Monthly Archives: December 2012

What I Did on My Summer, I Mean, Fall Vacation

September 19, 2012

Someone left a brochure sitting on the sofa. This is a very foolish thing to do around me. You see, brochures have words on them, and I like to read words. (Sidebar: In one of my college Italian classes, the prof decided to show a movie. He told us to ignore the subtitles so that we could practice our listening comprehension. I don’t think he understood what he was asking. I could see the words. I couldn’t not read them!) This brochure was about some of the historic sites in Leesburg. Being me, I thought they all sounded interesting. And, again being me, I really wanted to see the Union Cemetery.

On Friday, there was a rummage sale that my SIL, Jane, wanted to go to. My mom and I said we’d meet her and Felicity, who is in PM kindergarten this year, there. This would give us some girl time and would leave my mom and me free to do some of our own exploring. The rummage sale was, well, a rummage sale. I did find an awesome book for my brother. Haven’t decided if it’s a Christmas or a birthday present yet. I won’t say what it is because there’s a chance he’ll read this before he receives it. (Matt – don’t get too excited; I did buy it at a rummage sale.) When Felicity had had about enough (as had my mom and me – we’re not big shoppers), we took her to the playground while Jane finished shopping. By then it was getting close to time for Felicity to get home so that she wouldn’t miss the school bus.

And that’s when my mom and I spent more time than we know at the Union Cemetery. The DC area is so metropolitan that it’s easy to forget that it was in the south. As you can tell from the name, the Union Cemetery was created to bury dead Union soldiers. But they buried Confederate soldiers there, too. Like many old cemeteries, it is beautiful both physically and emotionally. It’s still in use, so it has graves from over the past 150 years. Parents who buried many children… Beloved mothers and fathers… Old men who had once served during the Civil War, some for the USA, but many for the CSA… Here in Michigan, I’m accustomed to seeing the markers on the graves of Union soldiers. There’s something eerie to me about the markers that proclaim CSA in capital letters. (For those of you who don’t remember your high school American history lessons, the official name was Confederate States of America, shortened to CSA.) And what we were looking for as we wandered amongst the old stones was the monument to the Confederate soldiers killed at Ball’s Bluff. It turned out that we’d parked right next to it. Remember what I said about the Titanic exhibit? The Civil War is the same way. So many men died. So many men died. This is one of those monuments that manages to return their humanity. Again, this might be because I see it with Northern eyes. The Confederates were the villains of the piece. Except they weren’t. They were men with families who loved them and mourned their loss.

So that was Friday.

On Sunday, the entire family went to the fair. Emily enjoyed meeting an alpaca, which made up for us missing knitting group this trip. I rocked out to the music of the Fabulettes. How could I not? They’re called the Fabulettes!

And on Monday, my parents and I ditched the rest of the family for a trip to Harpers Ferry. My second year teaching we planned a big end-of-the-year field trip for our 8th graders. We were going to take them to Washington, DC, and Harpers Ferry. And then 9/11 happened, and the trip got canceled. I was so disappointed, possibly even more than our students were. If I remember correctly, I was seven or eight when I went to Gettysburg. I do know that’s where I first learned about John Brown. There was a figure of him at the wax museum there, based on the famous drawing of a slave woman holding up her baby for him to kiss as he was led in handcuffs to the gallows. I remember my mother explaining why the woman was doing that and how important that man with the long beard was. That image (well, that and Jenny Wade) has stuck with me, vividly, since then. As an adult, I got my hands on Ann Rinaldi’s novel Mine Eyes Have Seen which tells the story of Brown’s preparations for the raid on Harpers Ferry from the viewpoint of his daughter Annie. I highly recommend this book. It’s YA, so it’s a pretty quick read. And if you just want to know what happened on the raid, read the epilogue. If you’ve read the entire book, have a tissue or two handy.

I thought I would cry when I walked into the firehouse, but I didn’t. Perhaps the spirits of the men who died there have finally been able to move on. I did cry at the John Brown Museum. The story of the raid usually makes me cry. Not because it failed. But because of the individual lives that were lost. Because of how some of those lives were lost. People on both sides of the abolition divide proved to be cruel and vindictive over the days that Brown and his men held the firehouse.

