Wednesday, March 30, 2011

word

Yesterday I took my fifth femara pill (out of five. I remembered them all). I don't feel any ill effects so far (not even a high level of irritability). And no abdominal pain. If anything, this month (and last month, I guess) I've felt less abdominal pain pre-ovulation than usual, and it's already CD8, so it would usually have started by now. Isn't that interesting. I also have an appointment with Dr. L/C on Friday, because, according to her nurse, she thought that it had been too long since I'd actually had an appointment and she wanted to get some things straightened out. (I can't argue with that.) And amazingly, she had an opening on my day off.

Because I am angelically good, responsible, and virtuous, I remembered that I had a scrip for a TSH blood test moldering in my handbag, and I nipped in yesterday morning before work to get the blood drawn. That means the lab will be faxing the results to Tep.eyac today, but Dr. L/C likely won't even have noticed they're in by my appointment. But - it won't be my fault. So there!

Other goals for my appointment: get an HCG prescription in a form that I can actually fill. (I need to scrutinize these scrips the minute I get them. But even if I do, the enduring problem is that - shocker - I'm not a doctor, and so I simply don't know what formulations can be, for example, injected intramuscularly versus subcutaneously. Though I eventually learn everything by trial and error.)

(Also, why did my five-pill femara prescription cost $40 after insurance coverage? This is more usually a cancer drug, and cancer patients take it daily. $240 a month, with insurance, for a life-saving medication? Really? Is this a recent change in the efficacy of prescription drug benefits that other people are experiencing too, or just a random blip in my coverage?)

I also need to get a diagnosis and prescription (I don't really care for what. OK, I lied. There's a growing list of medications I will not take) for my TEBB (yes, I have TEBB. I guess I just realized it a month ago, pondering my charts. I can't figure out whether it started recently or not, because there's no place on FF for color, so I haven't kept track). I also want something for the end-of-cycle spotting, but I am sure Dr. L/C will say that the femara and/or HCG will fix this (and she may well be right, so I'll give it a couple of months before I argue). Finally, I guess I probably need another HSG. I don't want one, but I don't really want to go on a lot more (somewhat expensive) drugs when there is a mechanical problem that trumps everything else I could be doing.

Also, there is no word on the house yet. My homicidal tendencies toward my realtor wax and wane, but matters seem to be proceeding, I guess, which is good. If the bank takes long enough to respond that interest rates go up (I understand they are presently going down, which is good, because they were a lot lower in September), I am going to be out for blood, though. We did visit it again and I figured out that I could put the refrigerator in the kitchen (it's currently in the adjacent laundry room. You were worried about this, I know).

I am making some, albeit slow, progress on the culling of my personal possessions, (rental) home repairs, and early packing I have set out for myself for the pre-bank-approval limbo phase. In my view, I must still go through the rest of the items in our house that hold other items, and weed out the contents. Then I must pack my winter clothes, some of the books, things from the china-and-linens closet, and stationery.

I must also repair the plaster in two rooms (I didn't cause the damage in either, BTW), report the structural oddity by the bathtub to my landlord, and make sure all the electrical sockets work. (All this is because a friend has expressed interest in taking over our lease. While this would make leaving our current arrangement much easier, it also means I feel I must leave the house in decent condition - not just in comparable condition to what we found.) And of course I am still amassing a collection of inspiration photos and paint colors and so forth for my house.

Also, I think it's fitting to include a running tribute to a great man, without whom the world is the poorer...

"You might end up dead is my middle name." "But, Frank, what about Jane?" "I don't know her middle name."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!

If you remember (don't go and look), in January I made a number of resolutions, including that each month this year, I would do some major housekeeping project that I had not done in ages. In January I self-cleaned the oven, which had needed it for an eon. That was good. Then, I missed February. I figured that if I got two projects done in March, I would be back on track. So far this month, I have donated to the Goodwill more clothes than I kept, gone through our pen drawer and thrown out the ones that don't work (don't laugh. This is a serious item), and gone through all my boxes in the shed, thrown out almost everything, and repacked the remainder more securely. I believe I am now caught up.

I still have a number of things that remind me of my total failure of diligence and housewifely responsibility, and I believe that my weekend social obligations are to blame for my failures. So this morning, I skipped brunch with my husband and friends, and started the second load of laundry (2 out of 2 for the weekend), started cleaning the bathroom, and had lofty ambitions to fold the laundry, wash the dishes, finish cleaning the bathroom, and do the grocery shopping. It was an ordinary, if more than usually productive, day. The sun shone brightly. All appeared safe and serene in my quiet suburban neighborhood.

You know how Lady Macbeth (a choleric, obviously) calls her beloved husband "infirm of purpose"? This unreliable husband of hers is, I would imagine, a melancholic. (I certainly understand what it means to be married to a melancholic who constantly promises to get things done but always seems to be enmired in depression and/or some useless hobby and never actually gets around to them, forcing me to nag him unceasingly.)

I really feel for Lady Macbeth, marching through life amid a sea of indecisive brooders. Like her, I am not infirm of purpose. There may be things I try to get out of doing or whine about for ages, but once I've determined to get something done, I will proceed in spite of all obstacles and, if need be, in defiance of right reason. The task to be accomplished which stymies me is the enemy; and should it put up a serious resistance, I will conquer it even if I should destroy the good I originally was trying to secure. There is no balancing of priorities; there is only winning. Two summers ago, a once very reliable microwave fell victim to this phenomenon when it failed to recover from my washing of it with a violent-spray garden hose attachment. The microwave was weak.

We may hope that the refrigerator is stronger.

The refrigerator was a perfectly ordinary rental refrigerator; white bumpy-surface epoxy enamel, freezer on top, a little shorter than I am. At some point I discovered that it had collected mildew underneath all the takeout menus and church bulletins I had stuck there with magnets. I considered this an unwelcome turn of affairs indeed, and after ignoring the problem for a few weeks, I cleaned it with bleach and moved all the magnets to the side. Problem solved. A few months later, it started showing significant signs of rust. The rust grew progressively for over a year while I glowered at it. Periodically I mused on the can of spray appliance epoxy I have under the sink (never you mind), but I left the refrigerator alone. I thought cleaning agents would probably make the problem worse.

