Monday, November 29, 2004

The newest member of the family

So. Here I am in Florida, at my parents' house. What can I tell you about the last few days? The 20 hour trip to get here? The feeling of unfolding myself into the light after the beginnings of an early winter hibernation in Scotland? The bizarre sense of culture shock I always experience at first- the cars, so big! The food, so big! The houses, so big!

But I won't go into any of that right now. Instead I will bid a warm welcome to the newest member of the Mare household- a jazzy new laptop for E. with all the bells and whistles. I was ruthlessly decisive in picking it out, and felt no worry at the fact that it's a PC, not a Mac. The kids will just have to learn to live together, that's all.

My parents were raising their eyebrows at the cost, but I mean, och...[insert Scottish sound at back of throat]. Have you seen the exchange rate lately? My credit card will be bursting into flames by the end of the trip, as I plan to shop til I...have to stop.

I'll try to post something later, something more properly bloggish, but for now, there is sun to be lain in (is that grammatically correct?) Who cares, there is sangria to drink and sand to stir beneath toes.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Scotland, for obvious reasons. Instead, we have other events like Burns Night on January 25th, which involves doing strange things like reading poety to a haggis before consumption.

So while many of you are currently off doing something related to turkey- that is, buying, cooking, eating, throwing against wall in fit of rage at insensitive comments from relatives, my dinner consisted of a bagel with some pastrami, and a couple of chocolate chip cookies.

Don't worry, I intend to make up for lost gorging time when I embark on the second leg of my international jetsetteryness to the States. I gather my mother has meals a-go go all lined up.

Before I depart, and in addition to all the frantic packing and tidying up of the house (I can't stand leaving a mess behind, even if I know E. will be here while I am away and wreak unspeakable havoc on the place), I thought I might take a moment to do a little blog housekeeping. This has involved a bit of tidying up behind the scenes (i.e. deleting a couple of old unpublished posts), going through e-mails, and the like.

Which brings me to an intriging comment someone left here about the way the template background looks. I am puzzled by the commenter's suggestion that I should keep the light green background, as she or he "did not like the black".

As far as I am aware, the background, as least as I see it on my screen, has NEVER been black. It was white very briefly, when I first started, then gray for quite awhile. Then I had a little flirtation with different shades of green, with one afternoon of blue, until I arrived at the current hue.

I do realise that the look of a blog can depend very much on what kind of browser you are running. I figured this out when the computer crashed that time and I had to use my cranky old laptop. All of a sudden I could see that using Internet Explorer on that model, the font looked teeny tiny and the background looked shit brown is the most apt description for it.

Blech yuck, thought I. That's not what it looks like to me, on my beloved iMac running Safari, my preferred browser.

But now I am curious as to whether the background has ever appeared black to anyone else, or if the multitudes out there using the dreaded Windows see things quite differently than I.

On a further computer, and indeed, travel related theme, although I will off to the States in the next day or two, I should hopefully have internet access at my parents' house. There is also chat of buying E. a new gizmo, since his laptop is on its proverbial last legs. The thing starts up with a kind of groaning sigh, farts periodically, is apt to fall asleep in the middle of important e-mails, and is generally ready for the big Hard-Drive heaven in the sky. If we get him a shiny new one, then he can play with that, and the much-fought-over iMac will be ALL MINE. Yay yay yay. Plus, I can buy it in America and use it to post on while I am there.

See. A cunning plan. I am all about the ulterior motive. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Why aren't you happy yet?

Back from the first of my jaunts abroad, the Amsterdam leg. A very lovely place. It took me a day or so to get used to the bicycles whizzing by at top speed, and to remember to stay OFF the bike path lest I get mowed down. And it hailed, hard wet pellets of misery on our shivering selves.

Despite this, we had a marvelous and indeed well-behaved time, our depravity restricted to a quick spin round the red light district to see what all the fuss is about. Oh, and a few cheeky beers in a cafe by the canal, despite being well within the two week wait. We stayed in a glorious charming B&B, with a massive comfy bed. With fresh pastries for breakfast, of which I think I may have consumed my body weight several times over.

