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February 2007

Under the definition of "kvetch"- a link to this website

A few days ago Jennifer (She Who Is Not Blogging During Lent, Which, If You Ask Me, Is Rather Lame-o) and I exchanged some emails detailing our myriad pregnancy complaints. Because, you know. There is really nothing else to think about lately. She asked me how I was managing at work, with the sitting all day etc., and I was planning to write an obnoxious braggy email all about how great I feel. See, the majority of things I have to complain about are of the nervous breakdown variety, not so much the nausea and sciatica variety. This actually growing a human baby thing is a breeze! But then yesterday happened.

I have a very nice office chair at work, but if I hadn't been able to use my eyes and see the lovely gray upholstery and lumbar support, I would have assumed I was sitting on a lumpy backless boulder. My back ached no matter how I adjusted myself. My stomach suddenly bumps up against my desk and dear God was I exhausted. I had all these grand plans for cooking dinner, but instead I went home, burrowed under a blanket on the couch and fell asleep reading Phillip's new copy of Wired.

And then it got worse. Not only was I failing at finding a comfortable way to sit, my belly started to feel like it grew ten sizes. Like, in the course of one afternoon. I stared at myself, wondering how I could possibly feel so huge. And yet, not be very huge at all, at least according to every formerly pregnant woman I talk to, all of whom I would like to plaster with wet slobbery kisses. I started to feel very stretched out and distended. Like after you have eaten Thanksgiving dinner and you need to go lie down, only this time you can't lie down because the baby repeatedly thumps whatever side you've chosen to squish in on him. We had friends over to watch Heroes (holy crap was that a good episode or what!) but it was hard to watch because there were two other people sitting on the couch with me, neither of whom I happened to be married to, and I couldn't very well stretch out across their laps and moan inconsolably, hoping they'd get up and fetch me some ice cream or at least a cabana boy with a bottle of massage oil.

Afterwards I maneuvered myself up the stairs and into bed, where I have replaced my husband with the Boppy pregnancy pillow. My sister bought this for me for Christmas and at first I hated it. "Well I thought you wouldn't use it till you got bigger," she said and I was all, "No no no, I'm already using 14 extra pillows, this one is just stupid." And I would go to sleep at night designing the perfect pillow in my head, one that extends long enough to wedge between your knees and angles out around your tummy and all the way up to your chin. Then a few weeks ago my 14 pillows weren't cutting it and I decided to give the Lima bean pillow another chance. I no longer care about having a pillow to hug, I only wanted something to keep my hips from aching in the middle of the night. And lo, Target has given us the Boppy pregnancy pillow (and a foam egg crate pad). It's a little annoying to shift from side to side, as the pillow must also shift positions and such a thing is impossible to accomplish without completely waking up, but it will also get one's snoring husband to stop the snoring and roll over, so it all works out in the end.

Anyway, I'm looking at ten more weeks of this. And I know it's not even bad. As my Italian teacher would insincerely say, Poverina.

In other news, this baby may have a name. Maybe. I know! A name from list of Rejects, even. It's still not my favorite, but it's growing on me and it's beginning to sound right and everyone assures me that it's a great name. Except my mother-in-law, who was all, "You like THAT name? I don't like that name AT ALL." And then, when Phillip said, "Well, what names DO you like?" she said, "Oh. Well it's not my place to tell you what to name your baby." Sigh.

The baby also has a crib, as we bit the bullet and finally bought something the other night. It's nothing at all like the crib I thought we'd get- something white and babyish and plain jane Ikea. No, it's sturdy and substantial and is stained a deep dark espresso. How this will look in the little yellow bedroom with the unfinished pine dresser and the college-era Ikea bookshelf and the to-be-purchased-from-craigslist glider is up for debate, but after months of discussing and reading up in the Baby Bargains book, it just feels nice to MAKE A DECISION. My requirement was a dropside (no "lifetime" cribs for us, thank you) and Phillip's requirement was hidden dropside hardware lest Baby Cheung get his itty bitty fingers stuck. Out of all the cribs in the Evil Baby Warehouse, only two fit that description (I SWEAR) and one was a horrid frilly flowers-carved-into-the-molding baby castle, so we bought the dark one instead. I'll throw in the Cutest Bedding Ever and pretty soon that dropside will be covered in teeth marks, so it should match everything else in our house eventually. (Why do I feel like I have to defend every single thing we pick out? From the name to the crib to the hospital? Gah. When does that "If you mess with my kid I'll kick your teeth in" instinct show up?)

Anyway, this has rapidly digressed into drivel and I'll be stopping now. Funnily enough, the energy it took to type up all my whining was enough to make me stop thinking about my lower back ache and now it's gone! The power of the personal website!

The end of the world as I know it, and I feel fine

Have I told you my parents are moving back to the United States this summer? For good? For real? As in, no more free European lodging for Maggie, forever and ever? [Insert moment of silence.] This new development is so for sure that every time I call home my dad only wants to know if I've found him a job yet. Preferably nothing having to do with fifth graders.

