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October 2006

A heartwarming Halloween story

I'm probably jinxing myself by writing this, but yesterday was the least anxious day I've had in several weeks. Of course, this makes me incredibly suspicious. I spent most of the day waiting for it to return (it always does) but it didn't make an appearance until after dinner and Sunday's Amazing Race (this "six pack" alliance, whatever, I am so rooting for the beauty queens) when I realized I still had no Halloween costume.

This is just not like me. I'm not necessarily one of those people who plots for weeks and spends a ton of money and goes All Out. But I am not one to turn down an opportunity to dress up or, at the very least, slather my face with greasepaint and fake blood, and I'm a little stymied by my noncommittal-ness this year. Phillip doesn't help. He goes around calling himself the Halloween Scrooge and making sure everyone knows how much he hates dressing up blah blah blah. He is so not fun. I'd finally scrounged up an idea for costumes over the weekend and Phillip, at least, had the workings of a costume going, but I? I had nothing.

Phillip is going to be the Iron Chef. I am going to be the Iron Chef's Ingredient. But oh, what ingredient to be?

After dinner last night, the best idea I had was to be an eggplant. This is because I am the owner of an eggplant purple aubergine bridesmaid dress I have worn exactly once and probably will never wear again. But I was open to other suggestions. I hauled my costume box downstairs (yes, I have a costume box, but no costume), my feather boas, my bridesmaid dress, my black ball gown skirt that I wear to the Really Annoying Work Event, my crazy shiny cotton candy pink skirt, the slinky red dress (which, woe, doesn't fit anymore, hello twelve weeks pregnant), my Harry Potter glasses and the hot pink and glittery gold fabrics I bought for my tea party table last spring. Something had to work, right?

BUT NO. The pink fabric was too pink and too sheer to turn me into a salmon.  The unfortunate bulging in the red dress crossed out any red vegetables. I could not think of any natural food in the colors of black, gold or cotton candy pink. And when I pulled the gold fabric out of the bag just to see, I accidentally dumped leftover confetti all over the floor.

Finally I put the bridesmaid dress skirt over my head so it hung like a tent from my shoulders. All I had to do was cut some arm holes in the sides and somehow pin the bottom to whatever I was wearing underneath (tights? sweatpants? It's going to be FREEZING tonight) to make it balloon out a bit like an eggplant. I had this green netting stuff to wrap around my head like a stem. I was getting pretty anxious at that point. Not because there was anything to be anxious about- it's just how my body responds to stress when I'm already dealing with something to be anxious about. But anyway. The point is: I was stressed out about having to cut arm holes in my fancy satin skirt. Not because I had any intention of wearing said skirt again, but MY GOD, the thought of actually having to find scissors and cut arm holes and figure out what to wear around my shoulders and somehow pin the stupid thing into an eggplant shape was TOO MUCH TO BEAR.

I stood there in the middle of my living room, wearing a skirt as a tent dress, green netting wrapped around my head, freezing cold, my husband trying to ignore the whole spectacle, and I started to cry. WAH.

Okay internet. Me crying is not exactly news. I've been known to cry, in public, over pretty much everything: weddings, movies, a song on the radio, someone's good news, babies, the gloriousness that is Powell's bookstore, an exceptional piece of cheesecake, that time I was waiting at a stoplight and four random strangers stopped crossing the street so they could help this one guy push his stalled car out of the way. But rarely- RARELY!- do I cry because I am UPSET. Phillip has to make me pretty stinking mad before I cry because I'm upset.

But YESTERDAY I cried because I was too tired and too frustrated to deal with a HALLOWEEN COSTUME. Someone, please, lock me up.

Something, however, seemed to switch on inside my dead-to-Halloween husband.

"Are you okay?"

Sniff sniff "nooooooooooooo!" weep blubber sniff.

And then my husband, Mr. Halloween Scrooge, picked himself up off the couch, away from the Lay's potato chips and the television and the fireplace, and proceeded to MAKE ME A COSTUME. While I sat drowning my sorrows in a tub of Starbucks Mud Pie ice cream, Phillip snipped and stapled and measured and turned me into a Paper Bag of Groceries. "I will be the chef," he said proudly, "and you will be all of my ingredients."

This made me cry more, but not because I was upset. FREAKING HORMONES.

And I'm pretty sure I posted this last year, but as I've failed my elementary school teacher mother at costume-making (this woman has a costume CLOSET, and about 400 third grade girls have worn my hideous purple (purple! again!) flower girl dress as medieval princesses and old ladies in nightgowns and fairies and since 1986) I must, at least, post the five little pumpkins poem:

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate-
The first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late!"
The second one said, "There are witches in the air."
The third one said, "But we don't care!"
The fourth one said, "Let's run and run and run!"
The fifth one said, "It's just Halloween fun!"

Last year I think my sister had to post the right words. This year I'll let her post the requisite finger play. She is, after all, the ACTUAL first grade teacher.

Just in time for Halloween

One of the many pregnancy symptoms I am not having is cravings. Well, there may be an exception to this. I drink milk like the the power is out and everything in the fridge will go bad in a matter of hours. After a year of being a snotty low-carber who shunned the cereal aisle, I now eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I pour enough milk in the bowl to grow an entire skeleton of bones all by itself.

