17 April 2008

little light

So ... today I left work early to take Zoe to the vet.

Before I left work, I checked in on the status of a project I've been working on for about a month, which is due tomorrow and, um, it's not as close to done as I thought. So tomorrow will probably be long and mind-numbing. I do really like my field but occasionally the job is pretty manual (think spreadsheets) and tomorrow will be one of those occasions.

At least I have a great rendition of The Scarlet Pimpernel to listen to while I do it. The book itself is a little awful - there's a LOT of clumsy writing and heavy-handed characterizations and purple prose, but the reader Karen Savage is a delight. I so heart Librivox anyway: all their stuff is free and it's all stuff that's in the public domain, and readers volunteer to read stuff. I've listened to several solo projects and a few group ones. Nothing beats a big meaty solo project by an accomplished reader, but the group projects are also really interesting - sometimes people have thick non-native-English-speaker accents but they are still good readers, and sometimes they are native speakers and they just MAUL the chapters with mispronunciations and flat affects. Usually those chapters are kind of a chore to get through, but the vast majority is pretty good, and I like how librivox is a completely flat power structure, refusing to make recommendations about which reader is best, because they don't want to discourage or intimidate anyone. That makes up for the occasional less enjoyable chapter. Also, it means the bar is set less high! So I could do some of this reading, if I wanted. I am thinking about it, I do like the sound of my own voice ... maybe this summer, when I have more time. (Not like I have any realistic reason to expect the summer to be less busy than I am now, but hope obstinately continues to spring.)

So, anyway, took Zoe to the vet for her blood-glucose level check-up and it was 298, which is sky high. Which means her diabetes is not really under control. Which means more tests at the vet, and more expense. Initially I thought maybe there was a chance that Dave hadn't given her the shot properly (it's easy to miss) but he confirmed she definitely got the right dose. So, total bummer. I also made an appointment for Inty since, you know, all barfing all the time but I might need to reschedule until after the wedding, when I'll have more time and a little more financial ease. (Weddings have many hidden associated expenses. MANY hidden associated expenses.)

I also got a call from the jeweler who is making our wedding rings, and those were more expensive than I was hoping for, although not exactly a hidden expense ... I don't know where I thought wedding rings came from. The stork brings them? But it's completely money well spent - we'll be wearing these rings forever, they are custom designed, Jade is a terrific designer and makes beautiful beautiful work AND she's local so I'm all helpy with the local economy and stuff. Plus she's rad and I like her a lot.

But for the checkbook, not such a good day.


After the vet and the other errands, I got home to a bunch of awesomeness. The first gift for the wedding arrived, which is very exciting (I haven't opened it yet because I'm waiting for Dave to get home, he's at class). Dave made ratatouille for dinner and left it in the oven for me (I just had some and hey, the dude can really cook!). I called my mom to whine (because she is always gracious enough to ask how I am doing, which is not a favor I score 100% on returning; sorry, Mom) and mid-phone-call (I was actually talking to Dad) I noticed that there was a vase of irises on top of the fridge with a little note on it, from Dave to me. He'd been reading my blog and the note was a very sweet response. Also apparently in real life I appear (to Dave at least) to have my act together more than I feel I've got together on the inside. Which reassures me a little about what people at work might think. (Unless they read this blog.)

And I got a some really thoughtful responses, and that was on a blog post I thought was way too long and probably boring for anyone to read.

And I even got a(nother) good response to this post, which will maybe be an interim (heh) solution to the Inty barfing problem. Because she is still barfing a whole lot, and losing weight, and needs a followup evaluation. If I can get her to put a little weight back on, though. I'm thinking pepcids in baby food might go down well ... sometimes I think she just throws everything up and then gets what the vet refers to as "sour stomach" and keeps horking and doesn't eat because, you know, she's nauseated. My poor wee black naughty. I totally understand, because the migraines make me pretty sick to my stomach. She emits this heartbreaking howl right before she barfs - she knows it's coming - which is simultaneously awful and a little hilarious. Also, at 4 am, it's wakey-uppy, and then you (I) get to lie in bed and listen to her strain to bring something up and then wonder where she deposited it and try to make a mental note remember to put your (my) slippers on right away when you (I) get up. So as to avoid stepping in.

... Anyway. So obviously some stuff is hard right now, but some people are also nice. And it's all going to be okay, eventually. And this blog has gotten me some awesome pet advice.

