Sunday, May 30, 2010

kill the por.nspammer

Maybe my enthusiasm is slightly elevated by the fact that I just got done watching Nine to Five (I had never seen it, and it was on Netflix's instant viewing list), but I am hunting the por.nspammer and I need your help.

I got an even longer comment than usual, a huge hyperlink in Asian characters entirely but with a few Arabic-character digits thrown in here and there (nothing intelligible), but this time he/she/it left a user name in Arabic characters:

705RupertJ_Brobst0

I googled it and got no results, and I don't recognize the name. But I'd like to call a full-on man-hunt. If you come across anything on the internet (or elsewhere) leading to this user's identification, I'd really like to know. He's a pig (and has been harassing me for months), and he should be publicly identified as such.

Thanks, ladies.

anonymity

A lot of other bloggers have taken a turn with this, and now it's my turn. It was probably my turn a while ago - but now, I know for sure, and knowledge, well, it contains responsibilities.

The girlfriend I mentioned visited this weekend, and let me know that months ago, I had opened my blog through her laptop (I don't remember doing that - silly of me!) and she had found the URL by accident looking for something else. And been reading it the last several months, without telling me. (She also said she would no longer read it, so she may not be reading this. Or she may. Human nature is a funny thing.) It's not like that gives her access to information she didn't have - I had been very open with her about my IF, although, of course, I don't make any non-IFers listen to my totally insane ranting. I imagine I have that in common with most infertile women...

Now that I know this, of course, I have to think about whether I'm truly anonymous, and what implications that has for other people in my life, whom I periodically discuss on here. I mention people IRL only in passing, in general; or, sometimes, when some interaction with them is germane to IF or another topic I discuss here (home decor!). But I feel it appropriate to drop the odd fact about un-consenting third parties, because who here knows who I am? Or, rather, several people now do, but in the context of them being infertiles also...so there's sort of a relationship collateral of sorts. It doesn't feel like an undue risk.

And of course this is the first time I knew I had been outed. At least two other people that I know of have tripped over this URL - one a colleague, who knows I visited the site, but would have no way to know it's mine; and doesn't seem like the sort who would, or would want to, read about Women's Issues for fun. (I can only imagine what a headache an IF blog would be for a non-IFer! Good grief!) And then there's a law school classmate who, being I think rather devious, tracked back on my browser when I showed him an internet-linked JPEG. I could have tossed the URL in a new window and thereby hidden the trackback, but I am just not paranoid enough. He may have clicked back looking for something else, seen a blog that didn't interest him, supposed it was something I merely read, and ignored it - but I have no idea. So, Brad, William, if you guys are reading, hello! I hope the cervical mucus discussions entertain you thoroughly.

Anyway, all this being the case, and me having a perspective the details of which I am still working out in my head on the subject of other people knowing that they are reading your blog and not telling you that they are (obviously that's not something I can prevent them from doing and it's a risk I take being on the internet, and not being a computer security nut), I need to think about the future format of my blog. I don't think that it would be responsible of me to continue it in a totally public format. But, of course, I'm not any good at wordpress; and I have always been disinclined to go password-protected for the whole blog, because then, I feel, I'm not contributing to the marketplace of ideas any more; and people having to sign up to get a password has a sort of spectatorship quality that isn't quite the feel I was going for. But I do have to do something.

I suppose another option would be not revealing personal information on my blog, and while this may be laughable, that seems like a restraint I wouldn't like to have. Heaven knows there are plenty of people I know IRL whom I'd prefer to give zero information about my sex life. But I can't imagine finally getting our SA done and not posting about it! Probably no way out of that one other than some sort of restriction.

Anyway, I would appreciate any perspective you all have on the subject.

Friday, May 28, 2010

running away

So the pretty house with all the acreage in the tiny town...I've been planning for several days to drive out there today, my day off, and just be there. There's a little folksy restaurant that's supposed to be awesome, where I can stop in; and a little local museum; and the house I can peer at; and the nearby mountains (maybe they're very large hills) that I can stare at longingly. It sounds like the perfect little pilgrimage to peace.

