Inferior Imitator

ep·i·gone n. A second-rate imitator or follower, especially of an artist or a philosopher.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happy Birthday!

I've gotten a little predictable on how I like to celebrate my birthday, but I enjoy my traditions so much that I don't see a need to change. The big three are cookout, strawberry pie and sushi.

Sunday was the weinie roast and strawberry pie at Mom and Dad's. Mom was still feeling feverish off and on last week, so she didn't want to do any prep for it but still wanted it there so she could attend. Grandma made all the pie crusts, she and Mom cleaned the strawberries, and I made the sauce while Mom put them together (she couldn't keep her hands *completely* out of it!). The rest was potluck, coordinated by Emily and Dad took care of the fire. It was pretty windy, but wasn't too bad that we couldn't eat outside. Gorgeous day! My in-laws were able to come down again - they gave me the Hunger Games books, which I have managed to not read yet. Now I have no excuse.

Tuesday I had lunch out with a couple girlfriends (one of whom is getting married in three weeks, so that was fun to talk about) and then Joe took me out for sushi that evening. We came home and had strawberry shortcake, and opened Joe's present. He's actually making me a bookcase, but he wanted me to have something to open, so he bought me another book I had been wanting. I had read The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern in the car during the honeymoon and absolutely loved it, and decided I needed to have it. At the heart it's a love story, but it's more about the magic and the characterization and the setting than romance.

Anyway, I'm 34 now.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Gift of Modern Medicine

You may remember that my mother has Chronic Lymphomic Leukemia (CLL); she was diagnosed right before my sister's wedding in 2004 and underwent chemo after and has been relatively healthy since. Her health has been declining though, and last month she developed cellulitus in her right hand/arm from a strep infection, and she spiked a fever of 106 and her arm ballooned up to almost twice her normal size. She went on IV antibiotics and had several blood transfusions and recovered successfully enough.

Unfortunately, the infection was a symptom of her climbing white blood cell counts that pushed the need for another round of chemo to the immediate. She is doing one week per month for four months. This week she was supposed to start her second round, but a fever over the weekend put it off and she got blood instead and will try for chemo again next week.

Eight years is a long time to be in remission, so that was extremely promising. We've learned of a clinical trial that is testing a cure - one of Uncle Tim's supplier's wife is in it and showing good results. (That grammar is bugging me, but I don't know how to fix it!) That would be amazing, but there's a long path from clinical trials to use. I just worry about her, you know?


Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Best Thing to Ever Happen to Me

One of the awesome things about not blogging for two years is that I have a backlog of stories to tell. Since I've been mopey lately, I'll change directions and tell the story about how Joe and I met.

I spent a few years on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Association of Iowa City and there I struck up a casual acquaintance with Abby, who owns a jewelry store in the Old Capitol mall. Something about me struck her, as the following thought went through her head (paraphrased): "I bet she would get along with the third wheel that is my husband's best friend."

Abby then proceeded to drag Joe to every Downtown Association event that she thought I would be at. He was receptive to this plan, since she showed him my Facebook photo and he was definitely interested. Joe took pictures at the Christmas event I got sick for, she asked him to help tear down tents for the Book Festival at the opposite station I was assigned to, and maybe one other missed connection. Finally, in August of 2010 she took him to a concert series that I had signed up to introduce the band and plug sponsors. I almost didn't make that one, either. My brother-in-law left the headlights on out at Coral Ridge Mall, and Em called me to come give them a jump. I raced out, raced back, and motorcycled into downtown just in time to hear the fill in introduce the opening band.

I still had to introduce the main act, so I sat down with Abby and her entourage to listen to the opening act, and she introduced me to her husband Dave and his friend Joe. She asked if I was interesting in joining them for a drink afterwards, since they were celebrating Dave's birthday and I said "why not?" We went to the Dublin Underground, and I ordered a Guinness, which just cemented Joe's interest. Sometime during the evening, I looked at him and got that feeling that he was someone I could be interested in. My first reaction was, "Him? Really?"

Good thing I had that feeling, because when he later friended me on Facebook and asked me for coffee, I said yes if he'd make it a beer instead. We dated for two months before I figured out we were dating, but that's another story.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

What Makes a Mother

I thought of you and closed my eyes.
And prayed to God today.
I asked what makes a mother and
I know I heard him say,

A mother has a baby.
This we know is true.
But God, can you be a mother
when your baby's not with you?

Yes, you can, He replied
with confidence in His voice.
I give many women babies.
When they leave is not their choice.

Some I send for a lifetime
and others for a day.
And some I send to feel your womb
but there's no need to stay.

I just don't understand this. God,
I want my baby here.
He took a breath and cleared His throat
and then I saw a tear.

I wish that I could show you
what your child is doing today.
If you could see your child smile
with other children and say,

"We go to earth to learn our lessons
of life and love and fear.
My Mommy loved me, Oh so much,
I got to come straight here.