This morning I learned a number of things. One is that steel wool is, as I suspected, a great way to remove rust and loose enamel from an appliance. Another is that cans of spray appliance epoxy do not remain usable forever if you don't clean the nozzles. A third is that $1 Home Depot all-purpose spray enamel for furniture will also adhere to a refrigerator. A fourth is that my spray-painting technique has not improved since I painted the printer stand. Finally, I learned that my appliance epoxy and my all-purpose white enamel are two different colors; the refrigerator is a third color. All of the colors are also, in some sense, white. And all of them are now on the refrigerator. On the brighter (well, whiter) side, what is no longer so much on my refrigerator is rust. We will see how long this lasts. My kitchen also smells like an industrial chemical lab, but I believe it is now time to wash the dishes.

Be strong, refrigerator. Remember what happened to the microwave...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

say "never"

I had the conversation with my DH's cousin, S, the night before last. It was, of course, horrendous. Not in the sense that she wasn't nice, but no conversation in which you're constrained to say, "My husband told you I am unwilling to be your baby's godmother, and I am calling to apologize for telling you so late and also to tell you that, contrary to what he (for whatever reason) explained, the reason is because I cannot have children and therefore I find baptisms to be miserable," is going to be especially pleasant. Indeed, because she apparently did not understand the email my husband sent her well over a week prior in which he said that I would not be serving as the godmother (I read the email - it was absolutely clear), I had to tell her that she didn't have any godparents (the baptism is this coming Sunday), effectively for the first time. I thought I had just called to give her my miserable song and dance about why I didn't want to do it, and instead I had to be the bearer of bad news, as well. My husband has no concept of how much he owes me for this.

All in all, she was very nice about it (considering the position I put her in), and she wisely pointed out that she hasn't gone through this and can't very well claim to understand what it's like. But she did have a lot of trouble grasping the single fact that I do not want to attend a baptism. Certainly not in the capacity of a godmother. I'm honestly not sure what she thought - I think the idea of someone who is averse to babies was so foreign to her that she was just kind of lost the whole time. But she tried.

This does raise a small pet peeve I'd like to mention, though. I have a couple of girlfriends who share with me the ups and downs of their lives fairly unreservedly. Though I don't actually expect any emotional support, as a matter of policy, I will periodically interject something about infertility into my conversations with them. The reaction that I get is more or less "say as little as possible and wait for her to change the subject." I get that they are in some danger of putting a foot wrong, but I think that response is a pretty profound rejection of me as a person, isn't it? What woman has as a goal that her friends should feel reluctant to share their most personal thoughts and feelings with her? I may not be the most tender-hearted person in the world, but I do everything I can to encourage people to feel good about telling me things.

I have had single girlfriends say that they do not have the emotional stamina to throw one more bridal shower. I was married young and never felt this way about bridal showers, but what did I say? "I'm sure I wouldn't want to if I were you, either." What I want to know is why nobody says this to me. "Of course you don't want to be her kid's godmother. You have enough going on right now." I'm pretty sure what they're refraining from saying is, "Well, you know you can't avoid babies forever, right?" Yes, I know - more's the pity. Would they want that brand of "sympathy" if they were in my shoes? (I even have guy friends who will sometimes say how rough it is still to be single, or that they're lonely, or losing patience. And I listen. However, the unspoken rule that I am forbidden to mention infertility is painted in six-foot letters on their faces. Once in a while I give a tiny push at the edge of the rule, and the subject is instantly changed. What the hell is that?)

Anyway, I have come far afield of my original point. S also said something very odd which I have been mulling over. Early in the conversation, I said, "Obviously, we can't have any kids - well, I don't know whether that's obvious, but - " I always use that wording, simply because a lot of people, principally single people, spend no time thinking about other people's sex lives and have not given the matter any thought. Perfectly sensible approach. But someone who is married, got engaged after we were married, is aware of my frankly obnoxiously public stance on the Church's teaching on sexual morality, and has just had her third child - to her, it can't not be blindingly obvious. But she said, "I didn't know that." I was very surprised, but just said, "well, obviously, we're not using birth control." "Of course not," she replied.

I'm not going to ask her what on earth she is thinking, so I'm left to my speculations, and I only have one guess that makes any sense. Perhaps she has decided that we're having trouble having kids (this seems impossible not to realize), but doesn't think that at this point that equates to we can't have kids. If you have three kids, does trying for almost six years just seem like five minutes' impatience? Would it seem like "can't" rather than "not yet" if I were 39 instead of 29? I had another friend who said "I didn't know that!" when I said that we wouldn't be able to have kids, and I had brought up infertility with him several times, so I was stunned. At the time I thought he was really not mentally well (that is true of him in general) and had somehow not processed my previous comments. But perhaps it was the same thing - he didn't see "having trouble" (no matter for how long) as "can't."

This is a revelation to me. Maybe all of the good Catholic family-oriented people I know accept us as people who have been given a cross to test our patience and who will, when we have finished learning our lessons, finally be joining them in play group. Maybe none of them have contemplated having friends who will never share another stage in life with them - who will be retired early while they work extra years to pay for college tuition, and who will miss all their kids' birthday parties, not just the first few. Maybe they really want to understand us as late bloomers, not people whose lives are fundamentally different.

Maybe that's why nobody can understand when I say "I don't want to hold the baby" or "I don't want to go to a baptism" - why be sour? It will be my kids' baptisms they'll all be attending soon. Only it won't. They'll never buy me a baby shower present; never eat gross frosting at my kid's birthday party; never watch my kid while I run to the restroom, or babysit for me, or hold my child in a baptism photo. That will never happen.

Concededly, I only changed my more public messaging - you know, when people in the office ask inappropriate questions as if they were casual - to "we can't" from "we'll take them any time they're offered" maybe a year or so ago. But the whole "we'd love to have some" message was always a euphemism anyway; it was always "can't." I've just lost interest in sugar-coating it lately. And that sugar-coating is seeming more nauseating all the time.

