Salad and turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole,
cheese spaghetti, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, corn risotto.
Note: nothing is on fire.


As for cocktails...

I mulled cider, and kept it going all day in a crock pot -- smells so good! Everyone has their own mulled cider recipes, but I prefer to use the Williams-Sonoma mulling spices, and lots of 'em. I bring the cider to a rolling boil with the spices in, and then reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Delicious! Then I put a bottle of bourbon out next to it, so guests can spike the cider if they see fit.

Bemily brought some drink they'd made called the Apple Pie. It was a deadly and delicious concoction of cider and scary booze. Everyone had a taste of it to start the afternoon, and then avoided it so as to remain standing by the end of the evening. I avoided it altogether, fretting as I was about sticking to the dinner-oven-menu schedule. It is a bit unclear how much Ben may have ingested, and that is probably for the best.

We did, however, break out some of the best wines in our collection. (I say "our collection" as though I've had anything to do with obtaining any of these wines. Note: I have not.)


A gratuitous photo of "our" wine collection, which lives in this new
wine fridge that Ish's parents got "us" for Ish's birthday.


Just before dinner, we opened a Zonin Prosecco that Tony brought and a Gloria Ferrer blanc de noirs. For whites (which were sipped througout the day), we had a Bighorn Chardonnay and a Jonata Sauvingnon Blanc. I hate Chardonnays that taste buttery and oaky, which most California chards do, and I avoided the Bighorn for this reason. Everyone else enjoyed it. The Jonata sauv is the fanciest white we own -- Jonata is hard to come by -- and it was tasty, but also not my favorite. When we moved on to reds, we served a Copain Pinot Noir and a Donum Pinot Noir. At the end of the evening, we served a Jonata dessert wine that is the best dessert wine I have ever tasted, bar none.

All in all, it was lovely.

Ish. Full.


The boys get amorous. Did I mention that
the "Apple Pie" drink had EVERCLEAR in it?




The following day, we got up early(ish) to revisit the grocery store and to get a Christmas tree. That afternoon, we re-hosted a Thanksgiving re-meal -- again, no pressure! -- with leftovers galore. Ish's parents came over, along with my Cousin Nate and his fiancee, Liz.

Sidebar: I have mentioned this before, but I don't know if this is the sort of thing people who aren't related to me care about. But here is a brief series of fun facts, Sammis family-style, in case you happen to be interested: In college, my dad became good friends with a man named Roger. Roger has many ties to Maine and to Cliff Island. Through my dad and Roger's friendship, my entire family has been traveling to or living in Maine since. In fact, my Aunt Kathy (my dad's sister) and her husband actually lived on Cliff Island for a few years...with their sons, my cousins, Matt and Nate. Liz is Roger's daughter. This means that Liz and Nate have known each other for their whole lives (Maine can be a little small, but Cliff Island is VERY small), but they never even considered dating each other until a few years ago. And now they live in San Francisco together and are getting married. Crazy and awesome.

So Nate and Liz and Liz's brother came over on Friday, along with Liz's mom, Maura -- who I have always thought of as an aunt -- and Nate's mom, Kathy, who actually IS my aunt. And us, and Ish's parents (who got to meet members of my family, hurrah!), and a few friends thrown in for good measure.

I don't know why I'm telling you all this.

But now you know what all I've been up to. (Erm, for the most part.)

And for what it's worth, I'm feeling very festive lately. I suspect it has to do with the fact that Ish and I are getting married. And not for silly-dumb reasons related to getting married, either -- good, solid reasons. I don't feel as groundless and rootless as I've felt these last seven years in San Francisco. I have LOVED every second of living here, yes, but I have also been without much of a plan. And while I don't -- erm, WE don't -- have any idea where we're headed, either, we at least know we'll be together.

That's a whole lot more certainty than I've had in a long time. And it feels good, and sweet, and special, and like I should indulge while I can.

It's like emotional eggnog.



Putting up the tree.



Hanging lights.



Success!



This photo was taken with flash.
The tree really loses something with flash.




