Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Six months today

since my father died.

It's amazing how quickly and slowly six months can go by. It's no longer the all-encompassing oppressive presence, overwhelming me and making it impossible to concentrate on anything. It has its moments, but most days I'm functional with a layer of sadness in the background. Kind of like trading a coat of thorns for a hair shirt, I suppose.

I love you Dad, and I miss you every day.

Baby names

I got a call from my aunt last week, saying that my cousin has a photography show in Philadelphia, so she will be coming to Philadelphia next week, along with her six-week-old baby and my aunt to help babysit.* So I get to see the baby next week - yay! Oh yes, and my aunt and cousin as well. My reaction reminds me of when K was two weeks old and we called up some friends to see if they wanted to go out to dinner and we heard our friend ask his wife, "Do we want to have dinner with K and what's-her-name and that other guy?"

The baby's name is Adriana Gabriella [our grandmother's first name] [mother's last name] [father's last name]. My first thought on hearing that was that when that poor child has to sign all of the documents for her first mortgage, her hand is going to fall off. Not that we can really pass judgments on long names (K is Katherine Harper Hyphenated-Lastname. Although in our defense, we feel really bad about how long K's name is and we were trying to find a short first name to balance out the hyphenated last name). Although since they didn't hyphenate the last name, she won't have as many problems as K will, since you can have as many middle names as you want without impacting your everyday life. K, on the other hand, is stuck with a 16 character last name in a 15-characters-for-last-names-on-forms world.

I'm finding myself wondering if really long names are a new baby naming trend. I have two other cousins of that generation with two middle names each. Are more parents giving their children four or more names, or are my cousins just terminally indecisive? My (admittedly brief) survey of baby name sites has turned up a lot on popular first names and not much on middle name trends.

*I'm in general not a bitter infertile. But if you ever want a situation to really test that, try having a 41-year-old cousin who conceived last year with absolutely no trouble.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Red tide (not) rising

I had a fairly angsty infertility post that I wrote Saturday night and decided that it was too whiny to actually post. It comes down to two points:

1. It's been 7 weeks since my iud was removed, my cycle hasn't started up yet and I'm starting to get discouraged. Secretly, I had thought that after successfully getting through pregnancy once and three years without any real PCOS symptoms, I wouldn't have as hard a time of it this time. Instead, I'm actually worse off than the first time I tried to conceive, when I was having regular cycles even if I wasn't always ovulating. This perturbs me. I don't necessarily want to be pregnant right this minute, since the timing would be better if it happened this summer. What I want is to know I can get pregnant, and that certainly can't happen without my cycle starting. However, my chest has been getting progressivly more sore over the past week, so I'm hoping my cycle might meander around these parts one of these days. Maybe.

2. I've read from people who've experienced both that secondary infertility can be harder than the first time because a, after having one child, you know much more acutely what you're missing and b, since you have a child, you can't avoid children and babies. It's that second one that's getting to me a bit. I think about 90 percent of the people I know who had babies the same year I did are either pregnant or have already had a second baby. I feel nothing but the most sincere happiness for them and don't begrudge them their fertility for a moment. I just want it for myself too.


Life is pretty boring lately, just the normal rounds of toddler wrangling, work, work and more toddler wrangling. The house is largely arranged the way I want it and the only real unpacking is books, which, considering there are books we never unpacked from the last time we moved, could take a while.

We watched the season premiere of Torchwood last night. I think it might be the best episode I've seen of that series. James Marsters is so good at playing a flamboyant bad guy. And for once there was an episode with some real humor and joy to it. I was reading someone's comments about Torchwood recently and they put their finger on why I don't like it nearly as much as the new Dr. Who: they sucked all of the humor and charm out of Captain Jack and turned him into an angsty bore. But the fun Jack made a bit of an appearance in this episode, which I hope will continue.

Meanwhile, tonight's Mansfield Park It's so hard for me to separate the fact that I don't like the book very much from any movie I watch based on it. I think tonight's version was certainly better than the version from 1983, which was so low-budget they couldn't afford to hire normal-looking actors.* And it was much more faithful to the book than the 1995 adaptation, although not nearly as entertaining. And I think part of it was the fault of the book and partly the fault of the movie.

