Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Holy shitsnacks, Batman!

Last weekend I went to my college five year reunion. I have a ridiculously strong attachment to my college, and not even the "community" per se (since I have basically kept all my closest college friends close), but the place itself. The campus is gorgeous, for one, but it just has this magnetic, almost magical property that makes every inch feel powerfully vital. I was overwhelmed with love for the place the entire time I was there; two of my best college friends and I walked in circles for a whole day, nostalgically soaking up every tidbit of memory we could find. My feet were practically raw by the end because my shoes got so covered in mud during a perambulation through the riverside woods that I had to take them off and walk halfway across the gravel- and Olde English bottle-strewn campus barefoot. Totally worth it.

For this glorious weekend, my dear friend Anna and I stayed in a Bard dorm. Our plan was to recreate the most nostalgia-filled and historically accurate weekend night possible, complete with only making a brief appearance at a campus event, then holing up in someone's dorm room (in this case, our "rented" triple in the dorm Anna had lived in for two years) to play video games, eat fancy snacks, and drink half-decent booze. In hindsight, that last bit might have been ill-advised, but I couldn't have known at the time. Put simply, it was one of the best weekends I've had in ages. I felt reconnected to a place I truly love, absorbed in a powerful friendship, and thoroughly empowered to move forward knowing that so many others from my college had gone on to become real, functioning grown-ups...and parents.

I was kind of caught off-guard by how many of my former classmates and other earlier alumni/ae brought their children to this reunion. Seriously: there were entire acres of campus that had seemingly been taken over by happy family units frolicking, college-student-style, in the lush, probably tick-infested grass. At the fireworks celebrating the class of 2011's commencement, and a whole slew of class reunions (which they always do on the same day, which just sounds logistically hellish, but that's Bard for ya), there were probably hundreds of children running around in the fields, playing in the garden, and generally loving the fact that they were free to roam more or less unbridled through massive crowds of friendly, safe grown-ups. While basking in this familial happiness, I was also feeling a little down about it, but then also feeling kind of silly for feeling a little down.

Why? Well, Ryan and I decided that it was time to give Batman-making a shot last month. This was a pretty surreal process, partly because we were thinking "WTF is up? Are we really doing this?" and partly because every time we *ahem* made an effort, I started quoting Julianne Moore from "The Big Lebowski" while rolling around on my back and laughing like an idiot. It's not that we weren't taking it seriously - I promise, we really did have genuine intentions - but given that it was still two months before our wedding, and statistics say that first tries don't yield babies, we sort of assumed we were just having some carefully timed rolls in the hay, and that was that. Before going to Bard, I had not gotten my period in almost a month, so I figured it was time to responsibly pee on a stick before allowing myself the late-night private boozing my nostalgic side so craved. Negative. I tried again later just to be safe, and negative again.

So...I stopped at the big red barn on my drive down to Bard, and we ended up doing tequila shots on Saturday night while playing Minecraft. It was awesome. I got exhausted quickly that weekend, finding myself practically dozing mid-afternoon on Saturday and begging for sleep by the end of the evening on Sunday. Waking up for school the next day...and the next...was agony. I was so tired driving home both days, in fact, that I seriously considered pulling over to either get a coffee or nap in my backseat. I marked it up to a long recovery time from a long weekend, and the fact that since we're only weeks from the end of the school year, teaching has gotten sort of rough.

On Tuesday night, I was so wiped out that I more or less just blobbed on the couch all night. I was also getting these kind-of, sort-of cramps that made me assume a very late period was on its way. Ryan ran out to the drug store to get me, and I quote "Vitamin D because the weather's been so crappy, and the cheapest two-pack of pee sticks they have." I realized that reading the directions for a home pregnancy test was a task I had actually not done very thoroughly before, given's just peeing, right?

Pop culture tells women that a home pregnancy test is stupidly easy: any time you think you might be pregnant, you pee on this little plastic thing, then stare at it intently until some configuration of lines, dots, words, or whatever appear to give you your answer. In classic television form, this is best done with at least one girlfriend nearby waiting to scream either in joy or horror, since your impregnator will be too grossed out by something you peed on to respond immediately.

Turns out, there is some nuance to this business. Even the "test before your missed period" tests apparently don't really catch the pregnancy hormone in a urine sample unless you either test first thing in the morning (with very undiluted bodily fluids, and presumably while so sleepy that shock one way or another doesn't really hit you), or unless you are somehow so dehydrated that the hormone jumps right out (and your weakened body and brain, deprived of water, allow you to process the news calmly and sedately). I guess I'd been doing it wrong. Wednesday morning, I woke up, peed on the stick (correctly!), and then spent the next five minutes sitting there wondering if I should wake Ryan up to tell him that it was positive, or go through with my original plan to share the good news.

