On Dates, Junior Prom and Self-Improvement?

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary today!

1. We’re going to go ahead with refinancing our house, assuming we can pass an appraisal. That should be no problem since we’ve recently gutted the bathroom and re-vamped it circa 1972 – Pepto Bismol pink tile edged in black, pink plastic faux-marble vanity and pink-on-silver raised pattern wallpaper. Even the vertical blinds match. We’ve got this in the bag.

2. Speaking of sarcasm, a few weeks ago we had some people over for dinner, and one of the ladies in attendance didn’t speak that language. I couldn’t figure out at first why she looked so horrified and confused all the time. Now, I wasn’t being snarky-sarcastic, but it was still a wake-up call that maybe I need to be more sincere. Put it on the dang freaking list. Here’s an excellent article about just that. Go Simcha, again.

3. I would very much enjoy this for dinner, instead of the Pile-of-Apathy I have planned. And, by the way, that is a fantastic food blog. I’m sure you read it already, but if not you must. She’s a fantastic writer and her food makes me want to eat my arm off.

4. Snert and I are reading “The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe”. That all sounds very impressive and caring, but I only started reading it to him because he brought it to me and said, “Can you read the part where Santa comes?” So I guess he’s seen the movie? And I don’t really remember that? And isn’t it kind of scary? And isn’t it the Worst Thing Ever to see the movie before you’ve read the book?

Question mark?

5. Yesterday Cisco asked me out on a date via text. It made me feel like a teenager (not quite sure why, since we didn’t have text messages back then). I had an immediate impulse to blow out my bangs and douse myself in J’adore by Christian Dior. I got myself under control, though, and put on some earrings and Eau-de-Generic-Intensive-Moisturizing-Lotion instead, which is unscented, by the way. We went out to dinner and had a lovely laughy time.

6. Speaking of fancy, Christian Dior is pretty snazzy for a teenager, right? My older, classier sister gave me a bottle for my sixteenth birthday and I stretched it out for years. I still love it and toy with the idea of buying a new bottle every now and then, but every time I smell it I’m swept back to Prom 2001, and suddenly I’m dancing the clutch n’sway to “I wanna stand with you on a mountain,” and debating intensely with myself over how soon I need to reapply my blue frosty eyeshadow. That matched my dress. NO ONE UNDERSTOOD HOW HARD THAT PHASE WAS, NO ONE!

Just kidding, it actually was a hard phase,  and not just because of the eye shadow. I was also worrying about things like “When did my brothers get so tall and scary?” and “How can I convince my parents, and by extension myself, that my boyfriend and I are totally in love for real and therefore should be allowed to talk on the phone for two hours every night?”

They never were convinced, and neither was I.

7. While Cisco and I were holding hands and gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes (lie) over dinner last night he said proudly “Guess what I did the other day!”

“You wrote me a love letter,” I answered non-threateningly.

“Yes! It was so soothing to my soul. I had all these loving adjectives I just needed to get out. No, actually I went to Culvers and got an ice cream sundae in the middle of the work day!”

And that was how our marriage ended. Ha ha, just kidding! Not! Yes!

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoe

Snert was just trying to teach me how to play. He’s not so sure what the shoe is for (I asked), but he’ll figure it out eventually. He’s sitting right behind me singing a song that goes “Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho.” Could last anywhere from two to ninety minutes. Kind of kills it for a real post today.

Oh wait, no. Now he’s singing “Electric company, electric company, electric electric companyyyyy.”

I’m going to miss him when he starts school in a few weeks. Probably so much so that I’ll have to take a nap every afternoon just to get through it.

The Secret to Infertility

[Ha, I don’t really have the secret to anything, so don’t expect that here. Feel free to just watch this video and skip the rest.]

For the brave or stupid:

I spend more time than I care to admit picking apart the nuances of infertility. With something so confounding – something that often seems like nothing more than peculiarly bad luck – I find myself constantly seeking answers. “Why me?” is just the tip of the iceberg. I tend to be more of a “Why not me?” type of person, anyway (much more out of pessimism than humility), so I don’t mean “Why me?” in the sense of “Why not someone else?” but more in the sense of “For what particular reason(s) has God allowed this in my life?” Because He has allowed it, and He always has reasons. I trust that they are Good, too, but trusting that an answer is good isn’t the same as knowing what it is, do you see?