The book itself is difficult because the heroine is so hard to like, dull, meek and prissy. I think it's particularly hard to take because it's entirely possible to have a very nice, shy heroine who Does the Right Thing according to her unfailing moral compass who still manages to be likeable (see: Anne Elliot). Fanny Price is not that character. The 1995 solved that problem by making Fanny vivacious and clever, and therefore completely unlike the character in the book. Unfortunately, in this version, Billie Piper attempted to portray Fanny in a manner so wooden she should have been starring in Pinocchio. More accurate to the book, but do we really want her to be?

As for the rest of the characters, Lady Bertram seemed far too alert, and for counterpoint, everyone else seemed slightly dull, without much chemistry between any of the potential lovers. I'll watch it again sometime this week to see if it grows on me, but my first impression is that my quest for the film version of Mansfield Park that manages to be simultaneously entertaining and accurate to the book will have to continue.

*The thing I took away from that very accurate, yet so extremely flat and dull adaptation was the one memorable scene where Lady Bertram roused from her laudanum-induced stupor to insert the non sequitur, "I think...I should like a shrubbery." It was the first time I realized that Monty Python has made any mention of shrubbery far more funny than it actually is.

Friday, January 25, 2008

On the road again

We went to Center City today to have lunch with a friend. The company was good and the food was sublime - a neat little Ethiopian place. It always amuses me watching K eat Ethiopian - she took to it like a natural, grabbing her injera and dipping it in the nearest pile of stew.

Every time we venture into Center City, we keep saying we need to do it more, that we live in a big city with lots of stuff to do and we need to take advantage of it. Then we go back home and get caught up in our routine for another couple months. In our defense, it's really hard these days to make plans when both of us work alternating days on the weekends. January has been pretty easy in that regard, but next month B has a couple Sunday shifts in addition to the two Saturdays he always works. So I think there will be only two weekend days next month where one of us isn't working. This doesn't lend itself to a devil-may-care, fancy-free museum-visiting lifestyle.

I realized last week that it's been a year since we moved to Philadelphia. Last year at this time, we were sitting in a new house, surrounded by half-unpacked boxes. And this year, we're, um, sitting in a new house, surrounded by half-unpacked boxes. Look how far we've come! If I move next December though, it will only be at gunpoint, so we will have made progress. And there certainly are signs that we've acclimated - we own Wawa travel mugs, we refer to Roosevelt Boulevard as "The Boulevard" and don't worry for a second that people won't understand us, we know to expect that as soon as the light turns green, someone will whip around and make a left turn in front of oncoming traffic. We haven't started saying "youse" yet though, so we haven't gone completely native.

We may have been here for a year, but most of our thoughts lately are plotting how often we can leave. Currently, our only firm vacation plans for the year are working at Acen again after a two-year absence. The current plan is to drive out to Michigan, drop K off to get thoroughly spoilerspend the weekend with her grandparents, drive down to Chicago for the convention, drive back to Michigan to pick up our spawn and drive home. It occasionally seems a bit masochistic of us to use a large amount of vacation time and drive 1000 miles for the privilege of working in the volunteering salt mines of an anime convention, but we've really missed it. And more importantly, all of our friends that will be there.

Other potential trips: I have a cousin getting married in Colorado this year, so my mother would like to go to the wedding and has suggested that K, my brother and I come along. We had discussed spreading Dad's ashes in Colorado, so this would be our opportunity. But we don't know when the wedding is yet, so that's largely up in the air. The other completely up in the air possibility is that my library is closed Easter weekend and B has Good Friday off (way to go with the separation of church and state, city of Philadelphia!). Since I've already established that we won't have another weekend off together until the end of time, let alone a long weekend, I absolutely refuse to stay home and do nothing. Boston is a definite possibility, or even just Connecticut to visit my aunt and uncle. Or even just drive over the bridge to scenic New Jersey. Just so long as we don't waste the opportunity, dammit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Publicity blues

The library and museum where I work is what could be diplomatically called a "well-kept secret." We're smack dab in the middle of a busy park, but with limited hours keeping us closed during the week and a lack of signs saying explicitly "Yes we're open! Come on in!" (which is in the process of being rememdied), we don't get a lot of people. Which is a shame, because the people who do come in are invariably impressed. We tend to hear a lot of "I went to this library all the time when I was a kid, but I didn't realize you're still open." Sigh. So as much as we value our core of (ancient, slightly dusty) regulars, we keep looking for ways to bring more people in.