But anyway. Friday night I came home from work, starving as usual. And I swear, the thing that sounded best in the world was the last ham and cheese Hot Pocket I knew was waiting for me in the freezer. I love Hot Pockets, I don't care how many preservatives and chemicals and fake cheese and other crap is inside those things. At one of my high schools you could buy a single Hot Pocket from the school store and eat it in the hallway all snuggled up to your boyfriend who slurped his Coke and tried to put his hands in inappropriate places. Ah, memories!

Hot Pockets are another thing I haven't eaten since converting to wheat pasta and two-eggs-for-breakfast, but whatever, I'm growing another person here. I popped it in the microwave and settled in to watch last week's Gilmore Girls before Phillip came home. I'd eaten the first Hot Pocket with a knife and fork, because everyone knows those suckers get blisteringly hot and the fake cheese tries to melt off your fingers. But I was so hungry. As soon as the microwave dinged, I lunged for my Hot Pocket, dumped it in a paper towel and lunged back to the couch to continue my neverending choruses of Shut up, Rory! I held my Hot Pocket inside its paper sleeve and took a huge bite-

and the ham and cheese dribbled out over my lower lip, dangled off onto my chin and dripped onto my sweater. Of course, I didn't notice the cheese on my sweater at that moment because I was too busy screeching and shrieking and hurling the evil Hot Pocket across the living room. I am now the proud sporter of the ugliest crustiest grossest lip burn you have ever seen in your life, complete with a tiny matching scab on my chin. And when people ask me what happened, I have to use the words "HOT POCKET" and MAN that is embarrassing. No one is very sympathetic either. Like my friend the Interior Designer said yesterday at lunch, "I've never known anyone who blistered themselves on food before."

I am, however, tempted to blame this on pregnancy. This is, for example, my second burn since I got pregnant. The first one happened when I was making pumpkin bread and the loaf tin slipped in the pot holders when I was taking it out of the oven, tipped over, and bounced off my delicate upper thigh before splattering all over the floor. I had a blistered red line across my leg for a couple of weeks, but at least no one saw that one.

I've been trying really hard to come up with SOMETHING to say when someone asks me how I'm feeling, but really. I'm not showing. I'm not sick. I FEEL TOTALLY NORMAL. But! BUT!

This weekend we went to see Marie Antoinette. Here is what I know about Marie Antoinette: she may or may not have said "Let them eat cake!" and she got her head chopped off. The End. But I may have cried through the entire thing. FOR NO REASON. As sympathetic as they try to make her, she's just... not. (Also, how come she is eating in every single scene, but is still rail thin after three children and umpteen years of decadent feasting? If I were a French Revolutionary looking at Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette, I may have had to think to myself, "Hmm, perhaps she is not eating cake either?") Anyway, I cried and cried. It started with the preview for the Nativity story movie, barely controlled itself during the actual movie and came to a head in the ride home when I wailed, "HOW COME I AM CRYING OVER STUPID MARIE ANTOINETTE?" I turned on Phillip. "How come YOU aren't internalizing a stupid movie! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?" And I sat there having my little tear-fest while Phillip half laughed, half oh-you-poor-thing-ed, and I wondered if this is what Fellow Bridesmaid was talking about when she mentioned hormones.


In other news, praise God for an extra hour and waking up to SUNLIGHT. This weekend I decided I am buying a light box, EVEN if I have to sell a kidney to afford one, and I will carry it around with me like a spoiled chihuahua.

Tea-infused peanuts? Anyone?

Just so you know, I'd rather be playing with my new copy of Dreamweaver, but I can't, because the fracking Dreamweaver installation wizard keeps asking me to insert Disk 1, even though there was only ONE disk in the brand new box and it is ALREADY INSERTED. This is irritating me to no end, Internet. This is what happens when you score your fancy new software off an Adobe employee instead of forking over the $800 like all the other poor slobs.

So I'm sitting here thinking, "Oh, well maybe I'll write up a Thoughtful and Insightful post about interracial marriage, which will help me form my thoughts for when we have to speak to the Almost Marrieds tonight about Family of Origin," but even THAT'S not working because there's nothing to be thoughtful or insightful about. In fact, all I can really think of is the giant vacuum-packed bag of tea-infused peanuts my mother-in-law brought back from her 40th junior high school reunion trip to Taiwan. Tea-infused peanuts.

A few weeks ago when I had nothing better to be anxious about (ha ha ha) I was laying in bed thinking about how I read waaay too many Chinese adoption blogs and how I, too, needed to be thinking about how to raise a Chinese child in America and who decided I was capable of that and waaaah. Finally Phillip was all, "For the love of God, could you calm down? All the tossing and turning is making it really difficult to use the laptop." (Because the last thing we do before we fall asleep is check our email, no lie.)

I guess to be super honest, I'm not really worried about it. It's more like I think I should be worried about it, so I try to think up all the conceivable things I should be worried about, and then I test myself to see if I'm properly nervous enough. (And I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder? NO WAY!) I have spent a ton of time thinking about what our family will look like (ie: not at all like me) but then Phillip completely twisted my brain. "It wasn't that hard looking different," he said, when I had pestered him so long he finally had to respond. "It was the cultural part. People not understanding things we did at home or why my parents acted a certain way or why they expected certain things of me."

