Friday, July 31, 2009

curiouser and curiouser

Thanks so much for all your kind words. In case anyone is actually trying to keep up with my indecision (which is a pretty tall order), here's the sitch. First of all - ovbiously, I've managed to stay up way too late YET AGAIN.

Second, after I got home, I checked through my email - and found out that I just got a promotion (I wasn't even sure I would be eligible yet, and they processed it automatically without telling me). My dh was a little chagrined that he won't even have his first day on the job before my 10%-ish raise kicks in Monday - I've widened the gap yet again. I'm confident he'll pass me up eventually, though.

But on Monday morning, our household income will literally double. Almost to the dollar. I know it's crude to talk about money and the IF blogging is supposed to be about more important things. But that's sort of why this strikes me...I am actually kind of waiting for the other shoe. Spiritual blessings I can sort of handle, there's obviously a reason God would want me to improve in virtue (not that that's happened recently) - but material blessings I see as God's way of letting me know I'm about to be hit by a truck.

I try to remind myself that my dh was unemployed for six months, we've been ttc for four years and are no closer to success, I will probably have surgery in the fall, and we have half the value of a house in student loan debt that will take thirty years to pay - and we live in a place where a modest home costs a small fortune. So we're not suddenly going to be living large (that's really not what we do). And FTR, we're not going to be wealthy, exactly - just have more than I could ever have imagined as a kid (growing up on welfare in a small town), you know?

Honestly, I wanted to grow up and be poor surrounded by my million children and not notice that my clothes were vintage 1986. It was my opinion - accurate, I think - that such circumstances would make me selfless, kind, and patient, and protect me from vanity and materialism; focused on the enduring things rather than the fleeting ones. I am grateful for the good fortune, but I'm sort of at sea. As a personality issue, I'll find it far easier to save or invest the additional income responsibly, and find a worthy object for tithing, than I would find it to figure out what to do with an infant. Five years ago everything would have been different. I'm not sure this is a better person to be than the person I was - nor do I know how to get back there.

Also, I have to add, I didn't study as much for my big exam today as I should have. In fact, I didn't start studying until almost midnight last night. And so I was so tired that I didn't get through all the material. But since it was open-book, I felt reasonably prepared. Unfortunately, I'm not well suited to open-book; once I have it, I have to look up even answers I know. OCD. So we had two hours for fifty multiple-choice questions, and I just finished them and didn't have time to go back and re-check the questionable ones, and only got to two of the five tie-breaker questions (in case of a tie for high score. They were optional, but what the heck?).

This was unfortunate, because I got one of the three perfect scores, and so the prize - name on a plaque and an honorary award sponsored by the American Bar Association, which would have looked awesome on my resume - went to the gal who actually answered all the tiebreaker questions.

And then I got home and found out about the promotion. See what I mean? Something terrible will happen. If they tell me my uterus has a termite infestation and has to be removed, I won't even be surprised, OK? Go ahead, take it. I'm kind of already expecting it. I'm afraid it will be something worse, for which I have no way to prepare. My little sister's plane will crash as she's flying home from Poland and she won't make it. My husband will take his first trip for work and never come back. I don't even know. God preserve the people I love. Take me - take the money. Take whatever you want. But leave them alone.

Nevertheless, I'm going to an open house at my house on Sunday afternoon. (It turns out that the DH's new job does have its HQ in Rockville. The main job site is actually at a satellite office in Springfield, so that's where he'll be half of the time for eighteen months...but no, he does not mind the drive.) And, shinejil, I know you're right about moving and renovations while pregnant - although I also know people who've done it. I've had to stop making decisions around whether a future pregnancy should change what I do now, but it is a good point.

Right after that, we're going to visit the previous "my house" - you know, the one that's over a million dollars and falling over. I figure that the visit will tell me (a) how bad the inside is (I have no information), and (b) how reasonable the realtor is. These will at least let me eliminate it if that is called for. And if they let me take pictures, I may bore you all with them.

Of course, today (er, yesterday?) was the last day of our old lease. I need to print the new one tomorrow morning, review it, and sign it pretty quickly. We basically decided (95% sure) that we should sign, and if we want to move in the next 3-4 months (doesn't that sound perfect? Unfortunately not an option on the lease!), we can look for a subletter. Yes, it would be a great idea just to pay a month's rent to walk away from the lease, but this isn't a nice normal townhouse, unfortunately - they have trouble renting this property (it's a little unusual), and they don't sound willing to let us walk easily.

While I'm borrowing trouble against tomorrow, I have found some time to pray for those who have actual problems right now. I wish there were more I could do.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

you win some

I just talked to my DH. They gave him the job. They also decided that his salary requirement was too low - and raised it by 10 per cent. He starts Monday.

He had been unemployed almost exactly 6 months.

I'm sort of blown away. I think it happened overnight.

Of course, there are complications. It's not a permanent spot, rather a 12-18 month assignment, but with a high chance of another long-term project after that. I originally thought the office was in Rockville (REALLY close to my house), but it turns out to be in Springfield (really far). On the other hand, he'll be traveling so much (3-4 weeks at a time, every other month) that the location of the office is slightly less important. Naturally, I'm kind of horrified that he'll be traveling this much. I understood there was travel involved, but I didn't understand it would be that long at a time. I hate being home without him.

Would you believe, now that all this has happened suddenly, I'm less sure about the house. If his job were right near it, I might see it as a sign. But as it is, the timing is so short. Tomorrow is the last day of our old lease, and we need to decide whether we want to renew (they sent the forms the day before yesterday). If so, we couldn't move till the end of March. We could ask to go month-to-month, but I think I'm driving my landlord crazy with the negotiations, and it would only be worth the extra expense if we moved well before March. If we wait that long to move, we could lose the house (or find a better one?), we'd probably miss the lower interest rates, and we'd definitely lose the tax credit. On the flip side, every month we wait, we can increase our savings. So the funny thing is, I could badger my landlord to give us a month-to-month, get preapproved in about a week, visit a house or two, and before winter have substantially started on my remodeling plans...but I'll be all by myself so much of the time (arguably an advantage if I'm remodeling). The *idea* sounded so exciting. But now that I could pull it off...

I have a superabundance of opinions, but on this matter I am INCAPABLE OF DECISION.

I would like to point out that I have recognized the hugeness of the fact that since my dh is now within spitting distance of my salary, should there be a need, I could work half time, and we'd still be able to pay for a mortgage and put money in the bank. Not that there could *possibly* be a need for that.

(Would I be doing this if I were holding my first ever positive hpt right now? Yes. Yes, I would.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

the hound of heaven

I hadn't read Francis Thompson's poem in a while. It is as beautiful as ever, and I thought I would share it.

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat -- and a voice beat
More instant than the Feet --
"All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."


I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of his approach would clash it to:
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clangèd bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o' the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden -- to Eve: Be soon;
With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
From this tremendous Lover--
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot 'thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o' their feet:--
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat--
"Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me."

I sought no more that after which I strayed,
In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children's eyes
Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
"Come then, ye other children, Nature's -- share
With me" (said I) "your delicate fellowship;
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
Wantoning
With our Lady-Mother's vagrant tresses,
Banqueting
With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured daïs,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring."
So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one --
Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies.
I knew all the swift importings
On the wilful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;
All that's born or dies
Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine;
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day's dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning's eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
I laid my own to beat,
And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's grey cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
These things and I; in sound I speak--
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
The breasts o' her tenderness;
Never did any milk of hers once bless
My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
With unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
And past those noisèd Feet
A Voice comes yet more fleet --
"Lo! naught contents thee, who content'st not Me."