In celebration of E's birthday, we went to a show one night, a very entertaining comedy thing by an American theater company called Boom Chicago. The show was entitled "Why Aren't You Happy Yet?" and comprised a series of both scripted sketches and audience participation improvisation. Frankly, I expected it to be rubbish when E. first described it to me, but it was hee-lair-ee-ous. Oh, how we laughed, ha ha ha, aided by a few more cheeky cocktails and more beers.

However, like every garden of Eden of enjoyment, there was the one usual infertility related snake.

When we sat down, there were little slips of paper on the tables, asking your name and, simply, Why Aren't You Happy Yet? followed by a blank to insert your reason. These would then be used by the cast later on in the show in one of their improv pieces.

E. loves proving to the world how clever he is at coming up with shit like that, so he grabbed the pen and filled my name in at the top. Then there was a long pause. We looked at each other.

"So. Why aren't we happy yet?" he asked.

"Well, duh," I said. "You know why."

"I can't write INFERTILITY. That's so unfunny. That's a major downer, not to mention too personal," he grumbled.

"But it would be true," I told him.

"Think of something else," he urged me.

Pause. Pause. Sips of beer.

"OK," I said finally, "how about: "I want my boyfriend to marry me, but even though he wants to father my children, he simply won't propose!" Lots of chuckles in that one, right?

E. crumpled up the paper and threw it away.

Later, during the show, the cast selected someone else's slip.

"MARY," shouted the cast member (shouting because it's theater, dahlink, and they have to speak at top volume), "IS NOT HAPPY YET BECAUSE....."I HAVE THREE DAUGHTERS AND AM STILL WAITING TO BECOME A GRANDMOTHER.""

There followed an excruciating sketch, in which said cast had to turn this into something funny. Naturally, one of the daughters had no children because she was a ball-busting high-flyer with no time for kids. The second daughter was a lesbian. This was rather interesting, since unless I missed something, being a lesbian doesn't automatically render one sterile.

I can't remember what they thought up for the third daughter because by that point I was under the table gnawing my own leg off, and calling for additional cheeky cocktails to ease the pain.

The following day we woke up, consumed yet more pastries, and went to visit the Anne Frank House . This was something of a momentous occasion for me, Anne's diary having been an immense inspiration to me when I was growing up, and indeed, one of the reasons that from the age of 11, and up until the start of this blog, I kept my own diary.

I half expected the exhibition to be overblown and cheesy, but the museum itself, which is basically the house itself where Anne and her family went into hiding, tells the story of the Secret Annexe with a remarkable simplicity. Even with crowds moving through the narrow rooms, it was an immensely moving and poignant experience. Particularly when I stood in what had been Anne's room, looking at the old pictures of film stars she had pasted to the walls to make her surroundings more cheery. I suddenly found there were tears behind my eyes and a little lump in my throat.

Sombered, we went out into the cold November rain, not getting very far before promptly ducking into a cozy cafe for one last cheeky beer. And I raised my glass to young Anne, who I imagine would have understood very well the appeal of blogging, and who knew very well the importance of continuing to tell her own story, even during the darkest times.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

International Jetsetter

GAH! Where has the week gone? How is it Thursday already?

I know I haven't been writing quite as much as usual. This is due, in part, to the fact that there is nuffin' much happening on the baby front. We may get some SA results for E. sometime next week, or we may not. We are a little confused how one goes about obtaining these, since the instructions for the test had big bold letters at the bottom in flashing neon saying: WE WILL NOT GIVE OUT RESULTS OVER THE TELEPHONE.

Well, OK, fair enough. But if we phone, will you tell us how to get the results? Or are we supposed to write to you to ask you to post us the results? Or fax them? Or will it be our special secret to share with our RE when we see him next? Oh, what a little mystery.