Of course, all that implies that beautiful scenery, quiet surroundings, and historic charm will solve the unrest I feel internally. And while that sounds true to me, I think I'm being naive. I'd love to move there because it would be our retreat from everything - the city, the traffic, the rhythm of the jobs that seems to drown out every other possible rhythm of life. But the fact is that we would still have those jobs if we moved (we'd just have to drive farther to get to them), and frankly, my interaction with the city isn't really making me upset or depressed. At least, I don't think so - I have noticed previously in my life that I become functionally depressed living in an urban area for extended periods, and I'm going on two years here, so the breakdown is a little overdue. I dealt with a small midwestern city OK, though - not sure why. Maybe because I lived in the suburbs?

Our surroundings can contribute to our internal peace, I know that. But we don't live in a high-rise apartment now. (I'll be honest about this, though - my unvarying sense of failure over not being a good enough homemaker is unquestionably exacerbated by the fact that my little house has large populations - multiple species - that I can't shake. The creatures in the crawl space are so extremely loud that frequently, when I hear them and am in the middle of something else, I absent-mindedly think that the upstairs neighbors are walking around. THIS HOUSE HAS ONLY ONE FLOOR. And I came home to find insects everywhere in my house, and the day before yesterday, it was clear that some species had just hatched on my countertop - dozens of tiny light-brown creatures the size of gnats, but without wings, were running around there. I sprayed the whole thing down with bleach and they appear to have died, but I am still traumatized. I am starting to hate this place. I get that buying a historic home may perpetuate these drawbacks, but at least if it's my house, I can just call an exterminator. Or a repairman to fix the roof so creatures the size of the local NFL team can't visit my crawl space at will!)

So...maybe this little sojourn at least makes for some variety over my usual "I've had a bad week and need to do something relaxing with my bit of free time" activity, which is going to the Goodwill and finding some adorable skirts for $5. (Although if I can get back to exactly the low weight I hit before two weeks of traveling by tomorrow, I am allowed to return and make another search for jeans.)

A four-day weekend sounds so nice right now...except that a dear friend, who is nevertheless an extremely difficult friend, is dropping by to see me on her way through town, and I don't know how long she's staying, and if she stays through the end of Monday I will unfortunately have to pitch myself off of something. I've become incredibly attached to my solitude since my DH started traveling. I need it to stay sane - or, as close to sane as I've been lately.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

maybe now

I am planning a second post on the travels through Austria (there are several more highly photogenic locations to share, but I'm not going to drown anyone in pictures). I have a certain threshold for others' vacation photos, and all IFers have a wee bit of sensitivity toward living vicariously, no?

Speaking of which...or should I?...I probably should. As I may have mentioned, I have found before that when I am unable to comment on blogs for even three or four days, somebody always gets pregnant. Three weeks-ish was the jackpot in that department, wasn't it? (It would be too much for me to take the actual credit - presumably people are having sex and so forth, which for much of the world appears to make babies - but I'm just saying, if my absence had anything to do with it, you're welcome.)

It has just now occurred to me that the fact that I am almost always three days (and several follow-on posts) late to a pregnancy announcement, when I have to read through a giant comment list of "I HAVE WET MYSELF I AM SO EXCITED MY JOY IS UNALLOYED NO REALLY I HAVE NEVER POSTED THAT OTHER PEOPLE'S BFPs ARE SOMETIMES HARD FOR ME" before leaving my comparatively modest congratulations is probably connected to the fact that this is the part of the blogger pregnancy announcement that bothers me. (I am trying not to be caustic on this topic. It just slipped out.)