Naked I wait thy Love's uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenceless utterly.
I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o' the mounded years --
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must --
Designer infinite!--
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again.
But not ere him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man's heart or life it be which yields
Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
Be dunged with rotten death?

Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
"And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest me!
"Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught" (He said),
"And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited --
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child's mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home :
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!"
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
"Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest me."

Monday, July 27, 2009

a lot

Frivolous

I guess I'm lucky - my skin, which is always rather hard-wearing (let's be honest, I wash it once every day or, um, two, with whatever soap is to hand, and never take my makeup off before I go to bed, and it pretty much never does anything), survived two rounds of tamoxifen before it decided to return to high school. Amusingly, I first blamed it on being here in Charlottesville - three zits in two days (usually that would take months), and my whole forehead feels like a lunar mountain range, you know? I'm not amused. At some point, I realized that driving two hours south was a slightly less likely culprit than high doses of hormone drugs. Sigh.

I know those inane "your body is changing" books written by a childless male OB/GYN in 1955 always suggest that PMS and all its side effects would be more manageable if I quit eating chocolate, but I hope that whole gang knows what they can do with their unhelpful advice. I don't believe it, anyway.

I don't know whether the thyroid is helping. I feel much more exhausted than before, because of course I am not sleeping. And I have refused to exercise - probably a combination of PMS and cramps (timing is everything!), and it's too hot here for running to be tempting. Although it's a pretty area. So, jury still out on the synthroid. It must be helping, right? And when I start living on something other than grasshoppers and cheetos again, I am sure all will be well.

Also, having sampled the delicious pizza at the Mellow Mushroom with the DH the other night (he did come down to visit), I have decided I need to start making homemade pizza again (I used to do it reasonably often). I can use the same dough recipe, but this time I'm going to make the sauce from scratch: diced tomatoes (which I can buy canned in winter), basil, minced garlic, olive oil, and salt; and for the top, mozzarella, feta, and roasted red peppers, with maybe some oregano. Doesn't that sound perfect? And so simple I bet I could do the whole thing without a recipe (well, except for the dough). Ah, inspiration.

Compulsive

Of course, I've brought myself too near the kitchen and my will is too weak...I must share my latest discovery. Well, just one. I will spare you innocent people the whole gamut. No sane person would have not only read through all my insane house nonsense, but also followed the hyperlinks. But if somebody had, they would have seen this:


Tell me the copper stove at the top left is not the coolest stove you have ever seen. And where would a poor li'l DIYer who doesn't own, um, a television station ever find such a thing? Would you believe I have an answer for this? You would look here, as it happens.

And if you did, you would rapidly learn that it's a Chambers-brand gas stove, dating from about 1953. I am still very torn. That's 30 years later than my house was built. But, it's just the best stove ever, isn't it? I mean, the copper color is magnificent. It matches any color scheme and though the piece itself has an obvious vintage charm, the finish is completely timeless (I would be fine with a white or pastel enamel too, but the copper is just that much better).

And when I saw this gem, for sale in Washington, D.C., I think I literally stopped breathing temporarily. But...it's being offered for $1100. And it's unrefinished. So, um, even I can't make an argument that I should spend that much money on it. (I think I could see an argument for about $150 for a vintage stove and another $100 to have a plumber take a look at the lines and install it - that's not crazy, right?) But...wow. That's the stove. And it's in driving distance.


Broken

Anyway, I can't pretend that that's all that's been wandering through my head lately. I know both my DH and I have had real struggles with our faith recently. His quitting smoking and my PMS certainly explain respective recent bouts of depression, but that's not the whole story. It occurs to me, at times, that I ought to give myself permission to be taking things hard. I have a good job (and I was about to write, and I have my health!). But, my husband has been out of work for months and it's been really hard on him. And I don't know where he'll wind up, or with what sort of work, and what demands it may make on both of us. I have no idea whether we'll have kids or if so when, and only slightly more idea what more medical procedures I'll have to deal with in the coming months and years - whether I get pregnant or not.

I'm only 27, but thirty will be here before I know it and in the intervening two and a half years, I think I should find more of a notion of where I'm headed. That's enough time to let go of having kids, if that's what I need to do (right??), and to remember what it's like to have a worthwhile life. It's enough time to scrape together a purpose and stop feeling lost and sorry for myself. Of course, I know I'm not actually moving - not even crawling - in that direction now. What's the Chinese proverb? A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step? If I don't start, I'll never make any progress at all.

But I don't feel ready to own all the things that are wrong with my life spiritually, to be brutally honest about what things are my fault and what things I was powerless to change. To acknowledge that I might have been sliding backward throughout my twenties, and be less now than I ever have been. To throw out everything I'm doing and do something entirely different. And I'm angry at the idea (my idea) that I should have to. I just tried to put one foot in front of the other. I'm no saint, but I've tried to do the next good thing. In more cases than not, I think I have. How could I be so lost?

I actually opened my Magnificat today and read through the morning prayer, and some things from the previous days. I saw several things that struck me, that I thought I would share.

From a reflection for Sunday:

[T]he root of human wretchedness is loneliness, the absence of love - the fact that our personal existence is not embraced by a love that makes our existence "necessary."

That just seemed to sum it all up right there. And from the reading for today's morning prayer -

I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them.

You're not kidding.

Something struck me in Sunday Mass - I had just had a huge fight with my DH (over who was right about the directions to the church. Yes, I know. Hormones...), and so I was really emotional and feeling everything much more keenly than I ordinarily do. I thought I had long since sorted out my many issues with my father - my relationship with him is still a disaster, but that wasn't my choice. My choice was not to be angry any more. He chose to love his children conditionally, and to behave abominably to me (and my younger brother, in separate episodes), and he won't make the effort even to say that he's sorry, or to make the huge reach out to repair a ruin of a relationship. And I can't really do it for him and I have done all of the trying I really have in me. I continue to keep in contact with him, but it doesn't accomplish much. I'll do my part, but I can't make him willing to admit what's happened, and want to really rebuild.

But it occurred to me that when he failed me so completely, my path to peace was in recognizing (after a long while) that I didn't have a right to be angry, I had to live a good life no matter what he did, and I didn't need him to do anything in particular in order for me to be happy. And so I learned that he wasn't necessary to my life. It would be wonderful to be close to my father as I used to be. It would be wonderful if my DH knew the person who played such a huge role in my life, who features in so many of my stories, of whom he reminds me a great deal! But my father can barely manage to make eye contact with my DH. And a different world, in that respect, would be a better world - but I have to live in this one.

It occurs to me that my recent struggles with my faith have taken a rather similar turn. God let me down - he ignored my prayers, he dragged me onto a path that led nowhere, he left me lost, he scorned my substantial leap of faith, and I'm depressed and I so often feel alone and empty and unhappy. I could shake up my life enormously with a new project or direction to see whether a dramatic change would solve the problem. But that's sort of arbitrary and there's not much I really energetically want to do. So I wander aimlessly along. I think the two weeks in Charlottesville have been good - they've demonstrated, at least, that I don't suddenly hate going to daily Mass as long as it's in English. But it's not an entirely different world. And I guess I need to realize that it really has been a hard year, a hard few years; with many blessings, but with a lot of challenges too, of the kind that tend to strip away the strength I need to face the hard times, and that isolate me from other people and make me harder to love.