I have mixed feelings about this. Well, not really. I am thrilled. Do you know what stateside local one-hour-away parents means? That I can go visit them on a Saturday and not feel like I have to go back first thing on Sunday, because they will still be there on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and all the days after that. WILD! I won't be performing logistics and transportation miracles in order to get everyone in the same place, although I have to admit I haven't done much of that since my siblings acquired their own vehicles. I can be a little more demanding about making them drive up to visit me. I can call my mom at night after dinner like normal people do. I can see them at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I won't have to get over jet lag before I can go out to dinner with them. The benefits are blinding!

Here is a short history of places I've lived:

Place One: Suburbia, United States. Half hour from Grandma's cookie dough. Heaven on earth.

Place Two: Say goodbye to Grandma and suffer through The Flight With Four Layovers Plus You're Still Allowed To Smoke On Airplanes all the way to Tiny Air Base in Sicily where you are shocked- shocked!- to discover your parents have absolutely no intention of going home for Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter AND they expect you to welcome strange people into your house for holiday dinners.  You can't eat turkey dinner with people who aren't RELATED TO YOU- what are my parents THINKING?!

Place Three: Volcanic Rock In The Middle Of The Ocean. Even more remote than the Tiny Air Base in Sicily, but with cute boys and more privileges and free space-available flights to visit old friends in Spain for holidays. Christmas isn't even spent at home, much less with people who saw me have my diapers changed.

Place Four: Back To Italy, Only Much Farther North. Miserable year of dads flying off to bomb Bosnia while their kids smoke pot and get kicked off base, meaning I spend my sophomore year of high school hiding under my covers and plotting early graduation. Holiday dinners eaten with new honorary family members, which is totally normal now that no one remembers what Grandma's house looks like at Christmastime.

Place Five: Seattle, Oh Glorious Loveliest Place To Be From. I moved here when I was 18. I've lived half a world away from my parents for nearly TEN YEARS people. By now I am very much used to Christmas with Grandma sans parents. Having them move back here, LIVING here, is going to seriously mess with the World As I Know It. What happens when I am seriously craving a cappuccino and have $1000 to burn? I'LL HAVE NOWHERE TO GO. How am I supposed to enjoy my European jaunts when I'm required to PAY for LODGING? Besides, do my parents realize that Starbucks is not exactly the same as the Bar Centrale down the street? That they can go grocery shopping in the middle of the night? That bribes are not required to purchase a home? That Americans use dishwashers and never think to take the train and actually return to Olive Garden multiple times? I am WORRIED ABOUT THEM.

It's not like having your parents live far away is weird or anything. Plenty of my friends live far from their folks. BUT MINE ARE COMING BACK. Me, my mom and my grandma will live in the same country for the first time since... the summer of 1989. Do you know what was still around in 1989? THE FREAKING BERLIN WALL.

Baby Cheung, however, is all, "EXCELLENT. LET THE SPOILING BEGIN!"

Rah rah girl power

Yesterday I said the only movie I'd liked recently was The Departed, but I thought of another one: Casino Royale. What? Try finding anything to criticize about a movie screen-sized Daniel Craig. Yum. Anyway, I bring this up because I just found out about The New Republic's Oscar blog, which is super cool, even if you haven't seen the movies. Well, if you like reading about movies. Which I do.

So a couple years back when I was having my quarter-life crisis, I decided to quit my job and take the summer off before I started the new one. I decided I needed to learn how to rest. How self-indulgent of me! But really, I was coming off the second-worst anxiety meltdown in the history of me and was confronting the astonishing and miserable fact that I hopeless at identifying stress. Okay, I'll spare you the details lest this start sounding like a self-help book testimony or something, but I realized that if I were better at noticing what things were about to or already making me tense, I could, you know, possibly prevent future krazy person anxiety meltdowns. What a concept!

I quit my job, immediately eliminating an enormous section of daily suckitude. Faced with a blissfully empty summer, I tried to think of what would provide structure, but restful structure. Something to hang my day around. And I came up with (dum dum dum) YOGA. Specifically, yoga at 6 am, three days a week. HEE. This is HILARIOUS.

It's hilarious because, while I ran my fair share of suicides and layup drills and full court presses in high school, I am not much of an athlete. I do not like to exert myself in any way. I do not go hiking, I do not ride a bike, I do not play community sports, I do not even vacuum. (This is Phillip's job. Seriously, people. And God bless the Roomba.) The most I do is walk around the lake, preferably with an ice cream cone or a latte, depending on the season. And here I was signing up for yoga THREE DAYS A WEEK. 

But I went. I bought myself some cute yoga pants and told myself not to snicker at any new-agey vocabulary and actually went to yoga, three days a week, at six in the morning. The first week nearly killed me, but I kept going. The teacher wasn't as new-agey as I assumed yoga teachers to be and I was finding the breathing exercises really helpful. And every time I had to stick my legs up in the air and hold the pose, I knew all the shaking meant I was probably doing something good for me. No pain, no gain!