I don't tell friends that we can't have kids, because everyone already knows we're infertile. But if they're all telling themselves "later" because "never" makes them uncomfortable - if they figure that we'll eventually adopt, like our other friends, and give them some baby stuff in common to talk about - then I need to start my publicity machine again. I have to live with never. A pregnancy at this point would just be the beginning of a beautiful miscarriage [N.B.: I've never been pregnant and don't ever expect to be, but because of my endo and hormone issues, I would have a substantial risk of miscarriage if I were]; but if by some medical anomaly I carried a child to term, it would be an incongruous deus ex machina ending - plucked from the grasp of fate. It would change who I am completely, for good and ill. I'll accept it if it happens, and endeavor to be properly grateful, but I don't get to wait for it expectantly and define my life in light of its imagined inevitability. Neither do they.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

limping along

We seem to have smoothed things over with the realtor and I believe the transaction is moving along (which means the bank still has to approve our offer). Of course, until it does, we won't start any of the inspections or other contingencies (why waste our money on inspection fees before we're sure we'll be allowed to buy the house?), so the deal could still fall through if, say, the roof is falling off and the sellers refuse to adjust the price accordingly. I really hope this does not happen, because if I have to yell at too many more people about this house, I am not going to want to live in it.

I am realizing in life in general that I need to find a way to do confrontation ruthlessly but with entire calm. I know people who have this skill (lawyers, among others), and I can master the behavior in any given (brief) setting (I can drive a hard bargain for my clients without getting angry if I have to), but once I stop paying careful attention and do what comes naturally, I lose my temper very rapidly. I need to work on that.

I've also realized recently - the car accident made this blindingly obvious - that I really lose my temper when I can tell that I feel guilty, but I know rationally that I am in the right. I can't make the feeling of guilt go away even though I know I haven't really done anything wrong, and of course I am angry with myself, but I take it out on the nearest target - the person starring in the little drama in which I feel guilty, generally. Of course I yell about something the person has actually done, so he has no way to know the real reason for the yelling. It isn't very productive, and it doesn't really make me feel better even at the time (I feel more guilty as a direct result, of course).

With the car accident, of course, I felt that I was being punished for running a yellow light like a bad person - even though the traffic convention around here is to run yellow lights, even though it's perfectly legal, and even though I knew that the other driver ran a red light. I was convinced that because I had not behaved well, as my punishment, the police would disbelieve me and I would end up with a misdemeanor record and have to pay for both cars - which of course I also understood was unjust, because the accident was 100% the other driver's fault and I was minding my own business, driving like a competent person, and lost hours of my day and my beloved car as a result of someone else's incompetence. But I still feel like I got away with something when a witness later called the police to say he saw the whole thing and she ran a red light and hit another car (mine). None of this is rational.

Last night we did the second women's spiritual reflection, on "the four temperaments" (a good summary). I think these things tend to be a little reductionist (observing the different ways in which other people approach the world is both useful and a good way to grow in compassion, but people can't be wedged entirely into neat little boxes). But it was interesting to see people start self-identifying and discussing their particular challenges approaching the world. Amusingly, the cholerics (yes? What?) and melancholics self-identified immediately, the cholerics more vocally. The sanguine people spent the entire discussion confused about what type they were, having identified with all of the descriptions. The phlegmatics later acknowledged they had identified themselves readily - but none of them spoke during the entire discussion.

While I don't want to put too much stock in this, already since the discussion last evening I've been making little adjustments in my thinking to account for the fact that my constant state of umbrage at the things that other people do may not be a product either of mental illness or a grossly incompetent world (my typical assumptions), but just my personality. I do think that I've taken on far more anger than I used to have, and I wonder whether I wouldn't have come out as melancholic ten years ago. Although my parents tell bizarre (apparently true) stories about how I had a finely developed sense of moral outrage as a toddler.

It crossed my mind - though I did not offer this at the spiritual reflection - that the biggest danger for the choleric is blogging, and IF blogging in particular. I have a relatively thick skin (easily outraged, not that easily hurt), but even I would rather people like me than not, particularly if I like them. But it occasionally happens that someone I like very much wants nothing to do with me. Probably loathes me but doesn't say so. Sometimes it takes me a long time to figure this out (I'd have to monitor every comment on every blog to know that I was being avoided personally), and there are always other possible reasons - almost everyone who gets pregnant immediately stops reading my blog, for example (though there are a few mommies who still follow me, and of course vice versa, and they are some of my favorite people of all), and I'm wordy and people have limited time.

Once I realize there's a problem, I don't necessarily know what I did (it's possible I didn't do anything, but odds are I said something very offensive that didn't strike me as offensive at all). So what to do? Try to guess what the offense was and apologize? Call the person out for not contacting me directly to clear up the problem? Or just leave the person alone? We're all allowed to have people we like and don't like. Of course, if you hold a grudge against me and never tell me why, it stands to reason that I won't like you...but that probably doesn't matter a whole lot.

I will say that blogging has been very good for me on that same score. I tried to internalize the IF blogging etiquette immediately (thank you, Stirrup Queen), and I know that you're not allowed to leave negative comments, no matter how strongly you disagree; that's contrary to the IFosphere's purpose as a safe haven. (Consistent with this idea, I try very hard never to discuss politics on my blog, as that seems simply to invite discord.) Of course, not everyone follows these exact rules, and I have deleted quite a few blogs from my list because I couldn't keep reading and refrain from arguing. And once in a great while, after considering the matter carefully, I have broken the rule. (It rarely ends well.)

Because I am not allowed to argue in my comments, I initially found it hard to think of anything to say. Therefore, by carefully studying the comments of those who are naturally nice people, I have developed a little vocabulary of pleasant things to say to other bloggers. I started with very small, very innocuous things, and slowly, with practice, proceeded to things that had actual substantive content and reflected my spontaneous reactions to their posts - taking care to avoid attacking them personally. Obviously, I still screw this up periodically.

So, maybe there should be an "introductory guide to IF blogging for the four temperaments." Or maybe only the cholerics need a guide - everyone else already works and plays well with others? Now I am accepting this in too reductionist a fashion.

Otherwise, I suppose, life is not too bad. I think I'm doing OK on my Lenten things so far (always room for improvement), and I'm starting to have hope that I could have an improved spiritual life. I mean - it doesn't feel improved - I don't think my relationship with God is repaired - but I can fix the grave defects in my prayer life. Of course, if I do that and then the underlying issues don't get better, I will not be pleased, but I have to start with what I can do. (As opposed to letting God start by providing grace because I am powerless to make improvements. I know self-sufficiency is a vice, but God is not intervening. [Unless we count my taking initiative as His action, but then the distinction loses its meaning.] Am I supposed to wait forever? He's not fixing my fertility or my health, so I figure He must have a lot of spare energy with which to make other improvements in my life.)