Just, you know, trust me, it's pretty.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hey! You Know Stuff!

Dearest Invisible Internet Friends, my holiday music collection is tired.

I love the music I have, but I need more stuff. Stuff that doesn't suck. (The stuff I have doesn't suck, I've just heard it all SO MANY TIMES.)

I will now tell you my favorites, as long as you promise not to laugh:
- Bing Crosby (the one featuring the Andrews Sisters)
- Stevie Wonder (so awesome)
- Every album produced by Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma from about 1998-2000 (oldies, but only selected songs)
- The first Harry Connick holiday album
- Mariah Carey
- The first Babs holiday album

And a few instrumental CDs I've collected over the years, including a handful of "Big Band" Christmas albums and...um...an entire album of only dulcimer music.

Now, I'm gonna have to go ahead and assume you are unfamiliar with the dulcimer, and the unique tones it produces when you strum it with help from a small wooden stick. You're also probably unaware that the dulcimer is the only musical instrument native to the US, and that its strings are fashioned to sound something like bagpipes.

It's kind of a long story why I know this. But I will tell you that once, a very long time ago, my friend Emily and I both took up the dulcimer for about 13 1/2 seconds. After which we discovered that the dulcimer also looks kinda nice hanging on a wall.

Anyway.

I need new songs and new albums. I honestly don't think I own any music that's come out in the last five years (maybe more, I'm losing count) except some dance-music remixes that I heard them playing in Old Navy.

Help!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Like A Slow-Moving High School Reunion

Oh, Facebook.

I don't think my high school's graduating class even had a 10-year reunion. Or 15, which would have been this year. Looking ahead, I can't think of a reason to bother with the 20-year, since by then everyone will have joined Facebook and we'll all be caught up.

I'm not even kidding.

If somehow you are missing this online high-school reunion phenomenon in your own life, let me explain how it works. Through the magic that is Social Media, your lost connections can be sewn together again, piece by piece, in five easy (and sometimes mindblowing) steps.


Step One: Your Past Shows Up In Your Email

You receive an email with the following words: "John Smith" has added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know John in order for you to be friends on Facebook.

And you think...John Smith? Which John Smith? Certainly not THE John Smith who used to snap my bra strap in line for the cafeteria in the 8th grade? And who went out with my best friend but dumped her that summer when we were 15? And who got drunk on wine coolers and made out with me that summer between freshman and sophomore year of college at that party that time when I realized I'd always had a bit of a thing for him and then never saw him again anyway? Surely not. Surely it's a different John Smith, like, from some sort of work thing.

Step Two: Confirmation

You log in to Facebook and click on the link and there he is. John Smith. Not from work. From middle school. And high school. And that time you made out. And now's he's staring back at you from your computer screen, looking older and fuller with slightly more heft and slightly less hair, wearing a college sweatshirt with what could be his alma mater or not, you don't remember, smiling and holding a baby with one arm while a toddler clings to his other. He looks, for all intents and purposes, great.

A weird sense of something you can't quite place makes your stomach clench. You click and confirm that John Smith is indeed your "friend."


Step Three: Snooping

Now that you have been granted "friend" status, you begin the snooping process. John is married and living in the same town he -- make that you and he -- grew up in. He has two kids. He has 4 photo albums, and from these you ascertain more than you could have suspected Facebook would tell you. You know what his wife looks like (you don't know her; maybe he met her in college?). You know what his kids look like and how old they are and their names. You know that he has a cute house and silly dog and vacationed last spring in Mexico.

And then you go a step further and you see who John Smith's friends are, and whoa. Turns out, John's still hanging out with the same group from high school. Then you realize why those faces in those photos looked familiar.

(You also maybe see the name and face of the one who broke your heart so many years ago you were supposed to be too young to have a heart to break. You never even thought to look for him on Facebook, because what would you say? But there he is, too. You'll have to figure out what to do about him later.)


Step Four: The Re-Introduction Email

One of three things happen once you have made contact.

1) Nothing. You are now friends and that's all there is to it. No need for further discussion.
2) He writes you.
3) You write him.