By the time we were heading back to the car, I was already ready to go back to Harpers Ferry. It is a beautiful spot. The way the mountains and the rivers converge is simply breathtaking. And the way the Park Service has handled the museums so that none is too large also makes it easy to miss one of them. I’m looking forward to going back there again and again. I’m sure that I will visit the firehouse every time, to pay homage to the men who died there, but I look forward to discovering new things while drinking in the beauty of its natural surroundings.

And we spent the night in Ohio on Tuesday, and I got home today. And that’s what I did on my summer fall vacation.


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Finally! Something Resembling a Vacation!

September 12, 2012

Oh, you thought I was going to say I was pregnant, didn’t you? Sorry. I thought it was clear from previous posts that this past cycle was a no-go. Nope. My parents and I are headed to visit my brother and his family in sunny Virginia. And since school has started, this means we’ll have some time to sightsee by ourselves.

And the best part is that I get to sleep in the back seat while my dad does all the driving. My mother and I have both said that we have our driver’s licenses. If he wants one of us to drive, we can. (But we’re both happy to let him drive as long as he’s happy to do it. He does have a time limit, though. After about eight hours, it’s clear that it’s time to stop. Or at least time to let someone else drive.) We’ll be stopping overnight in Pennsylvania. This means my mom and I can indulge in one of our favorite travel pastimes: the Food Network. Neither of us gets this channel. Okay, I actually don’t get any channels these days. Free Wi-Fi, remember? My TV is so old that I would have needed a converter box when television went digital except I had cable at the time. There will be Olympics again in two years. I may have to buy a new TV then.

This is how my family chooses to buy new TVs. It’s always about the Olympics. We got a color TV for the ’88 Olympics. (That’s right. We still had a black-and-white set until 1988.) I bought my current TV for the 2000 Olympics. (My students were relieved to hear that I finally had a television, but they thought it was pretty weird that the reason I bought it was so that I could watch the Olympics.)

Anyway, my mom and I both love the Food Network, and hotels frequently have it in their channel line-up. We happily gorge on a couple hours of “Chopped” or “Cupcake Wars” before bed. As far as we’re concerned, the reason to stay in hotels is to watch Food Network. And if they’re showing something we don’t like, there’s always the real estate porn that is HGTV.

And I’m on vacation. If I stay up a little too late tonight watching Food Network, I can always sleep in the car as we drive the rest of the way to Virginia. And, you know what? Even if I don’t stay up too late tonight, I think I’ll still take a nap in the car. Isn’t sleep what vacations are for?

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No Surprise

September 4, 2012

So after the ordeal of Sunday, surprise surprise, I didn’t need the hCG shot to ovulate. I did that all by myself this weekend.

And I know the following doesn’t really equate, but it’s how I’m starting to feel. There’s this episode of Law & Order: SVU (yes, I watch SVU) in which this girl has run away to New York to get an abortion and the provider she finds keeps putting her off and putting her off until it’s too late because they’re actually pro-life. I’m starting to feel like he doesn’t really believe that single women have the right to get pregnant without men. I’m starting to feel like he’s just going to keep coming up with excuses not to try until it’s too late for me to ever possibly get pregnant. And I know that’s not fair. I know that he doesn’t want to try unless he’s positive that he’ll be successful. But that’s still how I’m starting to feel. Maybe it’s because I have yet to meet another single woman in the waiting room. I don’t think I’ve even met a lesbian in a committed relationship. All of the other women seem to be married. (We all want to know whose idea of a cruel joke it was to put the OB/GYN directly across from the fertility clinic so that all of the women who are having difficulty getting pregnant can watch all of the women who are ready to pop go to their appointments.) I know I’m not the first woman to do this. I know I’m not the first woman in Michigan to do this. I know I’m not the first woman in southwest Michigan to do this. But, man, it’s sure starting to feel that way!

The good news is that we know the Femara worked, so we can try it again. Fingers crossed we get the timing right next time!

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This is Why I’m Not a Nurse (Sorry, Grandma)


Today I proved that I really do have a needle phobia. I’ve said that I do for years. I mean, I’m terrible with needles. A nurse once had to pry my fingers off of her wrist so that she could give me a TB shot. I think it goes back to childhood. I remember getting a vaccination. I was laying on the exam table. The nurse said, “Don’t look,” and she turned my head away so that I couldn’t. Except there was a mirror along the wall. Or at least that’s how I remember it.