Another reason is that I am working quite long hours at the moment. This involves sitting at my desk in front of a computer, furrowing my brow and wracking my brains to come up with cogent, lucid and relevant material. I do this for an unbroken eight or nine hours a day, with a half hour for lunch, gulping some sustenance before returning to the salt mines. So you can probably understand why I haven't been exactly keen to come home to sit at my desk in front of the computer to wrack my brains to come up with witty & interesting posts.

Apart from the sheer brain strain, I find that the lower half of my body is perilously close to seizing up, or developing deep vein thrombosis. It's cold in the flat too, with the entirely inadequate heating system as found in most houses in this country, so every fifteen minutes or so I have to get up and run around to try to get the blood circulating. Which breaks the chain of thought.

Lastly, I have had lots of other scurrying around to do to get ready for my stint as an international jetsetter! I am really pleased at how my travel arrangements have worked out, even if it means a slightly insane schedule and needing about twenty five different types of clothing to accommodate all the different climates. This weekend, Amsterdam for E's birthday. Next weekend, Florida, to see my parents.

I think I may have already mentioned, I am something of an anxious traveler. I like to be at the airport six or seven hours early to board flights ( I jest, but not by much). I have a complicated handbag/carry-on arrangment and I always worry that somehow they won't let me on with both things, or try to make me check my carry-on. Since my handbag is invariably pushing my luck a bit, with something verging on a large tote stuffed to the gunnels with books, magazines and spare knickers. But there is no way I am parting with the carry-on either, which contains essentials such as larger presents, make-up, and clothes which I want to wear on the trip but worry will get lost if checked through. Did I mention there is a lot of worry involved together with luggage separation anxiety.

One of my travel nightmares nearly came true a few years ago. Coming home after Christmas, due to bad weather, we were routed through a different airport and made to stay overnight at a hotel before boarding an entirely different airline for the second leg home. This in itself would not have been a problem, except the airline seemed to think that our luggage, which we had checked at the start, should be sent on ahead on a DIFFERENT plane.

We tried to explain that really, this was inadvisable, since our bags would arrive about 12 hours ahead of us. Where said bags would go round and round on the carousel, uncollected. Until somebody decided to walk off with our stuff. Our bags, full of special Christmas pressies and goodies.

This was pre 9/11. Where the airlines still thought it was somehow sane to load up planes with bags with no passenger on board.

It took some serious cajoling to reunite us with our luggage. Shooting my best laser beam death ray eyes, I think I may have threatened, or um, volunteered to go into the holding bin or whatever to physically remove our items. To this day, E. refers to my encounter with the customer service representative in tones of hushed awe.

Also, it can be tricky to remember which passport to use when. And not get stopped, as I did several years ago, by the evil airline security for having the audacity to travel to a certain destination on a completely valid, yet somehow nonetheless "wrong" passport. I mean, really. Cut us international jetsetters/dual citizen types some slack, willya?!

I'll be back early next week, no doubt with lots of riotous stories to tell about our visit to Amsterdam. Even though we are very boring, and would certainly never engage in the kind of debauchery that apparently goes on there. Debauchery, us? Of course not. How could you think such a...well, I did hear a rumour there was a museum with a gigantic chair shaped like a penis. We might have to check that out.

I mean, it is a museum, after all. Culch-chure.

Monday, November 15, 2004

100- (For JJ).

It occurred to me in looking over my blogging records, that this is my 100th post. It arrives almost six months to the day since I began, back in May.

Not to be overly navel-gazing, but it seems appropriate to take a moment to say a heartfelt thank you to the person directly responsible for setting me off on my blogging adventures.

I met JJ on a message board, one which had the rare distinction of being frequented by a group of particularly smart, sassy women. It was the first board I found where I could be a smart ass about the whole "TTC thing", and nobody seemed to mind. In fact, people like JJ actively encouraged it! Hurrah, I thought, I am not alone out here in a vortex of babydust.

JJ's posts kept mentioning this thing called a "blog". Having been practically surgically attached to the internet for the last three or four years, I had heard of blogging, of course. But I didn't know anyone who had ever kept one, or how it worked. The idea of having my own little corner of cyberspace had never really crossed my mind.