I've been toying with the idea of emailing a priest and asking for suggestions for a spiritual director. I don't know any local parish priests practically at all, which is ridiculous given how many Masses I attend (even though it's far fewer than it has been). I haven't gotten myself over the threshold and actually sent that email. But maybe I will.

Afterword

On a less sad note, tomorrow is my DH's interview for this job. Friday night I dreamt he told me he'd gotten the job (probably because I talked to him about it right before I went to sleep). I'm really hopeful that this is what God has been preparing for us, that it will lead (it's a temporary job I think) to a position he'll love, in which he can use his gifts to do good work, and that will be a good situation for a family - even if it's only a family of two.

If you've a spare prayer, please ask whoever might listen for everything to fall into place with this one.

If you've borne with me this long, you deserve a medal - God bless you.

P.S. The landlord hasn't sent the lease papers back yet...wonder what that means.

Friday, July 24, 2009

the verdict; and good things

So yesterday I got my period. I was enthused that, though it was clearly a VL day, by the time I went to bed, it was not spotting. So that's something. (I just went back and read this and noticed that it hadn't even occurred to me to be disappointed that I'm not pregnant. Keep those expectations low.) Also, looking back at my chart, I suppose it's possible that I ovulated several days earlier than I had been guessing - if I ovulated on CD14 (which is arguably supported by my charts, and which is when I think I ovulated last cycle on tamoxifen). In which case, I'd have had a 12-day luteal phase, rather than nine days. Either way I had a 27-day cycle, which is the length of my longest cycles before tamoxifen (but they were inconsistent), and the same length as last cycle.

But, you know what, the CM was just that bad. And it's never been so bad. I'm tempted to call my RE and ask whether I should skip the next cycle just to see whether things would be back to normal off the tamoxifen. But even if the tamoxifen were the cause, surely the amoxicillin and Mucinex would have taken care of it? Would I decrease the likelihood of the tamoxifen working at all, if I didn't allow it to build up in my system (not that it's doing any good now)? Would it stay built up enough in my system that just one month wouldn't teach me anything anyway? Who knows.

More importantly, I met Mrs. A of rememberalltheway for lunch today! Even though I typically got lost and was late (sorry!), it was awesome to meet another blogger (my first!) and of course as everyone will expect, she was super-sweet. Here's a picture of us - to preserve our anonymity, I can't tell you which of us is which.


Maybe more bloggers will be able to get together before the summer is over! I've decided the Richmond girls totally don't count, by the way.

Also, because it just wouldn't be a day without me rambling needlessly about some sort of historic-minded home decoration, here are my latest finds.

On sale for just $150 (no idea whether it works):




So you agree with me, right? The second one is prettier - has more sort of scupltural elements and would work better aesthetically as a freestanding piece, right? (I have the layout for the kitchen totally redone in my head, BTW - inevitably, I was going to spend enough time to figure out how to redo it, before I ever saw it in person. And in my layout, the oven stands slightly on its own, rather than sitting flush with the lower cabinets.)

But the first stove is maybe cuter (is that a crazy distinction?). It's definitely bigger - I think the right upper door is to the oven, and the larger left door is to the broiler (the relative sizes make no sense, but that's what the interior photos seem to show). I know, the first stove looks like the Rachael Ray stove - I watched her show the other day in the middle of my HGTV marathon just to see the stove. Stove #1 seems like a more practical option, and less fragile. But, it's a midcentury thing, right? Somewhere between 1940 and 1960? Which is a little late for the house, and decorating "period" is fine, but decorating in "random old things" would mean I'm soft in the head, right? So I have to use the second one? I mean, or one like it? When this happens?

Oh, on that subject, here's the upshot of my negotiation with my landlord: we re-rent for a year, $25 increase in monthly rent (I know, increasing in this market is stupid, but I suspected they'd be most resistant to debate on this point, and it's so little additional money I really don't care), and with 45 days' notice, we can vacate on March 31 or thereafter; we also have the right to sublet with their approval. This makes it unlikely we could take advantage of the new homebuyers' tax credit, which (as I understand it) requires that you close on a property by November 30, 2009. But, it only gives $1000 in credit per $100,000 in home price, so we'd be eligible for nowhere near the whole $8000 of the credit anyway. (Also, I ask you, who will have less than $150,000 in taxable income for two people, and be buying their first home, and be buying something that costs $800,000? I think the tax credit is substantially fictional. But tax attorneys, feel free to correct me.)

However, I note that despite us agreeing on the terms, my landlord hasn't yet responded to my email asking them to email me the papers to sign. And the other day my DH got a call from a job he'd forgotten he applied for - they liked his resume and want him to interview on Tuesday. It involves a lot of travel, which I don't necessarily like, but it's a 12-18 month assignment, and the travel would be good to have on his resume for the long-term career path he really wants (and, that might be a good amount of time in which to work on snagging that job). He's unclear on the details so far, but the job might actually be pretty close to my house. I told him that if he traveled a lot, he should expect to come home at some point and discover that I had bought a house. He said that was fair. I am breaking him in...

So (I will blame this episode of madness on the menstruation hormone crash, 'k? Good.) what if they don't get back to us with the lease terms until after the 31st, so we have to pay August rent as month-to-month? And then he lands this job right away - like next week? And (this isn't an if, if the other things happen), I immediately call every mortgage lender in the United States in a frenzied rush to find someone who wants to give me a mortgage for under 5%? (Since the DH is an army vet, this is not as impossible as it sounds, even though we don't have a 20% down payment.) And then I immediately schedule a showing of the house (I would do this immediately too), and of course I would love it even more in person (and bring a tape measure to check on all my home decoration ideas!), and then write a crazy lowball offer, and get it accepted, and the home inspection would go really well, and I wouldn't have to renew my lease at all and in five weeks we would have two incomes again and I would own a home and I would get a few thousand dollars in tax credit?

That could happen, right?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

cowbell possibly insufficient

For anyone I know who's seen this skit, "I've got a fever. And the only prescription is more cowbell!" never fails to inspire mirth. For those who have not seen it, well, you cannot go on until you have done so.

(Nasty SNL...this is the only version around, and it won't embed.)

In my case, I'm not sure the cowbell will be enough (though it's already got me smiling). I have taken my opportunity to live in a hotel room for a week to...watch HGTV until well after 2AM every night and eat half a package of grasshoppers in an evening. Needless to say, I feel exhausted and decidedly unwell. I can't quite explain what possesses me to stay up later...and later...and later - even when I was forced to do so the previous night by a project I had to finish and really needed to get to sleep early. It wasn't a matter of just losing track of the time; staring into the TV and my computer, I could see the minutes tick by, and knew I had to be up at 6:30. I am cautiously hoping to mend my ways this evening, but already I can feel the tendency to watch each next show to make sure I don't miss the really exciting one, and as it becomes later, I get more notions of things I should look at online...

