“You know who DOES have a funny bone in her body? Your Mom every night for a dollar!”

“You know who DOES have a funny bone in her body? Your Mom every night for a dollar!”  -Tina Fey, Bossypants

The rib improves–I think. It was pretty marginal for the last week, as I winced my way through the day, alarming Carter with my squeaks as I turned over in bed and heaving myself up and out of couches and chairs and car seats. Underwire bras have been banished. Extensive couch time has been prescribed. Multiple naps have been undertaken.

The ribcage still hurts and I do yelp in pain if I happen to cough or sneeze or twist too far in one direction or another, but it’s slowly, slowly, slowly less noticeable. The naps will continue until morale improves.

Meanwhile baby is thumping away. I think I’ve located her butt or her hip, which she likes to push out where my stomach used to be; I can feel the fluttery squirm of her feet a few inches on my right side. Her head is down pressing against my cervix, as it has been for the past few weeks. We saw it on the ultrasound during my last appointment: a big round circle, wedged at the bottom of my uterus. It didn’t move much. There it will stay, I think, until she’s ready for her grand entrance.

A good sign of my recovery is my ability to knock things off my to-do list. Today’s been a good day. I’ve scheduled my haircut, made shopping lists for the friends baby shower this Sat, and dropped a few things off at the donation center. I’ve written about 3k words for Side Venture since Sunday. Who knows, I might even make 10k steps for the first time in a few days!

Yesterday we visited with Lisa and Erik and their sweet newborn for the first time. My goodness, she was so little, but had such a big presence! And made such impressive poops! Seeing her made it real what was going to happen to us very, very soon. Carter came home and set up our pack n’play, moved even more things up to the attic and bought a TV from Costco for future daddy-soothing purposes.

The next list is going to be simplified and completed tasks removed, I think. Tomorrow is 37 weeks and time is speeding by (a consequence of overnapping?).


*General to-do’s*
Buy Toms shoes on eBay (Mon)
Buy Tieks (any day)
Toss old shoes (check for tread and holes)
Sign up for Imperfect Produce box using coupon code
Sort through SIL’s hand-me-downs
Thank you cards for family baby shower
Make lettuce wraps
Bake sweet potatoes
Clear old food from fridge
Jury duty (check Sunday night)
Laundry (Sunday night)
Schedule house cleaning for Thu
Put cleaning powder on rug and vacuum
Schedule haircut
Roomba 2nd bdrm and bathroom
Trim dead leaves off houseplants
Repot the goddamn mint
Frame for art in baby’s room
Badger parents about TDAP shots
Cake for baby shower
Create inventory for chest freezer
Set up bassinet
Pack hospital bag
Get prescription filled
Clean out baby’s dresser, move my junk upstairs
Organize DVDs by genre
Wash baby clothes given as gifts, organize in dresser

*Food planning for postpartum period*
Jiaozi
Ravioli
Garlic meatballs or meaty marinara
Carnitas
[buy] precooked rice, TJ’s frozen meals (orange chicken, Indian entrees), frozen organic fruit (smoothies), raisins
Freeze ripe bananas

Steel cut oatmeal pucks (freeze)
Freeze sliced whole wheat bread
Cookie dough
Banana bread (slice)

*Writing*
Sign box set contract
Proofread standalone novel
Format and publish standalone novel
Outline SFR series (4)
Outline bestseller story sequels (3)
Buy covers
Write 1/3 bestseller story sequel
Pay Q1 2016 taxes

 

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“It is impossible to go through life without trust: That is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.”

“It is impossible to go through life without trust: That is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.” – J.M. Barrie

Not quite running on fumes–maybe running on low? A quarter tank? It’s been a busy weekend. Friday I finished outlining my SFR–finally–and we went out for groceries on top of a doctor’s appointment and a pediatrician meet n’greet. We shared a salad and chicken sandwich at Gregoire’s while the rain poured outside, and then the rest of the day was spent tapping away at my outline.

I had written in my diary that it was going to be done whether I liked it or not, and lo and behold, I did write it. I’m happy with 4/5 of it. The final story will need some finessing, but it’s good enough that I can get going with writing, if I want. Frankly I’m excited to write it. It’ll be a nice change from what I’ve been working on before.

Saturday was spent at the hospital 10-4 at a baby care class. The class was full of beleaguered pregnant ladies and their partners; I could hear the rustle of snacks being broken out a mere hour after it began, and in the corner of the room one woman who was due to deliver soon napped on her chair. I think the men may have gotten more out of it than the women. When we came home I took a nap despite it being five o’clock; it was only twenty minutes but it gave me the fuel to get through the rest of the day. Carter and I washed our way through 4 loads of hand-me-downs and baby shower clothes, and spent the evening folding and watching TV.