Assuming you find yourself in position 2 or 3, the email itself is practically a template. I envision that there are millions of these emails flying through Facebook's pages every day.

**********************************************************

Hi Random Person From Grade School,

So funny to see you here. It's been such a long time! I can't believe we've gotten so old...

I see you're Some Kind of Marital Status. I have to say, it took me by surprise. I never thought you'd ever settle down / I always thought you'd be married by now. But I guess it's not fair to base my assessments on your middle-school dating tendencies. Haha!

Your pictures are great. Do you enjoy living Where You Live? What are you doing for work?

I see you're still friends with That Guy. I hope he's well. Please tell him I say hello next time you see him.

So fill me in...what all have you been up to?

-Kristy

**********************************************************
And then you get a fill-in-the-blank response, plus tons questions about YOUR life. So you answer. You find yourself trying to encapsulate everything you are and have become since high school.

You're a bit shocked that it only takes three paragraphs.


Step Five: And Then?

Once you've gotten through the initial snooping, casual how-are-you emails, you're stuck. It's not like you're suddenly going to be friends with this person you don't really know but whose name you doodled on your notebook once, for a week, about a million years ago.

It's NICE to know what he's up to. It's even nicer to be able to have a civil conversation that doesn't involve bra-strapping or spitballs.

But then what?

You start noticing his Facebook status updates, and they aren't really very interesting. He's dropping the kids off at their grandma's, and that doesn't really mean anything to you or your life or your own day.

And then he publishes something about how he voted for McCain. He changes his profile image to a "No You Can't" picture. You see he has recently joined a fangroup of Sarah Palin and also Metallica. His favorite movie is listed as "Wedding Crashers."

All of which is cringe-worthy and somehow really quite wonderful.

Because this was a gift.

You didn't have to lose that 15 (or you know, 50, whatever) pounds to go to your reunion. You didn't have to show up with your stories and pictures of your kids. You didn't have to worry about your outfit, or if your lipstick was on, or if you were good enough.

This exchange, while totally online and in many ways constructed, was way more natural and honest than some put-on party with nametags. Here we are, here is our life. Here is a genuine snapshot of who I am and who I know and what I do and where I'm headed this afternoon.

I am reminded of why I knew John and why I liked him. I am also reminded of why we fell out of touch: we never really had anything in common except a shared experience that was forced upon us. When that stopped being true and we went off on our own, we stopped sharing an experience and we stopped being friends.

But here we are, again, part of the same experience, again. Sure, it's online and distant, but it's still true and it's still something we share -- and this time, voluntarily. He from his side of the world and me from mine.

I don't think there's any easy way to explain why this is so compelling. It just feels like some of my life's loose ends are being tied up.

My life isn't really impacted in any way by knowing that last saturday, John's little girl's soccer team won.

Except somehow it is.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just Because I'm Not Blogging About The Wedding

Dear Smart Internet,

Perhaps you've heard? Ish and I are getting married. Hurrah! And not surprisingly, I have no shortage of crazy ideas about what this wedding thing could, should, might be like. What I do, apparently, have a shortage of are venues that agree with my "vision" by which I mean "budget."

I have scoured all the available resources, but I feel like I must be forgetting something.

Anyway, if any of you local-ish folks have any brilliant suggestions for an off-beat and fun wedding venue in San Francisco (the city itself), please send it along.

We're thinking March.

Thanks!

Love,
k

Sunday, November 09, 2008

My Job, My Ass, And Mysterious Nylon-Eating Ebola

With drawings! Just scroll down. They are really uh...a sight to behold.


Sometimes I think about event planners -- the kind they show in movies, or the kind I've met in Hollywood. They are always depicted as having huge budgets and an army of helpers waiting for commands. They wear black and have perfect makeup and hair, and wear headsets and use clipboards and BlackBerrys and military lingo, and they give the impression that they aren't the kind of people for whom "relax" means much.

I am not that kind of planner. (I am not that kind of anything, really.)