Insofar as there is a lighter side of this madness, it is that I have some inspirations to show you. I stumbled on "28 Ways to Customize Your Kitchen for Less," a true gem of an article (add This Old House to my list of addictions. I love the show too. Unlike HGTV, it prizes real history, not "historic-looking," and the craftsmanship is expert - rather than just showy design. Not that I don't also love HGTV...). By the way, I want that copper stove, in case you couldn't guess.

And I found a number of magnificent ideas that I will be implementing in my future kitchen. Such as this absolute fabulousness:



It apparently is a "country store seed and bean counter," which they believe could be obtained for $800 and up. (While I am sure that's true, if you can't get one for under $400 if you give yourself six months to look, you need an intensive apprenticeship in advanced shopping.) I may be particularly enchanted with this idea because in the hypothetical kitchen in my mind (my abstract future kitchen, before I found the house in which I wanted to put it), I had long thought of using an antique table with a butcher-block top instead of an island. I'm not really in love with islands as prefab items embedded in your floor.

And you can, for real, find things just like they have on TV. For example, on ebay, a Denver seller is offering a 4 1/2 foot wide apothecary chest, apparently dating from 1870 - for $2,885, which I believe qualifies as $800 and up. It's really quite nice, and would make an awesome island:


(This one, selling in Missouri, dates from the 20th century, costs a mere $2400, and is a whopping 14 1/2 feet long.) Oh, by the way, I'm not conceding that I can't beat $800. This is just an initial cut on the internet.

So, anyway, I'll keep an eye out whenever I'm in an antique store (and there are several non-annoying sorts on the outskirts of Charlottesville that I am planning to explore soon). But, it occurred to me that I don't necessarily need to restrict myself to something that unusual. While the feed store pieces have a huge wow factor, antique sideboards are much more widely available (and thus more likely to be findable from the right era and in a decent price). For example, this is driving distance from my house, and selling for $275 (or $375 - it seems to change periodically):


You know, it looks very Target-pressboard-with-laminate-finish here for some reason, and it's actually wood and really old. It has cool original-looking handles


and looks as though it would be handsome with the current top replaced with a nice piece of butcher block (FYI, Ikea appears to be the place to buy butcher block slabs at an awesome price). Oh, and since in my kitchen, there's a wall that needs lower cabinets (for some reason they put a washer and dryer there, right in the middle of the kitchen, at the expense of almost half the possible counter space), I figured I could fit it with little caster wheels, so it could be against the wall most of the time, but elsewhere for intensive food prep that might need a different floor plan. Holidays, or something.

I guess I have some non-fictional-home-remodeling-related musings...I've been having trouble keeping track of where I am in my cycle (the answer is CD27), in part because it requires some form of multivariable calculus to figure out when I ovulated. (My temperature definitely spiked at some point, so I guess that rules out the simple answer that I never ovulated at all. Also, it would be hard to skip ovulation on tamoxifen, right???) Anyway, because it's really so unclear, I'll just spare you all my calculations and say that peak day was about June 11. Yesterday, I was positive I had just a bit of super-light pink spotting - just once. I was surprised - I didn't think it was due that soon, but I actually had to look it up and do the math. It would have been p+9, and I don't remember ever having a luteal phase that short. (Usually around 12 days.) And I felt some mild cramping - you know, the "the real cramps are coming, endo lady" cramps? I took one Aleve. In the ensuing 24 hours, no more spotting - not even the faintest color. And no more cramps. So I think maybe I imagined the spotting? I get confused easily, it could happen. Er.

Anyway, I already did the math on the implantation pain or spotting or whatever that is (in case you were going to suggest it), and it's supposed to happen around 5dpo, so, no dice. Also, yesterday morning, my temperature was 97.7 - my standard pre-ovulation temp, which means definitely not pregnant. Of course, I got approximately three hours of sleep, but that's supposed to be the magic number for your temp to be reliable, right? Oh, yeah, and today, I got up an hour earlier than I do on my regular schedule at home, also after, um, about three hours of sleep, and my temperature was 97.4. Which is really weirdly low, not sure if the hour difference would explain it.

So, tonight I will get a decent amout of sleep. If I have a temperature tomorrow of 99 or something, either I have developed Defective Mysterious Ovulation Disease and am running an actual fever, or I get to delude myself about pregnancy until, I would say, Saturday at the latest. Don't worry, even if they lock me up with a serious case of imaginary remodeling mania, I'll let you know when CD1 rolls around again.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

travels with charlottesville

So nobody needs an update on my mundane life, but I had to share. I did the drive to Charlottesville in the last two hours of daylight, so I got a great view of the three beautiful layers of mountains to the West, and a bit of local color.

In (I think) the town of Gainesville (or was it Gainesboro??), where Route 15 joins Route 29, there was a place called the Blue Ridge Seafood Restaurant. Really small-town-y. We're a little inland, but so far, I'm on board. But the sign out front said..."We have crabs." At first I thought that was a hoot, and then I thought, "Am I being unfair? I mean, is that the most natural way to say that, and it just has a second meaning?"

So I did a wee mental exercise. Suppose I'm a seafood restaurant, and I want my potential customers to know I'm offering in-season fresh lobster...what do I put on the sign? Serving lobster...we serve lobster...fresh lobster!...lobster dinner...hmm, "We have lobster" doesn't make the list. So, apparently somebody in semi-rural northern Virginia has crabs. Sadly, my shutter-finger wasn't fast enough to get a pic to share with you all.

Anyway, other highlights awaited. Right near my hotel was a Kroger! For y'all in other areas, that's a midwestern grocery store chain centered in Cincinnati. On the west coast, it flies under the alias of Ralph's. But I had no idea they had them in Virginia - I haven't seen one since we left Michigan. I think my Kroger card number should still work - I get to get my groceries for the week or two at an old familiar! And, there are several antique stores a few miles from the hotel. I shall have to visit...maybe they sell actual diamond-in-the-rough antiques, rather than worn and faded pieces from the 1980s marked at double the original selling price. (Annandale Salvation Army, are you listening?)

I'm also still up to my old tricks with regard to hypothetical home redecorations. I figured I'd take a quick peek at what's on Craig's List here in Charlottesville. So this is a little pricey ($750), but look at all the stuff! It's got a big oven, and a separate broiler, and a griddle thing, and it's older, and it's commercial-grade...I need to find me one of these around where I live. For a bit less. Um, after I buy this house...

high-grade fever

To everyone who is watching with bated breath the progress of my latest obsession, I am pleased to report that I am still deeply in its throes. I was originally planning to post, at some point, my notions about the very perfectest kitchen color scheme (there was a house for sale nearby that had a photograph of the kitchen, and I realized that it was the platonically perfect model of a kitchen color scheme, at least in my mind. Sadly I did not save the photograph and the house appears already to have sold. They also had a magnificent color scheme in the bathroom, complete with clawfoot tub with black enameled sides - had never seen one before but I was smitten. I guess it's no surprise it sold quickly, even in this market). Aforesaid color scheme had neat white cupboards, a dusty, slightly grayish blue paint color, and a white tile backsplash. It was the color of blue that was really striking, and I am confident I can find a paint chip in the proper color when the time comes.