I have also been toying with the idea of starting a non-infertility blog. Not exactly a post-IF blog...just a different one. Of course, I don't favor blogging in general, just for sufficient reasons, and absent IF, I don't have a sufficient reason. Of course, absent IF, I also don't have any connection to a community of readers, so maybe it would be nice just to make a pretty space and put good writing and start working toward being a more whole person. With nobody reading. That could be all right.

In any case, I'm looking for a concrete way to take a step forward in life (and am not enthusiastic about doing so by giving up gluten and dairy and sugar. By the way, I want to find examples of endo sufferers who have jumped on the food-is-killing-my-body bandwagon and lived exclusively on field greens until they shriveled away and still did not get pregnant, because 100% of the anecdotal evidence seems to be to the effect that refusing to eat real food will cure your endometriosis, and I believe that that "sample" set is self-selecting and therefore unreliable. At minimum, I will document that before I leave the IFosphere. People should not be made to feel responsible for their childlessness because of their wanton insistence on having a ham and cheese sandwich and a cookie every now and again. I can live without children, but I refuse to live in a world with no children AND NO COOKIES, and the people who claim that if I would only give up the cookies I could have children are (a) full of crap and (b) ignoring the obvious fact that in order to prove them wrong I would have to live for a time with NO CHILDREN AND NO COOKIES, and that is inhumane).

That's all.

Friday, March 18, 2011

my realtor is an idiot

Without pasting every email in this exchange, I don't think I could give you all the real flavor of this protracted drama. But it is tragicomic at this point, so I think I'm going to try to sum it up.

My realtor is a little on the older side. We picked him (well, actually, we picked his partner) because she was honest, and we thought that was more important than a young go-getter. (I always found the listings I wanted myself; I just needed someone to let us in the houses and maybe take care of some paperwork.)

When we compiled the offer for the yellow house (on February 27), he forgot some of the documents that had been provided by the seller (and initialed by the sellers). He didn't find them until after the sellers had accepted our offer. So, you know, I get that there's a lot of paper and it's easy to misplace, and we can just initial later, but the sellers assumed that those documents were part of our agreement and in fact we didn't know they existed. If you were a law student in first-semester contracts, you would recognize that as a "failure of meeting of the minds" - if the terms in question are material, it means you do not have a contract.

So our realtor "efaxed" (an incredibly stupid form of communication used by no other company in the first world) them over to us. There were seven, and we were supposed to initial them and return them. One of them was a "Schedule A" that described the property, just as I understood it to be...and then finished with a paragraph that said: "SAVING AND EXCEPTING, HOWEVER, that portion conveyed to the State of Maryland by deed found at liber __, folio __." (Emphasis in original, FYI.) There was also a surveyor-drawn plot plan, but had been reduced from legal paper and then repeatedly scanned by the world's crappiest fax machine (efax - this is going to be a recurring theme) and I literally could not read the written labels on the lines of the drawing. I don't mean I had to squint and guess some words - I mean they were not legible at all.

So I told the realtor that I would either (a) write on both "we agree to these terms as long as they convey no less land than represented in the property's sales listing" and then initial them or (b) I was going to need a legible copy of that map so I could see where the conveyance to the State of Maryland was and make sure it wasn't, you know, the house or something (which means we would pay list price for the house, but we would never own it. That's known as fraud, by the way). During the several days on which I basically wrote him this same email repeatedly, he would respond that he was working on getting a better copy, but could I please initial those documents and send them to him while he was looking?

Since most of you are not lawyers, maybe you can tell me whether that request sounds sane to a normal person. I thought he had to have been smoking something. I want a legible copy of the document so I know what it says, and you're telling me to sign it without knowing what it says? Seriously? You've sold property to people before? At some point I realized that his impatience was because the sellers were waiting on those documents before they even presented our offer to the bank. That's right, the part of a short sale that usually takes two months - hadn't even started yet. I wrote him four different emails (three on the same day) in which I stated that I needed to know, immediately, whether they had presented our offer to the bank. That was last week, and he has never addressed that question. I don't need to keep asking, of course, because I can figure out the answer from his silence. Nevertheless - irresponsible.

Anyway, he finally got us a legible copy of that map. Now we discovered a different plan: the conveyance to the State of Maryland isn't mentioned on the map. Maybe that means that it doesn't form any subtraction from the property we're dealing with, but how can we be sure? I initialed the map and sent it back, but I told him that I was going to need to see the conveyance to Maryland before I initialed the Schedule A. At this point he appeared to become nearly hysterical - he had to have those documents immediately. He told me I should feel completely comfortable because of the surveyor's letter (which I had initialed a week ago) and the map (initialed and sent in) which indicated that the property was with acceptable bounds.

Now, if those are the important documents, why isn't it enough that I initialed them already? Whatever. I wrote on the Schedule A, "we consent to these terms only insofar as they represent no subtraction from the 10,980 square feet indicated by the accompanying drawing." Then we initialed it and sent it in. He immediately emailed and said he would get in touch with the survey company. (They didn't write the Schedule A.) He apparently thought that I would talk to them, and then I would feel all warm and fuzzy inside about how nice the property was, and I would sign documents with secret terms. I am starting to wonder whether he may be suffering from dementia. I told him I didn't want to talk to the survey company as I had no problem with any of the documents they had prepared.

The next day I got an email from him, sounding like he had lost his mind. He told me the sellers thought we were trying to back out of the deal (which can only mean he gave them a misleading version of all events to date - what about my not signing illegible or ambiguous documents means I don't want the house?) and they were really concerned. And that I needed to sign the Schedule A, with no caveats, and turn it in immediately. He also said that he had called the survey company (accomplishing what, exactly?).

I had already sent him several emails in which I patiently explained that I do not sign documents with secret terms. At this point, I was in a blind rage. I sent him the email described yesterday - red text, all caps, bold, 48-point font - in which I described his three options (find me the conveyance to Maryland so I can review it and I will sign; I sign with caveats; tell the sellers to throw the Schedule A in the trash). I told him that at this point I had to assume the sellers were trying to hide important information and I wanted nothing more to do with this unless they would behave responsibly. Then I sent him the follow-up email in which I told him how badly he was representing us and how inappropriate it is to pressure your clients to sign documents against their best judgment.