I like to think that it's because my planning requires me to balance 80 billion things simultaneously, in a world where pretty much any plan we have can change on the fly; where I'm essentially reporting to five or six different types of customers who all have entirely different demands all at one time; and where I don't have a headset-clad, BlackBerry-synched army. I tend to believe that SUPER-organized people might have their heads explode were they to try to walk a mile in my shoes.

Which isn't to say I'm not organized. Sure, I am. I'm also just...uh...let's call it "flexible." (Note: Sometimes I think "flexible" might be code for "mad as a hatter" but you know, potato-potahto.)

The point is that I have what I consider to be a good balance of "professional" and "crazy" happening at any given moment during a conference.

So if, by some chance, all the prep-work has paid off and somehow everything stayed on course and the event is going entirely smoothly and I even look sort of put-together in my new outfit and makeup that hasn't yet slipped off my face in a stress-sweat torrent, you'd better believe that something is going wrong under the surface somewhere.

Which was precisely the case at BlogHer Boston this past October.

Knowing I would be returning to the East Coast during the autumn, I bought a new outfit for the occasion. I chose a black sweater and paired it with a long, rust-colored plaid skirt.

Now.

I would love to have worn super cute boots with the skirt, but that would require an entirely different blog post about how I apparently have gorilla-sized calves that do not fit into regular knee-high boots. So let's move past that for now. Instead...

I also got a pair of rubber-soled, chunk-heeled, practical shoes because I knew I'd be on my feet, all day, for several days, and that can be very painful. But to make my chunky-shoe situation cuter, I bought a pair of rust-colored tights. (My bare legs in October? Not so cute. And also, what kind of sock would you pair with black chunky shoes and a long skirt anyway?)

On the morning of the event, I got dressed while it was still dark out. I put on my whole New England Autumn get-up, complete with matchy-matchy earrings and bracelet, and strode confidently down to the meeting area. My sister, Healy, was with me, acting as volunteer extraordinaire.

First of all, let me just say that there is something about control-top tights in the right size that makes me stand a little straighter, walk a little taller. I feel more put together because my whole wardrobe is complete, meaning even underneath.

Well, until. Until.

And here is where the drawings come in.

To familiarize yourself with what is about to be a very uncomfortable day for me, here is a drawing of my rear-end.



Consider that the "control" image.

Because here is my butt in brick colored control-top tights:



Better already, yeah?

About 20 minutes into set-up, as I'm hauling out badges and booting up my computer and confirming AV checks and carrying all kinds of boxes and signage around the hotel, I notice that my tights seem a wee bit...breezy?

Breezy like, Hey, is there a draft under here?

So while in the huge closet with all the supplies and boxes, I felt around and, sure enough. I had a bit of a hole. Not a full-sized wind tunnel, but still.

A hole.



Hmmm.

With registration about an hour away from opening, I figured I had three options.

1) Run upstairs to my room and apply copious amounts of hairspray and clear nail polish to the edges of the hole.

2) Run upstairs to my room and remove tights entirely. Replace them with...ohthatsright, I chose NOT to buy a second pair. Or bring any kind of appropriate stand-ins. So I could remove the tights and expose all of the BlogHer conference to my glowing-so-white-they're-blue legs.

3) Do nothing. Hope for the best.

Naturally, I chose #3.

Well, come on. It's a stupid hole and what? It's not like I'm not otherwise distracted. I can deal with a hole in the butt.

30 minutes into registration, I'd been seated for quite some time, and had forgotten about my situation. That is, until I adjusted myself by standing up and re-tucking my skirt under me. That is when I noticed that the hole had grown, quietly, of its own volition, while I was doing nothing but SIT.



Healy?

Yeah?

I have a really big hole in the butt of my tights.

You do?

Yeah. And I don't think there's anything I can do about it.

Do you have an extra pair?

No, of course not.

So what are you going to do?

I don't know. But I'll probably end up blogging it.

By the time the programming started and the hotel staff was starting to set up for the mid-morning snack, I was back on my feet. This time, with new determination.

It was obvious the hole was just going to keep growing. It was likewise obvious that I wasn't going to do a damn thing about it and so what? SO WHAT, HOLE?!?! YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME.