Then the class ended and I started a new job and I haven't had the time (or inclination, to be honest) to try yoga again. Until now. DUM DUM DUM! I found a naive pregnant friend to drag along to my old yoga studio's Thursday night prenatal classes. I haven't been getting enough exercise lately and I hear that labor is, ah, a lot of work. I sort of recalled enjoying my yoga classes, even if they kicked my butt, so I talked my friend into it, paid my money and last night found myself sitting in a circle with a dozen other pregnant women "centering" ourselves.


We ranged from 13 to 38 weeks (and my God, the 38-weeker was the tiniest girl in the world; she looked like a seventh grader who'd swallowed a basketball.) As we went around the circle sharing our names and how far along we were, a lot of the girls there were saying how emotional they've been, how worried they are, how they need to calm down and breathe. And the teacher nodded her head sympathetically saying that we have enough hormones for 100 birth control pills swishing around inside our bodies right now. IS THAT EVEN TRUE?

We started our "practice" and pretty soon I was breathing hard and willing my legs to stop shaking, all the while noticing that the 38-weeker next to me was doing the freaking splits, I kid you not. But it wasn't the slightly competitive focused yoga I tried before, it was girly. It was very... sisterhoodish. Like we were all there because it got us away from office desks and dirty dishes and two-year-olds, all of us following the cheerful calming voice of our encouraging den mother. I didn't feel like anyone was checking me out to see if I'd done this before or how well I could balance, I wasn't even too mortified when the teacher had to come over and physically move my knees into the right place. There was even giggling- in the middle of yoga!- when one of the girls couldn't seem to maneuver around her belly.

I'm not much for the sisterhood. Bridal showers make me uncomfortable, I've never really liked all-women bible studies or even just hanging out with groups of more than two or three girls. (Unless I've planned it, of course. I am that big a control freak.) And the baby shower my friends are giving me is going to be co-ed, not least because all my friends are Phillips' friends, but it will save me the mortification of sitting around with a group of girls talking about breast pumps.

But there was something about this yoga class that was so refreshing and, dare I say it, empowering. Most of my friends have already had their first babies and it was just sort of exciting to sit with a group of (mostly) first-timers and experience the same things all at once. Or to say, "I'm crying for no reason!" or "My sciatica is starting to act up!" and have everyone know exactly what you're talking about. The teacher was incredibly supportive of whatever we wanted and needed ("Feel free to get up in the middle of your practice and use the restroom!" "Is it too hot in here? Should we open the doors?") and so excited about everybody's babies. While I'd rather eat glass than join a sorority, I don't think I'd mind an hour once a week.

It was like reading all your favorite blogs, or reading emails from the girls in your forum- IN PERSON. I am so going back next Thursday. My butt totally hurt when I left, but I was in the best mood I've had for a long time.

More TV! Syndicate me already!

Do you all get Newsweek like me? And let it sit around on your coffee table until you get really bored and flip through looking for the page with the funny quotes? Well I actually read my Newsweek yesterday because this was on the cover: WHY TV IS BETTER THAN THE MOVIES. Since the only worthwhile movie I have seen in the last, oh, YEAR was 'The Departed' and since I spend every single evening entranced in front of my television, I am inclined to agree. (Although I hadn't seen half the shows Newsweek was fawning over. Not everyone gets HBO and Showtime, Newsweek! I have enough to manage with regular old cable.)

Anyway, this article, combined with the fact that Phillip couldn't wait for TiVo to record Lost last night so we had to watch it in real time, with commercials and everything, has inspired me to wax rhapsodic over my TV viewing schedule yet again. So if you haven't caught up on your TV this week, shoo!

I'm waiting!

Still waiting!


Okay, so Lost? Meh. Again! After last week's way cool Desmond-centric spawned-a-thousand-more-theories episode, we get an entire hour about how Jack got his tattoo. We, the viewers, are subjected to sixty painful minutes of whining and posturing and Long Meaningful Glances and oh my heavens, freaking ninety-pound BAI LING. I will save you all the trouble and tell you that Jack got that tattoo sometime before he crashed on the island, to commemorate the time when he was a famous TV star on a goofy show called Party of Five. What does freaking Bai Ling and her stupid gift have to do with anything? I want to know what the numbers mean and where they came from. I want to know what's so special about Claire's baby. I want to know how Locke lost the use of his legs. I want to watch a spin off called the Sun & Jin Show. I want to watch Rousseau reunite with Alex. I want to know what the Others are really doing there and how Penny is going to save them all. WHO CARES ABOUT JACK'S STUPID TATTOO?

Oh. And Sawyer and Kate can bite me. Can we just please fast forward to the episode where they kill off Charlie?

A more fun (and less frustrating) show with a lot of secrets is Heroes. It took us a while to start watching this one, even though we'd been recording the show since it started. So sometime around Christmas we sat down and watched them all back to back. It has its share of annoying and frustrating characters (Niki/Jessica, Matt Parkman and the insipid bangs-of-angst Peter who will never be Peter, but Jess) but then it has Hiro! Who is the best Hero of them all. He's been locked up in some pretty boring storylines, but I think that's because the writers are trying to make the rest of the heroes as interesting and fun and exciting as Hiro, so he has to sit and wait for them to join him in the awesome. Did he really send Ando home? Nooo! Is Sylar going to kill Mohinder? Because I totally wouldn't mind. We've got Claire's daddy as the link between the heroes and he doesn't have that hypnotizing accent. Also, "someone flies and someone dies"? Who cares about the Peter-Simone-Issac thing? Give me more Hiro! 