Through JJ, I read a few other of these newfangled blog thingies, specifically Julie and Karen. I thought to myself "Wow", the way you do when you catch a glimpse of something which seems astonishingly accomplished, polished, and seemingly unobtainable. Kind of like the way I feel when I leaf through Vogue- sure, I know I could go out and buy a Prada handbag, but I will never ever have the money or the long legs required to pull off those outfits, that look.

So I admired from afar. Occasionally a little voice in my head wondered how you went about setting up one those blogadoodle sites, and then I shook it off thinking I couldn't possibly ever do that. I don't know how to set up websites and templates and codes, and my goodness, it must be sooo complicated, where would one find the time?

Then JJ started talking about opening a blog site for women of our message board. The idea being that we could do with a wider forum to expand on our brief posts. Giving us the freedom to ramble on at will, without worrying that we were monopolizing space on the board or droning on about ourselves too much.

She dangled the idea in front of us like a shiny lure. It floated in the waters of the message board for a few days. And then suddenly, surprising myself, I turned into a large spangled silver fish, and bit. Bit hard. I decided, like the greedy trout I am, that I would not only take up the offer of a group blog, but I would, gasp!, start my own as well.

It took me, oh, about half an hour to discover the existence of Blogger, and another thirty seconds to discover that it was free. That magic word- free. I could try it, and if I didn't like it, well, no harm done, no money wasted. An experiment. Nothing to lose, but some spare time. Time I was otherwise spending staring into space, brooding about babies, or Googling endlessly for answers that would not come.

I think the act of blogging, together with all my encounters with this particular community of women- infertile, adopting, coping with pregnancy and life with babies after infertility- has saved me in many ways. It has given me an outlet for some of the raw and murky stuff I carry inside my head every day. It has been the most wonderful source of information and education. It has astounded me with the kindness of strangers. It has provided the most amazing sense of perspective. It has shown me that it is possible to walk a sad and uncertain road with dignity, grace and compassion. Above all, it has made me laugh, which on the darkest days is the most wonderful respite.

I don't know if I would have ever started a blog without JJ. I might have, eventually, but I think I would have first spent a very long time in the shadows, lurking. Admiring so many of you without ever joining in, and without ever really getting to know you. It was JJ who opened that door for me, and having done so, grabbed me by the hand and pulled me in.

So, thank you again to our dear, charming, funny JJ. Stand up and take a bow. Actually, no, wait, don't. Your knee is oogy and your leg is broken. Take a metaphorical bow.

And remember, I wish you all good things in this world- dollhouses, decent doctors, a bestselling novel, geneology of princesses and kings, the muzzling of Frosty and the defenestration of the Trainee. Ovulation. The love of Hubby. And however you get there, the joy of motherhood.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

How not to do business on the telephone

Like many jobs in this world, mine requires a certain amount of negotiation skills. I negotiate all day with people in my own company, and then I negotiate with people outside of it, who may not like what my company is doing. In those cases I often have to make lots of telephone calls where I either try to gently smooth things over, or more actively work on keeping the shit from hitting the fan. Or, if the fan has been hit, damage limitation.

This can, in its own way, be entertaining, and I do enjoy it. But I sometimes have trouble with doing business on the phone with people I don't know. To sum it up in a single sentence, I don't give good business phone.

Part of it is that I can usually tell when whoever I am talking to seems to be distracted. While I am trying to wrap my mouth around a complicated explanation, I can practically hear them doing other things- rustling their papers, drinking coffee, checking their e-mail, feeling up their secretary.

This disconcerts me. I find talking shop about complicated matters on the phone a little disconcerting at the best of times. I want to scream "FOCUS here, people, FOCUS!" And my tangled verbiage becomes even more tangled as I try to make my point.

Then the person at the other end lapses into a kind of unnerving silence, reduced to curt Uh-huhs, and Mmm-mmms. Or maybe I have just stunned them into submission with my use of big words in context.