But as the hole inched its way through the "control" top like some bizarre nylon-eating ebola virus, I noticed a few things I hadn't really paid attention to at first.

The part of my butt that was sticking through the hole in the "control" top? It was not on the same surface plane as the rest of my ass. It was a mound of butt-cleavage, protruding like a continent from under my skirt.



And you know? That's no longer just uncomfortable, that's officially on the painful side. By that point, the "windy" factor had gotten way worse, too, and in fact, the part of my butt jutting out like its own country became a noticeably different teperature than the rest of my butt, which remained warm and cozy under the nylon.

It was evident that the hole was not going to stop until it climbed to the farthest reaches of the "control" top. But it was not going to win!

The conference was going perfectly smoothly. Everyone was having a great time. I could not let one stupid hole get me down.

Well, and then I had to pee.

I did not do a drawing of me trying to get the tights -- with half an ass -- off of me, because even I have to draw the line (as it were) somewhere. Just know that it was difficult and kind of hurty, and involved a lot of rolling and unrolling of the control top waistband.

Also? The word "futility" is given new meaning when you're trying desperately to hike up near-assless tights over your butt in the name of professionalism.

What is that? Healy asked, leaning over my computer later in the day, during a 10-minute down period.

I didn't want to forget about it. I will eventually blog this.

Are you...is that...are you drawing a picture of your butt?

It's really just an outline.

By the time the cocktail party rolled (ahem) around, my tights had won the Battle for Complete Asslessness.



But they had not won the war! Because I still managed to get everything packed up and shipped out AND attend the cocktail party, all without ripping the stupid tights off.

So no. I am not THAT kind of event planner. THAT kind wouldn't have the sort of ass to give her these kinds of problems in the first place, but she would have bought TWO back-up pairs anyway, just in case.

But then SHE wouldn't have anything to post on her blog, and I'm pretty sure that gives me the edge.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Before I Get To The Butt Drawings

(and uh, not to water down the importance of this issue with my post title...)

I just wanted to quickly address two of the comments in my last post.

#1: Anonymous 7:08 PM said...
What's the we? I don't understand the fascination with gay unions from the heterosexual left-leaners. I'm all for live-and-let-live, but don't we have bigger fish to fry?

I woke up this morning thinking about this comment, for so many reasons, apparently. I don't know which point to make first.

- Speaking on behalf of (at least some) heterosexual left-leaners, I would LOVE not to have to have this debate at all. Live and let live? FINE BY ME. I'm not the one who has an issue, or who feels the need to "defend" traditional marriage, or who's out there creating new laws to redefine old ones specifically to strip rights of a minority group. It's not the liberals who give a shit what anyone does in their bedrooms. Why are the conservatives (and it is, by a vast majority, the conservatives) so obsessed with what the gays are doing? What on earth are we defending marriage against?

Here is a comic bit from one of my favorite local comedians, Mo Mandel. He is impersonating the gruff men from the rural area he grew up in.

I hate gays.

Why?

'Cuz they're always comin into my dreams and tryin to have sex with me!



- I absolutely agree we have bigger fish to fry. BUT. Right now, today, Ish and I can get married whenever we damn well please, and some of our best friends can't. I have a right they don't because...wait, why again? And that makes it my issue.

- Yes, I believe I -- and even "we" -- have a civic duty to protect the equal rights of all citizens. If minority groups never got support from majority groups, where do you think we'd be as a nation today?

I don't actually think we're on this immediate slippery slope, no. But if today we're a-okay with taking rights away from one minority group, what's to stop us from taking them away from another?

In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

- Pastor Martin Niem├Âlle


I have heard a lot of rhetoric about how it's not fair to compare the civil rights issues that gays are currently facing with the civil rights issues that minority races have faced. I have heard many times that comparing "sexual preference" to "race" is totally different. But I have not heard one argument as to why.

I suspect the undercurrent is that some people still believe being gay is a choice.

It isn't.