But I did not realize that my fixation would progress so much as it has. A friend mentioned yesterday that it was possible to find building and renovation materials for sale on Craig's List - it hadn't occurred to me to look there for tile, for example. I believe I searched for countertops. And then I found something unexpected. Of course, there are clawfoot bathtubs for sale...and for $100-$300, a quite modest price for a tub, especially a lovely antique one, solid enough to last many years, that will require no custom-fitting of a surround.

But it gets better. For what did I stumble upon by accident, but antique stoves!


I really know nothing about stoves, so I can't tell when it dates from. But it was so charming that suddenly my brain fevered over with an idea. The stove in the house does need replacing eventually; I'm sure it works now but it's a rather older model, small, and electric. (This does raise the question of whether the kitchen is fitted for a gas stove, but it has to be, right??? Electric stoves are a comparatively new thing.) What if I got an antique stove instead of a contemporary one? My original plan had been to find a used restaurant stove - with the giant, super-hot ovens and large burners. Restaurants sell things off sometimes, and commercial stoves don't change in fashion so often as home-use ones, so it would look a little more timeless, and I might even learn to get my pizza cheese to blister properly.

But what about an antique one? A number of objections struck me immediately. The oven is of course quite small. I'd like to be able to make lots of cookies, or a big turkey, or a main course and sides all at once. What would I do - buy a convection oven and install it elsewhere in the kitchen? The kitchen is smallish. Also, whether they work is anybody's guess. Supposing they do, I can't imagine how you install one. And if it needs repair, it would require a real craftsman - surely an expensive undertaking. Also, what if the internal parts have invisibly worn, and it leaks gas? It could be unsafe.

Finally, my love of things antique has some boundaries - I like antique sinks and tubs, but I intend to use plumbing; I like antique cupboards, but I wouldn't use an antique refrigerator because they're impractical, and they always look retro rather than antique. Am I taking things too far?

But this one clearly has plenty of oven space...


It supposedly dates to the 1930s. I don't know what to think about the color, but I imagine it would serve all my cooking and baking needs. It would take up a lot of space, too, of course...

This one apparently dates to the late 1920s (the age of the house). It seems to be a more moderate size; it's maybe just a little shy on oven space, but appears to accomodate very tall pots...? But who wants to lean down that far to reach the stovetop? It's really cute, though, right?


This one dates to 1925. It wouldn't take up too much room, is supposedly working, has a decent-sized cooktop, and an almost normal-sized oven (doesn't it? Am I deluding myself?). And it's so fetching!


This one is 1933 or younger. Despite the staging, I am persuaded that the cover on the top conceals a cooktop, not a washing machine. But why build such a large item and devote so little of it to the oven???


This one doesn't really belong in the collection under consideration, as it dates from the 1900s (wrong era - dearly though I love that decor!) and is wood-burning, not gas. But just look at it:


Anyway, with these fevered musings, I leave you. If anybody has any information on the practicality of antique gas stoves, I would dearly welcome it (the internet was most unhelpful). I am off to Charlottesville this evening, but will have my computer with me, and intend to keep up on who else gets pregnant in the next two weeks (it's been a regular epidemic lately!).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

more of the same (and small adventure at the bottom)

I'm not off the housing kick, people. Not even close - as you shall soon see. But before I launch into that, I shall make a mercifully brief nod to the world of IF. So I didn't have any definite CM during what all of what I simply assumed, based on the cycle day, was my fertile phase. It has occurred to me that I've now been trained in NFP for years, kept a chart with temperatures and everything for months, recognize my own symptoms without having to think about it, am seeing a NaPro fertility specialist, and am taking fertility drugs - and I'm now on the rhythm method. I am going backward.

By the way, rhythm doesn't work any better for conception than avoiding conception (not that I would know about that).

However, it does appear to be accurate. I figured that my totally invented fertile phase would be vindicated if I had a temperature spike. Two days ago (five days past what I am counting as peak day - which is about when my temperature always shifts, FTR), my temp was 98. Respectable. The next day it was 97.9, still more a luteal phase temp for me, but I wasn't sure. Today it was 98.3. So, anyway, I ovulated - anybody's guess when. What nonsense.

Now that that nonsense is out of the way, I can get to what's been entertaining me. It may bore everyone else to tears - it takes all kinds, you know. But here you go.

I have now decorated most of the house in my head. I'm still vacillating about the study (I know I want to build in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves around the entire room, like in the Clue library), and the last bedroom. The ideas I have got finalized are still subject to a bit of adjusting around the edges (oh, and subject to adjustment for reality after I, er, actually see the interior in person). The living room is a decent size, and in honor of the really cool vertically striped wallpaper in the living room in the house I grew up in, I thought I could try the painted stripes technique I've seen, in colors a little like these (the blue tape is in preparation for the next stripes):


For some reason (I haven't seen a picture) I've a notion that the downstairs bathroom has white ceramic tile with a black ceramic quarter-round tile border (you've seen this in old houses. It's a little difficult to decorate around), like this (only without more tile above the black):


Black and white together are a little difficult to decorate around, but I've had a brilliant inspiration. On the top half of the wall, above the black tile edge, I will put black and white damask:


It's brilliant, right? I know. I've suddenly become OBSESSED with vintage wallpaper - more to come. Anyway, then there's the dining room. It doesn't have wainscoting, and though I may be ethically opposed to adding architectural details, wainscoting is appropriate for the time period. So I might have to add some in bright white, and above it, dark taupe paint. NB: I know taupe would be a contemporary choice, but I figure I can do something current, occasionally, with paint, since it's so temporary. This is more brown, a bit darker than what I want:


But it gets better. We recently visited Monticello, where I saw a few things I decided I wanted in my house some day. I probably can't have an original, working stone hearth in my kitchen (I would so learn to cook over an open fire). But Jefferson also had an octagonal tea room off on the side of his dining room:


My house has a very minor league version of that (it's not octagonal and it's quite small):


You see where I'm going with this. I believe it's big enough for a tea table for two. And I think it would look lovely with some gold wallpaper:



Of course, I didn't stop there. The upstairs bathroom is a great human tragedy, having been recently been redone and in good condition - with pink marbly tile from floor to ceiling. (I don't believe the ceiling itself is tiled, which is the lone mercy.) So I guess that project will have to be last (you know, after I buy the house), and eventually I'll pry off all the pink tiles, put up white subway tiling, and see if I can't come up with something like this:


OK, so, maybe in a more modest size. With tile floors instead of marble (!!!).

I also found a fabulous, giant source of wallpaper - all at really good prices! - on totalwallcovering.com. They must have THOUSANDS of prints; they're the source of the samples I used above. But I've specially enjoyed looking through images of antique wallpaper - my goal is to find out what designs would be appropriate for the house's age, and then find a reproduction at a good price. There's a smaller but interesting collection of vintage wallpaper on secondhandrose.com, and another at hannahstreasures.com.

Wouldn't this one look nice as a bedroom accent wall, with rainwater blue paint on the other walls, and painted wood furniture? I saw an idea on a design blog for navy blue painted nursery furniture, and of course the room wouldn't actually BE a nursery, but in case in the future it were needed, you know, it would work for a boy or a girl - and wouldn't require me to decorate a conspicuous nursery that would mock me continually.


(That's a quarter, which the seller has helpfully provided to indicate the scale of the print.) And wouldn't this paper look nice as an accent wall in another bedroom, with the other walls painted light gray?