Today was comparatively more relaxed. We slept in until 10:30AM (well, 9:30 pre-daylight savings) and when I got up I made panettone french toast for breakfast along with an egg-and-bacon quesadilla, and then we went to Point Isabel for an hour of watching Beast romp through mud and rain and sea water from the shore. Needless to say he was quite tired when it was all through. We went to Target which was curiously crowded for some returns and an early stock-up on paper towels, detergent, trash bags and frozen organic fruit. All the while it rained.

At home we swore off naps in an effort to go bed on time, and ate the leftover halves of our Thai noodles from the night before. He cleaned out his dresser upstairs, and I finished up my thank you notes and did a few other chores. I cooked a roast chicken with potatoes and brussels sprouts. Carter skipped dessert but I ate a small bowl of balsamic roasted strawberries and vanilla ice cream.

Funny: I notice that I write a lot about food and especially what I cooked, but my achievements are few and far between these days. Cooking is an accomplishment.

The rain has been refreshing and needed but I won’t lie–I’m looking forward to a week of relative sunniness ahead. I hope it will give me a jolt of energy. I am so tired.

 


*General to-do’s*
Buy Toms shoes on eBay (Mon)
Buy Tieks (any day)
Toss old shoes (check for tread and holes)
Sign up for Imperfect Produce box using coupon code
Sort through SIL’s hand-me-downs
Thank you cards for family baby shower
Make lettuce wraps
Bake sweet potatoes
Clear old food from fridge
Jury duty (check Sunday night)
Laundry (Sunday night)
Schedule house cleaning for Thu
Put cleaning powder on rug and vacuum
Schedule haircut
Roomba 2nd bdrm and bathroom
Trim dead leaves off houseplants
Repot the goddamn mint
Frame for art in baby’s room
Badger parents about TDAP shots
Cake for baby shower
Create inventory for chest freezer
Set up bassinet
Pack hospital bag
Get prescription filled
Clean out baby’s dresser, move my junk upstairs
Organize DVDs by genre
Wash baby clothes given as gifts, organize in dresser

*Food planning for postpartum period*
Jiaozi
Ravioli
Garlic meatballs or meaty marinara
Carnitas
[buy] precooked rice, TJ’s frozen meals (orange chicken, Indian entrees), frozen organic fruit (smoothies), raisins
Freeze ripe bananas
Steel cut oatmeal pucks (freeze)
Freeze sliced whole wheat bread
Cookie dough
Banana bread (slice)

*Writing*
Sign box set contract
Proofread standalone novel
Format and publish standalone novel
Outline SFR series (4)
Outline bestseller story sequels (3)
Finish outlining space opera book 2
Outline space opera book 3
Write 1/3 bestseller story sequel

“The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists.”

“The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists.” – H. Allen Smith

Exhausting weekend, but a good one, and voila, it is already Tuesday!

Friday we attended a comfort class run by our doulas, then stuffed our faces with chicken sandwiches at Gregoire’s before running errands at Home Depot, Sports Authority (birth ball!), and the grocery store. I was so bushed by the end of it that I took a 1.5 hour nap in the afternoon, which is long even for me these days. We spent the evening baking our gender reveal cupcakes for the baby shower, frosting and sprinkling the little pink treats.

Saturday we got up and promptly took Beast out to the dog park, running him hard in the rain, drugging him with Dramamine and then getting on the road for Merced. The rain was spotty, and by the time we rolled in front of Carter’s parents’ house the sky was looking ominous but still holding. The shower happened; I’m a bit foggy on the details, as it was a blur of my in-laws’ family and friends, opening presents with our rambunctious little niece, and chowing down on salad and angel food cake. All very ladylike. We stayed for dinner and a tantrum; we got on the road and by the time we were approaching Oakland the sky unleashed the heaviest rains I remember seeing on a highway. All the cars slowed down to 40 MPH and we inched our way home around 10PM.

Sunday was a day of absolute sloth. How do I know? I have no to-do list from that day. Nothing attempted and nothing accomplished. Dear friend J came over for lunch at Gather in downtown Berkeley; she’s normally a vegetarian but was delighted to find sustainable/local meats on the menu and got herself a bacon cheeseburger. I think half the joy was watching her gobble it down. I had a more restrained egg and forbidden rice dish with kimchi, and we split a truly divine French toast. After the meal we walked around campus and talked about her impending adventures: a summer in Oxford/London, her career, boys, and Asian pastries. J lived in Singapore before she came back to the bay area for the Goog and part time law school; she speaks fluent Russian and French (grew up in Kyrgyzstan) and is a truly cosmopolitan brainiac. I’m almost envious of her adventures to come, if I weren’t, well, otherwise occupied! I bought Carter a pastry from 85C and a boba tea for myself, and the rest of the day disappeared in total indolence.