Things are usually a little better if whoever it is phones me. Then it tends to be at a time when they are ready to talk, when their mind is clear and focused on the matter at hand. I try, whenever I am phoned unexpectedly, to give my full attention to the speaker. This is probably easier for me, considering I don't even have a secretary to feel up.

Yesterday,"Mrs Brown" phoned me. Heretofore, I've been dealing with Mrs Brown only in a very indirect sense about something. "Mrs Smith", the other person whom I had been dealing with up til now, was not good at returning my phone calls, and so I sometimes had to leave messages with Mrs Brown as an alternative, pleading for someone with a pulse to phone me.

The conversation went something like this:

"Hello, is that Ms Mare? It's Mrs Brown here from XYZ Ltd. I'm picking up this matter from my colleague, Mrs Smith."

"Oh, yes, hello," I said, "I gathered Mrs Smith was not around, since she hasn't gotten back to me, and I've left 10 messages. Because it's quite urgent I speak with her, or with someone, at XYZ Ltd."

"That's fine. You can talk to me."

"Good. Now, about this issue of...."

Cue interruption from Mrs Brown.

"She's on holiday, actually, with her husband. Mrs Smith, I mean. For two weeks. They go to America every year at this time."

"How nice. Now, as I was saying..."

"It's really quite hard to manage when she's away. I mean, so many things pile up. My goodness, we've been rushed off our feet here."

"Oh," I said. "Is this a good time to speak about this?"

"Yes, yes, yes, fine, really fine," said Mrs Brown, tittering nervously.

"OK, so about the..."

"It's just the last time she went to America, she came back pregnant! Which meant I had to cover her maternity leave, obviously. The baby is so cute though. She used to bring her in. What an angel! It was good when things got back to normal finally. But you can see, we've all been wondering if it's going to happen again! I mean, her coming back from America pregnant."

Cue Mrs Brown braying with insane laughter down the telephone.

I treated her to some unnerving silence, and a couple of curt Uh-huhs.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Scully Effect

There's something very strange going on recently. Everywhere I go, I see articles of discarded baby clothing. Walking to work, a small sock dropped in a frosty puddle by the side of the road. On the floor of the bus, a lost Winnie-the-Pooh bib with bright blue strings. Roaming in the country park with E. at the weekend- one little mitten randomly perched on top of a tree stump.

Part of me thinks it may be a form of Yellow Van Syndrome. Another part of me thinks it must be a sign! A sign that one day too I will be a mother who gets home to find a baby with one sock!

But mostly I think it's just coincidence. That it's just that there are a lot of kids out there, dropping stuff.

I don't know when I stopped fully believing in fate, or the divine plan, or that things are meant to happen for a reason. I suspect it was probably around the time that I became aware, primarily through my experience with infertility blogs, that some truly heartwrenching stuff happens to good people who certainly don't deserve it. That the framework of "meant to be", as this brilliant post by Marla so eloquently discusses, can create a very problematic paradigm for the infertile.

If I start to see the lost socks in the road as some sort of symbol or hidden message, then for me, that end up meaning that other events have secret import as well. That if I can just decipher the underlying meaning of the codes played out before me, I'll somehow unlock the reason why this is happening to us. That I will get an inside glimpse into this larger plan, the pattern that fate is weaving for us. That I will be able to see where we are going, where we will end up.

Well, my present frame of mind says "bugger that." I'll drive myself nuts, and besides, I am not too comfortable with the whole idea that I can or should ascribe any larger meaning to the large doses of crap infertility dishes out to me, and to those I care about, on a seemingly daily basis.

Instead, I aspire to something, which for me is much more soothing. I seek solace in the idea that if there is a reason for what is going on, it is based on some sort measurable, scientific fact. That it's hormones, not the cosmos lining up against me. That it's biology, not the whim of a mischievous or angry God.

I call this line of reasoning the "the Scully Effect".