I'm still working on the perfect blue color scheme for the master bedroom. And I think I'll save the kitchen color scheme for another post. So, anyway, that's what I've been up to.

Oh, and, I keep forgetting to mention that I'll be driving down to Charlottesville, VA Sunday evening for two week training for work. I just found out Monday. I don't suppose anybody will be in the area around dinnertime during that time? I've struck out meeting the DC bloggers in person so far (but I'll get there), so I thought I'd give southern Virginia a shot...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

since you asked

Well, Shinejil asked. (A woman after my own heart!) Yes, there are some charming older architectural details in my house. It's *not* a flowers-and-lace Victorian from 1890. Those are my favorites - I swoon over octagonal rooms that pointlessly waste space - but they do it so beautifully! It is, however, historic, and it has a bit of fun stuff. Unfortunately, this is obscured to all but the most imaginative (or smitten) eye by the frankly unforgivable decor deployed by the current owners - and I am sparing you the worst of it, BTW.

But, it has a nice banister (seen here from an oblique angle), lovely old doors, and beautiful floors:


(BTW, I'd like to note that I do *not* consider that wallpaper unforgivable. I'm not sure my DH could live with it, but I absolutely could; it's old. Some of my larger problems with the decor will shortly be revealed.)

An original, unfinished attic (be still, my heart! Ah, memories of my childhood):


Here's where we get into the "mixed bag" territory - you see before you lots of windows around the door; pretty interior window trim; an upper window with an antique latch; and an original radiator. All good. But that carpet...look at that carpet. They carpeted the whole foyer. And the stairs. Given the age of the house, it will have hardwood underneath...but that carpet.


Anyway, I've shared, I'm signing off for now. If anyone recognizes these shots and is planning to buy this very house, please let me know so I can begin my grieving process now. For the group of nefarious lurkers who must be reading my blog just so they can ferret out the identities of my dream houses and buy them out from under me...good luck finding the house on the strength of these pictures. Thbbbpt.

Monday, July 13, 2009

and now for something completely different

I loved the broken angel image that I had as my blog header - I'll probably go and find it again the next time I want to change things up. The broken angel was the point of that image, but the cemetery behind her - at once terribly sad and poignantly lovely, to my snow-loving heart - was the icing on the cake.

On that subject (broken angels - you following?), I have been toying for some time with changing my name from "the misfit" to "the littlest angel." There's a number of reasons for this. Starting with the misfit - I chose that name originally because I was entering the blogging world to find a place I fit better than in the world of swinging singles and glowing mothers, and I kind of liked the Flannery O'Connor reference - not suggesting I'm a serial killer or anything, but her writing was vibrant and intelligent and really pushed the envelope, and very very Catholic in a way people often don't really get, and I could see borrowing some of those ideas in blogging about infertility. However, it occurs to me that "misfit" may sound angsty and Goth, an angle I was not going for; as demonstrated, perhaps, by the fact that very few people are willing to call me that, even though it's a noun for a person - and people with whole sentences for names are called by those pretty universally. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.

So anyway, the angel thing has been with me for a while - I was the "littlest angel" (i.e., attorney who gets the worst assignments) at my firm for a while, and in college - I'll try to make this not-horrifying - one of my non-Catholic friends came up with a substitute for the baseball metaphor (first base, second base, you know), that involved angels. I was dating my very first boyfriend (a mistake, but aren't they all? OK, Megan, not yours), and saw it as something of an achievement to lose a little of my innocence, but I reacted in HORROR at the suggestion that anything should happen to my metaphorical wings. I wasn't doing much with my faith at the time, but heaven help the person who threatened those wings. And now, here I am in the blogosphere - a prosaic Catholic struggling to fly, as grounded spiritually as maternally. (The angel I picked for my little icon is missing a wing on the same side as my defunct ovary - I thought that was fitting. Also, she looks a bit like me.)

What say you? Is changing my nom de cyber after I've started somehow untrue to my little world here? Are both names preposterously teen/angsty?

As for my current photo - I stumbled on that picture from Disney's Little House and that was it. It's a little like the house I'm living in - very small, in the middle of quite a bit of land. It's a little like the life I'm living in - picturesque but a bit unreachable. And it's fitting to have a house, because right now, A House is the top of my emotional priorities. I have found my house - yes, I know, I did that before. But that was a house I could buy if I could persuade the goofy owners to take a reasonable offer (about half what they were asking) when they are demonstrably unreasonable, and I had no idea what the inside looked like, and it would need repairs in the six-figure range. Yes, yes, it was in the perfect neighborhood...

Anyway, I just found the house. It's just been reduced to a price that (with a small bidding war, but nothing they won't be getting from absolutely any buyer - in the 10% range?) we could seriously pay. (I'm not even kidding.) Unlike the previous My House, it has a real yard (.35 acres), with a driveway (that doesn't sound so special, but the other house didn't). It needs a lot of updates, but it is not in actual disrepair, and definitely not falling over. It's on a street of the most lovely Victorian homes, in a historic district (and did I mention that it's affordable?). It's three miles (yes, I know, way longer than four blocks, but still) from a metro line that stops walking distance from my office; the stop near the house has a parking lot and also a bus goes there from near the house. It's half a mile from the local parish, which we both attended on Sunday (we visited the house and environs) and really liked. It's driveable to a place my DH is really hoping to land a job (but it will be a long time before he knows...unless they speed things up! Prayers! Please!). It's got an unfinished attic and basement, which means that if we unexpectedly ended up with a gaggle of children, we could finish those spaces and house them all. There's a good parish school at the church. It's in a safe neighborhood.

It's so cute. It has a lovable porch, and a pile of other features with which I am in love (sadly, the one room I don't specially like and can't think of a simple way to fix is the kitchen. And kitchens are important. But, many designers and architects have trod this road before, and I shall pore over their ideas.) I am so attached to this house that I won't even post its picture here because I can't bear the idea that it should be taken away from me. (Of course, there are four or five blocks of nearby houses that could come on the market...but doubtful I would be able to afford them.) But we can't buy a house until DH lands a job. In the meantime, we are dickering with our rotten landlords, who want us to sign a 12-month lease, or, in the event that our circumstances could change and we need something different, a 12-month lease. I've looked up the property - they bought it for $10 and are not paying a mortgage. And it's not in an apartment complex, they can set whatever terms they want. We might stay here for a year. But we won't stay another month if they decide that they don't have to negotiate at all. Because you know what...it's a buyer's market for rentals right now, too. SO THERE.

Anyway, such is the very small drama of my very small life.

I want a house.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

all the small things

So a few thoughts. First of all, I've tried commenting on almost all of the new posts on my blogroll now (a few still to read), but some of them are bouncing. Specifically, if your blogger is set to type in a comment, click "submit," and THEN offer a word verification, apparently blogger has added a new feature. Specifically, after you click "submit" the first time, it shows the word verification as a pop-up, with a preview of the comment. If you do the word verification and try to submit, it gives an error message. With the first couple of these I tried redoing the comment, but I got another error, so thereafter I only gave it one shot. I have therefore commented on several blogs in spirit.