So I want to be clear - but if it makes you feel better to ignore this point and hate the girl without a baby, be my guest - I am delighted for all the bloggers who are pregnant. Some of those BFPs were shockers and some were "Thank God" moments because I couldn't imagine her having to go through another loss. (And I couldn't imagine Ann having to go through another loss, and yet she is. I'm so sorry, Ann.) And I am happy for all of them, and although eight pregnancies/adoptions on my blogroll alone does leave the field of IF allies a little - OK, a lot - decimated, my number one pet peeve is my perception - and perhaps it's only my perception after all - that when the security of each of our childless worlds is threatened by seeing a friend and ally cross over, and when we feel the dark temptation to be sad for ourselves and not happy for her, we take comfort in the same general sort of in-group behavior that leads insecure high school girls to derive some sense of value for themselves from the exclusion of somebody - anybody - else. (That sentence was a bit long.)

I'm not accusing anyone of that degree of high school viciousness. And surely no one here is more petty than I. But I see a self-protection there. I probably see it in unduly stark relief because of my recurring role as the person who has to read through all the comments - "Oh I was so excited when you called me two days ago I'm so glad you finally posted about it I almost couldn't prevent myself from mentioning it before it was up on your blog!" That's the sort of thing a gal could say over the phone...if it's in the comments, is it meant to tell the rest of us that the commenter has a special relationship with the blogger that the rest of us lack? Or does it just appear that way to me? And is the reason for needing to establish that special relationship because we need so desperately to create a paradigm under which we can feel happy when someone else secures a blessing which we have been so painfully denied? Heaven knows I play enough neurotic tricks on my own brain to try to cause socially acceptable reactions. Sometimes they even work.

So, for reasons I imagine will be obvious, now that I've more or less got access to blogger again, I'm not back-tracking to all the pregnancy announcements to add my two cents. All you ladies, be assured of my congratulations and my prayers for a safe and healthy pregnancy and baby.

I daresay that more of the shock factor with returning to blogging after all the pregnancy announcements is the sheer volume - and what that means for my blog. I thought of going to Vienna as a ridiculous extravagance - the sort of thing that never happens to me - that I should discuss diplomatically; heaven knows that we should be modest about our material blessings, as they are no reflection of our value as people, and there are so many in the world who suffer want while we have more than we need. I didn't suppose that when I returned and had time to post a few pictures, I would feel as though they would have become a pretty thin excuse to get anyone's attention; or that the achievement of buying my first swimsuit in five years and having it look pretty darn good would be unimpressively juxtaposed against a field of baby bumps. But those are my misfortunes, that I see them that way as well as that I have a basis for doing so; and they don't detract from anybody's blessings.

For my part, I have to continue my journey toward some valuable meaning in childlessness in an increasing state of confusion and sadness. Austria was wonderful; returning home, especially without my husband (again traveling for work, for weeks), was a letdown, of course, the moreso with a cold and under-rested, but I think that wasn't the greater problem. Recent difficulties with my DH have made me realize that we still have mountains ahead of us to climb in terms of achieving a healthy marriage (rather than a steady but moderate upward grade); and I am wondering whether I have the strength.

And, obviously my symbolic, and in many ways literal, pursuit in lieu of children has been a home. My "castle," the super-old house that was super-near the magnificent church and a good commute to boot, has freeway noise. I knew my DH, who grew up in the country, wouldn't love that (though it's a general consequence of living in the city, and he wanted to move here), but he mentioned while we were traveling that it was right off the list for that reason. That was the first I heard it was a deal-breaker. Scratch another of the misfit's houses off the list. I thought it was the one. I loved that church. I am not going to find a church that I love more - they don't make any.

Previous to that, he had also mentioned the idea of waiting a couple more years to buy (all of his input, whatever the specific details, have this theme. I am opposed and I am planning to wear him down. Screw the surrendered wife. I'll apply it in other ways, but if I can't have babies, WHY CAN'T I HAVE A HOUSE?) and then moving to the country, and I tried that notion out in my head. I would like to move to the country too. Who knows how we'd support ourselves, so I was thinking it would be over a decade - and figuring that would be house #2. But if we could do it sooner, it's worth considering.