I am, admittedly, not an X-Files aficionado as such. But a few years back, I enjoyed watching the odd episode while I was eating dinner, or late at night when we came home from the pub. I was always bemused by Agent Scully's take on the world. I mean, weird shit was going on, all the time. And no matter how glaringly obvious it was that there something downright unearthly happening, complete with screaming, goo and alien lifeforms, Scully always has a rational explanation for it.

She would say, "Oh no, Mulder, it's just swamp gas." "Oh, no, Mulder, that person claiming to have telekinetic powers is a known schizophrenic." "Oh, Mulder, trust me, I'm a medical doctor".

Her stance kind of irritated me at times. It's like, look, you have clearly just traveled back in time. There's no denying you have just seen a man spontaneously combust. Wake up and smell the mystical. But I was also strangely reassured by how this woman could take all the strange crap thrown at her, and could process it, totally unapologetically, in a way that made sense to her.

I know that as time worn on, things did change. Apart from an improvement in the clothes department, I mean. Poor Scully, before she picked up a few sleek little navy suits, can you believe she actually went to work dressed like this? No, I can't either. But I digress.

Anyway, maybe around the time she got cancer, but miraculously went into remission (either due insertion of microchip and/or prayer), I could see Scully's rock hard adherence to science starting to waver. Then I missed almost all the later episodes. Unfortunately, I never did see how it all turned out in the end. So all you X-files experts who may be rolling their eyes and saying, "Of COURSE, Scully went from skeptic to believer- that was the WHOLE point. The truth WAS out there"- I'm making a loose analogy here, OK? I'm talking about vintage, early X-Files brand Scully.

Vintage Scully, the woman who appeared relatively unfazed by the fact that at one point, she had all her ova removed by the bad guys, to be stored in a government lab, leaving her barren. A character who was able to coolly and dispassionately keep her head when everything around her was, quite literally, melting down. Who was able to retain some reasonable dialogue with God despite her core beliefs that the world is made up of elements which can, ultimately, be explained.

I sometimes wish I could be more like that. Apart from the bad suits. And having to maintain such bouncy yet perfectly coifed hair while fleeing from swarms of bees, or similar.

I'll start by walking past the discarded flotsam of other people's babies, without a second glance.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


I spent the weekend with E. at our flat in the Other City for a change of scene, and we talked of many things. Of ships and shoes and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.

But not, for the first time in many months, of babies. It was a blessed relief, to be honest, to turn our minds to something else for a change. The chaos in our life extends to other areas, such as our wonky living situation, and E.'s feelings of career stagnation, so there is never any shortage of material to work with. Periodically, as we did this weekend, we take some time off from the Infertility Express train to Hell, and think about other stuff.

Like, where do we want to live? Should we sell one or both of the flats and move to somewhere in the middle? If so, where? Should E. quit his job and start his own business? If so, what would that business be? If he could get a better job, would it be worth thinking again about making a big geographical move? You know, that kind of thing. The sort of discussion which at the best of times leaves you staring wide-eyed at the crack in the ceiling in the middle of the night. And that's before we add a hypothetical baby into the mix.

We talk about the "other stuff", and then we get back on the hamster wheel, spinning mindlessly towards nothingness.

One thing I continue to find hard about where we are at in the infertility process is that it renders us almost absolutely incapable of planning anything, decisively, for the long-term. There is still so much we don't know. We don't know if we'll be buying maternity clothes in the spring, undergoing treatment, talking to adoption agencies, or getting a puppy with the aim of learning to live childfree. If you put all of that on a spectrum of what could be, it's really insanely mind-blowing. I mean, any one of those outcomes is, in its own right, so chockfull of possibility, it makes my head hurt.

People say 'you have to get on with things and live your life'. Try not to let infertility get in the way of planning things that you would otherwise want to do. But the thing is, I am not talking about whether or not to book a holiday to Aruba here, I am talking about decisions, big decisions, which, if circumstances change significantly in one direction or another, could have enormous impact.