Update 4/18: Zoe's insulin problem might be due to the insulin being past its shelf life. And talking to the vet, she suggested what I've been thinking of doing, which is testing Zoe's blood glucose at home. That way I'll be able to just have phone consultations with the doctor and I can do a curve over the course of a day if I need to, get her better regulated that way. And much cheaper than going in every couple of weeks. So for Zoe's next appointment, Dave and I will go learn from the techs how to get the blood out of her ear. The vet very sweetly said, "I think Zoe is a good candidate for this, she's such a good cat." My little heart went pitty-pat to learn that the vet thinks Zoe's a good cat. Of course she is, but I don't expect other people to see beyond the drool and the ratty fur.

cat pictures 031

16 April 2008

On marriage, and weddings, and the bridal experience.

So, I was standing in the fitting room at Vera Wang, looking at myself in the dress (and wearing the Undergarment of Insanity. This undergarment required many google searches, but I finally found something which was backless AND had an underwire. The only design flaw – besides the lack of instructions for the adjustable straps – is that it’s not a snap crotch. So, um, that will be fun. Luckily my maid of honor is up to the task.)

So there was this beautiful dress and that I was wearing in front of a full-length mirror and then on top of it was my regular old face, and it felt … strange, like someone had photoshopped my face into an ad. After I eloped with my first husband, I really gave up the idea of ever having a real wedding or wearing white and I guess the reality of it still hasn’t sunk in. Leaving aside considerations about tackiness of wearing white to a second wedding … I definitely bought into the bride concept enough to not care that A) this is my second marriage (but first wedding!) B) that white originally symbolized purity/virginity and we’ve been living together for a couple of years and, uh, clearly not a virgin

I really wanted that status symbol of being a bride, illogical as it may be in my case. And yet, while I wanted it, I don’t feel like I deserve it (see objections A and B above)… which is bullshit since the whole bride-wearing-white is a marketing concept and the only thing that qualifies one to deserve to wear a white dress is the desire to wear one and the ability to purchase it. (I also feel very torn about the idea of a couple receiving gifts for a wedding, since the original idea was to help a couple set up house together and we did that when we moved in together. But I wasn’t so torn that I failed to register at a couple of places; nor did I request that anyone who wanted to give us a gift should make a contribution to the charity of their choice instead because actually, there is a bunch of stuff we need and it would take us years to be able to afford it on our own. Almost all our furniture and sheets and towels and stuff is hand-me-down and/or left over from college, so - for example - the towels are getting pretty threadbare, as you might imagine. Blah blah justification-cakes.)

Anyway. I hate it when women become consumed by their weddings and swore that that wouldn’t happen to me, but I cannot seem to shut up about it. Everyone indulges me in this, too, which is not helping my resolve. Because truthfully I do feel extraordinarily lucky to be able to have this marvelous wedding (thank you, Mom and Dad) and so I shouldn’t complain, because, you know, lucky.

That said, planning a party for 150 people when there are all kinds of other agendas in play IS a lot of work. As an example of another agenda … my mom is using the wedding as an excuse to have a mini family reunion with her side of the family, which I think is a fairly common side function for weddings (and funerals), it just hadn’t occurred to me beforehand that this was the case, so I was like, WHY exactly are you so insistent on inviting these people I barely know to my wedding? Why would they even care about my wedding? … because …despite the marketing, my wedding is not actually all about me. (It's about Dave, too! Heh.)

But a big community celebration of the couple's commitment to one another is kind of the point of having a wedding, I think. And that’s a really cool tradition, and it was one of the things I regretted most about eloping the first time around. I can totally see where someone wouldn’t be into having a wedding and would just want to do something quiet at the courthouse, but I like the idea of the wedding as a chance for a bunch of community good wishes for people starting a new phase.

And it is a new phase. I lived with my first husband for a while also before we got married, and things definitely shifted after we got married. It felt a little more permanent and not like we might break up after every big fight. I liked that feeling. I’m also, of course, deeply glad about Massachusetts’ no fault divorce options, since I do think it’s important to be able to get out of a relationship once you’ve tried everything and it’s still just not going to work.