However! The TV stars finally aligned themselves for the most recent episode of Gilmore Girls, the talky show the nerdy girls love and their boyfriends cannot bear. Lorelai finally booted Christopher out of the Gilmore universe (okay, maybe "softly punted with many choking sobs" is a better description, but those are just details) and Gilmore fans everywhere rejoiced. I know some people liked Christopher and all (and why is he never 'Chris'?) but MAN was he a big whiny baby. And Lorelai was a dumbed-down 100% less snarky version of herself when she was with him. Now's your moment, Luke! But the best part was Emily all lit up on scotch telling Lorelai why she doesn't need a husband. Is there anything better than a drunk Emily? Maybe Paris and Doyle doing partner yoga. Rory is conspicuously absent from this little review, as I can't decide where I stand with Logan. Is he a pouty snotty rich boy? Or super cute lickable boyfriend? I was hoping they brought Marty back for a reason, but it's not looking that way. But, you know, I'm just a sucker for the nerdy boys.

Unless the nerdy boy's name is Dwight K. Schrute, in which case I am watching from behind my hands. He used to hunt WEREWOLVES? I think the problem with The Office (because I have to find a problem with everything) is that you can't figure out why people are still working for Michael Scott. It takes me forEVER to quit a job but there is no way I would be sticking around that office. I mean, the debacle at Phyllis' wedding? For shame! But I think the writers know this, so they invent these random little ways of sucking out your sympathy for Michael Scott. So when he gushes all over one of Pam's "hotel drawings" and frames it and hangs it in the office, you can't help but think, "There! That is why Pam hasn't brought a shot gun to work!" I love that Ryan's 'punishment' was having to sit in the back with Kelly. Hee. (And I'm totally bummed that I missed Mindy Kaling on one of the late night talk shows a while back.) Anyway. I'm ready for another good Dwight prank, something along the lines of the cell phone hiding amongst the ceiling tiles or the fax from the future. Also: where is Jan?!

I am now hooked on Ugly Betty- damn you all and your excellent TV recommendations. Is there any unlikeable character on that show? I even love Wilhelmina! I felt sorry for Alexis! I want to go to a spa and drink martinis with Daniel's mom! And I still can't get over the fact that Betty's dad is Manny Calaveras. That, I think, is the coolest thing ever.

I haven't seen the last couple episodes of 24 because I'm really tired of watching Jack torture people.

The Amazing Race All Stars kicked off last week and I hate to say it, but I'm rooting for Rob and Amba. They play the GAME. I didn't see the first five or six seasons of this show so I don't know a lot of the racers, but I know enough to know who to root for. (And who to boo: Eric and Danielle? Gross!) I hate the whole alliance thing and any time one team helps another without regard for their own standing in the race (like the Korean boys from last season, what a pair of idiots) so I am all about the beauty queens and Rob and Amba. Even Mary, the coalminer's wife, was all, "Yeah, we're over that whole alliance thing! Look out Rob and Amba!" Except we all know Rob and Amba will eat the Kentucky team for lunch.

I am ashamed to say I am still recording The Apprentice. What in the world compels me to keep watching this dreck?

Is anyone starting to wonder how much murder and mayhem a little California beach town can take? Sherriff Lamb is no more on Veronica Mars and my heart broke into a million tiny pieces. No more Sherriff Lamb! Who is Veronica going to pick on now? Who is going to arrest Weevil? Who are we going to laugh at in this bleak noir universe? I am really bummed. They had to kill Sherriff Lamb? Dude, they could have killed off Wallace- with all the screen time he's getting this season, no one would have noticed. Sigh. Let us share a moment of silence.

Okay. Now what is up with Logan and PARKER? I don't think so. While I applaud the exit of mopey emo-Logan, I will not stand for canoodling with Veronica's friends. (What did you think of the episode where Logan has to babysit the 11-year-old? At first I was offended by the contrivance but that kid won me over. The elevator scene? Priceless!) Also, Landry did not kill the Dean, but I'm not one for figuring out the mysteries ahead of time (or ever, sometimes I am very confused) so I'll let that one go. Mac and Bronson? Squee! Keith back as Sherriff? Awesome! (Although they could have kept Lamb. They could have! Wah!) And I am loving all the Cliff lately. More Cliff!

Okay those are my favorites. I will not embarrass myself further by listing all the other shows I've got on TiVo. Which would be really embarrassing.

Know what else is embarrassing? I am going to a yoga class tonight. Me. Yoga. It's happened before, but I don't know that it should happen again. But I have a friend and we are going to DO IT. Pregnancy yoga! It'll be good for us! At the very least we can make fun of it afterwards. Right?

Um, no, that would be Good Friday

This is the time of year when I start to hate my job.