People say 'well, just be patient, everything will work itself out in time'. Yeah. That's what I said a year and a half ago. How much time should I factor in here? For everything to "work itself out"? To wait and see what will be. Two years? Three years? Say another two years to try fertility treatment, and if that fails, then a year to get into the adoption process and another year to actually get a baby from somewhere? Are we really saying that we put everything else in life on hold for at least four years while we figure this shit out? And what about the very real possibility that we'll opt to live without children, if it comes to that, in which case, knowing how much of a blow that will be, I'd really like to get on with making some arrangements to make that as pleasurable and comfortable as possible.

People say, ' well, sometimes things don't go to plan'. Yes, I get that. I'm not even talking about things not going to plan, I am talking about not being able to make a plan in the first place. I am talking about the feeling of sailing into uncharted waters, of going right off the edge of the map-where we may find land, or where there may be dragons.

I think the reason we aren't talking about baby things on top of, or in the contexts of, those other discussions is because we both feel like we need to make a conscious effort to work with what we have got. Even if what we have got remains a gigantic question mark. I know I can't wait around forever for things to fall into place. I also know some of the answers are coming, very slowly, in painstaking drips.

But it seems so desperately slow. E will do another SA this week, and I have the HSG scheduled for December. We then need to see the RE again to discuss options. It's the usual hurry up and wait, without any definitive plan of action anywhere in sight. So right now it feels like there is absolutely hee haw happening on the baby front, apart from the forced march of baby-making sex on cue.

We are both so tired of waiting. All these months going by, and our lives don't change- we are stuck, in suspended animation, waiting for something, anything, to happen. I don't want to wake up one day in a few years from now, and find that opportunities have passed us by. Nor do I want to wake up, and find we have gotten ahead of ourselves, and burned our boats, only to find that I now need passage off the Island.

I feel like whichever way I move, I am trapped by the spectre of infertility. One way or another, something will have to shift. Because I can't live my life in checkmate forever.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Tomorrow is Another Day

Well, well, what a complete fuckarow yesterday turned out to be. First of all, the election. Suffice to say, it didn't go the way I had hoped, obviously.

Then I found Waldough, who, as it happens, was hanging out in the ladies' bathroom on the second floor of my office building, second cubicle on the left. Welcome Waldough, you irritating little fucker. So no, I am not pregnant.

I wasn't really expecting to be, not really. I apologise for making it sound like a more exciting moment of great import than it really was. It was simply that it was day 13 DPO, and if nothing else in all this cycling nonsense, I am regular like clockwork. I may never have seen a positive pregnancy test in my life. But I have also never, since I started paying attention to these things, gotten past 14 days post ovulation, never ever ever.

Come day 13, my waking temperature will invariably hover around 97.3 degrees, a sure indicator that a hot date with Waldough is not far in the future. I don't even temp the rest of the cycle. I just make a note of the day I think I ovulate, wait 13 days, and pop the digital thermometer in my mouth that morning. And as sure as night follows day and day get the picture. It's 97.3, and I always get my period the next day. Always. Every single month for the last year and a half. There may be something else wrong with me, but it sure ain't regularity of my cycle.

As an aside, I am, as usual, cheered and bemused by the sheer enthusiasm for peestick peeing that some of you evince at the mere mention of a possible pregnancy. I liken it to some sort of tribal rite, where the women in a big group cluster round the initiate, gyrating in a slow circular dance, chanting "PEE, PEE, PEE" while waving popsicle sticks in the air.

Anyway. I sat in the bathroom feeling a bit glum, to say the least. Thank you, Universe for that sharp left hook, followed swiftly by the upper cut to the jaw. BAM, BAM. The proverbial double whammy.

I came home and watched the BBC vultures gorge on the carrion of the election wind-up. Then E. came home to find me in a dismal heap. He cooked me dinner, as he always does, bless his cotton socks. Afterwards we changed into our soft flannel jammies, ate some ice cream, and watched a fun, mindless movie, lying with our legs intertwined together on the sofa.