This week I am feeling relieved that the shower is over and eager to finish out the items on my lists. I’m not as lazy as I was last week–I think. More! Lists!


*Small things I’m excited to do once this baby is outta here*
Sleep on my back
Sleep on my stomach
No more pregnancy rhinitis/congestion
Fit into my shoes again
Wear my wedding rings again
Take Sudafed if I want
Run/exercise with a smidge more intensity
No more random pains in the stomach
No more itchy belly skin
Lean over and touch my toes, do crunches
Roll over in bed without puffery
Feel hungry like a normal person does instead of intense, poisonous rage

*General to-do’s*
Buy Toms shoes on eBay (Mon)
Buy Tieks (any day)
Toss old shoes (check for tread and holes)
Sign up for Imperfect Produce box using coupon code
Sort through SIL’s hand-me-downs
Thank you cards for family baby shower
Make lettuce wraps
Bake sweet potatoes
Clear old food from fridge
Jury duty (check Sunday night)
Laundry (Sunday night)
Schedule house cleaning for Thu
Put cleaning powder on rug and vacuum
Schedule haircut
Roomba 2nd bdrm and bathroom
Trim dead leaves off houseplants
Repot the goddamn mint
Frame for art in baby’s room
Badger parents about TDAP shots
Cake for baby shower
Create inventory for chest freezer
Set up bassinet
Pack hospital bag
Get prescription filled
Clean out baby’s dresser, move my junk upstairs
Organize DVDs by genre
Wash baby clothes given as gifts, organize in dresser

*Food planning for postpartum period*
Jiaozi
Ravioli
Garlic meatballs or meaty marinara
Carnitas
[buy] precooked rice, TJ’s frozen meals (orange chicken, Indian entrees), frozen organic fruit (smoothies), raisins
Steel cut oatmeal pucks (freeze)
Freeze sliced whole wheat bread
Cookie dough
Banana bread (slice)

*Writing*
Sign box set contract
Proofread standalone novel
Format and publish standalone novel
Outline SFR series (4)
Outline bestseller story sequels (3)
Finish outlining space opera book 2
Outline space opera book 3
Write 1/3 bestseller story sequel

“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 8.54.30 PM
dog, thin mints, remotes, charging fitbit, earbuds, cell phone, yellow shopping list, bullet journal, my laptop (with my disheveled shadow on the screen)

“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” -Tina Fey, Bossypants

Today is my last day “at” work (I’m working from home, which means I’m slouched down on the sofa). I scribbled that quick drawing a few days ago, realizing rather quickly that I’d been over-ambitious trying to draw so much (and color to boot) in ten or twenty minutes. Anyway where I’m sitting now is not much different, except with the addition of Carter’s cough drops and a pair of scissors.

This is the beginning of maternity leave. I have six and a half weeks before my due date. I feel like a high school senior who’s been let out before everyone else, waiting to graduate. Relieved, excited, fearful, unsure.

Baby has been riding low in my belly, knocking the wind out of me occasionally as I’ve been walking. Today I took a stroll during lunch to the post office, and had to stop and double over twice–not in pain, but more in discomfort as she rolled inside me. She hiccups everyday, often in the evenings or in the middle of the night; I can feel the rhythmic flicker a few inches under my belly button. So she’s head-down, which is good.

I woke up this morning abuzz with excitement, wondering what I was going to accomplish today, tingling at the thought of deleting my work inbox and then ignoring it for the next 6 months. I got up, showered, took the dog out, ate breakfast and then sat down at the laptop to delete around 500 emails; finished a few evaluations and last tasks for work, and to write the first round of thank-you emails for baby gifts we’ve received. I walked to the post office, picked up a sandwich from the deli, and came back to delete a few more emails, run the roomba around the house, and drew up a shopping list.

I have to cook for myself now–no more corporate handouts!–so the shopping bill ran over a hundred dollars this week. Two different kinds of sweet potatoes, two different kinds of pears, pink lady apples, blueberries and blackberries, bananas, milk, turkey, shrimp, eggs, cilantro, lettuce, bean sprouts, mushrooms, onions, shallots, green onions, tortillas, whey protein, limes, avocados, and four fudgey brownies. I like that list. It sounds good enough to eat.