One way is through children, and I plan to get on starting a story time once my knees stop quaking in terror at the thought. I'm not sure if I'm more scared that no one will show up or if they will. I think a Friday afternoon story time has the potential to be very popular, since one of my eternal frustrations is that every single story time in this part of the city is on Tuesday morning (the children's librarian at 's branch is talking about starting up a story time - I plan to get down on my knees and beg him to choose any time other than Tuesday morning). I don't know what's so popular about Tuesday morning, but clearly some sort of diabolical hive mind is at work here. Now that I think about it, since the public schools often have inservices on Friday afternoons and the public preschool never meets Friday afternoons, Friday afternoon is an excellent time to try and lure in kids with their parents in tow.

All I have to do is get past the tiny insignificant fact that I went to library school planning to be a cataloger in an academic library and have absolutely no training in children's services. And did I mention I wanted to be a cataloger partly because I'm shy and introverted and didn't want to deal with people? *brave gulp* Well, I suppose new challenges are good for the soul, even if they're hard on the nerves.

I had what might be a brilliant idea yesterday afternoon. A lot of public libraries have had success with hosting knitting circles. There are currently over 500 members of only one of the Philadelphia area groups on Ravelry. Surely there are enough people on Ravelry living in the Northeast that would like a knitting circle they didn't have to brave Center City traffic for that I could get something going at the library. My initial unscientific research of scanning the introduction posts revealed that there are enough people living in Elkins Park (the suburb immediately to the west of us) alone to get a decent sized group together. So ideally, I could get 15 or so new people to come in, perhaps take a tour while they're there, wow them with the fantastic architecture, they would go home and tell all of their friends and family about us and hey presto! Instant popularity, fame and fortune. Or maybe not. But 15 people is often as many people we get in two days, so just getting that many in on a semi-regular basis would be a huge achievement.

Of course, there are some days I think it would be nice to continue languishing in anonymity. It certainly makes for a more relaxing day at work.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Northanger Abbey

While I was driving to work on Friday, I heard an NPR story on the Austen adaptations. They had an interview with Andrew Davies, whom they said did several of the scripts. I was shocked - shocked! - to hear that the writer of the incomparable 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries could be responsible for that mediocre (and bizarrely unfaithful to the book) Persuasion. Then to my horror, they started talking about his choice to start out Sense and Sensibility with Willoughby's seduction of Colonel Brandon's ward, which of course happened completely off-stage in the book, not to mention how much out of character a sex scene is for an Austen adaptation.

Well! Suddenly my joking threat to watch the Emma Thompson S&S on the night the new one airs seemed a lot more like a good idea. But last night I got curious and looked up Davies' IMDB entry and discovered he didn't write the script for Persuasion (and did write a number of movies I liked quite a bit), which immediately improved my opinion of him. After watching Northanger Abbey last night, I'm willing to give his Sense and Sensibility a chance.

I really liked Northanger Abbey. I suppose I should include the disclaimer that I read the book once, twelve years ago, so I only have a vague idea of how true it was to the book. And I'm sure the fact that there isn't another film version that I'm attached to helped me like this one better.

But with that said, I just plain enjoyed it. The actress who played Catherine did a wonderful job of portraying a sweet and naive girl, whose sheltered life makes it difficult for her to remember that there are real people with feelings behind her wild fantasies. They did a good job of making the Tilneys simultaneously appealing and sinister. I liked the cheesy horror-movie style of Catherine's fantasies. All in all, an enjoyable two hours.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Is it perhaps overly cynical of me that my first impression of The Backyardigans was, "Oh, how convenient for marketing. They already look like stuffed animals."