Okay, I don't hate my job. Really. I hated it last year, but this year is entirely different. The Perfect Day Job is rolling along and I actually enjoy doing most of what I do. But I'm still responsible for the event from hell and a short list of other outside-of-my-daily-duties projects that kick up in the late winter/early spring and I'm already tired of everything. The amount I care has dropped from somewhere in the "Excellent opportunities for me to meet the right people so I better wear heels and makeup" range to "Barely enough to not screw up."

In other words, I spend a fearful amount of time telling myself that I only have so many weeks left of this crap. Even with my fear and anxiety about taking care of a baby, it's all I want to do. I just don't care about anything else anymore, and sometimes I wonder if I ever cared to begin with.

I'm not exactly proud of this. I would have died before I wrote "stay at home mom" in my Where Do You See Yourself In Ten Years college essays. (And since technically I'm going to be a work at home mom, I'm not doing myself any favors by starting a countdown.) But I have to admit, I've never been very career-oriented. All I really want right now is my husband and a little family and our church and our friends and Veronica Mars and an idea for a novel I'll still like writing six months later. 

I was telling a friend how anxious I've been about what happens when you bring the baby home, and she did the whole "Bring it to God! Pray about it!" routine which is really annoying to those of us who know what it's like to sit inside a body experiencing hard core about-to-throw-up stage fright, with a brain that is all, "Uh, I had a really great day so what is up with the muscle tension and the racing heart, hmm? Did I miss the memo?"

But my friend had good intentions and of course I know she's right, even if prayer has never been, for me, a super all-conquering anxiety antidote. I wanted to try. I got through half the Gospel of Luke on Monday before the baby showed up. We prayed about being okay with whatever resulted from the acquisition of Phillip's company by scary corporate America. I bought cute stuff for the baby's room and tried to focus on the fun and exciting things instead of the hard and terrifying things. I thought about who I'll have to help and count on when the baby comes and in tallying all those people up, I was totally flattened by just how much God has given Phillip and me.

Out of all these things I feel God telling me that I will be more of who I am supposed to be when this baby is born. That a lot of the things that have triggered anxiety in the past won't matter anymore- they might even make me laugh. That a lot of the things that take up my time right now will fade away. That the things that replace the old stuff will jack up the amount I care to astronomical levels. Reading Luke reminded me that Jesus didn't start his ministry until he was thirty. I wonder if he felt like I do today- tired of the day job, waiting for the real stuff to start happening.

Oh, that's enough cringe-worthy introspection for today, isn't it? What I'm really worried about right now is how I'm starving, but how I'm also afraid to eat because the heartburn is trying to kill me. I'm tempted to delete this whole thing and just tell you how happy I am that Lorelai Gilmore totally redeemed herself last night and how Logan Echolls is vying for Worst Ex-Boyfriend Ever again, but whatever, it's Ash Wednesday and my coworkers are asking where the ash comes from, because isn't today the day Jesus was crucified? and I can't help wanting to tell you I'm feeling better because I prayed about it.


Yesterday afternoon my friends rang my doorbell, dropped their four-month-old baby, a diaper bag and a pack 'n play by the front door and raced away for some well-deserved alone time with barely a, "She'll need to eat in half an hour!"

The baby and I looked at each other doubtfully, both of us wondering how her parents could possibly leave her in such a situation.

I hauled the baby and her gear upstairs, untangled her from her car seat and went to work on the entertainment. We played with her rattles and stuffed elephant. We bounced up and down. We pulled out all the books I've been saving for my baby. We admired ourselves in the bathroom mirror. We tickled and poked and when it was time to eat, I heated up her milk and she slurped it down, pausing every minute or so to get another glimpse at Jon Stewart on TV, because she's a smart baby with an excellent sense of humor.

I was in baby heaven for another hour or so, mentally clapping myself on the back for being a fabulous babysitter. So far I had not dropped the baby or forgotten to feed the baby or ran out of ways to entertain the baby. This was easy.

Then the baby started to get a little fussy because she was tired. It was time for her nap.

"No problem!" thought I, the Best Babysitter Ever. "I'll just set her down in her car seat while I set up the pack 'n play. What a snap!"

But Internet, let this be a warning to you all. Set up the pack 'n play before you take the baby out of her seat in the first place. Because by the time you are ready for the nap, you are ready for the nap.


MAGGIE: Holy crap holy crap holy crap.


MAGGIE: running to catch the baby who has propelled herself out of her carseat in rage

BABY: Take THAT, you poor pathetic excuse for a babysitter!

MAGGIE: When the hell is Phillip getting home?

So we bounced and danced and marched up and down the stairs and repeatedly plugged up with the pacifier and maybe twenty minutes later the baby was passed out on my chest, red and sweaty from the miserable effort of teaching her babysitter a thing or two about naptime.

Phillip waltzed into the house all, "Honey, I'm home! Let's see the baby!" whereupon I threw my shoe at him and hissed my order to set up the pack 'n play, stat. It only took him a few minutes and I carefully placed the baby inside, willing her to stay asleep. Phillip wanted to stay and fuss with the blanket and the pacifier and how her hands were doing weird baby contortionist poses, but I kicked him out because the baby was sleeping and she was going to STAY THAT WAY, DAMMIT.