Shrimp tacos tonight; tomorrow, fruit smoothies for breakfast, fried eggs; leftover shrimp tacos for lunch; dinner, maybe some turkey lettuce cups and sweet potato coins. If I have the energy I’ll poach some pears in the slow cooker with cinnamon. As for the week ahead, I have some tea eggs and frozen wontons; it looks like I’ll need a few more entrées. And I have two fudgey brownies left, at the end of today!

So many things flitter through my mind as things I need to do but they are so many that I find it hard to put a finger on the most important ones. Tomorrow I’ll do a David Allen Getting-Things-Done style review. I’ve been neglecting journaling as I’ve neared my leave date, but now I can commit to it–at least until little girl decides to make her grand entrance. Good night, & see you in the morning.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.”

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. – Calvin Coolidge

Oh but I am so very tired these days. You were always one of the more forgettable presidents anyway, next to Buchanan and Harding…

In January I kept up with writing 2,000 words a day. I finished the first draft of space opera on Friday, the 29th, so the persistence paid off. Of course, now I am waffling a bit on outlining for book 2 in the series. I have the overall arc in mind, but the devil is in the details. If I keep pace with my expectations I will start writing book 2 tomorrow and finish it sometime in early March. But I am so tired. Nonetheless: push through.

Yesterday we spent a lovely day in Sonoma with K, R, and K, visiting Preston Vineyards and Bella Vineyards. I much preferred Preston; they had a giant bowl of estate olive oil out ($45 a bottle!!), and a basket of fresh sourdough bread. Dave liked and bought a few of their zins. There was a great black lion of a cat lying out on one of their picnic tables, accepting pets as was his due. We witnessed a rooster seizing a hen by the neck, jumping on her back and, well, having his roosterly way with her. It was brutal and efficient–maybe 5 seconds of action?

We went to dinner at Bravas in Healdsburg and sat in a cozy, orange-painted alcove and tapas–roasted octopus, anchovies, olives, pickled trout, Dungeness baked noodles, fried chicken, kale salad, brussels sprouts, scallops, garlic toasts, foie gras sliders, rum balls, chocolate mousse, and soft serve vanilla ice cream with spiced apples. Everyone else washed the food down with martinis and wine but I sipped my water and was very content.

We retired to K and R’s apartment in Rohnert Park and watched a bit of TV before driving home around 11 at night. I was exhausted and bloated from all the good food but enjoyed the day very much. I don’t know when I’ll be able to do something like that again.

Today–Sunday–we spent the day running errands and cleaning, as Carter’s parents are spending tomorrow night here before flying out to Wyoming on Tuesday morning. When I’m retired I want to be like them–jetsetting everywhere.

We dropped off books and donations at Goodwill, bought a few necessities at Target, then came home and cleaned out the second bedroom/nursery, moved things up to the attic to store, and cleaned up the house generally. Cleared the top of the TV center, cleaned out the fridge, took out all the trash in the house, and put out fresh sheets and towels for our guests. Vacuumed and did two loads of dishes. Put away the fish tank. Once baby is here we shall have to do a better job of regular tidying as massive cleanups like this are, well, totally exhausting and infeasible with a demanding blob around.

I cooked Carter’s breakfast burritos for the week, roasted some chicken thighs and stirred up a romaine salad for dinner, and cooked a pork and cabbage dish for the weeknights ahead. I’ve come to realize that if I don’t finish cooking on Sunday, I’m not going to do it during the week.

My stamina is running a bit low these days, but still managed to get to 11k and 10k steps this Sat and Sun, respectively. Hoping to hit 13-15k during this upcoming week.

And now I know why writers are advised not to journal in the evenings. What a boring recitation of events. Goodnight!

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves, at the same time.” [part deux]

spoon o'destiny

With full scale guts-level renovations in one house and preparing the other for sale and husband heading to law school and the day-to-day slog, I’ve been busy. The house is in a state of unrest, with boxes everywhere. My nighttime written journal entries are so boring, basically lists of things I’ve done and things I need to do, it’s gotten colorless and utterly grim. They’re robotic with only the barest hints of human emotion (“feeling iffy today”), and none of this stuff is anything I want to remember when I’m older.

There’s not much time for leisure art time, so I’ve taken to drawing Outfit-of-the-Day in my bedside journal, maybe spending around 5 or 10 minutes at most on each one while I’m sprawled on my stomach in bed. The goal is not to do good art or to even record my fashionable-ness (I’m the farthest thing from a clotheshorse…maybe a clothesgerbil). The goal is to have some record of the day, and to unwind with a little sketch.

The interesting thing is, every drawing is so different.