#2: Tom said...
I'm surprised that Prop 8 passed too, and I don't live in CA and don't have a horse in the race. But don't lay this at the feet of organized religion. The people of California have spoken -- the same ones that ALWAYS vote Democrat (except Obama). If it was voted down, everyone would be singing the praises of a democratic process. When it doesn't turn out the way you want it, all of a sudden, it's moral and religious people, and a bad system. That's entitlement at it's finest. The first lesson people should learn, and we're failing our grade schoolers, is that life is not fair.

- "Life is not fair" is not good enough. No, life is not fair, but I believe that there's a better shot of it being fair here than anywhere else in the world (except perhaps Canada, maybe New Zealand). When it comes to any civil rights debate, "Sorry, but life isn't fair" is not a reasonable defense.

- I disagree adamantly with the direct democracy approach in California and everywhere else they're imposing similar processes. Ballot measures are anti-republican and I am fundamentally opposed to them. Yes, even when measures I agree with pass (like Prop 2, and voting down Prop 4). We have legislative officials for a very good reason.

I think ballot measures are a great way to take the pulse of a city, county and state, but that doesn't, shouldn't, and can't automatically make those measures constitutional -- not at a state level, and not at a federal level.

- "All of a sudden it's moral and religious people"? No, not all of a sudden, but yes, it is moral and religious people; or at least, it is people claiming that they are protecting marriage for moral and religious reasons.

Look, this is NOT me harshing on Christians because I think I'm so progressive and believe that anyone who has faith in Jesus is backwards. I do not believe that, not in any way.

But I am not making stuff up about who:
  • Created this measure
  • Supported this measure
  • Poured tons of money into this measure
  • Lied about this measure

Yes on 8 was strongly backed by a coalition of religious and conservative groups, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Knights of Columbus and the California Catholic Conference.

So no: it is not ALL Christians, and it is not ALL Republicans. But those ARE the majority of Yes of Prop 8 folks. In fact, based on the latest Field Poll (you can download this .pdf of the results if you want), here are some demographics to chew on -- not because I'm being elitist, entitled, or arbitrary:

73% of Obama voters do NOT support Prop 8.

84% of McCain supporters do.

61% of people with a post-graduate education do NOT support Prop 8.

62% of people with a high school education do.

62% of voters over 65 support Prop 8.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Perspective.

To say that this has been an emotional time would really be quite an understatement.

I don't know if it's because I'm still smarting from the anti-feminist vitriol I felt subjected to personally as a Hillary supporter, earlier this year; I don't know if it's because I will never forget the profound sense of defeat I felt four years ago, when Bush won reelection and I knew, at the very least, we'd be another four years at war, in debt, as bullies on the international front; I don't know if it's because I could not understand anything about the Palin selection, and recoiled in horror when hearing some of her more adamant, hate-filled admirers shrieking about terrorists; but after so many years of feeling like I was living on some other planet -- even though my thoughts were (I swear) rational, and legally sound, and research-based, and supported by the framework of our Constitution -- it is hard to believe that this is true.

I don't know that this brings with it profound and lasting change from a "now Virginia votes Democrat" point of view. But for now, for today, for this election? Holy cow.

Virginia voted for a black man for president. And maybe North Carolina (?). AND INDIANA. I was with El_Gallo last night, and he is from Indiana, and has often cited the fact that his home town was the site of the largest KKK rally in American history. There is a young member of his family (an in-law, to be fair) who admitted to being "afraid of black people."

INDIANA voted for Barack Obama.

I am hoping that if I say it (write it) enough times, I will start to realize that this has really happened. It's historic and important and kind of shocking and amazing.

Mostly, it says to me that this country really wants to move forward, and really wants to believe in our American mythology. And I'm totally down with that.

But I'm not stupid. I don't think Obama is going to wave his magic wand and make everything perfect, just like that, *poof*. I am a little trepidacious about announcing what I hope real change will look like, because I'm not sure it's possible, or how long it might take.

But I do think this country's overwhelming optimistic enthusiasm is important, and it's something we haven't had in a long time. Optimism itself is both healing and an agent of change -- it's momentum to propel us forward. I hope it does. I think it will.