And then my brain exploded. My kid is going to be third generation. I don't know any third generation kids. My kid will have the looks and none of the culture. I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THIRD GENERATION.

Fracking Dreamweaver.

Anyway. Not like I'm going to talk about THIS with the Almost Marrieds. I think I just assume people want to know about the interracialness, but whatever, I live in Seattle, it's not like it's a novelty. Someone needs to get over herself already.

Probably the biggest thing we took from our families of origin is our respective views on what it takes to be secure. We rarely fight about money. We fight about future money. As in, one of us thinks you only need enough money to buy food, pay the mortgage and fund the four-week backpacking trip. The other thinks you need enough money to buy food, pay off the mortgage, upgrade the car, pay the tuition bills of the unborn children, and have enough left over for a catastrophic illness emergency fund and a PlayStation2. You guess which of us ascribes to which statement.

But I have a hard time saying this is a white/Asian thing. In our case, it may definitely be so. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say that Phillip's parents escaped the Communists and my parents escaped, uh, their own parents. I would think this informs your financial comfort levels to a fairly significant degree, don't you? Which isn't to say that Phillip's parents are scary stick-wielding proponents of backbreaking work and my parents are pot-smoking flower children (haaaa! Katie? Becca? Are you dying of laughter?), but you know. It's different. Phillip's parents were worrying about what college he'd go to when he was in elementary school. My dad told me I should go to community college first and transfer to university afterwards to lessen my debt. So you see. Different. However! There are heaps of white people working 80 hour weeks and sending their kids to private school and I know my share of Asian-Americans who'd totally quit Microsoft without blinking if their rock band ever got some notice.

I hardly think me marrying a Chinese guy means I have more experience with Families of Origin. So basically we're going to stand up there and look like idiots. "Uhhhh..."

Oh holy hell. Turns out you should delete your trial version before you install the real thing. What was that about being an idiot?

Frankly, I wish we did have some issues. Like my friend who had to deal with adding Korean everything into her gigando Montana backyard wedding, because she got a crapload of lovely jewelry out of that deal. My easygoing Westernized in-laws didn't give a rip, so I only got a twelve-course dinner consisting of jellyfish and sharkfins. Is that fair?

I'm off to pretend I'm a web designer. Hee.

The least that you can do for me is keep it to yourself

It is a bright sunny morning here in my beloved city (as sunny as you're going to get in late October, shut up) and I listened to Fountains of Wayne's song 'Maureen' about 400 times on my way in (I LOVE THAT SONG) wondering if Maureen had had her baby yet, and she DID! Whee!

It is a week until Halloween and I still don't have a costume yet.

I also haven't carved my pumpkin. (I thought I did. Last night I dreamed I carved my pumpkin in a classroom with Logan Echolls while my husband took the bar exam in the next room. It was almost dream-cheating.) I did, however, hang the pumpkin-and-witches garland my mother sent me, and the bizarro string of witch faces made out of straw? cornsilk? raffia? weeds? outside my front door, even though we had all of one trick or treater last year and won't even be home to answer the door this year. This is the one thing that interests me about the suburbs: trick or treaters. We might actually have some!

Out of all the shows on my TiVo at 10pm last night I chose to watch Friday Night Lights. I chose football over Veronica Mars, people. The end of the world is nigh! But you guys, this show kills me. First I read the book. Then I saw the movie. And as you know, I am a sucker for anything about team sports, but every frame of this show is amazing. It's beautiful, for one thing, art directed like a movie. Everything is so believable that when the coach goes to wake up the team at 3 in the morning for some sprints in the rain in a rapidly filling stream bed because those boys need some butt kicking, you don't think, "My God this is so cheesy," no no no, you BAWL. And the only character I want to stab is the former star quarterback's girlfriend, but ever since she screwed up and kissed the star quarterback's best friend, she's suddenly less irritable. Are you not watching this show? Repent! And make sure to watch it next week, the better to keep the evil network executives from pulling it off the air and ruining my entire television season. Do you want me to be unhappy with TV? DO YOU?

Although if I watched less TV it might significantly reduce the number of television characters who appear in my dreams. Hmm.

Oh, but before I switched on the TV, I voted. (Also, I made dinner. Sort of. Phillip broiled the steaks, I mashed the potatoes. I haven't eaten mashed potatoes in eons. I want to be buried in mashed potatoes.) Last week I spent an hour or two with my voter's pamphlet, because I am a Good and Solid Citizen, and circled my choices in preparation for the main event. So when my ballot showed up a day or two ago, I was ready. Except I was going through my pamphlet again and I couldn't remember why I voted the way I did. "Phillip?" I kept asking. "Why did I vote Republican here and Democrat there? Does voting for Proposition 1 mean I am pro-freedom of speech or pro-strip club? How come they aren't taxing car owners to pay for the bridge, they're only taxing property owners? Does that make ANY SENSE AT ALL?" He tuned me out after a while. Actually, I was pretty disappointed because it turned out that I didn't get to vote on any of the Hotly Contested Races that keep interrupting my television viewing with Greatly Annoying political ads. I mean, if I have to watch them, I'd at least like to act on them, you know? But apparently I don't live in the 8th district. I live in District 7, home of Congressman Krazy. Although I did get to vote for senator, and my vote was based strictly on whose ad I found least irritating. (Dwight K. Schrute: "Good and Solid Citizen my ass.")