Marketing aside, I do have to say that as children's programs go, this is a remarkably non-annoying one. It's cute, fairly funny and musical. And perhaps the most important part, they sing lots of different songs, so the likelihood that you'll wind up with evil earworm music stuck in your head from the incessant repetition is much lower (although in the spirit of full disclosure, I've been humming the theme song for the past two days. But it's a lot better than the theme to Elmo's World, so I'll take what I can get).

Friday, January 18, 2008

The essence of a two-year-old

A conversation with K tonight:

Me: K, can you say snow?

K: Nooooooo

Me: K, can you say kitty?

K: Noooooo

Me:, K, can you say antidisestablishmentarianism?

K: Nooooooo

Me: K, can you say no?

K: *silence, with a grin and a sly look*

Clearly, she's getting too smart for me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The inexorable passage of time

Periodwatch 2008: no signs yet, four weeks past iud-removal. I thought I had some hopeful symptoms this weekend, but they turned out to be from *ahem* adjacent areas. I had been hoping that my body would interpret the iud being removed as the beginning of a cycle, but apparently it's taking its time working the extra hormones out.

It feels a bit counterintuitive after years of infertility to actually want my period, but nothing is going to happen until my cycle comes back, hopefully before I turn 80.


It's occurred to me that if we want to send K to preschool next fall, we need to start thinking about it now. Eep. I'm not ready to think about sending my two-year-old to school, but given how much she loves daycare*, I think she's more than ready. Philadelphia has a free preschool available through the public schools, and while I've heard bad things about the public schools, the preschool has gotten some good reviews. Since I'm not worried about how well they prepare K for college, I think it's worth checking out (and it's hard to argue with free). My main concern is that it might be too academic - preschool should be about socialization and working on developmental skills, not getting a head start on reading. Their website is remarkably unspecific regarding curriculum, so I will have to make sure to ask for more materials on it when we call for information.

Or I could stick my fingers in my ears and refuse to think about my baby getting old enough to go to school. That could work too.

This boring post brought to you by my sieve-like memory that promptly expels every single fascinating topic I think of during the day the moment my fingers touch the keyboard.

*She does a little dance when I tell her it's a daycare day and cheerfully closes the door behind me when I leave. I don't want her to be horribly upset when I leave, but does she have to be so happy about it?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Like many people, I've been eagerly anticipating Masterpiece Theater's Austenpalooza coming over the next six weeks. I'm particularly pleased that they're doing Northanger Abbey, which got overlooked in the glut of Austen movies in the mid-90s, and doing a proper Mansfield Park (the movie of the same name from the 90s was many things both good and bad, but it was not Austen's Mansfield Park). I wasn't as sure about the prospect of new versions of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility since it's hard to imagine anything that could top the two masterful big-screen versions. And sadly, last's nights Persuasion proved me right.

Several years ago, I rented an earlier version of Persuasion, thinking it would provide an interesting change from the 1995 version. After 15 minutes of the main characters sitting around the parlor spewing out stilted plot exposition, we revolted and put in the 1995 version, which managed to convey in two minutes more information than the fifteen we had watched of the other version. It was a textbook example of show, don't tell. Sadly, the movie last night completely ignored that lesson.

One of the things I like most about the book is that it's subtle. Anne is much more akin to Elinor Dashwood than Marianne, and doesn't sit around bemoaning her wretched present and the lost opportunities of the past. She holds it together and takes care of her ungrateful family, with her regrets existing as an undercurrent of sadness. The 1995 film excels in conveying that subtlety. Last night's, on the other hand, had all the subtlety of a sackful of anvils hitting you on the head. Reams of unnecessary plot exposition. Actors who delivered their lines in a way that made you wonder if they had trouble remembering them. Emotions conveyed through hammy overacting that seemed to convey constipation more than concealed heavy emotions. The actress who played Anne in this version couldn't compare to Amanda Root, who was able to convey more throught compressed lips and a slightly pained look than she was able to convey in an entire scene of sobbing exposition on Lady Russell's shoulder.