When I got home I found myself itching to get online and find another house. Surely I could find a nice house in the country - less practical as a commute but still feasible if the country location was the goal, and eventually being rooted near the house, not the jobs! I thought I could get online and I would just find something perfect and I would know it was meant to be mine and it would all be OK. I didn't. I did eventually find a place that is, on its own merits, perfect. It's really big. It's on a huge lot. It's adorable and charming. It's affordable. It's in the middle of a tiny town that's super-picturesque and historic, on a river and right next to mountains. Lots of places like this obviously exist, but this is in our general area. It is 37 miles from my job...I can hardly pretend that's feasible. But I know that commute would make me hate the job - not the house. That's significant. I emailed my DH, and he said, "Too far away. We might as well move to the Adirondacks." This does not qualify as working with me.

Recently has said that we should move to a small town and hang out a shingle. This suggestion frightened me as of its second mention (first mention is notional by definition). He has never practiced law, and when he worked in a law firm during law school, he hated it with a bitter passion that was evident daily. And his hours were very moderate, he set his own schedule, and it was a small firm! We couldn't start a shop of our own more congenial than that. Moreover, he has no marketable experience as an attorney. I have several years of experience, but my area of expertise is massive corporate contracts. That's useless starting about 25 miles outside the beltway. I have never conducted a trial, though that used to be my dream. I would be no more use than a novice who just passed the bar - except that I have been working for four years, and worked hard not to be a novice, and starting a business means killing hours and no money for the first year, and that's all well and good if you want your own business, but I absolutely don't and really like the fact that I now I'm a fourth-year attorney, and giving that up would be a bad trade on both sides of the equation. It would be fine if my husband were really into the law and really wanted to practice and I could gradually take on a supporting role, but he isn't and he doesn't and I imagine I would take on an increasing role and I can't deal with the long hours and it would be a horrible disaster. It only sounds nice to him to say. And my enjoyment at saying "I told you so" doesn't justify the agony it would take between here and there.

Why this should upset me when he's not really trying to press the issue is because it resembles to me a form of escapism. He knows his days are numbered on his current contract - it's not up soon, but he knows about when it will be. To me, this fact screams one message with shrill clarity: NOW YOU HAVE A PERFECT COMFORTABLE AMOUNT OF TIME TO LOOK FOR A JOB! Only he isn't. He's put out two or three resumes - he will need two or three hundred. And if this results in another six months of unemployment that spell stress for me and psychosis for him, I will not be able to restrain myself from saying, "You caused this problem," and I will send him to his parents to live until he is employed again, because it would be our third round of this in less than a decade of marriage and so help me I will start drinking, and I don't mean water, and I don't mean on weekends. And in addition to talking about ludicrously unrealistic career plans and failing to make real ones (bad), that's a matter of having theoretical life plans and failing to make real ones (extremely bad).

You see, I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT HOW WE'RE GOING TO MOVE TO A SMALL TOWN AND START A NEW LIFE THERE IN TWO OR THREE YEARS. I'm happy to talk about how we'll retire to the mountains - it's charming and fond and sounds nice. But it doesn't give me hope. What gives me hope are actual plans for the actual imminent future that are actually feasible, actually meant sincerely and toward which we are actually working. Other people quit their lawyer jobs and open bed-and-breakfasts, but we don't. That being the case, and neither of us desiring to stick with our current homes or jobs for the next decade, and that dissatisfaction being slightly depressing, I want a plan - NOT A NOTION, A PLAN - of what we can do next toward which I can work, to which I can look forward. DAYDREAMS DON'T COUNT.

So I'm not pleased about that.