Looking for a baby update? I'll be twelve weeks on Friday, hereby beginning the "Holy cats, [insert timeframe] already!" because it seems not too long ago I was hovering around seven weeks and wondering how I was going to endure the trepidation of the first trimester. Now I have, like, what? A week and a half? And I have yet to buy this baby ANYTHING. Poor baby. I haven't even thought about where to put him. Oh, we have an extra bedroom, but that's where my computer and the futon live and I haven't quite decided if I can do without these things. Maybe we'll put the baby in the sock drawer. Besides, there is still no proof the baby is even THERE. Okay, well, there was the heartbeat, and I suppose my doctor didn't just make that up or anything. And there is my horrific weight gain, but that can definitely be attributed to Red Robin french fries and Ben and Jerry's chocolate fudge brownie ice cream. (MMM ICE CREAM FOR LUNCH?) My clothes still fit, I've had exactly four separate days of feeling sick, I'm not even that tired anymore. At the wedding this weekend my cousins rolled their eyes at me and said, "Oh, just wait a few more weeks. THEN you'll know there's a baby in there."

Before the wedding started Phillip leaned over the pew and asked my cousin with the newest baby what it was like "having one of these things." And my cousin said, "Do you have a life? Because if you don't have a life, it's not a problem."

Anyway, I have things to do. Like I sit around typing on my website all day. Ha! So I leave you with this gem of a video (YouTube! How I love you!) that I have watched about fourteen times and still don't understand. But it is set to FOW's 'Maureen' so at least you can hear the song. And have you congratulated her yet? Shoo!

Twenty-seven years' worth of psychobabble

I've never been terribly ambitious, but at one time in my life, certain people seemed to expect a lot of me, so I sort of became ambitious. I thought up some Impressive Things To Be and went around telling people that one day I would make it happen. Well, it wasn't quite that simple. I really believed that I aspired to these things. I was smart. I was capable. Why not? I certainly wasn't going to loaf around at some boring desk job for years on end waiting for something to fall into my lap. As if!

I had never ever wanted to be anything other than a writer. Sometime in high school I realized that "author" meant "Top Ramen seven days a week", so I set my sights on Journalism. That was writing with a paycheck! And the very first goal to reach on my way to White House Press Secretary or Pulitzer-winning reporter was a successful stint at my college paper.

I bravely marched into the college paper offices the first week of my freshman year and timidly asked how to become a staff writer. The Big Kids (oh, they were so smart! so cynical! so tough!) shuffled me around until I found myself in a small group of freshman wannabe reporters, staring wondrously at the poor upperclassman assigned to tell the freshmen what to do. Her name was Fiona and she intimidated the crap out of me. Red hair, cool clothes, a crisp manner that bespoke her many years of journalistic experience. She matter-of-factly explained that we would all need to write three to five stories under some kind of "contributing writer" byline before we could be considered for staff and with that, we were all unceremoniously given assignments. My very first assignment for the college paper would be about the dorms giving away free condoms in the lobbies that weekend.

I vaguely remember writing this story. Talking to the people sitting at the tables heaped with different kinds of condoms, writing down all the brands, researching some kind of stupid awareness week. I handed it in a few days later and I'm pretty sure that story was never published. At least, I didn't bother to keep a copy of it. I only remember sitting in front of a computer for hours, trying to figure out how to make my pile of information the least bit interesting. I was bored to death, terrified of Fiona, my editor, and desperately wishing they could just make me a staff writer already so I wouldn't have to endure the whole humiliating proving myself process.

My next assignment was to visit the dental school and find out about their new simulation equipment. For this story I would have to actually pick up the phone and schedule an interview with the dean of the dental school and oh, the thought gave me a horrible terrible stomachache. I dreaded scheduling that interview, I dreaded hiking down to the dental school and having to act like I knew what I was doing. I didn't want to have to talk to anyone. I didn't want to investigate anything. I could not muster up one ounce of regard for the dental school and their fancy new equipment.

But I made that phone call and I conducted my interview and I took my tour of the dental school, because that is what reporters do, and this is what I was going to be when I grew up. If I couldn't hack the college paper, I certainly wouldn't make it on the city paper. I wrote up a story I could be marginally proud of, sat next to Fiona as she ripped it apart and put it back together and I dutifully cut it out of the newspaper when it was published that week. I received a lovely note from the dean of the dental school, telling me that they hadn't always received favorable press from the college paper, and how wonderful it was to see such positive and exciting news about her program this week. Fiona told me I wasn't half bad, just needed some practice and gave me my next assignment. But before I set up my interviews, I fled to Fellow Bridesmaid's dorm room and started to bawl.

"I CAN'T DO IT!" I blubbered. "I CAN'T!"

Poor Fellow Bridesmaid had absolutely no clue what my problem was. I just sat there, frozen, my entire future melting before my eyes. I had never felt so lost. I told her how I felt, how bored I was writing newspaper stories, how much I hated having to call and talk to strangers, how sick I felt every time I had to walk into the communications building and climb the stairs to the newsroom. And I really did feel sick. It was an awful terrible feeling. I told myself I was just nervous, that I couldn't let the older students intimidate me, that I just needed to stick it out a while longer. But I couldn't. I just couldn't.