Then I calmed down (very slightly) and sent a very polite email to the sellers' realtor, copying my realtor and my husband, stating that I do not ever sign documents with ambiguous terms, and we would love to continue working with them, and I could think of three options (find me the secret conveyance document, I sign conditional on the secret conveyance document not being a subtraction from what I'm buying, or throw out the offending Schedule A), and please let me know what they would prefer. My realtor immediately wrote back to me and my husband, copying the sellers' realtor, and stated that it sounded like we had no option but to get out of this deal and for us to get our earnest money back.

At this point, having lost all respect for my realtor, I called the sellers' realtor directly. She said she was in no way obliged to give us the Schedule A and was just trying to be helpful, but if we didn't like it, we could just throw it out. She also said that "initialing" to her just means acknowledgment that we've received a document. I proposed putting the word "received" on it and initialing by that, but she was not OK with it. I tried to explain that if we went into the main contract documents and changed, say, the purchase price, we would initial that (not sign), and it would mean that we'd agreed to it, not just received it, but that message did not get through. (Lawyers and realtors have a historically tense working relationship, I hear. I know I'm right legally, but whatever.) We agreed that we would pretend the Schedule A never existed, and I would ask the title company to look into conveyances to Maryland specifically during that part of the sales process. Oh, also, she was horrified that our realtor hadn't given us those documents before we signed our offer.

I didn't email my realtor last night to tell him all this, because I was still mad. My husband said that he would talk to him when he had some free time, but I don't really care. I want the deal to go through, and I want our realtor to stop emailing me inane things forever.

This morning, I got an email from him (he doesn't cc my husband because as we were looking for houses, I did all the communicating), saying that he was attaching the card of an attorney (he didn't say whose), and would I please call the attorney (he didn't say why). I forwarded the email to my husband - he can deal with this loony bin.

W.

T.

F.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

a little bit of this

So I nearly killed my realtor today. I don't think I've ever sent an email in which I used all caps, bold, red type, and the largest font size on gmail - for the same text. In case I hadn't conveyed how irritated I was with those text treatments, I sent an immediate follow-up email telling him how angry and disappointed I was and exactly how his conduct fell short of the representation I expect from a realtor.

A significant part of me wants to go through life as a nice person, but that never seems to happen, somehow...if it makes you feel any better, I was 100% right that he was being an incompetent twit.

But the deal for the house is still on (so far), since I eventually went around him and called the sellers' realtor and sorted the whole thing out (it was quite easy, because she readily understood what I was saying and offered a solution that was totally acceptable. In the very first conversation. Whereas when I told him the options I would accept, he said we should call the deal off).

In other news in which I am a rotten person, my DH's first cousin once removed just had her - I think her third child. Could be second. No, third. Anyway, she asked my DH whether we would be the godparents, and he immediately said yes. Then a few weeks later he mentioned it to me in passing. The baptism is, incidentally, in Florida. I loathe Florida (apologies to any Floridians), and therefore I never go there. Which means that I will never see this child or contribute to its upbringing in the faith. My DH, meanwhile, is happy to go to Florida for the baptism, but claims NO LONGER TO BELIEVE IN THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH, which makes it absolutely shocking that he would agree to do it, when he ought to know that this would be totally unacceptable to the child's mother if she knew (she doesn't).

All of these are reasons she should not have chosen us to be the godparents. I tried to explain these things to my husband over a couple of weeks, but they were not making any impression. Finally, I was thinking about it, and I realized that, whether she should have chosen us or not, there was something more significant at issue: I am not willing to be the child's godmother. If it were the child of my sibling, or my DH's sibling, then I would do it (with a very heavy heart), because that child will unavoidably be part of my life (even though I would prefer that others' minor children be in no way involved in my life). But this kid I am never going to see. And my DH's cousin and her SAHM crowd and the attendant cutesy religious/motherhood facebook postings - I want that kept as far away from me as possible. It's poison.

So I said I wouldn't do it, and my DH told her. (He told her I was really concerned about the distance, but that he would still go, and though he was sure this hadn't entered into my decision, IF had been very hard for me. Would you believe that whole story if you were her? Me neither. The odd thing is, apparently he believes it. I thought I was very clear at the time, but he said he wasn't lying when he wrote it and just misunderstood. I think he was lying when he wrote it and has forgotten or gotten confused. That's what happens when you think it's OK to lie casually to smooth over social situations...but I digress.)

Here's my real issue with the situation. I don't feel any obligation to be the godmother. However, it is egregiously rude to say no a month after you have been asked (and apparently accepted). If you're going to say no, you have to say no right away, and be polite about it. Of course, I was never asked and I never accepted. From this, and the fact that my husband is actually quite an intelligent man, I have to conclude that all males undergo a lobotomy at birth with respect to matters related to fertility and childbearing. How on earth could he know not even to ask me whether I wanted to go to visit our good friends' new baby a few weeks ago (he just said no for both of us), but not know that I would not want to fly to Florida to be a godmother of a child I will never meet, and just accept for me? (He knows my thoughts on Florida, by the way.)

By the way, the baby's father just lost his job, and the family is apparently having a really rough time. I feel bad about all of this, but not bad enough to make myself miserable to fulfill a role that everyone will be happier to have played by someone else - someone who lives in Florida, sees the family regularly, wants to be part of a baptism, and likes the baby. In other words - not this infertile girl.

So now, because my husband's email was wildly inaccurate and lacking in any credibility, and because (given that she told us to hold off on buying tickets and they are now outrageously expensive) neither of us is going, and because I have no right, whatever else may be the case, to be rude to her, I have to call her. And tell her that the reason I am not going is because I am a bitter infertile and the last time I went to a baptism, just as a member of the audience, it nearly did me in, and it's been almost three years and only gotten harder to bear (crap. That means we'd only just been married three years at the time. Well, no wonder). Do I also add the part that my husband is apostatizing and I wouldn't want him as a godfather if I were her?

Also, at what point do I have to say that I'm lucky not to have my husband as the father of my children because I wouldn't want children growing up with that kind of influence?