Internet, she stayed that way for thirty blessed minutes and then, suddenly, she was up. Wide awake. Ready to play.

"No!" I hissed and popped the pacifier back in her mouth. "I don't know much about babies, but I'm SURE you're supposed to sleep longer than THIRTY MINUTES."

"But look how cute and smiley I am!" the baby grinned. "Don't you want to play with me?"

"Her eyes are wide open!" Phillip pleaded. "I don't think she's tired anymore!"

"This cannot be good," I intoned as he lifted her out of the playpen and ran to get the camera.

Phillip plopped her on our bed and proceeded to make her smile a hundred different ways. I glared at the baby, because this was not going to last. And I glared at Phillip because he ALWAYS gets to do the fun parts. But whatever, she was smiley! We propped her up on my funky-shaped pregnancy pillow and cooed at her and rubbed her tummy and told her she was the cutest girl in the world.

And then? AND THEN? The bawling started. The heartwrenching soul-sucking face-clawing bawling.

PHILLIP: Awww. Poor thing! She's so mad! How cute!

MAGGIE: No! Not cute! Pick her up! Stand up! Bounce! BOUNCE!


PHILLIP: Poor little kid! Pat pat pat!

MAGGIE: No! Plug her up! You don't understand! The minute she calms down, plug her up!

PHILLIP: I think she's just hungry.

MAGGIE: She's not HUNGRY. She's TIRED!

BABY: WAAAAH! Cough! Cough! Let's make them think I'm so mad I'm choking myself!

MAGGIE: AUGH! For the love of God, man, BOUNCE!

PHILLIP: It's okay, it's okay.

MAGGIE: Do you want me to take her? I can take her. I got her sleeping before. And you're not doing it right anyway and it is driving me out of my MIND watching you doing it ALL WRONG.

PHILLIP: No, I think I'm ok.


MAGGIE: I can't watch this anymore.

PHILLIP: See, it's just a game. You just have to figure out what will work! See? La la la!

This is when I started to seriously rethink the whole staying-at-home-with-the-baby thing. Because seriously. Between me (neurotic, high-strung, totally stressed out by the crying) and Phillip (relaxed, entertained, thinks the crying is adorable), who would you want to take care of YOUR kid? Not the crazy lady!

So I went and sat very still on the couch while Phillip danced and sang and marched up and down the stairs. The baby was sooo tired. And redfaced and cranky and sweaty and whenever Phillip tried to sit down she let out an unholy holler. Eventually Phillip decided that the trick was to make her think she was bouncing, so he bounced one of her legs with his palm while she sat in his lap, contentedly sucking on the pacifier and watching Jon Stewart interview some boring author. And when her parents came by to pick her up, there she was, the picture of good baby cheer. And by that time she WAS hungry and she gobbled down another bottle while her poor Auntie Maggie was uncorking the wine.

So! Does this bode well? I think not. I would babysit again in a heartbeat (I love my little cranky angel princess!) but that's because I get to give her back. PRAY FOR ME.

My Day Off

Today is President's Day, which means I was allowed to sleep in, and I would have, if Phillip's space age phone hadn't gone BLEERP! BLEERP! at six in the morning signaling Impending Doom. Actually, it was signaling that the air conditioning was out in the server room in Phillip's office and you know what that means. The world, it was ending. BeCAUSE the world was ending, Phillip had to steal the car and drive into work which means I am husband-less, car-less and stuck at home doing laundry for the next six hours.

Today is also the day when Phillip finds out if his little local company has officially been swallowed whole by the big Fortune Something-Or-Other company, because God thought it would be entertaining to have us deal with a newborn and a lay off at the same time.

Nevertheless! I decided to make my three-day weekend about Climbing Down From The Ledge.
I put on my sweats, I caught up on TV and I immersed myself in a new book. Then I had to put the book in the freezer because I was reading about 1) the Cuban missile crisis, 2) molestation of an 8-year-old, 3) murder and 4) international spies and it was not exactly helping my stress level. It's one of those books where everything would be fine if the characters just told the truth, but noooo everyone's got a secret and I don't CARE if they have good reasons to keep secrets, I CANNOT HANDLE READING IT ANYMORE. So. The book is in the freezer until I am either farther from the ledge or zonked out on Valium.

(Does anyone else make books, uh, a little more real than they are? Because I was DREAMING about this book. I caught myself thinking about the characters at random inopportune times. I was paranoid about fictional characters facing a crisis I know ends well!) 

Then I said to myself, "You know what makes you feel better? Spending money!" and I made Phillip drive me out to the Evil Baby Warehouse where I promptly purchased the Adorable Bedding Set and Matching Window Valance. I know the Baby Bargains book tells me not to do this. I know I am not supposed to cover up my baby with a quilt. I know it is a giant waste of money and my baby will not notice and we will probably keep him in bed with us because we are lazy and unwilling to get out of bed fourteen times a night to jam a pacifier back in his mouth. But you know what? It is SUPER CUTE and it made me HAPPY.