Do you see? I’m not so sure I’m making a whiff of sense. That’s my point, I suppose. All of my analyzing often leaves me more confused, not less. For example:

  • Why me? Why not?
  • What about Cisco? What about Snert?
  • How am I supposed to live with this? How am I supposed to sanctify this? Why can’t I be allowed to sanctify my life the normal way?
  • Why am I so ungrateful? Why do I have to be grateful? Is it wrong to be sad about infertility when there are people out there who have it worse?
  • What kind of example am I giving to others? What is God trying to teach me?
  • Would this have happened at all if I were a better person?
  • What do we do now? What if Cisco and I can’t agree on it?
  • Why don’t people talk about infertility? Why do some people give me an earful about “trusting God’s will,” but it sounds more like “Your sadness makes me uncomfortable”?
  • Will it always hurt this much?
  • What if I miraculously get pregnant tomorrow and have to face the fact that I’ve been really bad at being infertile?
  • What if, Dear God, I never have another child?
  • What if my whole life is just as barren as I am?

Had enough? These questions (and a hundred others) have played on a loop in my head every day for over four years. I don’t have an answer to a single one. The only thing I do know is very, very simple, and therefore hard for me to accept: God loves me, He has allowed this, and it is merciful.

God loves me. He has allowed this. It is merciful.

I have to stop looking so hard for answers.

To use a tired metaphor, I might paint the entire picture of my life in the dark, but I will paint it, stroke by stroke, whether I like it or not. Hopefully, and much more through His merit than mine, those strokes will say Yes. Yes to His will, yes to His mercy, yes to infertility. Yes on top of yes on top of heartbroken, blind, bone-weary yes.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

It’s not as bleak as it sounds. There is an enormous promise, a Great Consolation. In the end, in the light – Lord, in your mercy, get me there! –  it will make sense. Knowing God, it’ll be beautiful, too. It will be worth it.

I can’t wait.

In Which Much Food is Discussed – Sort of

I went out for a drink with my sister the other night. It was the first cool evening in nine years, so we sat outside on a second-story patio and took our sweet time over a bottle of wine we could have just bought at the grocery store for $8. I love my sister.  It was all that and a bag of chips. That is literally true, in fact, because I got home and finished off a bag of chips, and then half a can of Pringles, a piece of beef jerky and a spoonful of fudge sauce. Cisco joined me in the kitchen and made a valiant effort to tell me, without hurling, about the kung-fu movie he’d just watched. At first he followed my trail of crumbs with the broom and dustpan (not kidding), but when I got to the fudge sauce he gave up and said, “Well, I’ll leave you two alone.”

Bam.

If Cisco had written the Song of Songs, it would go like this:

Ah, you are crunchy, my beloved!

Your mouth a churning yap

Raining showers from above.

A thousand crumbs hang upon it.

Your chin a full moon,

Slick with non-hydrogenated fats.

I long for the silence

In the thunders of your chewing.

In other news, we braved Costco on a Saturday, strategically shopping so as to have a lunch of weird-sausage-piece, hummus dab, feta chunk, 3 grapes, mustard dribble, mozzarella half-stick, and ice cream cuplet. Ah, samples. Snert went crackerdog over the workbooks, the little nerd, and I practiced standing up straight, while Cisco lurched around without bending his knees. Dude has sore “hip-flexors” (term made up to impress me?) because he ran his first 5k yesterday after training for less than two weeks. Whatever. Have decided to forgive him for passive-aggressive exercising because he found two enormous laminated maps for me. The map of the United States will go in the basement “play [sh*tstorm] room”, and the world map in the living room so that I can finally learn some geography. Every time we do Snert’s U.S. puzzle I’m shocked that Oklahoma is right above Texas, and Alabama has, like, COASTLINE. Also, I know maps are “the thing” right now, but I can’t help that. I’ve always liked them. I probably started the trend retroactively.

Tomorrow we’re bringing dinner to the in-laws. Beer brats with caramelized onions (was trying to make that sound chichi, but you can’t make bratwurst sound anything but bratwursty), potato salad, green salad, and watermelon salad. A word about potato salad (puts on Preaching Pants): Potato salad is one of the most beautiful, versatile, delicious food inventions ever, but it is also the most abused.  Bland, thick, warm-mayonnaisey goop flavored with sweet relish is an assault, and I won’t even dignify it with a sniff. Die, foul barbecue fiend. The only thing you need to know about potato salad is to add about triple the amount of salt and vinegar (or lemon juice) you normally would until, I don’t know, it has a taste, and add tons and tons of crunchy vegetables.