I woke up this morning feeling more hopeful than I have in a long, long time. It was a very good feeling.

And then I cried.

It is looking like Prop 8 will pass here in California. This will mean writing a ban against same sex marriage into our state constitution. I am surprised, perhaps naively. I also don't understand how this is possibly legal.

I heard a major supporter of Prop 8 actually say on the news this morning, "This isn't about discrimination. This does not take away any rights from gays. The gays have the exact same rights that straight people do." Which is an outright lie. It gives straight people one big right (and loooooots of smaller but important ones) that gay people do not have. This means making a law for one kind of person and not for another.

Which I find completely and 100% legally, Constitutionally, indefensible.

I got into an online argument with several folks on Monday. They suggested, and I'm kindly paraphrasing, that if we broaden the definition of marriage so that we don't discrminate against the gays, we open up a can of worms. Because what's to stop the liberals from wanting to broaden the definition of marriage to include incest, children, polygamy, and animals?

Leaving me to shake my head and say, Well, uh, lots of things?

(Common sense being one of them.)

The point is that we are trying to define marriage on a national level. And, as with all other laws we pass, it is our duty as American citizens to do so in a way that does not give the right to one kind of citizen and not another.

You know how all US citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote?

Do you think that when African Americans wanted the right to vote that the opponents said, "Oh sure, and what's next? We'll let golden retrievers vote, too?" YOU BET THEY DID. Same with the crazy women who thought they should get the same right that men had. "And if women can vote, next thing you know, we'll be letting 10-year-olds in the polling booths!" Right.

Except no.

There is no reason that a national definition of marriage cannot be between one consenting adult citizen and one other consenting adult citizen. No reason, that is, except for arbitrary notions of morality and religion which are debatable from a theological viewpoint and irrelevant from a legislative one.

It wasn't that long ago that black residents of this country were considered 3/5 of a person and the notion that they should have the right to vote seemed ludicrous by "modern moral standards."

Yesterday, America voted Barack Hussein Obama to be the next president of the United States.

For now, perhaps we've lost the same-sex marriage equality battle, but we will win the war.

Yes we can.


*************UPDATE with twitchy eyes ***************

Gay rights activists are already taking this to court. This comes as no surprise, of course. But what makes me get ranty and break out in hives is this kind of sentiment (from this LA Times article):
"Now, if they want to legalize gay marriage, what they should do is bring an initiative themselves and ask the people to approve it. But they don't. They go behind the people's back to the courts and try and force an agenda on the rest of society."

Initiatives like these propositions asking the voters directly to amend a state constitution makes no sense to me in a republic.

Regardless, just because people vote for something doesn't automatically make it legal. Nor does it make it constitutional. (Which is why we still have those legislative and judicial branch thingamajigs.)

Going to the courts isn't "going behind the people's back." It's actually kind of the opposite. Going directly to the people, fueling them with lies, and using votes from a (slim) majority to try and take away rights from a minority, actually goes "behind the back" of the American political process. By which I mean subverts its process and fundamentals.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Not The Halloween Where I Saw A Lesbian Cowgirl Scale The Wall To Get To The Ladies' Room

But that was a good story, too. You can read part one here and part two here.

Halloween, 1995

When I think of autumn and fallish, Halloweeny memories, for some reason this time in my life comes to mind first. (Note: marching band competitions come to mind second. Sad? Yes. True? Also yes.) In 1995 was a junior in college. I was living at home and commuting to a local branch of UCONN. I had a few acquaintances there, but not many and no one I was especially close to. It was a lonely time in my life in many ways, actually. But I was very happy nonetheless, because I felt really engaged in life.

I've written about this before, but after a miserable first year of college -- and by miserable I do mean miserable -- something clicked. I decided I was too young and smart to be so unhappy and to feel so out of control of my life. So I stopped feeling sorry for myself (Note: I think a lot of my motivation came when I somehow transferred my sadness into anger. It worked, but was unsustainable. I do not recommend.). And I turned things around.