While I was wearing dirty clothes and watching TV and growing more neurotic with every chapter, Phillip was putting my new desk together and moving furniture around. I think this is the 9th or 10th time we've moved the upstairs furniture this month. My 'office' was still in the baby's room, so we set up my new little desk in our bedroom, transferred all the computer and desk stuff (like my Nancy Drew journal and my bulletin board and the box of notecards I never use and my Hawaii Hello Kitty), moved the Giant Ikea Storage Thing to the baby's room, took apart my old desk (aka $10 Ikea tabletop and legs) and made room for the crib and the glider I hope to score off of craig's list. The baby's room still looks like a pile of junk, but I can at least see where the new stuff will go.

And when we finished all of this? We set the Roomba loose.

I highly recommend the Roomba. Not because it is a spectacular vacuum (although it does its job), but for the entertainment value. We seriously sat and watched the Roomba do its thing for a whole 15 minutes. Now I just need to buy one of these things and convince Phillip to start calling it Fluffy. 

Phillip is eagerly awaiting this post

There was much rejoicing and we could finally put out the burning sacrifices when it was announced that The Police were getting back together for a reunion tour.

Playing bass apparently chisels out one's brooding cheekbones.

You see, when other innocent children of our generation were rocking out to the New Kids and Debbie Gibson and Bel Biv Devoe, Phillip was listening to his older brother's Pet Shop Boys and Michael Jackson tapes. It was during these formative years that he developed an unholy crush on the man known as Sting.

Pictured here wearing his brooding hoodie.

I've been aware of Phillip's first love since I first met him, a fact well-documented here. And before he loved Sting, he loved The Police and there was some serious pants-wetting when we heard The Police would perform at the Grammys. But bummer, someone forgot to tell TiVo and we missed it.

Apparently they broke up due to serious disagreements regarding armpit exposure.

Anyway, for about a week Phillip has been pestering me about going to see The Police when they inevitably arrive out west. He wants to see the concert in Vancouver, as ticket prices for the Seattle show are INSANE. And hey, let's take the baby to his first concert! Doesn't [insert revolting saccharine nickname] want to catch what may be his one and only glimpse of his father's true love? 

HA. Ha ha ha. We are NOT taking the baby to see The Police. The End.

I don't really have anything against Sting (unless you count the cheekbones and the general snootiness) and I actually love it when he sings the old torch songs and showtunes. We danced to his version of 'My One and Only Love' at our wedding even. And I've tagged along to many a Phillip-approved musical event- classical saxaphone, mind-numbing experimental jazz, Victor Freaking Wooten.

Which is why, when it was confirmed that our Day After Valentine's Day Date was indeed taking place at Teatro ZinZanni, Phillip earned some MAJOR brownie points. Because Teatro ZinZanni? IS MY KIND OF PLACE.

The magic takes place in a tent.

I mean, the first thing you see when you go in is a girl wearing feathers in her hair and dressed up like a Moulin Rouge dancer and she's asking you if you want your face painted. OF COURSE I WANT MY FACE PAINTED! You're directed to the bar and invited to look around the "boutique" (but I already have five feather boas) and then you're ushered into the tent and seated at your table where, if your group is small enough, you're seated with a dozen strangers at a long table and none of you have any idea what you're in for.

THIS is what you're in for.

You're served a five course dinner over three hours, with a whole bunch of circus and cabaret acts in between. And it never really stops because you can be sitting there eating your salad and that creepy guy right there will lift your hand with his spidery fingertips and ask you to dance. (Not that this happened to me, but it happened several times to the pretty blond girl at our table. Oh, to be blond!) Or someone will do a magic trick at your table or the slinky Russian girl will run her scarf over your head as she passes by.

There's a 'plot', sort of, but it's mostly a bunch of strangely (awesomely!) dressed people running around. Half of them perform stunts (like climbing up a pole, hanging onto it with just hands, and swinging yourself out so that you are perpendicular to the pole, dear GOD how did they DO THAT?) and the other half are hauling people out of the audience to help in the between-dinner skits. Oddly enough, you have time to eat. Oh, and the human doll, who was like a three-hour version of the 'We Both Reached For The Gun' Roxy-as-ventriloquist's-dummy in Chicago. If Roxy had been training as a contortionist since age 9.

Anyway, it was ten kinds of awesome and totally worth the gargantuan amount of money I know Phillip shelled out for us to go. But like he said, "I figure this is the time to do it!" Next time, however, I am wearing my red boa and false eyelashes.

Holy Third Trimester, Batman!

Okay so not quite the third trimester. I don't officially hit the start of month seven until tomorrow. Fine by me! Which isn't to say panic hasn't taken over the Cheung Household because it has, oh, it has. Things that seemed like no big deal even two or three weeks ago have suddenly taken on Terrifying Proportions and my defective prone-to-circular-thinking brain is not coping well. I am, for example, absolutely convinced I will give birth to a screaming shrieking diaper-exploding hellion whose life mission is to keep me from ever sleeping again. Add to that the expectation that I will keep this child alive (at a minimum) while also dealing with highly defective post-partum mental health and I am FREAKING MYSELF OUT. I am not kidding, Internet. Who wants to send me to the spa?