Tune in next time for “Creative Uses For Ten Pounds of Feta Cheese and 648 Pieces of Construction Paper, Not Together”.

Violet

She walks slowly. I see her come in, laboriously genuflect, and gently settle in to the pew right in front of me. She’s spare, with a straight back. I’m supposed to be adoring, but she’s in my line of vision and so I watch her, the King in the background, watching me. She unties her  scarf  – it’s one of those blue gauze ones that women of her age wear to protect their hot-rollered hair. Sometimes a small smacking sound comes from her mouth – tiny and lady like, but distinct in the quiet chapel.

Her hands are beautiful – skin translucent with age, long straight fingers, red painted nails. She folds her scarf slowly, just so, her lips working more. I hold my breath, hypnotized by the floating blue film, waiting for the next smack. Mouth noises usually bother me no end, but these tiny sounds are mesmerizing. I suspect this makes me really strange, and Cisco agrees. Violet lays the scarf on the pew next to her, and picks up her Rosary. For the next hour she sits straight, barely moving, watching Him.

I haven’t seen her in weeks now. I hope she’s alright. I’m not even quite sure what made such a big impression. Violet’s just… lovely. She has a dignity of state that only comes with age, I think. I’m hoping it does, anyway, or there’s no hope for me. I want to move deliberately like her, with the native grace of my sex instead of the native grace of the rhinoceros. I’d like to figure out what ever it is that Violet’s figured out.

I hope in fifty years I’m still in the chapel, smacking my lips and looking at Him while He looks at me.

What’s New?

I hate that question. I hate it because I never have an answer more interesting than, “I tried this new kind of salad dressing this week.” It takes massive amounts of effort to come up with anything to say that I haven’t said 37 times before. The other thing I hate about that question is that I never know what it means. It’s like when close family members ask me “How are  you?” I never know what they’re looking for. Most of the time when people ask you how you are they just want to hear “Fine, thank you, how are you?” but sometimes, sometimes, they’re digging for more. Sometimes “How are you?” means “How are you in the deepest core of your being these days? How is infertility? You’re not about to off yourself or anything, are you?” And I never know what people are getting at because they’re too discreet and respectful to just come out and ask, and so everything stays very surface and I don’t have much that’s ever “new” or “interesting” on the surface (not that I do deep down, either), and I mumble “Great, how are you?” and get very red in the face, and get confused, sympathetic looks in response and before I know it I’m cracking nervous butt jokes and wishing the earth would swallow me whole.

Bet you never knew how loaded those questions could be, did you?

So, in an effort to not be a Social Freakshow, here are some things that are “new”.

1. My car broke. Several weeks ago my faithful ’97 VW Jetta up and quit. Actually, it still runs, it just sounds like a helicopter. I drove it like that for a while, too, until one day the muffler fell off, well half-off, and that was it. I’ve never felt so classy as when I drove home for the last time in my rusted-out beater – helo-turbines roaring and raw metal screaming on the road. Combine that with our gold-bechunked front door that is slowly de-chunking, and we are by far the favorites on the block. We’re going to buy a new (used) car soon. I’m gunning for a station wagon because they’re neat.

2. Have begun bi-annual molt. I had just been congratulating myself on the non-shedness of my hair when it started again. This is Cisco’s favorite time of year. I spend all of dinner discreetly digging down the front of my shirt for rogue hairs that tickle like a mother (they’re from my HEAD, that’s clear right?), while he pulls them out of his mouth. He loves me so much. Snert doesn’t notice because dinner is his Soliloquy time, when he keeps up a very loud running monologue about everything from “fussling his teeth” to “having that feeling again – the one that there are animals in the house”. He does this all with a full mouth, prompting many gentle reminders to “Chew with your mouth closed”, all of which are ignored, until it’s time to wrap up dinner and start bargaining for dessert. I hear some families have conversations at the dinner table?