What offended me even more than the out-of-character weepiness, however, was that the scene was but the first of many that didn't appear in the book. The plot wound up in the same place as the book and hit the same major high points, but they seemed to feel no need to use the actual scenes from the book or remember little details like the fact that Anne's invalid friend in Bath couldn't walk, which would have made running after Anne a bit hard. I have nothing against making changes from book to movie, but these changes were utterly unnecessary and changed the story and the characters, almost universally for the worst.

I'm still looking forward to Northanger Abbey. It doesn't have a good earlier version to compare it to, so I'll be going in relatively fresh. I think, however, the night they show their new version of Sense and Sensibility, it might be a good idea to pop my dvd of the Emma Thompson version in instead.

Library ladies

The Friends group at work had a meeting Saturday morning and I had the rare privilege of a front seat at the sideshow. They are as fine a bunch of little old ladies as you would ever want to meet and goodness knows we couldn't survive without them, but lordy, that is a group of daffy people.

I was rather amazed that the meeting only lasted an hour and a half. How can you possibly fit in the going off on wild tangents, the pointless wrangling over irrelevant points, the minimum of four repetitions of all information that are vital to a committee meeting in a mere hour and a half? Not to mention dramatic moments like one of the women insisting that a corner of the park we're part of being sold to the hospital next door meant the park was going to be "GONE. The park will be GONE." Alrighty then.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I narrowly avoided a confrontation with the woman who runs the Friends bookstore in the basement. Here's the current procedure for book donations: they go to the library, where we go through them and cherrypick the good stuff that we don't already have. Then they go down to the bookstore to be sold for 25 cents to a dollar. Bear in mind that we're a small library with a tiny book budget, almost all of which is spent on the adult popular fiction. It's what brings our core patrons in, after all. But it means most of our non-fiction and pretty much all of our children's section languish somewhere in the Truman administration. Donated books bring in desperately needed fresh blood. So you wouldn't think this would be a controversial arrangement. But I overheard the bookstore manager telling some other people that she hated it when we took her books.

Okay. The average cost of a book coming into our library is probably $20, and it will circulate for years and be read by many people, so getting a donated book saves us a decent amount of money and continues to provide value for years to come. Or it could get sent down to the bookstore and earn at most $1, almost certainly less. Which of these scenarios do you think provides more value to the institution as a whole? And does it truly not occur to her that instead of selling twenty donated books to be able to afford one new book for the library, it might be a tad more efficient to just put the donated books in the library in the first place?

It's things like this that make me understand more and more why my boss is often in danger of spraining her eyeballs from rolling them so hard after dealing with our Friends.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I know I've said that probably the best way to try and give my reproductive system a kick in the pants and fight PCOS is to try a low-carb diet. And yet I keep shying away from actually doing it. The latest stall is that a large part of my strategy revolved around the low-carb tortillas from Trader Joe's. And the last two times I've gone into Trader Joe's, they haven't had any tortillas. Just a gigantic empty bin in the refrigerated section, mocking me. I know there are plenty of other low-carb tortillas in the world, but the ones at Trader Joe's are the only ones I've ever seen that don't make heavy use of soy, which is something my body isn't terribly fond of.

However, Lack of Tortilla is still a terrible excuse, which is an indicator to me that my heart isn't really in this (I think the fact that I keep fantasizing about baking bread is pretty big hint in that direction as well), and if I can't muster up true enthusiasm for a diet change this radical, it's doomed to a quick failure. So I'm going to try something a bit easier. I'm setting the goal of eating 25 grams of fiber and 80 grams of protein every day. Those are both values within normal recommended dietary limits, but should be high enough that I'll be forced to eat a lot of fiber and protein and a lot fewer of the carbohydrates that send me on the blood sugar trampoline. Hopefully they'll keep my blood sugar on an even enough keel to keep the PCOS in check and maybe even let me ovulate, yet be a bit more bearable and allow me to continue my torrid love affair with the potato.


I had a lousy day today. A pair of jeans that I've been patching to extend their life finally ripped in an irreparable and totally immodest way and I can't afford to replace them for another 11 days, K decided that she's an oenophile at heart and therefore must communicate entirely in a complicated sets of whines and the combination of double utilities from two houses last month and much less work on my part has created an unwelcome crisis in the bank account department. And once I got sufficiently upset about all of those things, everything started to bother me. Since we're still only half-unpacked and K is a miniature force of entropy, there was plenty in my surroundings to drive me insane.