I'm not sure I felt much different on my first day of synthroid. I did do more housework than I've done on one day in WEEKS, but I think that was more because I just dragged myself off my lazy behind and put some effort in, even though I felt no particular energy. It helped that my DH was out of the house for a few hours and I could put on the (yes, it is terrible) 94.7FM station with practically no "fresh" music, as indicated by the fact that even I know most of the songs. But they make me feel so much more energetic. I still have to take my pill for today...I know, stalling again.

Dealing with my DH has been a little hard recently. He's been looking for a job since January. At first he thought he had something lined up to start in March, but that fell through. He's been networking his behind off and applying for tons of things. It's really hard doing this, especially for an extended period, but he's been good about staying upbeat (he tends to be depressive), and he's accomplished a TON in that time. Quitting smoking may be top of that list, but it's got some competition. He's really done a lot. But every now and again, he succumbs to a real funk, and so it was last night and today. We had a board game rematch and I insisted on everyone playing Apples to Apples (an awesome game) rather than Trivial Pursuit, because the former is fun and sociable and not cutthroat at all, and the latter is no conversation or interaction, just hoping everyone else does badly so you win. But after we played Apples to Apples, the boys insisted we drag out Trivial Pursuit, and my DH swore up and down he would play nice. I knew better. My team won again (now undefeated), and he was really bitter - all the drive home he was saying that this was just one more thing indicating that nothing ever goes his way and it's just an indication that maybe there is no God. I mean, that's emotion talking, not logical at all, but I hate, hate when he's like this. If he were really having doubts in his faith, I'd like to think I'd be right there listening and understanding. But this isn't doubt, it's just venom, and I hate it. Anyway, if anybody around here has any spare prayer intentions (unlikely), I wouldn't turn down prayers that he finds a job and is in a better place very soon! I've been pretty blase through the job search, but it's just gotten really long recently. He spent the first year after graduation looking for a job and it was absolutely horrible. We're now at almost six months for this stretch. What is it supposed to be, another year? I know it's a bad economy, but he's applied for so many things that are actually hiring. I just don't think it's fair that we have to spend so much time uncertain even of where we're going to be living (we already don't know whether we'll ever have kids), unable really to save any money, worrying when there's a real unexpected expense (like the minor BUT STILL colossally expensive car repairs we paid for yesterday. Can anyone fill me in on why THE EXACT SAME parts and repairs cost 60% more in Virginia than in Michigan? It's the same COUNTRY), and just keeping our lives on hold until the next thing. I would so much prefer to stay home rather than to work, though I don't think that will be practical for a good long time; but right now it's not even worth thinking about, because we'd be homeless.

OK, I've been really, really good about not getting down about this, and now I'm ending my rant and moving on from this topic.

Oh, and something nasty put a big chop at the very bottom of the stem of my green pepper plant - the only vegetable actually growing something (the strawberries are growing too, though). I have no idea what did it, but the plant was flopped over. I righted it and staked it up, but I have no idea whether it can survive that. And its green pepper - which I meant to photograph to show you all - was nowhere to be seen. I finally found it across the garden, with big cuts in it (not bites - looked like it had been hacked with a very tiny axe, or dropped from a great height). It had gotten all of two inches long before the attack.

Also, I have killed another round of basil and rosemary (the fourth). The basil started withering and blackening after day two of eating by the hornworm (that I found and squished, in a truly traumatizing episode). I understand that the eating was really severe, but it had a few leaves left. Apparently not enough. And the rosemary, which was five inches tall and healthy, gave up, flopped over, blackened, and died, starting two days after I transplanted it (into nice potting soil). WTH??? At this point, I think it's personal. I'm not buying ANY MORE of these wretched herbs. Apparently, they don't want to be in my kitchen, and the feeling is now mutual.

HOWEVER, my eggplant sprouts - the little ones - are FINALLY thriving! The secret is apparently that they have to be not merely directly in the southern sunlight, but actually IN the window. And watered daily but just a few drops. Of course, the first bunch of survivors appeared the day after I bought a big plant at the store. Once I could see it was thriving in the kitchen, I put it in the garden, where it appears to have weathered transplant well. (By the way, I've also killed a healthy, thriving orchid - by following the directions on the stupid tag thing.)

Oh yes, and despite five days of 2400mg total of slow-release Mucinex (yes, the name brand version), and three pills a day of amoxicillin, my CM was practically undetectable. What there was that was stretchy could even have been SF that I was mistaking for CM. We were diligent about the TTC, but this is ridiculous. I've always had normal healthy CM. I'm taking tamoxifen, which Dr. L says shouldn't lower CM. My estrogen is more than double what it was, which should increase CM. And I'm taking about the strongest medicine available, which works for women who haven't really seen CM in years. And I have practically none when by rights I should have a bumper crop. But temperatures last cycle seem to confirm I did ovulate (not yet this cycle). What gives?

I think that's about all. Our weekend may not include a fun local excursion at the going rate (was supposed to be a hike on the Billy Goat Trail, but despite my enthusiasm for the outing, I will pitch a fit if we have to get a meal at that wretched lodge thing that charges $6 a glass for cider and $15 or something for french fries). Anyway, hope everyone is enjoying what down here is beautifully temperate weather. Seize your summer! Do something! I can attest I have felt better on the weekends when we have done so.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

thyroid

(I know, I'm not getting any better on the posting. But I'm sure I will now that I'm going to have so much more energy!)

I just thought I'd share the results of the thyroid business for anyone else who has done or will be doing the same - I'd be interested to hear what results and diagnosis anybody else got. I got a call from my RE's nurse with my thyroid results. She said they were "all in the normal range," which must qualify as a thorough explanation in some universe other than this one. If I were healthy, that would be all I needed to know. If I were healthy, I wouldn't be seeing an RE...

Anyway, once I asked, she did provide the exact results:
  • thyroglobulin antibody: <1.8
  • thyropyroxidase: 1.3
  • T3: 2.7
She tells me they did not test T4, but I'm 99% sure that was on the requisition form and they should have tested it, so that's a little disappointing. She explained that each of the numbers was well below the normal cutoff, and that there is no "too low" (that may not have applied to the T3). I pointed out that I was given and have filled a prescription for synthroid (the generic, actually), and was told not to start taking it until I got my results. Should I take it? She had no idea, and said she would talk to the doctor and call back.

When she called back, she said that these results indicate that I do not have Hashimoto's disease (an inherited disease that, as I understand it, involves your immune system attacking your thyroid, resulting in hypothyroidism). I was convinced I had this, because I have at least four female relatives who are hypothyroid and my understanding is that only Hashimoto's, among the causes of hypothyroidism, is genetic. However, she explained, because my TSH came back elevated (not in this panel, in my previous p+7 bloodwork), I am hypothyroid. (But then, wouldn't my T3 have been low???) Therefore, I should start taking the pills (50 mcg/day).

All this is good information, of course, and I am ultimately relieved to hear that I am hypothyroid, because I don't think I've been imagining the creeping lethargy (not really debilitating, just sort of makes me lazy all the time). However, I do have a question. Would it have been unreasonable to expect the doctor to call me back the second time? We're talking about a reasonably important medication - something you definitely shouldn't take if you don't need it. I may, or may not, have a genetic disorder, and the nurse is apparently fuzzy on it. To my layman's brain, the results and the conclusion the nurse gave me are inconsistent and don't make sense. Also, the prescription only contained 31 pills (a strangish number), and since I'm not supposed to visit the RE for two cycles, I'll need a phone refill. Which she can do, but why can't she just write "5 refills" on the scrip? There's no black market for synthroid. I'm not going to pop them addictively. And I will need them (in some dosage) for the rest of my life.