"So quit!" said Fellow Bridesmaid, brightly.

I stared at her. For all my dread and revulsion, I had never considered quitting. Quitting meant quitting. I'd sucked it up and played that last year of hellacious high school basketball- I certainly wasn't going to quit this. Not the thing that would set me up for my Future. What would I tell people back home? That suddenly I wasn't going to be a World Famous Journalist? That I gave up my dream because of a few cold calls and a features editor who had a mohawk and smoked weed and could probably crush a dozen frightened freshmen under his steel-toed boots?

Fellow Bridesmaid probably saw quitting as a chance to try something else, or try again later. I saw it as the spontaneous combustion of my entire world. I bawled some more, she patted my hand and tried to think of nice things to say. A day or two later I left a quick message on Fiona's voicemail telling her that my schoolwork was beginning to pile up and I didn't think I had time for the paper anymore.

It was years later- YEARS- before I stared at a heap of research and statistics and court testimonies on my desk, stuff I had to miraculously transform into a Position Paper, and said aloud into the empty office, "GOD. I can't STAND writing about stuff that is TRUE."

Now. We all know THAT is a big fat lie (see: this entire website) but at the time, it was a huge revelation. I hated writing about things that were real! It wasn't that I hated to write and didn't want to be a writer and couldn't hack being a writer, I just didn't want to write about anything that existed outside of my own brain. And when my boss at the time was trying to help me find a new job (because as much as he drove me crazy, he was a kick ass boss who still invites me to lunch) he would suggest all these "writing" jobs. A job in DC writing policy papers. A job writing copy for the city. A job higher up in our organization condensing industry information and distributing it. And to all of these jobs I said, "No, no thank you, that's not quite what I'm looking for," and he gaped at me like I was Krazy, because didn't I want to be a Writer?

I can't tell you how many times I've done stuff like this. I am an absolute champ at telling myself what I will do and how I will feel about something, without having any regard for what I actually want and what I actually feel.  And every single time I have struggled with anxiety, it's because something bubbled up. Something appeared and said, "Hello silly girl! You thought you had me licked, BUT YOU DON'T!" The writing thing- I am so incredibly proud of myself for figuring this out, even though it took me till last year to admit what kind of writer I really wanted to be. Someone told me this disregard for how things may affect you could be called "the optimism of youth", which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I've always called it "God, you were such an idiot." And after all the work I've done to be Easier On Myself, I am surprised to realize that I still think of it that way. God. I was such an idiot.

In my case, anxiety is not just wacked out brain chemistry; it notifies me that I've ignored something significant. It's a pretty sucky way to be reminded, in my opinion, but it forces me to go back and figure things out. What did I forget? What did I skip over? Where did I not pay attention?

This time? I'm not entirely sure. I have some ideas. They have a lot to do with the person I was when I couldn't fathom quitting the paper, the person who could not imagine getting married at 23, the person who would be so disappointed with the life I have right now, even though I honestly can't think of anything I'd rather be doing. I worked so hard to get out of that place. I spend so much time being thankful I'm not that girl anymore, I've forgotten to forgive her optimism of youth, to be kind about the fear and dread she had about failing and disappointing people.  I think of her scornfully, with disdain, with massive eye rolling. I have no grace for her whatsoever, but I have to find some. I have to remember that she had no idea how much she would love the life she has now, that the failures wouldn't be as soul-crushing and world-ending as she imagined, just the kind of detours and missteps everyone has growing up. She had no idea how good it would be, and I can't keep letting her pipe up from the backseat to interrupt what is so wonderful and normal and safe and mine.

Still here

I thought a bit of an Internet Hiatus might do me good, but HA. THAT was a dumb idea.

I was away, but I was Working.


Here I am attempting to deliver the first reading at my cousin's wedding on Saturday. What I was not Working was the hair. My God, what happened to my head? Even Jesus is up there, praying over my hair.


Here I am with my brother Alex. We are arguing over who has better readings. I was a little annoyed that he got to read the Prayers of the Faithful and I was stuck with the Responsorial Psalm. "You're not even one of the Faithful!" I complained. "You're going to be SMITED." That's when Alex was all, "FINE. YOU read it!" and attempted to rip off the page, but instead, tore the second reading in half. Oops.


And let's not talk about that ruffly pink horror I'm wearing. Well, actually, let's DO talk about it. This is the questionable look of an incredibly anxious pregnant woman, who woke up at 7:30 that morning absolutely distraught because she could not POSSIBLY wear one of the seven dozen outfits she brought for the wedding. At 7:42 she climbed out of bed, threw on her sweatpants and drove to Wal-Mart, conveniently located across the street from her hotel, and nabbed the first sweater she could find that was not black or smothered in sequins. Anyway, my new ensemble made me look like a slightly immodest grandmother, but trust me, this was much better than the bursting-at-all-seams Girl-Who-Ate-Seattle look I had going on before. But the hair... ye gods.

To get to the wedding we had to go here:


(Hood River=MiddleOfNowhereWashingtonStateVille) and drive over this:


I hate this bridge. I have hated this bridge my entire life. When you drive over it, it makes this awful terrifying WHIRRING sound and you can see the water beneath the car. I don't want to see water! This is scary enough:


Does that little green rail thingy look strong enough to keep my car from pitching over the side? NO IT DOES NOT.