The other topic he's raised recently is seriously thinking about adoption. I told him to do some research - just google it; nothing crazy - and form his own opinion and then we'll talk. I am fairly sure that he'll see what I saw - that agency/state/whatever adoption is not going to be something we want to do. I predict that we'll never do a homestudy - or if we're really stupid and try to, we'll cause a social worker to change careers that same week, and we'll be struck off the adoption rolls for life. I probably shouldn't type these words, but if I had married a studious, mild-mannered, devoted-to-his-disciplined-prayer-life Catholic as I think I was expecting to, this would not be a problem. Not for him - and not for me either. But my DH is a bit on the brittle side. And after all these years, I've become more like him - and more brittle on my own, too, from the IF among other things. Probably principally that. I'm kind of the proper sort, but if some half-educated self-righteous nitwit presumed to pronounce words of evaluation on my home or my marriage - even if they were favorable - I would probably physically attack someone for the first time in my adult life. And I think it would be justified. I have carried the burden of the world's judgment for my childlessness for quite some time now, and the none-too-light burden of my own as well; and I have had all I have any interest in taking. That infertile women - and, moreso, the husbands who have seen their wives suffering so already! - can humbly accept the intrusion of evaluation by the adoption industry astounds me profoundly. I feel contempt for those people (the adoption workers, not the adoptive parents). I would never ask them for anything.

On the other hand, I am too bossy. I want my DH to be happy. He has been unhappy enough. If he actually does some research (it's been weeks, and I've suggested it several times, and he hasn't), and he really wants to do this, I won't object. I'll even cooperate. Given how many loving and eager prospective adoptive parents out there can't get a birth mother to look at them, I have my doubts this attitude would result in us getting placed, but even if so. I don't really want to raise someone else's child. I don't feel particularly like being a mother - not to anyone. More than anything, I want to be left alone. I am tired of watching other people watching me, measuring how big my smile is when I look at the baby, observing whether I leap to my feet to play hide-and-seek with other people's kids (no. I'm in a dress. I'm a lady. I wipe noses when it needs doing; but they are happy playing hide-and-seek by themselves), requiring me to manifest enough enthusiasm in my voice when I say that I would appreciate prayers for children - if I sound neutral, or flippant (God knows I have a right to. Who has a right to see me cry?), the prayers will not be offered. May God give such people crosses that make them understand mine. And I ought to make some sacrifices for my DH's happiness, as he's made enough for mine, but quitting my job (even though I don't love it) and relinquishing my free time to nurse a purchased infant is probably a lot more than I could put a good face on 'round the clock.

I recognize that not wanting to adopt would mean vetoing him adopting, and I feel bad about that. But one negative word from him was a veto of foster parenting (of course he might change his mind in five years). I have a lot of policies about how I deal with IF - yeah, and I have a lot more coping skills still intact than I might well have had. But if he says no - to a house, foster care, whatever - that's no for me too. I don't want to force this. I have been wandering around in the dead darkness for at least four years and it would hardly be prudent to charge off like a bull in any of the few directions I know are specifically inadvisable.

Anyway, I want to hear what he says - what he honestly thinks when he's honestly confronted with the process. I think he'll like the details rather less than I did.

Which leaves...exactly nothing. No prospective home to purchase; no suburb in which to search for one; no city or even state we'll expect to work in; no industry in which to look for a job, for myself or him; no particular prospects regarding children except that I'll continue to be unhappy about the general subject; and no certainty except that we could probably both use professional help, even though two months ago I believed we had gotten so much better. Not having a present isn't much, as I should know, but not having any future plans feels like death.

I've gotten better at getting up in the morning, thanks to the doubled dose of thyroid. But I've got little to get up for. I try to avoid thinking about my job even when I'm there; I miss my DH when he's constantly away, but I avoid him when he's here, because he's so impossible; I looked for a spiritual director for months only to have all the doors closed, and finally took the hint; and there's nothing I get to plan for. Every day looks exactly like the day before (and yes, this from someone who just took a trip to Europe. But that's not my real life). I know now why people develop shopping addictions - if I could justify buying an un-affordable lot of antique furniture, I would feel, in the moment, as if I were accomplishing something. As it is, I feel as though I go to work every day to pay off student loans and make anonymous gifts to friends in hard times who have to support their kids. I think I'm living in the Matrix.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'm not dead yet

I am still woefully behind on blogging, but I have snagged my sister's laptop while she is out for the day to visit one of her professors (and the prof's new baby) here in Vienna. (My sister is living in Germany to do research for her dissertation just now.) I don't have much time, since all the rest of the adults, and the seven small children, will be up and around any minute. But if the pictures are good and upload, I'll share a quick installment of where we've been so far (everything in Austria is ludicrously photogenic!).