This post was going to be cheerful when I started it out. I'm trying to think of something cheerful to write. Um...I've only missed Mass three times since the beginning of Lent (which means my attendance rate is...67%. Well, that's a huge improvement over the 14% I've been maintaining for a year or more. And, I am saying a Rosary for every day I miss, and I only have to say seven decades to catch up). But I still need to look into some things, like who my prayer buddy's patron saint for 2011 is (I figured it would be nice to do a novena to that saint), and also I was supposed to do a morning offering and the Angelus and 15 minutes of spiritual reading every day (I'm not sure I out and out promised that for Lent, but I'm trying to use Lent to get into the habit - you can see how well it's working, I've done practically none of that). Oh yeah, and the other thing I was going to do is volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity. Missed the first Saturday last week, and might not be able to do this Saturday either.

On a lighter note...wait, I've got it. I have the day off tomorrow, and not a minute too soon, because I had forgotten to shop for my friend's bridal shower on Saturday, and now I get to go lingerie shopping :D.

I go through my marriage, my household, and my spiritual life, and the bright spot is...shopping. I'm sure I should feel all materialistic and mean and unspiritual, but would it be better not to have a bright spot?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lent

Sometimes life is hard.

I've never had an easy marriage, and lately, I feel like it's taking more out of me than it usually does - or maybe it's taking no more out of me than it has in other difficult phases, but I just have less left over to give. Struggling with my husband's lack of (when not outright opposition to) the faith is probably the hardest part, even though I don't always recognize that when I'm thinking about it. Just look at the difference between a fight over "are you sure it's God will for you to do this financially imprudent thing and He has plans for the direction in which it will take our marriage and our lives?" versus a fight over "I know it's just your morbid obsession with personal failure that makes you want to do this financially imprudent thing, and I see that it's very important to you, but the numbers say it will be a financial disaster and you think it will make you happy but actually a more rational appraisal would say that when you do this thing and life is still hard, you'll be much more unhappy than before, and does selfless love require me to stand back and let you do this to yourself and ruin our finances in the process?" Yeah. Not easy.

I've moved from thinking I probably should get help but not really wanting to take that affirmative step and make some phone calls to being impatient for someone to answer my calls. I've called my insurance company. I've looked through the insurance company's provider directory (twice). I've called two different psychologists. This should already have happened. Why won't someone just give me an appointment to get my head examined already?

Anyway, that's not the point. I'm working on this going to daily Mass thing. So far that just means going back to the church right down the road (I mean, really, three doors down) where they speak no word of any language I understand. But I am bringing my missal so I can at least read the readings. (Then, because I have done this since I was - what, eighteen? - I go through the proper of saints to look for interesting-but-not-too-impossible names for children. I realized that even though I no longer intellectually believe I will have children, and so I don't make nursery or baby clothes purchases in my head, I have not lost my interest in picking out names. It's possible I never will, although as the years pass it will freak people out more and more if I say so. Speaking of which, I was reading this brilliant website today on the recommendation of brilliant and heartbreaking artist Monica Wiesblott, whose piece "I Tried Nesting" has been and probably will be again on my little header, and they had a little "you know you're infertile when" thing and several women admitted to giving friends intentionally bad advice on baby names to steer them away from the names they wanted to save. I never do this because when other people pick bad baby names I get very angry, and sometimes lose all my respect for the parents and don't ever want to talk to them. I know I have anger issues in general, but this really upsets me very much and has for years. However, as a suggestion, it's frankly brilliant. If I weren't so concerned that the deterioration of American baby names was causing an impending disaster in the culture and that just a few more appallingly-named children could push us past the point of no return, I would seriously start doing this. Anyone dumb enough to take that kind of bad advice deserves every Britney or Polycarp he ends up with.)

That is not what I was going to write about.

I've tried to be good a number of times and pray for...well, something delightful and pious-sounding with respect to never having children. But I always get hung up immediately on the caveats because of my previously-discussed conviction that God is playing gotcha with me, and if I say "OK, please send the other suffering infertiles babies first because I can deal with this for another year or two and am indeed already expecting to, and I know there are other people who probably can't," then He will scribble in in the margins EVERY INFERTILE ON THE PLANET and my innocently-phrased little offer will consume THE REST OF MY LIFE.

For some reason, this time, something someone had said recently (my spiritual director? The priest who gave the spiritual reflection for women in my living room? A brilliant blogger or commenter?) sunk in - not some bit of arcane wisdom or inscrutable insight, but something ordinary and obvious that I already knew but wasn't thinking straight about - and I stepped back a half step and looked again. Whenever I pray the "Thy will be done" part of the Our Father, for a moment I feel happy and peaceful. I believe that that is akin to praying for good things to happen to me - not superficial good things, like owning pretty shoes or having a really good cookie - but REALLY good things. The kind of things that are so good I won't even fully appreciate their value at first, the things that take decades or a lifetime to unfold. And I don't see them unfolding right now, but I feel at peace when I ask for them to do so. So how can I feel this way and worry so much about God's "gotcha" petitionary prayer clauses?

And I thought, God does not will infertility for me. Or irritable bowel syndrome or hypothyroidism or knee sprains or myopia or even hangnails. God's perfect vision for my life, as for all of our lives, is that I be healthy and holy and sinless and joyful and never die. That's not going to happen, but that is because His will in this matter is not being perfectly fulfilled, because of man's decisions to deviate from His will. God knew this was coming and He allowed it to happen, but it didn't happen because He wanted it that way. If I confuse what He wills (good things, even if not the selfsame good things that I know I want) with what He allows, and He allows, well, all the things that happen, then why pray for His will to be done? It doesn't need to be prayed for; whatever is done would be His will by definition. But I don't believe that.

So instead of telling God what I was willing to offer (and then setting up a number of caveats and limitations in case he should try to exploit the terms of the offer unfairly), I approached it a different way. I was able to make my prayer without terror - both because I wasn't worried any more about the "gotcha" clauses, and because all these years as I've been railing and complaining and living a life steeped in rage, I've been working away a little bit at the process of grieving my fertility, my dream of motherhood, my hopes for children. I'm not entirely done, but I think I've accepted far more than most women my age that I probably will never have my own children. I know a lot of infertiles roll around the word "never" on the tongue like a foreign thing. "Never" is a near companion to me, and I know that's been an unappreciated blessing.