Here is a shot of me and the Devastatingly Handsome Chinese Man at the wedding.


If you don't focus on the ruffly pink horror or the lacquered hair or the fact that my husband's head is roughly twice the size of mine, it's not a bad picture.

Anyway. Lack of posting aside, I am still alive. Photographic evidence! I have some good days and some crappy days and one or two evenings of "I'm sure a bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz won't hurt the baby TOO much, right?", but most of the time I feel pretty optimistic about Everything Will Be Okay and This Will Not Kill Me. I have been through, as I reminded myself 400 times yesterday, much much worse.

And I know you'll all find this terribly shocking, but life goes on, even when you are mentally unbalanced. Which means I still have to go to work (I KNOW!) and make dinner and visit new babies and think up a Halloween costume and speak at the pre-marriage class at church and people, that pumpkin is not going to carve itself.  As for the pre-marriage class, I guess the last time wasn't such a huge disaster because they invited us back. This time we'll be talking about Family of Origin.

I was thinking about this a lot at the wedding. I was sitting with the only Asian man in a 100-mile radius. The bride is Colombian, adopted into a gigantic, white, American family. The groom is Mexican, said his vows in Spanish and barely said a word to my family because 1) we don't speak Spanish and 2) it's hard to get a word in edgewise around these people. The priest, also Mexican, went on and on and on about what marriage is like in Mexican families and what marriage is like in American families and how my cousin and her new husband will have to think a lot about their FAMILIES OF ORIGIN and learn to adapt to one another. And instead of practicing all the difficult words in my readings, I sat there thinking about adoption and cultures and whether we'll make our kid go to Chinese school and how I've yet to go to Hong Kong and what it must be like for my cousin to look Mexican but not be Mexican. At the end of all of this I had decided that we were crazy fools for having a mixed-race baby, what the HELL are we thinking, let ALONE think about ADOPTING. YE GODS!

But then this morning, when I was practicing what I might say to the Almost-Marrieds, I couldn't think of anything juicy to share. Because honestly, the families of origin thing just hasn't been that hard. Sigh. Even the INTERESTING things about us are BORING.

As for Halloween costumes, I have hit a wall. The creativity, it is the farthest thing from oozing. But I saw Kirsten Dunst on one of the dozen Conan O'Brien shows I watched this weekend, and she said she and friend were thinking about being Double Dare contestants. Which is an awesome idea. Better than being the Flair girl from Office Space, right?

Some things that work, in lazy list form

Well, first of all, some things that don't work:

  • Driving home after work and sitting alone in your living room in the dark, because for some reason God thought it was okay to make dark start at 5 pm in October.
  • Leaving the phone plugged in after 9, because well-meaning friends will call to see how you're doing at 10:30 and wake you up from your half-asleep state, thereby ensuring you will not go back to sleep until 2 or 3 or worse.
  • Thinking. Any kind of thinking is bad.
  • Those relaxation CDs. God I hate those things. First of all, they expect you to have the attention span of a normal adult (YEAH RIGHT) and the narrator sounds like a serial killer. THAT'S relaxing.

Things that work:

  • After a horrible night, taking the morning off work and going for a crisp fall walk through the leaves with your friends, their new baby, and all of the baby's grandparents, because your friends love your krazy self and allow you to be an honorary member of their family.
  • Back rubs.
  • Copious amounts of wine. (JUST KIDDING. Now that I'm pregnant I've TOTALLY cut back to one bottle a night.)
  • This book. Seriously. I cannot recommend this book enough.
  • Sucking it up and seeing a Professional, who will help you sort out the scary swirly thoughts into What Things Should Be Thought About, What Things Are Silly and What Things Are Totally Okay, Dear God, Calm Down Already. Normally you can handle sorting these things yourself, but under the influence of the Anxiety Monster, you can't tell up from down.
  • Dealing with people at Kinko's. After an hour or two at Kinko's you start to feel like it is better to have anxiety than an IQ equaling your shoe size.
  • This verse: "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
  • Inviting friends over. Going out to dinner. Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Anything that prevents sitting alone in the dark with your scary swirly thoughts.

Here are some things that are not about anxiety:

  • I lost two pounds. Well, maybe this is partly because of anxiety, since anxiety makes me lose my appetite, but whatever, two pounds! There was much rejoicing in the bathroom this morning. This means I have only gained FOUR pounds in ten weeks instead of SIX, even though my doctor thinks I have gained 300 because doctor office scales are from the devil. (And I swear, I was never so concerned about my weight until I decided to lose some. Now? I am an Eagle-Eyed Scale Watcher of a most dreadful degree. Gah.)
  • I am going to my cousin's wedding this weekend. My sisters are the bridesmaids. My other cousins are the band. I get to read "whatever the priest says you should read". My aunt made the dress and the food. It will be a little mini family reunion and should be super fun.
  • Yesterday I kind of sort of told off this annoying guy I kind of sort of work for and holy cats it felt AMAZING. Especially when my bosses wanted to hear what happened and then totally justified everything I said. That felt extra amazing.
  • I did not watch Veronica Mars or Gilmore Girls last night because I was watching my TiVo'd Monday night shows, my favorite of which is Studio 60. I continue to watch this show, even though the chip on Aaron Sorkin's shoulder is painfully transparent and he keeps trying to make me feel like I'm not good enough to watch his TV show, I mean, masterpiece. But whatever. Chandler! Josh Lyman! Squee!
  • My husband has started his very own fad, involving remote control airplanes. After several visits to Toys R Us in which we came home empty-handed, he arrived home one day with FOUR airplanes. All his little friends have now formed a "Flight Club" (HA HA HA) and go out to fly their little styrofoam planes, even though they all use the same frequency and can't fly at the same time. The new baby's grandfather had to get himself a plane too, prompting his wife to lean over to me and say, "A good man always has a little bit of boy left in him."
  • We are going to a Vietnamese restaurant tonight (the best Vietnamese restaurant in Seattle, we are told) and while we are there I shall say a little prayer that Vietnam hurries up and issues Christina's travel approval, stat!