But! I was smart enough to call Fiddlefern (ed. note: best friend from college) tonight. And in the course of our usual conversation wherein we lament how far apart we are these days and try to figure out when in the next six months we might be able to travel to see each other, we were looking at the Skybus website. Skybus is a budget airline that offers one-way fares as low as $10 between various medium sized cities, Columbus (where Fiddlefern lives now) being one of their hubs. And as of yesterday, Wilmington, as in the Wilmington only an hour away from Philly, is one of their destinations! Suddenly we've gone from being a full day's drive from each other to being a short, extremely cheap airplane flight away, so cheap that it would actually be cheaper than driving. Yippee!

This wonderful new development will also be a big boon for us when we're traveling to the Midwest in general. It had occurred to me before that we could catch a cheap Skybus flight to Columbus and then rent a car to drive the rest of the way to wherever we're going. It would eliminate a day of travelling and be cheaper than normal airplane flights. But when the nearest airport Skybus flew out of before was north of New York City, it didn't seem worth it. Now, it definitely is. We wouldn't necessarily be able to do it too often, but this could make going home for a 4-day weekend feasible.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Concept album meme

I don't often do memes, but this one looked interesting

The first article title on the page is the name of your band.
The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.
03. The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.*
04. Use your graphics program of choice to throw them together, and post the result as a comment in this post. Also, pass it along in your own journal because it's more amusing that way.

*Note: I broke the rules on this because I wasn't comfortable taking a picture that didn't have a Creative Commons license, so this was the first one on the page that had one

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Crime and punishment

So no doubt because I took the time to complain about it, for the past two nights K has gone to bed cheerfully with no protests. B has been working late, so I've put K to bed and left her with the lamp on. She's played quietly until B got home and went in to say good night (I don't care if she doesn't go to sleep right away after we put her to bed as long as she stays in her room and is quiet), at which point she voluntarily turned out the light and settled down to sleep. After two nights in a row, I think we can officially mark the Passing of the Phase.

And as I predicted, she has a new way to drive me crazy - bothering the cats and pulling their tails. So far, our approach to discipline has been either removal and redirection or using natural consequences (e.g., if she deliberately makes a mess, she has to clean it up). But for the life of me, I can't think of the natural consequence of pulling the cats' tails, and then deliberately doing it again when I tell her to stop. Well, I can think of a natural consequence, but I don't find it acceptable (letting her attack the cats until they bite or scratch her).

Hurting the cats is an offense that requires swift action and immediate negative consequences, but I'm having trouble coming up with what that should be. I don't want to spank her, although I'm starting to really understand people who do. There's nothing like yelling at a toddler and having her laugh at you to make you want to do something to wipe the smile off of her face and get her to take you seriously. A timeout was certainly punishing for everyone involved, but since it was basically a two-minuts wrestling match to get her to stay put, I didn't really care for it. I'm not sure what other effective, non-violent punishments there are for two-year-olds.

So for those of you with two-year-olds (or former two-year-olds), what's your approach to discipline? What do you do when it's too late for prevention and the offense doesn't have a natural consequence?

Monday, January 7, 2008

You'll know me by the gigantic bald spots

No matter how much I'm normally able to serenely endure the vicissitudes of my toddler's mercurial behavior, patiently chanting the mantra "Like a kidney stone, this too shall pass," every once in a while a phase comes along that totally kicks my ass.

We're in another bad sleep pattern. K will periodically go through phases where she wakes up in the middle of the night and is awake for two hours. I've more or less gotten used to it, and at least this time she usually just hangs out in her room and plays, which much better than crying for two hours or keeping me jumping in and out of bed for two hours starting at 3am. The insomnia isn't really the problem. It's the trauma at bedtime that seems to have come with it. She doesn't want us to leave the room after we're done with the bedtime routine, or I should say she doesn't want me to leave the room since she's also in a "all Mama, all the time" phase. If I stay to cuddle her, she wiggles and flops and doesn't fall asleep, but if I harden my heart and leave her, she cries pathetically and I can't stand to listen to it. When she was a baby, she needed to cry to release enough tension to fall asleep, so I didn't have a problem leaving her to cry. It was a very distinctive, pathetic tired wail that meant "I want to be asleep! Why aren't I asleep? I need sleep!" But this isn't that cry now, and it's more complicated now that she's older. I'm less willing to let her cry now that she's older, when it's more likely there are emotional issues behind it, not just being overstimulated. All I have are questions:

Is she experiencing separation anxiety from the move? Maybe, although she was fine the first two weeks after moved.
Is she afraid of the dark? We've tried leaving a lamp on and it occasionally helps, but not always and after a couple nights when she turned the lamp off, it really makes me doubt that theory.
Is she just manipulating me? Possibly, but I have no idea how to tell.
Is she trying to drive me crazy? Almost certainly.
Is she ramping up for another developmental leap which is completely screwing up her sleep and making her emotionally discombobulated? It seems likely, and there's nothing much I can do about that except hunker down and wait it out. And maybe take up recreational drugs.

That last one is the key, of course (the waiting, not the drugs). She was fine being left to fall asleep on her own two weeks ago, so I'm sure if I wait another week or so, she'll be going to bed just fine and finding some other way to drive me crazy. She's two, after all. It's her job to keep me from getting complacent. I just hate going through the emotional wringer every night when I'm just about to finally get some free time. My patience is very thin by 8pm.

We'll get through this. I'm just not sure how much hair I'll have left by the time it happens.

Om...This too shall pass...Om...This too shall pass...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hello World

This blog is something of a zen koan: how can a blog be new and not-new at the same time? Well, in this case it's because I've had a blog for a long time at Livejournal, but I want to comment more on non-LJ blogs and receive comments in turn and Livejournal doesn't work and play well with others. So I'm creating a mirror blog and publishing the same posts in both blogs. Hey, I'm bicoastal!

I'm probably going to publish a few old posts from the past few months here to provide a little context as to what the heck I'm talking about. I'll try and put a brief summary of my life on my About page as well. Beyond that, if you want to delve further into the intricate workings of my exciting past, they can be found at

Friday, January 4, 2008


When I look back at the resolutions I made last year, I get a bit depressed. So this year I'm going to make it more basic and vague: I'll make a sincere effort to get myself in better shape for getting pregnant. It seems very likely this will involve going low-carb for a while, but I'm still getting my ducks in a row on that front. I don't want to go through a radical diet change without having a complete plan for what to eat and then have it all on hand. Our exercise bike is set up in a convenient place again, so I'm climbing back on it, and I've been keeping track of my food on Sparkpeople, which usually helps me keep within reasonable limits. That's about as far as I'm willing to commit.

I finally managed to get my iud out right before Christmas. As it turns out, it needed to be pre-approved by the insurance company, so that explains part of the delay (although pre-approval for a two-minute appointment? Really? That seems to be over the edge of absurd even by health insurance company standards).* So I'm waiting for my period to come back and we shall see. I had a couple signs of ovulation right at Christmas, so I'm hoping that will be confirmed next week with the return of my cycle. It's all wait and see at this point.

*As a data point for anyone curious about the iud experience, removal was not completely painless as advertised, but that was because 1) the speculum was a bit wider than was really comfortable and 2) my cervix gave a bit of a spasm in response to having something pulled through it. However, it was brief and certainly nothing compared to having it put in.

The view from up here

We saw Golden Compass today. Before I give my opinion of it, I should preface by saying that I've only read the first book of the series and that was at least five years ago so my memories of more than the broad details of the plot are pretty sketchy. That said, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I've heard complaining that it felt like the plot was too crammed trying to get all of the plot of the book in a two-hour movie, but it seemed fine to me - easy to follow, good pacing, no weird jumps. The visuals were fantastic.