At any rate, ever since, I’ve hated getting shots and having blood drawn. I start crying, and I can’t look. Even on TV when I know that it’s not real, I can’t look. (Thank god for fussy lace knitting! Oh, dear, I really have to look at my handwork until the soundtrack tells me you’re not jabbing people anymore!)

But back to today. There are two problems with an hCG trigger shot. The first is that it’s, well, a shot. The second is that I have to take it at 10 o’clock. PM. Or to me (and my mother) PMB: Past My Bedtime. I spent the weekend psyching myself up for the former. I visualized myself doing it, nervous but capable. I channeled the Little Engine and Bob the Builder: I can do this, I can do this. For the latter, I distracted myself with Little Mosque on Hulu while knitting on Courtney’s baby shower gift. (Hey, Courtney! Turns out it will be finished in time for your shower next Sunday!) I did not call my mom to say that she should come over. I did not get in the car and drive to my parents’ house, injection kit in tow. That would have been a good idea, but I didn’t.

I’d set the alarm on my phone to go off at 9:55pm. At that time, I gathered my supplies: injection, rubbing alcohol, instruction sheet. I prepped the needle, by which I mean I got the air bubble out without accidentally shooting the entire syringe. Sure, I thought about doing that. Then I wouldn’t have to jab myself with it. Oops.

I prepped the injection site. I double-checked the instruction sheet.

Hold the needle in one hand like you’d hold a pencil. Got it.

Pinch the skin around the injection site. Got it.

Quickly insert the needle all the way. And… I’ve got the needle two inches away from my skin.

Okay, let’s try this again. Quickly insert the needle. And… We’re more like one inch away. Moving in the right direction.

We’ll try again. Quickly insert the needle. And… We’re an inch away. Again. And we’re starting to hyperventilate just a teensy bit. Because, you see, the problem is that I HAVE TO LOOK AT WHAT I’M DOING!

This goes on for about five minutes. Start to jab. Freeze an inch from my skin. Turn around. Take some deep breaths. Repeat until hand starts shaking and crying starts.

At 10:05, I called my mother and sobbed the magic phrase into the phone, prefaced with well-bred Midwestern politeness: “I’m sorry to call you so late, but I can’t do this.” Seventeen minutes later she was there. Nineteen minutes later we were done and I was showing her my freezer full of food that I’d cooked today.

And we both agreed that if we have to do this again next month, we’ll just plan to be in the same place at 10pm to begin with.

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Now This is What I’ve Been Waiting For!

August 31, 2012

Or at least mostly.

Ultrasound this morning. Big, beautiful follicle. My mom has a better vantage point than I do, and she says the doctor even looked excited by what he saw.

There’s just one little catch. It’s Labor Day weekend. As in, “We’re closed on Monday so come back on Tuesday even though I think you’re going to ovulate on Sunday.” (If sperm stays in the system for three days, why not inseminate today? Sunday is only two days away!) But either way, he wants me to do an hCG injection at 10pm on Sunday. (So, yes, even if I have a positive OPK on Sunday, I still need to jab myself with a needle.) The nurse gave my mom and me the lesson on how to do the injection. You know that thing where victims of violence may not be able to describe their attacker but can describe the weapon in great detail? I don’t remember looking at the nurse at all as she was explaining. I was too busy staring at the needle.

And this, of course, is not a drug found at your local Walgreens. There is a specialty pharmacy in Grand Rapids that stocks it. And it’s fairly close to the fertility clinic. Or at least it’s fairly close if you know which side of the street to look on. It turns out that it’s not the right. And I had my mother AKA the Geographer navigating. I’m not sure what her superpower is, but it’s not reading maps. Okay, I have to give her some credit. She’s not a bad navigator if she has time to prep. She just gets turned around easily when she’s navigating on the fly. It was when she had us heading across the river that I knew we needed to turn around. And in both of our defenses, the nurse did say that the pharmacy was on the right. And in her defense, after we turned around and were heading back in the direction of the clinic, it was on the right. It’s in this little building that we would have missed for a second time had I not noticed that it said “PHARMACY” in large letters near the roof. That was seriously the only obvious indicator that we’d found the place.