We flew out Friday night and landed Saturday morning at the airport in Vienna; then we drove straight to Salzburg. We ate at an awesome restaurant that night (I had duck, which was amazing. And like 23 Euro. That meal in that restaurant would have been easily $40 anywhere in the US!). The next morning, we went to Mass at St. Peter's cathedral:

Sadly, a lot of the interior shots are too dark. But you can see two pipe organs, at the left and right. The dome is symmetrical - there are two more right behind where I'm standing to take the picture. And then there is a giant one (can you see the organist in this pic? These are not exactly small) at the back of the church in the normal location. Five. Because you can never have too many baroque organs.

This is the back of the church from the outside, and some of the historic city center:


I took the shot as we were going up the lift thing to the old fortress/castle on the hill overlooking the city. (It's about a sixty-degree incline, so you really can't walk.) Here's a snippet of the castle - though it's much bigger than this:


There's an irregularly shaped exterior wall (fortified - cannons and arrow-slits and the like, though it's no longer occupied except by some cafes and museum stuff. It belonged to the Salzburg archbishops, and they went there if under attack. It was initially built in the eleventh century and added to over the years, until it had a lot of nice interior buildings). There were also some artifacts displayed inside - including this chastity belt:


Then we went and visited a town my husband and our friends (the other IF couple!) had lived in during a travel semester in undergrad. We stayed there for the night - so quiet and peaceful. The next morning, we went to the nearest decent-sized mountain. We took some pictures of the scenery:


And maybe a little of the people:


Then we went to Mariazell, which is Austria's principal Marian shrine. I had wanted to go the whole time I lived in Austria in college, but I was never able to get there. The church is even more impressive than I was expecting:


Miracles are associated with the Marian image there (I didn't take this picture - it would not have come out in the available lighting. That image is actually very small and you can't get super-close):


So I asked our Lady to intercede for you all - my prayer buddy, the gals expecting babies, and all the IF bloggers. She knows who you are! The town is small but it's a tourist attraction, so it has beautiful historic streets and lots of fabulous quaint restaurants (with excellent strudel - we made sure). And it's in the Alps - did I mention that? My DH and I have decided we're going to retire there.

Since then we've returned to Vienna and visited St. Stephen's cathedral, the imperial summer palace (Schoenbrunn), several other baroque churches, and wandered about the city. But pictures are being a pain, so I'll have to throw those in another post.

Bis spaeter!

Friday, May 14, 2010

well hello there

I didn't die. But I've been gone. Way behind on reading (for a while I had been reading and was just behind on commenting - my access to blogger has been quite limited for a while, so I have to work on a new method to stay on top of comments. I was paying attention until this past week!).

So here's the deal. Last weekend the dh and I went to Annapolis for the weekend - I hadn't been before. A fun getaway, and I didn't think at all about all the Mother's Day folk. I got to have a nice weekend away with my husband. Well...sort of, anyway. It was actually kind of an awful weekend. I'm realizing that I don't let go any opportunity to argue or be difficult about stuff. I don't lose my mind, I'm just a PIA all the time. Which appears to be only a moderate problem, except that my dh, as I've somehow managed to miss until now, is not doing well. He's really not. A weekend away without his computer to hide in made that abundantly clear. So, now I'm thinking about finding someone for both of us to see. We did that before we were married and in some ways it's too bad to go back there, but way better than needing help and not getting it. So I'll be looking into that after I get back...

From Austria. 'Cause we're leaving today to be in Vienna, Salzburg, etc., for ten days. (To my Euro-traveling infertile friend: we need to rendezvous somehow. I'll try to check my email while I'm there. I expect to be in Austria proper again Sunday night or Monday morning - we'll be hopping around over the weekend. If we can pull off the logistics, we could have the first intercontinental blogger meeting!)

And yeah. 22-day cycle this past time. Peak day was CD10. At least I got that whole menstruating thing out of the way while I was in New Orleans for work this past week.

Insanity.