That is all. Be thankful I did not post yesterday in my OHMYGODTHESKYISFALLING state. Today? Much much better.

Why can't humans hibernate?

It's rainy and dark and mid-October here in mighty maggie land, and that means anxiety has dropped into my house uninvited. In fact, we are sitting opposite each other as I type, staring each other down, each of us knowing that I will crack first. It would be funny, because I just recently drafted a post about how well I was doing and how amazing it was that anxiety had left me alone thus far, but it's actually not very funny at all.

Back when I was dealing with real anxiety (this is real, but it has no reason, other than it's That Time Of Year and I kept asking myself when it would happen, stupid stupid me) I was absolutely certain that I would never be able to start a family. How are you supposed to care for a baby when you can barely take care of yourself? I know that sounds a touch dramatic, but I really had no idea how it would work. I was terrified of anxiety during pregnancy, but that paled in comparison to anxiety with a newborn. That would surely be the ninth circle of hell. Such a thing could not be accomplished unless I was miraculously healed, safely drugged or my mother lived upstairs. After a while I watered this down to: Dear God, do not let my baby be born in September, October or November.

My baby is due in May. May seems like a long ways off. The days are much longer in May. Even when I was at my most anxious, I always knew that spring would make everything lighter and easier. And May is why I am not truly freaking out. Well, May and the fact that I'm 99% certain I have no reason to be anxious other than (say it with me now) it's That Time Of Year.

The only difference pregnancy has seemed to make on anxiety is that even anxiety can't compete with first trimester exhaustion. I've been sleeping fabulously, thank you. It's the moment my alarm goes off that it all goes to hell. It's only been a few days and because this has happened plenty of times before, I'm reasonably sure it will disappear in a week or two, but I'm still allowed to complain about the vast and utter suckitude on my website. I'm scared, and forcing your brain to Think Positive all day is a crazy amount of work. It works best when I'm distracted. I was half anxious during liturgy planning (which was not what I expected, and actually kind of fun) and pretty anxious during 7pm Mass (except for when the choir was singing, because there was a guest choir director with a gospel background and those songs were AWESOME) but then not anxious at all when my wonderful kick ass friends came over for dessert and spent the next two hours picking the most godawful names out of the 15 baby name books we have lying around the living room. (I was planning to write a post about how all the boy names Phillip likes sound like the names of creepy men who hang around race tracks or sell drugs out of their trench coats, but there's plenty of time for THAT.)

Anyway, I thought we were all due for an update on my Questionable Mental State. You're welcome.

In other news, Former Roommate, she of the Secret Admirer Flowers, sent me a present that made me laugh (and smell like heaven). Aim north, not south!

Eating healthy at Chez Cheung

I made dinner last night. (Well, first I ate a gigantic bowl of Trader Joe's granola in front of Veronica Mars, then I made dinner.) (I've always been too lazy to shop at Trader Joe's because it's a bit farther away than down the street, but we've been shopping there after church on Sundays and I shall never love a grocery store as much as I love Trader Joe's. And this, coming from a girl who grew up with 1960's warehouse-like military overseas commissaries, who now worships the huge and glorious fancy grocery stores of the wondrous United States of America, is saying a LOT.) But anyway. I was going to tell you what I made for dinner. Which is super embarrassing. Because I made baked chicken and macaroni and cheese, but not ANY baked chicken and macaroni and cheese. We didn't have any breadcrumbs or old bread to make breadcrumbs, so I ground up a bunch of TRISCUITS in the food processor, and this is how I breaded my chicken. And the macaroni and cheese, which I was so looking forward to, because oh how I love fake powdered cheese sauce, was SPIDERMAN macaroni and cheese. Phillip, when he was dispatched to the grocery store several weeks ago for the quadruple chocolate ice cream, happened to pick up a few extra things. I noticed he bought three boxes of macaroni and cheese, but I did not notice that the noodles were in the shape of webs and spiders and buildings. He says that he only bought those boxes because they were on sale, but knowing what we know about my husband, do we believe him?

So last night we ate macaroni in the shape of eight-legged bugs and salty Triscuit chicken. I thought about making a salad, but I simply could not be bothered.

Then we called our friend Sean to come over and watch Lost with us, but I told him not to ring our doorbell unless he had first stopped by the grocery store and picked up a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. (Hollered Phillip, "Tell him to get me some chips!")

THIS is why I have gained 400 pounds in the last two months. For shame.