Even after I left my first husband, I was somehow relieved to have gotten married at all – I’d been terrified all my life that I’d end up an unmarried spinster (such an awful word), lonely and the object of pity for others. This fear was not helped by the fact that I was a super late bloomer and didn’t really start dating until I was about 19 … and even then, I couldn’t really find anyone to be my BOYFRIEND, which I thought was my fault. In a way it was, since I was all fucked up about myself and thought I was just unlovable and unattractive, when really it was not so much that I was unlovable as that I was thought that finding someone to love me would fix my giant seething mass of insecurities. Which, as it turns out, is not a good idea.

I have a pet theory that damaged attracts damaged, which is why when I first met my first husband - and I was the same mess that other, saner boys had run screaming from - and he stuck around to actually become my boyfriend, it was a sign that he was just as fucked up as me. It should have been a sign, anyway. That’s unfortunately the kind of lesson that only experience can teach you.

At least I learned it pretty well – after I left the first husband and moved back to the states, I would meet men in bars and tell them that I had just left a marriage, that I was unemployed and living with my parents - and you’d think they’d be all, beep beep beep flashing lights, back off! But no, the strategy kind of backfired, since I was so open about admitting how much I’d fucked up, it disarmed them into thinking I wasn’t crazy and asked for my number anyway. I guess they ignored the obvious logic that only a crazy broad would get herself into a shitty situation like that.

But somehow being married – the fact that someone HAD once wanted me enough to commit to marry me – did a lot for my self-esteem. Fucked up though that is, the status afforded to women who get married went a long way towards making me feel better about myself. (I also had, and continue to seek, a lot of therapy.) But it was like I’d checked some kind of life goal off the list: I’d proved my worth by getting married, just as I’d proved my independence by living abroad for a while. On to the next life goal: Owning the Dallas Cowboys.

So on the eve (… nearly) of marrying again, I don’t have that huge need for someone else to validate my worth as a woman by marrying me … which I think is why I am entering this marriage with so much reflection about the meaning of weddings and the experience of being a bride. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t enjoying all the priviledges that come with bridal status – everything from the mild envy of other women to getting to wear the white dress and getting a couple of fantastic pieces of jewelry to having a party where I will be, legitimately, the star for the day. (Co-star, really, but the wedding industry is All About The Bride – which is fucked up, but this is long enough already so I won’t get into it.) That’s a lot of ego-stroking, so no wonder I found it seductive and no wonder, as a good progressive liberal feminist, I also found it troubling, with all the class indicators and consumerism which surround weddings.

So my strategy has been to try to separate the wedding (which is basically a giant party) from the marriage/relationship, which I don’t expect to change much (apart from maybe the comfort that a worrywart like me derives from being married during fights.) And I feel like I’ve done a decent job of this for the most part, but as the wedding date gets closer (May 18th, peeps!), I am finding I’m getting more sucked into the idea that the success of the wedding will somehow be a predictor of the success of the marriage. Which it’s not, really.

You can have a perfect wedding and it can still all end in divorce a few years later, or you can run into every disaster possible and still make a go of the marriage. In some cases … like where one member of the to-be-wedded couple behaves badly at the wedding or during the run-up, in retrospect it’s like, yeah, that groom who banged a stripper at his bachelor party, that probably should have said something about the prospects for his future fidelity during the marriage … but mostly, as long as the couple continue to treat each other with respect as hopefully they’ve been doing all along, the wedding isn’t any kind of reading of the entrails of the marriage’s success. I was just having a hard time for a while making the distinction in my head between Dave’s and my relationship and our wedding.

The wedding and the relationship are related, sure, but not the same, although I hadn’t previously made this distinction. Therefore, the fight we had last weekend freaked me right out (Oh noes! We are fighting right before the wedding! Does this mean we shouldn’t be getting married?!!1111???)

But actually, if you (okay, me) take a step back and think about it, it makes sense that we should be fighting because Dave’s school stuff continues to be wicked stressful and also very time-consuming, plus his band is really taking off. And all of THAT results in Dave not having much time at home to help with housework or wedding stuff or hang out with me (never mind time to himself, which is probably more important than the first two).

Plus I’ve had some changes at work that mean I feel like I need to prove myself (obviously dealing with wedding stuff – which mostly needs to be dealt with between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm – is not helping my work situation.) So I end up feeling lonely and also overworked, especially given the increased effort/time spent at my paid work … and so we’re both getting a pretty raw deal right now, which is why it’s no surprise that we’re fighting, but also that the fighting isn’t really anything but a byproduct of both of us being short on patience and on sleep. And it’s not an indication that the wedding ought to be called off, it’s an indication that we’ve got WAY too much going on right now.