Maybe I'm complaining about nothing or just wrong about the way doctors' offices work, but it doesn't seem quite right to me.

Anyway, I thought I'd be excited to take my first pill, but (after getting the calls yesterday) I waited until today. And before I took it, I could feel myself making excuses, things I had to do before I took it. I realized I was apprehensive - not because I thought it would make me sick, but just because swallowing that first pill felt like crossing over to another phase in life. I'm not sure why.

This also means that my diet and exercise kick have to start soon. I think I'll start doing my three hours of gym time a week next week - maybe I can persuade a coworker to go with me. And I have to start cutting out the starches - preparatory to cutting them out entirely. (I did pass up the buy-one-get-one sale on English muffins at the grocery store today, and it was hard.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

under siege

I am aware that I am a total posting delinquent. And my commenting has been pretty poor also - when I've gotten five minutes here or there I've tried to throw a comment out, but I've been nothing like consistent. But, there is a reason.

I got off work several hours early Thursday and had Friday off. Fortunately - because two friends came into town this weekend. The DH and I spent all weekend hosting. We have a one bedroom home (and we turned the dining room into a guest room/study), and on Thursday and Saturday, we had three people staying with us each night. (Friday was two, Sunday was one.) Our two friends arrived from foreign parts (separately) on Thursday, and then another friend or two just dropped in until we had eight people. At some point I threw a bunch of food on the grill and suddenly we had a barbeque. My house is usually relatively quiet, and this wasn't even planned. We stayed up till well after three, drinking wine (well, I don't drink) on the patio and chatting. The next morning we all got up late and found ourselves hanging out on the patio at noon making brunch. By the evening we'd all showered, and we drove up to some friends' in Baltimore and they grilled. Nine of us made it up there and had a great time talking until about, well, three in the morning, at which point most of us drove all the way back home to NoVA. After that, the DH and I were exhausted, and we spent Saturday afternoon sleeping and vegetating. Then we headed over to another friend's - she has an apartment right next to Iwo Jima, for a PERFECT view of the DC fireworks without having to cross the Potomac. (Driving would still have been impossible, though - the five-minute drive would have taken ninety, so we took the metro.) She put together a lovely party and we all had a good time chatting till about one - and then a bunch of people came back to my house. By this time, everyone had been up all night quite a bit, so only half a bottle of wine was finished. Two friends from the Maryland side stayed the night, along with our out-of-town guest (our other out-of-town guest had already left). We also got to vigil Mass that afternoon, which was good, because on Sunday, we managed to get ourselves out of bed well before noon, and seven of us drove to Monticello to see Thomas Jefferson's home. It was a lot of fun, but if I had understood how long it would take to drive before I went, I would have protested. Everyone reappeared at my house (where all the cars were parked - we have an unusually large amount of parking) around 7ish, and I happened to have pork chops thawed, so I managed to throw dinner together for six people, and then the boys went to the store and brought back Trivial Pursuit, and we played till midnight (my team won!). In testament to the sheer amount of socializing everyone had done that weekend, and the relative maturity of our friends, nobody touched the bottle of wine I offered Sunday night, and everyone left by midnight. WHEW. I was only ten minutes late to work today, but man, was I tired.

Two things are worthy of note: first, I am not this popular - our out-of-town guest has been friends with many of our friends in the area for years and years, so everyone wants to see her. Plus, you know, we're just a lot of fun. Also, if I drank alcohol, I would not have been able to do this. For the next excursion, we're talking about biking the 10-15 miles to Mt. Vernon. Maybe next weekend.

Anyway, I'm seriously behind on everything bloggy (and sleep). I am slowly trying to catch up. My awful cramps finally went away, but got random extra day of spotting after I had stopped spotting, and have no idea what that's about. I'm very proud that through all of my activities, I didn't miss a day of tamoxifen and haven't yet missed a single dose of mucinex (2x day) or amoxicillin (3x day). This is my second day of them, and only CD11, so I think I should know by tomorrow-ish whether they're working. I really hope so. DH is on notice that a command performance will be expected for several nights.

And there's one other thing I noticed this weekend. When the dream of the babies was so strong, one of the strongest reasons was my mental image of a big gathering at my house - noisy and joyful and loving and warm. And me being able to feed everybody. This is just my icon of home. As I've tried to put distance between myself and the need for children, I've thought about that less, but it's reflective of something embedded in my personality, and will never not be important. This weekend, I got to have that. I had a houseful of people who needed at least some feeding and care. Everybody was noisy and happy (hopefully not TOO noisy - I feel bad for our neighbors). Our buddies we spent the weekend with are an assortment - some single folk, another IF couple, and an engaged couple. Nobody with kids could possibly have kept this schedule, obviously, and we didn't see anybody with kids the whole weekend long (that wasn't by design, it just happened). I don't think I can go on a lush entertaining kick for the next few decades, but it was really striking how much it meant to me to have everyone around. For once, I didn't stress entertaining, and the DH and I had a wonderful time.

Finally, in parting, I note that if I were a good blogger, I would post pictures of Gettysburg and Monticello. AND I WILL. But we'll start with this.

Friday, July 3, 2009

uncle

I know other people have said that the SECOND cycle of clomid (and tamoxifen, right?) was the bad one. I'm going to guess that's because it takes two cycles to change ALL your hormone levels. I've now been in abdominal pain for eight days. At least it changes up the kind of pain. If I eat anything larger than a cookie, for example, my stomach swells up huge and I have to lie down for a while. This morning (another new variety) I woke up with menstrual cramps. It's CD EIGHT and I'm not even spotting any more. My menstrual bloating hasn't gone down at all even though that's long overdue, and that's adding to the discomfort. (Sew, is this what you mean by "endo belly"?)

This whole business is exhausting. It's a long weekend and we have company - in how many social situations can you sneak away to lie down every hour or two? And while it could go away any time, I know I could be in for twenty more straight days of this.

Oddly, my thought process is, "Endo is supposed to mean daily pain. I've never been a normal endo sufferer, but I couldn't dodge this bullet forever" - and NOT "Normal women do not have endometrial adhesions in their abdomens and they are not in constant pain." At some point, I threw in my lot mentally with the chronically ill - that's who I am now.

Anyway, all this gives me a couple of big questions and I hope some other endo gal(s) can help. First question: is there anything I can do for the pain? Pain relievers don't seem to help - is there one that works better? Would a heating pad help? I don't feel like exercising, but would that help? Is there some food I should avoid? I'm thinking about consuming only juice and crackers - I still have a normal appetite, but eating dinner has gone badly.
My other question is more long-term. Is this worth doing for a third cycle (or more?). If I don't, surgery is next, but Dr. L already said she doesn't think the tamoxifen will work without surgery. I can deal with the pain if there's a good reason, but nobody really believes I will get pregnant. In that case, is it worth it to deal with the side effects? I don't even know whether my insurance will pay for this surgery (they should, all this stuff really needs to come out). I was planning to deal with all this later, but I guess I need to think about it now.

You know what, though, in other news, it's been an awesome weekend so far, and it's just getting started. Happy 4th everybody!