I think Golden Compass falls into the rare category of movies I liked better than the books they were based on, usually because putting the book on screen takes out what I didn't like about the book and lets me enjoy the story.* In this case, I ground to halt because the narrative voice just felt too negative - barely anyone was likeable, almost none of the adults could be trusted, the main character was a little brat. I think the movie was an improvement because it's a lot easier to like Lyra when you can't hear her inner monologue. The movie version of Lyra came across as plucky and endearingly contrary, not bratty and oppositional defiant like her book counterpart. They also wisely ended the movie before the book ends, which left it on a much more positive note and made it easier to walk out of the theatre feeling good about what I had seen, instead of the somewhat depressed feeling I had putting down the book.

In any case, His Dark Materials is going back on my reading list, hopefully to make it all the way through this time. I keep finding myself wondering if I would have liked the books better if I had read them when I was ten. At that age, I was a lot more oblivious to the things that bother me now. Certainly seeing children in danger didn't bother me nearly so much, and I think I wouldn't have disliked Lyra nearly so much when I was a child myself.

I've been thinking again about the odd experience of rereading childhood books with adult eyes lately because I've been reading the Little House books. I discovered a while ago that while I had read the rest of the series many many times, I never read Little House on the Prairie. I think maybe my elementary school library didn't have that book for some reason. Goodness, it's much harder to enjoy a book when you're much more aware of racism and the devastation that Western settlement caused to the Native Americans. I suppose it was gracious of Pa Ingalls to disagree with the idea that the only good Indian was a dead Indian, but his airy assurances that the US army would move the Native Americans who were inconveniently inhabiting the land they had stolen and that white people deserved that land more than the people who had just lived on it for the past thousand years or so are more than a little appalling, and dampen my enjoyment of the book, to say the least.

And yet I'm still reading the series. The books are mostly about Laura, after all, who was innocent in what her parents were doing (well, until she grew up and settled her own stolen land). I enjoy the stories (that don't involve Manifest Destiny or naked racism) and the historical detail is fascinating. One thing you have to be prepared for when reading historical books is encountering historical attitudes that were the prevailing opinion of the day, so this sort of thing is the price of admission for this sort of book. You can either put it down in disgust or take it as an object lesson of how far we've come and a reminder of our not-so-glorious past. And most of the Native American stuff is concentrated in the one book, so once you get past it, it's not so bad.

Still, this reminds me a bit of a couple years ago when I was looking for a book to read while I was in Michigan and decided to reread Narnia before I saw the movie. I had read them again when I was twenty, but clearly the years since then have changed my perceptions. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe wasn't so bad, although the sexism made me sigh resignedly and for the first time, the shallow, hand-waving nature of the ending really bothered me (they lived entire lives in Narnia, and then just left them to go back to our world without a second thought? No homesickness on either end or mourning for the adult live they had left?). Prince Caspian was fine. And then I read The Horse and His Boy, which was my favorite, and ran aground on the rocky shoals of the book's naked racism. Do I condemn C.S. Lewis for the obvious prejudices in his books? No, because like Laura Ingalls Wilder, he was a product of his times and I don't generally condemn people for being unable to see past the values of the times they lived in. C.S. Lewis was a generally good man who had the somewhat congenial racism and sexism common to British men in the 50s, and I don't really expect much different out of him.

At the same time, it's hard not to let it affect my enjoyment of the books, and I'm now planning to have some discussions with K about these issues when she's old enough to read them. I'm pretty sure my reaction to the movie of Wardrobe was influenced by my new perceptions of the book. I found it disappointing, largely because I think I wanted to see the movie as a ten-year-old, and instead I got a movie that stuck most of what bothered me about the book up on the screen and emphasized it.

It's a dicey thing, revisiting the things you loved as a child. I'm certainly a better person for my increased empathy and sensitivity and being more aware of my cultural assumptions and trying to see past them, but occasionally I miss being able to read with the uncritical eye I had when I was ten.

*The other movie/book that falls in this category is Lord of the Rings, which was able to correct Tolkien's inability to grasp the concept of "Show, don't tell." I had always wondered why I couldn't get into the books more, until the last time I took a stab at them after watching the movies and discovered that it was all of the pointless detail. He took three pages to describe what happened to the hobbits' ponies after they ran away in the first book. Three pages. Good Lord, nobody needs that level of detail. No wonder I had trouble getting into the plot. (Note to rabid Tolkien fans: please don't hurt me)