And so I said, whatever is Your will for my life, I will accept it. If God wills that I deal with this the rest of my life, then fine. I don't want to procure, somehow, children He didn't will for me. Dealing with the ones He gives is hard enough, I know; what would I do with some rogue children I'd conjured up outside the natural order of things? I'd be up a creek. And I don't want my own amateur pastiche of what my vocation should be in my mind; I want the real thing, the path He picked out for me before all time, because He always knew that I would be, and already had in mind what my life should be like. Of course in my heart of hearts I have always wanted that path to be one that includes motherhood. But if it isn't, I would be better off with whatever it is than with some other path, not His - whether that includes motherhood or not. (And it might not.)

I don't suggest that there were angels singing at that little parish tonight, or that I walked out with a step lightened by joy. I am much as I ever was. I do have one care removed that had burdened me, but the crosses I had to carry, I still have. I did toy briefly with the notion of God's will for my life and why He might will for me to live out my days childless. I thought about the fact that one of the things that's so hard for me in losing all my former IF allies is not just that other people have babies to flaunt in my face, or that I feel I have fewer allies, but that there appear to be practically no examples of women who share my faith living childless lives. It gives the impression that if you're a faithful Catholic, you're eventually going to get yourself a baby, one way or another.

I know that can't really be the case - nothing else works that way (people aren't cured of cancer along religious lines, for example), and I believe that adoption is a vocation not synonymous with the inability to have biological children. Being Catholic and married does not mean ipso facto that you will have children. And yet it can appear that way. (I know there are one or two childless Catholic women out there, but even your ranks are being thinned by pregnancies and adoptions, as I'm sure you know.) The paucity of such examples makes this feel like even more of a punishment - a moral condemnation as well as a cross. I don't believe I'm called to adopt, and I don't know how that could make me a bad person, but that is the implication, is it not?

And, of course, the obvious response - I could be intended to be that example. God has done stranger things. I'm no example of any kind, of course; hardly a demonstration of how a holy, virtuous person could still be childless. If anyone is looking for an example of how a woman just crying out to be a bitter old crone got her opportunity early because she was barren, I'm pretty much made to order. I'd note that I was not bitter and angry like this before I was infertile - but who would believe me? People want to believe that I did something to deserve carrying this cross because then they can reassure themselves that it won't happen to them. Such is human nature. But I do share the Church's view of marriage and vocation and children; and if my anger ever wanes, perhaps I will think of motherhood and children fondly once again. Maybe...maybe.

Ah, Lent.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

anger

I know I've written about this before. (Probably used the same title.) But I've been thinking about it lately. I got to see Father yesterday and discussed it a bit with him; he gave me some interesting things from Aquinas to reflect on, and I think I will also have to discuss this with a therapist. (Need to make some more phone calls Monday to get that lined up.)

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that I'm not just often angry - I don't so much "have anger issues." Anger is my dominant emotion and I am angry approximately 100% of the time. Possibly asleep as well as awake. (My dreams, when I remember them, tend to be conflict-ridden.) And I feel that if I let the anger go, I would collapse, into a little puddle, and the drips would run into the ground and vanish, and I would disappear. The anger is exhausting me and handicapping my ability to live my life; but at some fundamental level I believe that without it I would die.

The image in my head, which I'm not too good at articulating, is that the ugly mess of infertility (which doesn't strike some people this badly - I have dealt with it particularly poorly, I suppose, or it came at a time in my life when I had already run my emotional resources to zero and I was operating in crisis mode from the get-go) is caustic. It set in and started seriously corroding some of the fundamental things in my life - my faith, my trust in a loving God, my sense of myself as a decent person, my concept of a purpose for my life, my understanding of how married life and love were supposed to work. And the corrosion prompts the rage, and then the anger fills in where some of that structure was corroded away; maybe it even accelerates the corrosion. It wasn't meant to. And slowly, slowly, the corrosion continues until basically all of the essential structure of my life and my person are gone, and the rage has helpfully filled in all the gaps, and I am now a person walking around more or less without the core and the identity that people are supposed to have, but I take strong steps and march firmly into situations because I am grounded, strengthened, firmed into rigidity by a structure built entirely of rage. But I can't see the change happening, I just know that I'm tough enough to deal with what I have to deal with but that sometimes I feel like I'm carrying a ten million pound weight and I march around with it determinedly but sometimes, in moments of repose, I realize that I am exhausted and want to set it down - and when I look to do so, I realize that I can't, because it's somehow got attached to me. It's not a burden, or at least, not a separable burden; it's me.

I have other theories, too. A few months ago I had some image of a girl with more or less my face, but with the almost ethereal youth I used to have (one of the interesting things about being Irish, or, in my case, part Irish. You have the skin of a newborn babe until exactly twenty-five, almost translucent it's so bright, and then on your 25th birthday you have crow's feet, and then by 27 or 28 you have frown lines, laugh lines, grooves in your forehead, and your skin has lost its shine). She had the bizarre assortment of ragamuffin clothes I used to wear (mostly too big) and she didn't have the darkness behind the eyes that I have - she had the eyes that will run away to smiles and laughter at the least provocation, the eyes that are ever on the lookout to see joy.

This is a stylized version of who I was, of course. But this is a girl who loved babies, and children. Before I was married, even if they weren't personally known to me, all of them; and looked forward with abundant joy to being a mother herself. After I was married that persisted, and then after a year of marriage the pain of dealing with infertility became so intense that I couldn't speak to people who had announced pregnancies and couldn't be around babies and avoided them because I would have collapsed emotionally. That was a response as spontaneous and genuine as my earlier joy - no policies there, just the emotions themselves.

Obviously since then the raw emotions have substantially receded into policies; the edge of the pain is blunted, and I can be around babies for a little while without losing my mind, but really, only because the grief is walled off and shut out. And of course it still hurts, at a dull level, always, and so if the people with the babies are doing something I understand to be insensitive - excessively showing them off, or making comments about how abundantly God has blessed them (when all that I've witnessed indicates that such "blessings" are pretty random and God may not have divinely tapped this or that woman to be a mother at all; just set the biology in place and allowed the Fall and every bit of accompanying illness and infirmity and sin, and stood by and allowed some people to have babies they wanted and some not to have babies they wanted and some to have babies they didn't want and some babies to die and some to be orphaned or born to parents who very much did want them but couldn't take care of them, and sometimes tried to anyway; and offered merely the graces to cope with whatever burdens or benefits a fallen world doles out to our frail selves; and only excessive vanity would lead us to assume that a baby is a blessing specially chosen for us on account of God's particular love for us personally, rather than an undeserved and gratuitous blessing, just a manifestation of the goodness of creation, doled out more or less at random, and just as easily taken away), or making obnoxious comments to me personally, or -worse - to some other infertile girl, then my tolerance and patience vanish away and I just wish that the mother and her baby would go somewhere very far away, never to be heard from again. These are policies, largely, but I think anyone would be hard-pressed to argue that they're other than absolutely sound policies.