I feel so lucky to have a Mom
who had so much love for me,
I learned my lesson very quickly.
My Mommy set me free.

I miss my Mommy, Oh so much,
but I visit her each day.
When she goes to sleep,
on her pillow's where I lay.

I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek
and whisper in her ear,
'Mommy don't be sad today,
I'm your baby and I'm here.'"

So you see, my dear sweet one,
your children are okay.
Your babies are here in MY home
and this is where they'll stay.

They'll wait for you with ME
until your lesson is through.
And on the day that you come home,
they'll be at the gates for you.

So now you see what makes a Mother—
It's the feeling in your heart.
It's the love you had so much of,
right from the very start.

Though some on earth may not realize you are a Mother,
until their time is done.
They'll be up here with ME one day,
and know you're the best one.


Today is International Bereaved Mother's Day, for Mothers who hold their children in their hearts, rather than in their arms.


Saturday, May 05, 2012

High and Dry

It's been a good test of our new sump pump system the past couple of days. Very heavy rains + dry basement = Hurrah! Well, dry after Joe fixed the hot water faucet to the washing machine. Who knows how long THAT had been dripping. I'm expecting the water bill to go down next month.

They were in and out pretty quickly. Monday they had everything we'd piled up in the middle sheeted off, and all the concrete pulled out from the walls.

By Tuesday, they'd had everything cleaned up and put in the tiling and backfill.

And they poured cement on Wednesday and were out of there.

There was even some flooding going on in the area Thursday night, and we didn't even hear the thing kick on. It is super-quiet. However, the pump drains basically into our neighbors' driveway, and they were naturally a little concerned about this, so we'll have to do some more tiling and landscaping to get it to run elsewhere. But the amount of water that's coming out of this thing: wow. That would have all stayed in the basement walls, etc. so this is a MAJOR improvement. I shot those last couple shots to kinda highlight the damage the walls have taken. In the first, you can kinda see the bulge in the wall from the backyard, and in the second...well, that looks a little worse because it hasn't been painted in the last 30 years since there was a set of shelves there, but it's pretty bad, with the damage from the roots of the cedar trees we took out last spring. Who plants a tree a foot from their foundation? Idiots.

Next step, Joe is looking into wall anchors while we wait for the electrical guys to get down and set up the switch over to breakers instead of fuses. They have to trench in the power cable in order for this to happen (stupid upgrade to current code), so that all has to be coordinated too. Joe wants to wait to do the wall anchors until after this is done, which doesn't make sense to me, but I'm not doing the digging, so I'm deferring to what makes sense to him. (He trusts himself not to hit the power cable more than he trusts MidAmerican not to hit the wall anchors.) I'm all right with this compromise/pick your battles thing.

Have I said how excited I am to have this process started? Here's to no more nightmares!

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The End of the Innocence

I'm in what those of us who are obsessed with conceiving call the "two week wait". It's that time between ovulation and expected menstruation, when there's nothing you can do but think about peeing on a stick to look for hormones that may or may not be there, or may or may not be present in enough quantites for a home pregnancy test to detect. I have yet to go that far; my tight-waddishness precludes me from buying pregnancy tests in bulk, like some of the other women on the support forum I frequent for women who are trying to conceive after a miscarriage. I bought two pregnancy tests in November, I think because it was cheaper, and used one that gave us two lines. I didn't think I would need the other one for a long time.

The other test is still in the medicine drawer. I'm hoping to use it within the next two weeks, if evidence to the contrary doesn't get here first. Using this one won't be the same as last time. I'm still planning on getting out the egg timer, waiting for the results together and looking for that second line at the same time, but our reactions won't be the same. Sure, we'll be estatic and hopeful and scared, but we'll also be sad and cautious and grieving. I won't be able to relax until I reach that 10-week mark, and even then there will be that niggling thought at the back of my head, "What if I lose this baby, too?". It happened once.

I'm trying to remember how I felt the first time and if what I'm feeling now is similar or if it's just my imagination. All I really remember is being exhausted, counting down the time to the next nap, but that came later. I feel like I'm replaying a level: I've done this part before so it's all familiar, but my princess was in another castle. It's an exercise in futility, but with nothing else to do but wait, it's what I do. I'll be monitoring my symptoms more closely, too. Without morning sickness, it's a lot less obvious so the need for naps will be very reassuring.

So I guess I'm mourning the loss of the innocence of my first pregnancy. There will be a cloud over this one, and it's not fair to me, to Joe, or to the new baby, but I suppose it's the first lesson of life and the most difficult to learn. I'm not going to get to experience the unmitigated joy of the firsts, but I'm also not going to take for granted all the uncomfortable difficult parts, either. You will catch me complaining, because complaining is half the fun of being uncomfortable, but I will cherish every minute of it.