I decided to wait, and got him this on the way home:
The nice people in the bakery department at Whole Foods thought it was awesome, though of course I added the pregnancy test (washed!) when I got home, not in the grocery store. His reaction? After opening the fridge, finding the cake, and asking about half a dozen times if I was really, in fact, pregnant, he said "I'm terrified. I'm excited, but I'm terrified." Honestly, that's kind of where I'm at, too. The reality has still not set in, but the vague cramps and gradually increasing hypersensitivity to smells are helping to convince me.

Holy shitsnacks, Batman.

Friday, May 20, 2011

There's such a thing as good stress, right?

This morning was the first time I was obviously panicked about our wedding without being in the middle of discussing, organizing, making something, or otherwise directly dealing with it. I was driving to work, and (given that I have an hour commute - balls) listening to a book on CD. This time around, it's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which I have been very much enjoying. In the book, the Kingsolver family throws a 150 person party for Barbara's 50th birthday. The whole premise of the book is to document a year of eating only locally-sourced foods, so catering this event is tricky, but - in the same vaguely smug fashion in which every meal in the book comes together - they manage to do so with only a normal amount of effort and yield a glorious result. Apparently elderly relatives were still cutting up the rug come two AM, and everyone was happily fed and entertained the whole night through.

For those of you who don't know, either because you're currently non-existent (lookin' at you, Batman) or a reader who doesn't know me personally, I am getting married in (holy crap) thirty-six days. That's thirty-six days to prepare to host close to twenty close friends either in our apartment or a cabin we're renting, to magically manifest a chunk of money, to make a crapton of decorations and other accoutrements from scratch, to organize the logistics of everyone's travel, and to somehow figure out what the hell I'm doing with my hair and makeup (which are things I typically give about five minutes of consideration to on a given day).

Don't get me wrong: I'm pretty good in an isolated high-stress situation. Lost a kid on a field trip? I will OWN that search-and-rescue operation. Stranded on the side of the highway with a flat tire in the middle of nowhere in a torrential downpour? Let's change that mother-fucking tire. Suddenly noticed a massive overdraft in a bank account? I will shuffle my finances like a boss. Working continuously on a month-long project that has a humongous impact on a final graduate class grade? Er...I think I'll go curl up in a corner, vomit, clean that up, then go back to the corner to cry in a fetal position for a while. Put simply, my short game is excellent, but my long game could stand some improvement.

Planning a wedding has been amazingly fun - don't let my ranting convince you otherwise - but goddamn has it been hard. While I was listening to the description of the Kingsolver's torturously successful undertaking, my brain was just chugging away: how the hell do they manage to stay so calm, cool, and collected through logistically assembling a 150 person party in their yard, catered entirely by themselves, with live music, a bunch of people camping on their land, and a working farm to tend as well? I melt down with more than a single DIY task to complete in an evening! Am I just that much less capable than a bunch of Appalachian-dwelling farmers?

We've got just over a month until our wedding, and rather than blithely wondering whether our neighbors will be providing us with delicious home-raised lamb or chicken, we're frantically scrambling together the last HUGE chunk of money, tracking down missing RSVP's, and realizing how many DIY projects are as-yet incomplete. I'm starting to lose sleep and find myself distracted by wedding minutiae at odd times, like while showering (WTF are we going to do about towels at the rented cabin?), during my morning commute (I feel awful that people will need to pay so much for gas to get here!), and while indulging my lower bowel's needs (can our bathroom handle more than six people using it in a night?).

So what. There's nothing I can do about most of these things but lay my plans as well as I am able and cross my fingers for the rest. I guess the lesson about stress here is to just let it happen and move on. A panic yesterday about how to display our 200 some-odd cupcakes yielded a gloriously simple solution (upcycled Goodwill plates on chunks of PVC cut to different heights), and everything else will fall into place...or it won't, and we'll just move on. Batman, don't let the stress get to you, and if you do, try to find a way to laugh at yourself good-naturedly. When I started to panic about shower capacity while pooping...I mean, do I need to say anything more?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ode to the Uterus

O, mighty sack of growth and gunk,
Waiting to slowly balloon with blossoming viscera.
Following the phallic fray,
The incipient inflation will drop anchor in your depths.
Pink and pudding-ey, you will
And keep our scion safe
For months of swirling, semi-silent swimming.
Elastically, elegantly, your enveloping embrace
Nurtures and contains with glorious goo.

Sometimes I write poetry about body parts. This happens when I get misty-eyed about stuff for which I don't otherwise have a specific outlet.