It’s a charming little pharmacy. Reminds me a bit of Suburban in Parchment before they closed. I particularly liked that they had a sign asking people to wait there until the customer at the counter was finished. I even told the pharmacist that I liked the “HIPAA-Distance Sign”. She said people don’t really pay any attention to it. I told her that I still appreciate the attempt. The syringe, of course, needs to be kept cold, so they gave me a, in the scheme of things, giant cooler with a really nice ice pack. (The cooler is about a one foot cube for one teeny tiny syringe, including packaging.)

I dropped my mom off at home and went to work for a few hours. I’m getting tired of using my PTO on days I go in for ultrasounds when nothing else happens. I’ll still have to use some PTO today, but at least it won’t be 8 hours’ worth.

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In Which I am Spoiled Rotten

August 30, 2012

I have an awesome massage therapist. The fact that her youngest was good friends with my brother when growing up and I gave not only all three of her children but her entire neighborhood the chicken pox when I was six months old probably plays a major part in just how much she spoils me. I don’t think I ever paid full price for a massage when I was in college. It was always the “exam discount” even if it was July and I was home for the summer. My favorite time was when she said, “I have some bags for the clothing loop in my trunk. If you take them off my hands, I’ll give you the massage for free.” This translated to a free massage AND free clothes! Even after I’d graduated, when I was teaching 8th grade, she’d give me the “exam discount” because I was a teacher which meant I still had to grade tests. (She knew I had no money.)

So in short, Mary is awesome and generous and I shouldn’t have been at all surprised by this. She’d been talking to my mom who was telling her about my life at the moment. And I’d forgotten that one of her daughters had dealt with fertility issues, too. And she wanted to help. She wanted me to see her. She knew I needed a massage.

I texted her that I have an ultrasound tomorrow. She had an appointment open in the afternoon, so we planned on that. Well, I was just opening my car door to head home from work today when my phone rang. It was Mary. Could I possibly switch and see her today? Maybe now? Absolutely not a problem, I agreed. I said I’d be there in 15 or 20 minutes. And we did agree that it was definitely better this way. For one thing, the client who she normally sees on Thursdays who suddenly realized he had a conflict was thrilled to be able to switch to Friday. And for another, it was better to get the massage in advance of the ultrasound instead of after. She worked on my yin, to increase that female energy as much as possible. (Is that my problem? I have too much yang?) And then she gave me prenatal flower essence in which she’d blended her own essence of wild pomegranate.

And she charged me nothing. Makes a girl want to cry. If nothing else comes out of this process, I will always cherish how much people have demonstrated that I am loved. And just a little bit spoiled.

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This is the Way to Move

August 28, 2012

I’m still on “vacation”. Maybe I should really call it “move-cation”. It’s like a “staycation” only you move. As you know, I took a couple of days off last week to move boxes in advance of my crew (again, Drew, Josh, Andy, Uncle Phil, Daddy, Issa, Ryan, you rock!) coming to move my furniture. I also took Monday and Tuesday of this week off to recover. Yesterday, Daddy and I went to Lowe’s (thanks for the coupon, USPS!) to buy shelves for my pantry and the bedroom closets. We also bought those sticky strips that you can use to hang artwork. You know, the ones that you pull the tab on the bottom and then they remove cleanly from the wall so you don’t have to deal with nail holes. This means I’m starting to get some of my artwork hung. The new place is starting to look like my place. I’ve got my painting hung, the one that reminds me of when my friends and I took the weekend trip to Milan. (We were living in Rome, so it wasn’t an unreasonable weekend trip.) There’s still a lot to unpack, but it’s becoming livable.

And today, I’m playing with my Mommy. Hair appointments at noon! Yalanda was relieved to learn that I wasn’t moving into her building after all. Not because she wasn’t looking forward to that. We both were excited at the thought of just having to run up/downstairs to see each other. No, she was relieved because she couldn’t figure out why I was parking so far away from the building. We’re going to have to do better. We live in the same complex. We should see each other more frequently than at her shop.

Tomorrow, I guess I have to go back to work. I’m not really looking forward to it. I’m definitely in need of a proper vacation!

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