A friend of mine told me that you can buy pre-diced butternut squash at Trader Joe's. So I think I'm going to attempt the soup on Saturday, in the morning when I feel like a normal human being. I want to try the Egyptian lentil soup too, but that might be going overboard. (And really, how much soup can one person eat?) And those of you who used the word "foodie" in your comments- how come you are not sending me recipes? I own about 57 baking cookbooks and none that tell you how to make real food. Obviously I need help.

(I'm actually a little bit relieved I'm going on vacation this Thanksgiving because that means I'm off the hook for making the Thanksgiving turkey like I did last year. Not that we ruined it or anything, but talk about COOKING. Like, getting up at six in the morning cooking. Meat thermometer cooking. Using every dish in your house cooking. Will your grandmother find your gravy acceptable cooking. Equal amounts of fun and trauma.)

Phillip called me last night from the bus on his way home. "I just read your blog," he said excitedly. "What's for dinner?!" Even though I'm pretty sure he was just calling to say that he read my website on his stupid new phone (did you know Phillip has a new phone? You didn't? Do you want his email address? I'm sure he'd love to tell you ALL ABOUT IT. Maybe he should do a guest post! About his stupid new phone! That he can use to read his email! And MY WEBSITE! OOOHHH!) I was still embarrassed that he was so excited about me making dinner (and was still excited, even when he found out what I was making.) It is so sad. Don't tell my grandmother. She doesn't care that I work full time too AND I am currently incubating another human being, she would be rather disappointed to know I am not rushing home every day to cook a pot roast for my husband. Sigh. Do you know what Phillip would do if I were to start making roasts every day? I'm not entirely sure, but I would bet it involves the word DIAMONDS.

Is it time for lunch yet?

I tried to write a halfway intelligent post on genetic testing, I really did, but I decided to have mercy on all of you and deleted it. Turns out I don't really have any thoughts on genetic testing! Fancy that. I have thoughts about something, but I couldn't figure out what I was really upset about, so the discussion is tabled until I start to make sense. We'll just pretend it's like one of the fights I had with Phillip when we were first dating, where we would take turns yelling until I was so angry I couldn't decide what to yell about next, so I'd just sit there for a half hour glowering at him.

Not that I am glowering. On the contrary. I am sitting here pensively, kicking myself for my utter inability to make sense, ever. I'm sure I'll have other opportunities. We were offered only one test at this appointment, and, from what I hear, there are dozens more!

Also, I am sorry I don't have morning (all day?) sickness. I know. I suck. Does it help that I immediately changed into pajamas when I got home yesterday and fell asleep on the couch? I didn't even move when Katie dropped by to visit. I was all, "You watch TV. I lay here." So she ended up watching last week's Lost, because her sister is a big fat unresponsive uncaring drools-on-the-couch-pillows blob. Oh, and then I went to bed. I did not even stay up to watch Veronica Mars, my favoritest show in the television universe, because I went to bed at NINE FIFTEEN.

One of the more annoying things about not having any energy when I get home is that I don't feel like cooking. Well, I've never been much for cooking, but I rarely bake anymore either. I wanted to bring cookies to our friends with the new baby the other night, but I couldn't bear the thought of monitoring cookie sheets every 10 minutes. I made a pan of brownies and that was tiring enough. Pathetic! I'm especially frustrated, because it's fall and I finally got my hands on a recipe for butternut squash soup that doesn't look like it requires three years of culinary school. I have another recipe for an Egyptian lentil soup, which is a lot more work, but tastes like spicy heaven, and I don't even like spicy. (I am a big fan of both of these recipes, as they contain a million vegetables I hate and won't eat in their raw pure forms, but when cooked and mashed and pureed and blended become something else entirely, something delicious.) Then someone else gave me a recipe for butternut squash risotto and I have arborio rice in my pantry just sitting there, waiting for me to start eating carbs again. (Full disclosure: I never stopped eating carbs. It's just that if I were going to consume carbs, I preferred them in their chocolate or alcoholic forms.)

Dammit, I'm going to cook tonight. Even if it's just a box of macaroni and cheese.

Heh. Macaroni and cheese makes me think of a funny story. The summer after my sophomore year of college I lived with a bunch of Krazy People. We were very poor college students renting a nice suburban house and attempting to live in Community, which meant that we all thought if we pooled our money for groceries we'd get along better. I don't know. It was all kind of ridiculous, which I miserably discovered about one week into the experiment. Anyway! One of my housemates was a brilliant analytical engineerical mechanical type person who slept in 3 hour cycles and tried to get his computers to talk to each other and didn't have much to say to the rest of us. We were supposed to take turns making dinner, but the mere thought gave him the vapors, so we let it go for a long time. Finally we were all, "Dude. It is YOUR TURN. We don't care what you make. Make macaroni and cheese!" And so that night he decided to make macaroni and cheese for the rest of us. I had one housemate who didn't make me want to claw my own eyes out, and she and I were a little worried about him. So we went into the kitchen to see if he needed help and there he was, cooking two boxes of macaroni in two separate pots. He was not particularly pleased that we spent the rest of the evening howling with laughter about two pots (TWO POTS!) but we thought this made up for the fact that once he told my cool housemate that she would be perfect for space travel as she was short and therefore used less energy.

That whole story just made me very hungry.  I think I need a new category, which I shall call Posts I've Written In The Throes Of Hunger. I'm off to look at