A few months ago I had a notion that that girl who wanted babies still existed, just on the other side of the looking glass, if you will. And I could vividly imagine letting go of the reins just long enough for her to take over again, and I could only imagine that I would drown in the tears - never be able to stop crying at all. It's too much. Maybe I could be that person again, but not that and also survive.

I've seen a few witnesses of infertile girls who've remained gentle and faithful and peaceful, to some degree or other, throughout the experience; most of them have not been dealing with infertility for more than maybe a year. Once we get a year or so past the diagnosis, those numbers fall away, and people become hardened; those who managed to try for thirteen months, or fourteen, before they got pregnant may congratulate themselves for their faithfulness, but I don't think that's any great shakes, because I was absolutely confident of the goodness of God's will at that point myself - and if my current meager measure of virtue is the yardstick you want for yourself, well, then, good luck to you. At that point, I was still ecstatic when other infertiles got pregnant. I felt myself in solidarity with them, I was happy for them, and I saw it as a sign of hope for me too. I've seen it enough times now that I know it portends no such thing.

I've also seen a lot of infertile women made bitter by their years of infertility who make the (probably prudent) decision to drop the reins and let the pretty innocent child come back on the very day they get their BFP; and thereby their joy is more effervescent, their gratitude more innocent and sincere, and they certainly don't have the floods of tears unto death to contend with. As I say, probably prudent. Of course, the flip side is that they abandon in an instant the armor they built to protect themselves from the onslaught of life with infertility; and apparently, with the shedding of the armor comes a giant memory hole, into which vanishes all their hard-won understanding of why infertile women wear that armor, and what things are incredibly hard for an infertile woman to hear from a woman with a child (or a pregnant woman), and what sort of things are just inconsiderate and vicious and cruel, things for which we try to forgive the fertile world because it really doesn't know any better, but even then, it's hard, and from a (former?) infertile - not forgivable at all, really. Because forgetting is a decision, and it's a decision at our expense, and we don't need that.

And then there are a few women, a very very few, who have carried the cross for a long time - longer, in many cases, than I - and who have not been embittered and hardened, who have not taken to living a life given meaning and structure by rage. Not because they let go of the bitterness once they had the assurance of a child (God's will doesn't mean a childless life for me, so I can say with confidence that His will is good. Why He has given no children to others I can safely consign to the category of - one of those inscrutable mysteries, I suppose. Or, better, I can say every day with confidence that they are next and I am praying for them - it's not I who will die childless, or live in the torment of unfulfilled hope, if I'm mistaken), but in the absence of any such assurance. Because of their great faith, and their love and goodness. While I generally find others' statements of faithfulness to be something of a plague, these women I simply regard in awe. Well, and some days with bitterness - see above - but, generally, I know I'm just looking at someone cut from different stuff from what I am.

So I know that the ways I've responded to this - badly, in sum - are not inevitable. I'm not angry and miserable because I was forced to be at gunpoint; there are other roads, some have found them. I don't want to disclaim responsibility; my sense that I've done so many things wrong is very strong. Though I'm not necessarily sure what any of them are, exactly. There's this or that person to whom I should've been nicer...but...I wouldn't have felt any differently; just kept my mouth shut, and there's some charity in that (and I don't give myself credit for the hundreds of times I do keep my mouth shut when I am longing to give some clueless person some Very Important Information), but not a fundamental change, not a change in the way I live this. Just a bit more restraint, or repression, or something. And always, of course, with that, a bit more rage. But I'm sure that there are plenty of specific things I should have done better. Maybe two years ago I should've seen a shrink straightaway, and not started a blog.

But I think, too, that rage is not entirely a decision. Maybe there's a decision available, with the assistance of wise professionals, to step out of it, but the way is shrouded, at least. It's not clear to me how I personally could live this a different way. More prayer...but when I've made little gestures toward taking that on, it's generally resulted in me feeling guilty about how angry I am, and pretending to be less angry - not being less angry. There's really no being less angry, somehow. I deserve no excuses, and I mean to make none, but maybe I ended up here through some endemic weakness, in addition to the moral one. Maybe other people had the support of a loving family (not I) or at least a prayerful one (nope) or an emotionally healthy spouse who could afford just to be supportive (no again) or their own complete emotional health, without the scars of an insane childhood (also no) or had grown up without the daily experience of poverty, so that they felt free to spend money for treatment, or therapy, or whatever they needed (also not I).

And maybe these are only excuses, and coincidences, and not the real reason, since I know everyone else carries a lot of crosses too; and the real reason is because I was always an angry person just looking for my opportunity. So perhaps, in some delightful and dramatic way, I am living my destiny. We shall see.

All this sounds like the most frightful adolescent melodrama, I'm afraid. Well, I can always delete it later if I decide it's a complete embarrassment.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

it's not a BFP

But it's pretty darn awesome if I do say so myself.

I know you thought this would never ever happen, but Mr. and Mrs. Misfit are officially under contract on a house!!! Mr. Misfit doesn't even know because he just went for a run (yes, we keep odd hours - I have a cake cooling for my book club on Thursday. What? It's not like we have kids getting up at 6AM) and I just got the email from our agent.

It is a short sale, so the sale still has to be approved by the bank, but we offered full list (with just a smidge of closing costs) so I think that will probably happen (though not necessarily soon). We probably won't move for a couple of months, but I am going to start packing and clearing out the shed (and perhaps shopping for furniture?) immediately.

Here is our baby:


I have to admit, I had (and probably still have) mixed feelings about this particular house, but right now I am ecstatic. I often feel that exciting life developments are something that happens to other people (you know, people who can have kids), but I guess sometimes they happen to me too :).