And we’ve recognized that, and Dave has made changes at work so he’s “only” working a 32 hour week, which will hopefully help with the school pressure. As for me, the wedding WILL be over soon, and then things can mostly go back to “normal”, which is still too busy, but at least might afford more time and energy for yoga and self-care. And we’ll reassess the situation once the big old wedding hurdle has been cleared, and see if we need to make other changes. And if that doesn’t work … well, remember what I said about Mass divorce laws! Heh. I’m not planning on ever getting divorced again, though.

Holy crap. 2000 word blog post, and it’s not even humorous. I wonder if anyone will read to the end?

14 April 2008


I was listening to Trail of Dead the other day and I finally paid attention to the lyrics and this is what I heard in "Will You Smile Again for Me?"

If you don't want it then
You could at least pretend
That the paper's your soul
And your butt's the pen

Wow, I thought, asshole as amenusis and toilet paper as notebook. I didn't realize they had that kind of a sense of humor. Gettin' all Ofili'd up in a Trail of Dead album! Imagine!

So I looked up the lyrics. Turns out they're

If you don't want it then
You could at least pretend
That the paper's your soul
And your blood's the pen

so ... yeah. No one in Trail of Dead has a scatological sense of humor. I have that sense of humor.

07 April 2008

A Tale of Two Vertical Search Engines

The good vertical search engine:

There's a vertical search engine called MissingMoney.com, and basically you type in your name and state and it checks to see if there's any unclaimed money in your name ... like a last paycheck, or an old bank account. I did a little research and the service seems to be legit, despite the impossibly spammy-sounding text in the SearchEngineWatch post where I first read about the service. (I read SearchEngineWatch all the time, so I know it's a legit site, and I think the excessive use of hyperlinks in their post might be to prevent the content from being scraped and reused elsewhere without allocation. And maybe the writer thought he was being funny by imitating the hyperbolic authorial voice common to spam email. But "Find free money" just doesn't do it for me, especially since this is money that's been yours all along. Like treating your tax return as a "bonus" .... no, that money was yours all along, and the government's just been making interest off it in the meantime. Can you tell I sent my taxes off today?) Anyway.

Some of the commenters over at lifehacker said they'd found money. I didn't find anything searching on my name and state, but oh well.
It only takes a few seconds to type in your last name and state, and there's really nothing to lose, you don't have to input an email address or your social security number or much else that could be used to prop up any kind of nefarious identity theft.

The bad vertical search engine:

A government-funded health search engine called Popline, with the tagline of "Your connection to the world's reproductive health literature", has put a stop on all keywords that contain the word "abortion". As in, any search that you do which includes "abortion" in your kewyord string will come up with no results. Your connection to the world's reproductive health information now has no connection with abortion. That is SO FUCKED UP. Wired has a great article on it. An excerpt:

"We recently made all abortion terms stop words," Dickson wrote in a note to Gloria Won, the UCSF medical center librarian making the inquiry. "As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now."

There was no notice of the change on the site.

Dickson suggested other kinds of more obscure search strategies and alternative words to get around the keyword blocking.

"In addition to the terms you're already using, you could try using 'Fertility Control, Postconception'. This is the broader term to our 'abortion' terms and most records have both in the keyword fields," she wrote.

She also suggested using a euphemistic search strategy of "unwanted w/2 pregnancy." But the workarounds don't satisfy critics of the censorship.

That said ... when I went to the site myself and performed a search on the word "abortion", I got back a zillion article results. So maybe someone somewhere in the goverment is listening. It's still wicked messed up that they tried to block it in the first place, though.

update: Broadsheet has more on the decision to reinstate "abortion" as a search term.

04 April 2008

Friday Fun

Good thing I didn't look at this website until after 5 ... it was hard to stifle the snickers coming from my cube. My mom is actually not as terrible as all that but I have fielded the occasional call for technical assistance which leaves me shaking my head, just as you have to think all the people who submitted emials from their own mothers must have done. Most of the emails are pretty sweet, though, because they are so affectionate and not in a big-deal way, just kind of an "I'm-your-mom-and-I-love-you" which gets taken for granted a lot if you're lucky enough to have a mom that loves you.