I love watching movies with E. We have quite similar viewing habits, that is to say we will both watch just about everything. We enjoy "quality" films, but also have a secret mutual fondness for complete brainless fodder. You know, the type with lots of explosions, aliens, things that lurk under the bed or in the bushes, people mutating into strange forms as result of killer viruses, senseless plots to destroy the world, and anything with excessive amounts of slime and goo.

We know fine well that one should suspend all disbelief for these things, but like me, E. is quite happy to engage in a little running critique on some of the stupider efforts.

So we spent a delightful couple hours enjoying the movie and each other's commentary. Where did the red dress come from, and couldn't she have found something more substantial to wear before embarking on the mission? Why don't the soldiers radio for back-up? Why haven't they figured out that the fact that the computer shut everything down and deliberately terminated everyone in a creepy BIOHAZARD centre was probably for a very good reason? Who was that other girl meant to be working for? I wouldn't open that, would you open that? Fuck no, I thought you wouldn't, so why did they?

It was all very satisfying. I felt much better afterwards.

And this morning, strangely enough, I woke up feeling quite positive about life for the first time in awhile. Had myself a little Scarlett O'Hara moment in the shower, soaping and singing. OK, things are crapadoodle doo in many ways. But for some reason, my good spirits have returned, and I feel sort of recharged. Quite scrappy and ready for battle. Bring it on. Tomorrow is another day, and all that.

I don't know long it will last, but at the moment, it feels just fine.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Election Day

Today I discovered that there is nothing like a presidential election to take one's mind off those otherwise burning questions- you know, like, am I pregnant? Are my boobs looking bigger or am I just getting chubby from eating too many bowls of ice cream while I sit on my blogging ass? If I am not pregnant, where the fuck is Waldough ? And should I go pee on something for good measure?

Happily, all those thoughts have been wiped clean out of my tiny mind by the never ending media onslaught that is the Race to the White House 2004.

You'd think that the election was taking place in Britain, since the news coverage is so intense, and everybody here is taking such an interest. I think it would be fair to say that folks are fairly riveted. People were stopping by my desk all day to talk about it- had I voted? How did that work? Who did I vote for? What would I do if Bush won? (I never know how to answer that one- I mean, I can't very well say "leave the country", cause, um, I kind of already did that.) Colleagues at work actually stopped talking about babies and their children for at least five minutes to discuss world politics instead! It was very exciting!

I think the thing is, people recognise that the results of today's election will have a long term and significant impact on Britain. After all, the Americans are not just electing a president, they are choosing Tony Blair's new best friend.

The time difference is proving something of a pain in the ass though. I have an early meeting tomorrow morning, which rules out any ideas of staying up til the wee small hours to see a glimpse of which way the cookie is crumbling, or the final result . That is of course, if the wolf packs of lawyers can be kept under control.

I also have to laugh as I witness what is being presented as something of an immense hoo-ha over the new automated balloting machine thingies. There's no paper trail! Gah! The screen went blank! The memory card failed as we were moving it! Pass the provisional ballot! Call the lawyer!

I mentally compare it to the process here. When I vote in Britain, I go to my assigned polling station, and walk straight in, and the nice lady sitting at the collapsible card table on the folding chair ticks my name off on a long list. Then she hands a slip of paper and a stubby pencil. Yes, that's right, a stubby pencil. I kid you not.

I make a big X next to whoever I want to win, fold the slip in half, stick it in the wooden box, and away I go. Later on, the slips are all counted through the night by hand by people sitting at a big long table in the various districts throughout the country. For big elections, a news presenter called Peter Snow follows the results with statistical analysis in the form of the famous Swing-o-meter. I saw him on Newsnight or whatever that programme was last night doing something similar with a gigantic graphic of the United States, which cheered me up no end.

I love voting here, it's really sweet, a little eccentric and rather charming. It no doubt lacks most of the hype and frenzy, and of course, anything like the scale or import of voting in the USA. And to be honest that is all quite refreshing. Though right at this particular moment in my cycle, the distraction of events over the water is very welcome indeed.