3. On impulse I bought black eye shadow so that I can finally try “smoky eyes”. This is one of my stupider ideas, as I’m terrible at eye make-up and have no occasion whatsoever on which to be smoky. That’ll be me, smoldering over the meat case at Aldi. Here’s a fine-looking tutorial if you’re interested. It’s already dead to me because the guy uses three indistinguishable brushes, and three whole different eyeshadows. I have one $2 eye shadow and the little poky foam thing that came with it. Should be super hot.

4. By the way, do not randomly surf make-up tutorials on youtube. You will run into things like this. Aaaaiiiiiieeeeeee!!!!

5. On Wednesday I attended a Healing Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, the site of the only Church-approved Marian Apparition in the US.  I won’t attempt to write about the whole thing because I can’t. All I know is that it was profound, and Something happened. I’m still not sure what. I have renewed hope for miraculous healing of my body, and siblings for Snert. I prayed for healing for everyone. Kind of lame, but we’re supposed to pray like children, and when I make Snert say an intention he always prays “for everyone in the whole world,” the little over-achiever. So I prayed for everyone.

6. While at the library yesterday, in a fit of responsible parenting, I passed up the cartoons and checked out two nature movies for Snert. He opted for “Arctic Tale” because “When Dinosaurs Ruled” looked scary, and ended up losing his sh*% half way through when the baby polar bear died of starvation. Awesome. I should have stuck with “Gerald McBoing Boing”. Ironically, the movie about dinosaurs is a hit, probably because it’s narrated by Jeff Goldblum, of Jurassic Park fame. Whoever thought of that is a genius. Seriously, though, what kind of creep makes a kids’ movie, rated G, about how the cuddly wuddly baby polar bear learns all about survival in the wild by dying a hideous death?

7. Well, I think I’ve proved my point that, at any given moment, there is nothing new with me. What’s new with you? Oh, and I’m FINE.

8. Must add photos. Must take them first. Must get batteries for camera before that, or just new camera, or a pony.

Picking a Side

Last night Cisco and I happened to be brushing our teeth at the same time. “Yeah, that’s all paht of it…” If you don’t know that quote, you need to watch this. But only if you’re a grown-up. Just come back here when you’re done.

Doesn’t that runner make you want to eat rainbow sherbet? $4 at Target, thank you please. And thank you, Cisco, for the fleurs.

You’re welcome. So anyway, we were brushing our teeth and Cisco dropped the toothpaste on the floor, and my immediate reaction was annoyance. Seems like my immediate reaction to everything lately is annoyance. Of course that time it was justified, because he clearly dropped the toothpaste on purpose in a passive-aggressive attempt to remind me of how dirty the bathroom floor is.

I’ve been making cheerful pillow covers to keep the bitchy at bay.

Ok, so that was an exaggeration, but still, I was annoyed for a second there. And then it flashed in my mind, what if this had happened back before we were married? (Well, it wouldn’t have, because why on God’s good earth would we have been brushing our teeth together ifyouknowwhatImean?) I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. I might have laughed or made a face, but I wouldn’t have dreamed of becoming annoyed by an accident. When you’re with someone you’re crazy about, things like dropping the toothpaste or forgetting to take out the garbage are “endearing quirks”. Take clumsiness. I’ve been clumsy my whole life, and while it has always embarrassed me, I could at least pass it off as “cute” or “she just needs someone to take care of her”, because hey, 75% of movie heroines are, like, so adorably klutzy. It used to work for me, but it’s gotten really old. I don’t want to be clumsy; I don’t think it’s cute. I’m embarrassed that I move in fast, jerky movements and still have no feel for the dimensions of my body. Cisco doesn’t melt in a puddle of adoration when I stub my toes and break glasses. (Not that I fault him, especially since Snert is the same way. The other day he broke three glasses in one fell swoop.)

Aaaaaand one more blurry photo. Sister, will you be my blogrogrophotogropher?

I know that love changes. I know that it’s not always going to be a video montage of carousel rides and dancing on bubbles or whatever, but I don’t want to become cynical and crusty, either. I don’t want to miss out on the best parts of the best person I know because I’m annoyed all the time. Why do we often give ourselves permission to treat our family worse than we would treat strangers? I’ve found myself too often on the wrong side of the line between “you’re awesome” and “you’re obnoxious”, and what’s really on the bad side of that line is me, alone, brittle and frustrated. When did that happen, and how do I become supple and thankful again?

Supple supple supple.