The inescapable fact of adulthood is a narrowing of your options. That was what was so breathtaking about being in college: as my oboe teacher told me ten years ago, you have the world by the balls just by the sheer fact that you’re twenty-one years old. You can go anywhere, do anything, and it seems that every idea and profession and possibility is offering itself to you like a crush of drunken, enamored strangers at a bar. At twenty-one, there are no strings, no commitments.

I had my birthday last month, and am coming up on my first wedding anniversary. I most definitely have commitments now: a husband, a dog-beast, a job, two (!) mortgages, a dentist appointment every half year, and no less than six houseplants. The houseplants are surprisingly needy.

One one level, my prospects are certainly narrowed; I may never finish my dissertation, never go to law school, never become a professional pianist (not that I have ever wanted to accomplish all these things, but things seemed so…ripe and possible when I was younger). I will probably never be as fluent in Mandarin as I or my family would like.

Being an adult requires giving up certain things, saying no when you’d like to say yes just for the hell of it, and making choices. Irrevocable ones, which means you are killing off the unchosen options to move forward with the one you’ve chosen. Or if you’re not killing them off, they are getting short thrifted.

In simpler terms, a grad school friend told me that you could have it all (a good family life, a strong career, and a healthy/fulfilled self), but not at the same time. Inevitably, one thing suffers. Shonda Rhimes referred to this conundrum in this year’s Dartmouth commencement speech (worth a read for the “pass out, die, poop” references alone): “Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.” Creatively, I might be failing right now, but I’m okay with that.

I am confident about my choices and mostly happy with them, despite the occasional dream about having finished the diss. I like the trajectory of my life right now, even though it’s not anything I would have predicted ten years ago.

And the interesting thing about the OOTD drawings is that they are so different, changing every day, and I still think each drawing looks like me in some way. Each one different yet accurate. Some of my freedom and some of my possibilities are dying off, that’s true, but I am not as fixed and finished a person as I thought I was when I graduated college. I guess what I’m saying is that my internal life is growing more vivid even as my life on paper looks ever more flat and limited, and I never expected that.

I remember reading in Suzanne Farrell’s memoir some reference to the fact that creativity needs  limitations and structure to really thrive, even if it’s just to break that rule or structure, spectacularly. Beauty and creativity are like roses and climbing vines, they need something to grow on.

I’m thinking of using my woefully neglected tumblr to record my OOTDs. Maybe?

Almost fourteen years ago I started college (on 9/11/2001, which was the day my parents dropped me off at my dormitory). The professor in my freshman seminar gave all the eager, anxious students in her class this poem, and I loved it very much. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

Seed Leaves

Here something stubborn comes,
Dislodging the earth crumbs
And making crusty rubble.
It comes up bending double,
And looks like a green staple.
It could be seedling maple,
Or artichoke, or bean.
That remains to be seen.

Forced to make choice of ends,
The stalk in time unbends,
Shakes off the seed-case, heaves
Aloft, and spreads two leaves
Which still display no sure
And special signature.
Toothless and fat, they keep
The oval form of sleep.

This plant would like to grow
And yet be embryo;
Increase, and yet escape
The doom of taking shape;
Be vaguely vast, and climb
To the tip end of time
With all of space to fill,
Like boundless Igdrasil
That has the stars for fruit.

But something at the root
More urgent than that urge
Bids two true leaves emerge,
And now the plant, resigned
To being self-defined
Before it can commerce
With the great universe,
Takes aim at all the sky
And starts to ramify.

-Richard Wilbur, New and Collected Poems

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” -Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

A feeble attempt at an OOTD drawing.(from my sketchbook, last week.)

Life never ceases to be interesting, and I have learned now that if ever things seem to be dull or boring, gird your loins: the other shoe is about to drop.

Carter is recovering from appendicitis and appendectomy, and we are midway in the process of purchasing a little brown house in Berkeley. I think I am still mildly sleep deprived from the last week, although I did get in a few nights of sleeping in the center of the bed like some kind of debauched pagan queenThere is a lot of uncertainty right now, but the important thing is that he’s on the (slow, achey) path to recovery.

Assuming all goes well with the house purchase, we’ll be committing every weekend to renovations so that the house will be livable when Carter starts law school. It’s tiny and needs a lot of work – new bathroom, new kitchen, hardwood floors to be refinished, etc. I think it will look cozy and dainty when done. We’ll have to downsize some of our furniture, but there’s room for my baby grand!

What will I have time for in the next few months? I have no idea. Life is speeding up again.

I have been able to get some small amounts of drawing and journaling done. Not much beyond that at the moment, which is okay. It won’t be forever.