A year later, I was barely 20 years old. I was in great shape and was working out regularly. I was managing a full-time class load in the honors program. And I had a part-time internship at a marketing agency. AND I had a part-time job at the cafe at the local Barnes and Noble.

AndAndAnd I was always looking for my next boyfriend. (Note: story of my life.)

At this time, I was mostly looking for love online. Not because that's where all the hot guys were -- trust me; 1995 had not exactly lured the stud muffins to the internet -- but because I wasn't finding them in real life. Again, I didn't really have any friends to hang out with. I wasn't old enough to go to bars or clubs, and even if I had been, I wasn't going to go alone. And because I wasn't living in a college town by any means, the guys I met were either much older (meaning married with kids) or in high school. The guys my age were away at college, or in their first jobs out of college and living in, say, New York City.

Meeting Kevin was, therefore, a lovely surprise.

I was scheduled to work an afternoon shift at the B&N Cafe on Halloween, so I decided to show up fully decked out in costume. I wore a very adorable (if every-so-slightly small) Minnie Mouse getup, including yellow mouse shoes, mouse ears and nose, false eyelashes, tights, and even the faux bloomers. My very dorky manager was a little concerned that perhaps I was TOO costume-y, but the district manager was in that day, and gave me his full approval.

Toward the end of my shift, a half-cute, half-handsome man came into the cafe. He looked to be somewhere in his twenties, and was very much "my type." He was tall and broad-shouldered, with dark hair and dark eyes. I remember him in a nice coat, like a fancy trench sort of thing, even though it's entirely possible my memory is messing with me. He was clearly a professional of some sort. And he was very smiley. We may have flirted while I made his coffee drink, but I think when you're in a Minnie Mouse costume, it's a little hard to tell who's smiling with you and who's smiling at you. (Note: ALSO story of my life.)

When my shift was over and I was headed out, I ran into this man again. He stopped me, I think, and asked something adorable about where I might be going, dressed as I was. We chatted a bit. And then the up-to-that-moment-in-my-life-unheard-of thing happened. He asked for my phone number. A young, professional, handsome man asked me for my number. WHILE I WAS DRESSED AS MINNIE MOUSE. Ah, memories. His name was Jeff.

Now, perhaps you're remembering lo those 4 paragraphs ago where I said something about "Kevin." Turns out, I'm getting to that.

I was rather tickled that Jeff had requested my number, and while I didn't expect him to call right away, I thought he definitely would call. And then a few days passed, and a few more. And then a week. And then it had been two FULL weeks before the phone finally rang and I answered it and a friendly man's voice I didn't recognize was on the other end.

"Is this...Kristy?"

"Yes." (?)

"Hi. This is Kevin."

"Hi!" I said, trying to sound like I had some idea who it was. Because I didn't at all.

"Uhm, you don't actually know me."

That would explain it.

"But you uh -- this is going to sound strange. I think you met my friend, Jeff, at Barnes and Noble a couple weeks ago."

"Oh, uh, yeah."

And then I'm pretty sure Kevin started laughing, because the entire conversation was about to be hilarious. He basically told me that Jeff thought I was adorable and had a great personality, but forgot to mention that he already had a girlfriend. But Jeff thought that Kevin and I would hit it off, and so he gave my number to Kevin and insisted that he call me. Which he didn't really want to do, because how random is that? But then, what did he have to lose, because the worst I could do would be to hang up on him, and so far I hadn't.

I thought the story was pretty funny, and flattering. Because Jeff must have been persuasive.

I agreed to meet Kevin for coffee at the same B&N Cafe later that evening. And we did, totally, hit it off. Kevin was every bit as adorable as Jeff (if not more so), and sweet and funny. We dated for a few months, and had a great time.

We're still in touch.

I'm not sure what the point of this entry is, other than to say that it's kind of funny. You never know what's going to stick out in your mind (and heart). Why is that particular autumn and that particular boyfriend my automatic go-to when I think about Halloweens past? Of course, I have lots of other wonderful Halloween memories, bt that one strikes first. Maybe it was more pivotal than I even now realize?

Who knows.

What do you remember first?