No one? Fine. Instead I'll desperately attempt to apply my Think Positive mantra. This doesn't mean I am transporting myself to La La Land where all the newborn babies are rosy and pudgy and cheery and sleep ten hours straight, where breastfeeding is not a painful infected horror and where the parents spend their days staring in delighted wonder at the perfect little being they've created. HA.

No, Thinking Positive means that even if I DO end up with a devil baby and anxiety on a level heretofore unknown in the natural world,

  1. he will at least be my devil baby;
  2. I will have no end of vicious competitive family members clambering over each other to hold him while I fall into a drug-induced sleep;
  3. it will be May, when the world is lighter;
  4. I recently met, and subsequently propositioned for Best Friendship, a La Leche League leader who is 100 times cooler than I imagined any La Leche League leader could be, who also volunteered to willingly answer any neurotic question I may have at 11pm on a school night;
  5. my mommy is moving back to the United States of America, HALLELUJAH;
  6. my mother-in-law is an honest-to-God NURSE;
  7. I will not have to think about work, or be at work, or do work, or care about work for months on end;
  8. I live two minutes from the lake where everybody takes their babies for walks in the summer;
  9. between a devil baby and crippling anxiety, I may not feel like eating, therefore losing the baby weight quicker than expected;
  10. being the child of Phillip and me, he will probably sit mesmerized in front of the television long enough for me to clean up projectile poop;
  11. JUST KIDDING, why use the TV when we have a PlayStation?
  12. my friends with babies have promised to keep their eyes on me for impending signs of Krazy, and also to give me all the stuff they don't need, even if one of these things is [shudder] a pump;
  13. there will once again be wine and nothing is too awful to bear if one has a glass of Australian shiraz in her shaky jittery hand.

See? It's working already.

And it's not like I've had a rough time. Hardly. Six or seven random spewing episodes do not a horrible pregnancy make. Things I do not have include: stretch marks, sciatica, itchy skin, too much weight gain, too little weight gain, swollen anything or reasons to worry about the baby. Things I do have include: awesome nails (although I still bite them, bad!), hair that stays on my head instead of carpeting the bathroom floor, pants that still fit with the rubber band trick, stock in Unisom, a drawerful of adorable baby outfits, a husband who makes me dinner, a fortress of pillows in my bed and a plethora of honorary nieces and nephews to practice on. I realize I have completely jinxed my third trimester with my braggy nyah nyah description of easiest pregnancy ever, but dude, I am THINKING POSITIVE.

So. Someone needs to buy a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Brownie ice cream, sit down in front of last night's Lost and chill herself out, for the love of GOD.

Be mine

Valentine's Day. Meh.

I don't think I ever got terribly excited about the Hallmarkiest of Hallmark Holidays and now that I'm old and dull and married I'd probably forget about it. Except for all the commercials and the stuff in the stores and the huge debate going on in my email over whether or not we should postpone a meeting tonight because, eek, it's Valentine's Day!

Well, now that I'm thinking about it, Valentine's Day was a HUGE deal in elementary school and I remember frantically clawing through my be-tissue-papered construction paper valentine holder looking for THE VALENTINE, the one from Aaron R., the love of my eight-year-old life. I'm sure I had one, he was in my class, but I'm also sure there wasn't much to obsess about with a Transformers valentine. Don't tell me you didn't spend hours deciding which of your Muppet Babies valentines was the best one to give your third grade crush.

Then there was the Valentine's Day in 6th grade when a weirdo 5th grade boy left a stuffed animal and a gaudy necklace in my locker. (Yes, we had lockers in 6th grade, which is what happens when there are so few kids in your K-12 school that they move all of you into the high school wing where everybody gets a locker.) Anyway. Talk about EMBARRASSING. And he wasn't even the cute 5th grade boy I "went out" with for all of three days, until my dad answered the phone when he called and told him that if he liked having all his fingers, he'd better not call our house again. Okay, THAT was embarrassing.

In 8th grade my parents finally let me go to a dance and I came home reeking of my dreamy boyfriend's cologne. It was awesome. And then he broke up with me two days later because we hadn't done anything except hold hands. Apparently that was somehow damaging to his fragile male pysche and that, my friends, is when I learned that BOYS SUCK.

I had an actual non-sucky (or so I thought! ha!) boyfriend in 9th grade, but I think I have blocked out whatever we did for Valentine's Day because it probably involved just the two of us driving around off base somewhere, an offense punishable by four consecutive years of parental torment.

And I've definitely blocked out subsequent Valentine's Days as the social structure at my new high school forced me to consider self-immolation in the parking lot on a daily basis.

Hmm. So perhaps not as "meh" as I previously made myself out to be, eh?

But seriously. I can't remember what we did last Valentine's Day. Or the year before that.
Although the first year we were dating I remember he met me downtown after work with keys to his dad's top floor condo, a block away from Pike Place Market. A renter had just vacated and the only thing in the apartment was a vase of my favorite flowers. We had pizza delivered and ate it on the floor in front of the window watching the ferries cross Elliott Bay. It was soooo romantic.

This year I am going to a church meeting. WHEE. And then I am coming home and watching TV because DAMMIT, I'm BEHIND.