Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Is it odd that...?

I've had a day. Not a terrible one, but there was a staccato tune of annoying things running from the time I woke up late (and therefore lost my opportunity to go to the gym to strengthen my quads to soothe my knee aggravation), to the email I received from the apartment management company regarding a spat we're having about payments, to my cell phone dying when trying to call S. to talk to him about the email, to trying to get onto our computer at home so that I could use Skype instead, only to find that the Internet was down (just fixed it...a result of rigorous dusting of the modem last night, inadvertently turning the Internet "off" -- heavens!). Is it strange that in an effort to cool my boiling blood I checked my bloglines (that's not the strange part) and was delighted when I saw a new post by authors I most enjoy (still not the strange part) and the thought that went through my head went something like (this is the part that might certify me): "Oh good, I hope it's a birth-story...nothing like a good birth-story to relax and get my mind off of this annoying crap!"? Is it just me who finds the drama of birth-stories completely enthralling? And here I suppose I might as well admit that these stories often reduce me to tears (and perhaps more embarrassing still -- instead of gasping in horror at the graphic portrayal of a baby being born in Knocked Up I sat next to S. with big droplets welling in my eyes). Biological clock, or just plain weird?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

We're having Wendy's for Dinner, Conditions are Perfect

The first time I watched this video I laughed out loud (especially about the "business socks"). But I didn't send it to anyone, lest they think that we, still in our twenties and married less than 2 years, have already lost the passion, capitulated, waived the white flag and resigned ourselves to the mundane.

We've never been an especially "romantic" couple. Sure there are the occasional flowers (which I love) and sweet cards for special occassions, surprise visits when one or the other of us thought we were going to have to be alone for the weekend, but we don't do the grand scale, strawberries dipped in chocolate, lingere, whispered sweet nothings type of romance. Sometimes I wonder if this is partly a function of having met at 19 and 20 when our first big date included burgers and a pint, and an evening without roommates was a rarity.

In those few moments when I've wished there were some feather boas, massage oil, or silk in our relationship, I recognize that I would feel terribly uncomfortable with all of that -- it's just not me. Indeed, the only time I've tried real lingere ended in a feminist crisis where I felt like an objectified hooker (granted fire-engine red lace may have been a little ambitious for a beginner). If I were committed to bringing some more of this flavor of romance into our relationship, Valentine's might as well serve as the jump start.

But today, this day of Hallmark greeting cards, heart shaped boxes and dozens of red roses, I realized how lucky I am to have found someone who shares my view of romance...

Me: Hi S., I was just thinking about what we should do to make tonight's dinner a special Valentine's dinner...I might not have time to get to the grocery store...
S: How about Wendy's?

Frosties, fries and pajamas it is. I can't think of a better way to celebrate our love.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mrs. Who?

Voting in the primary today went more easily than expected. Having changed my name since the last time I cast a ballot, I was concerned that I'd have to jump through a few hoops and that I'd be barred from the booth today. I took precautions -- bringing both sets of ID and the marriage license, but luckily none of it was necessary. Lo! I had filed the paperwork like a good citizen back in August and there was my current legal name on the registered voter list, right polling station and all!

This name change process has been one pain in the ass, but most days I'm happy to have done it. Oddly, when my husband proposed, one of the things I said after saying "yes" was "and I'll take your name!" Huh??? Oh yes, and the goats, and the sheep, my dad will be giving those to you later!

There were a lot of thoughts running through my head, and I felt awkward about having nothing to give him in exchange for the bling he'd just placed on my finger. After this initial outburst, it took me nearly two years to actually decide what to do about the name situation.

Feminist, patriarchical social structure...yada yada. I know plenty of women who have kept their names, and plenty of feminists who have taken their husbands' names. When addressing wedding invitations, I was adamant that we not address married coulpes as "Mr. and Mrs. Husband's First and Last Name." I was worried that by taking his name, I'd get swallowed up by a new identity and loose myself. Those concerns remain, and I'm continually adjusting and re-evaluating where I stand and where I've come from and where my sense of identity is going in the context of our marriage.

However, in the year between when we got married and when I stepped through the doors of the Social Security Administration offices (conveniently located just a block from our building), I decided that my identity wasn't just about this name. Furthermore, part of my identity now is being married, and changing my name was a way to signal that.

It doesn't bother me now when we receive cards addressed to us that way (nor does it bother me that our dry cleaner calls my husband Mr. My Birth Name). Have I just bought into the system? Maybe. But I've also gained a terrific set of in-laws who share this name, and I've come to love this name's country of origin.

And I'll admit, I'm lazy too. I want to be recognized immediately as a unit with my husband and any children we might have. I don't want to constantly be correcting people about my last name (though I may be making up for that because this new name requires letter-by-letter spelling at each introduction). With a viable female presidential candidate in the running, with girls' strong academic achievements, and with my own sense of self and feminism, the name battle is one I'm choosing not to wage.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


I popped into the neighborhood bodega to get some oatmeal. Passing the household products I saw that they carry Clorox wipes, Swiffer wipes, Method (biodegradeable) wipes, and there among the bleach heavy cleaning agents were these. I guess if you're going to wipe everything down, you might as well wipe it ALL down.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Oh the Places You'll Go - Home

I never know what I'm doing with this here blog (readership of 0-1 depending on the month), but I like that it's a place I can go when I want to write. This semester is pretty light in terms of workload, and it's fun to dip into other diversions. So, to get myself writing a bit more, I'm instituting "Oh the Places You'll Go Fridays". Inspired by something my uncle recently wrote about the places he's lived, loved, or hated that I really enjoyed, each Friday I am going to write about a geographic place that has particular significance for me.

Like my uncle, I respond to places. My memories and feelings about particular people and stages in my life are inextricably intertwined with particular places and vice versa. Because this is the first post in what I hope will become a weekly series, it only makes sense to start at the beginning.

When I was just a few months shy of one year old, my parents moved from Massachusetts to Maine. There are pictures of me in the house in Maine on my first birthday, wearing a green velvet dress, suspended by someone's steady hands, my legs dangling just above the brown wall-to-wall carpeting the family room. The house is unremarkable. A grey-shingled colonial built in the 50's with dark green shutters, white trim, and an attached two car garage, it matches the dozens of others like it in the neighborhood.

Built on a hill, a large white retaining wall keeps the front lawn from spilling into the driveway. Ugly though it may be, this served as a backdrop for pictures of me with friends lined up with our bikes, a great tennis or soccer backstop, the half-court mark for pick-up basketball games, and an impromtu balance beam with the convenient safety feature of an entire lawn on one side.

When I was younger, the stairway up from the garage had a trap door-like feature that opened from the stairway into the pantry in the kitchen. By going up just a few steps, a grown-up could shove bags of groceries through the door into the pantry, thereby limiting the number of trips up and down the stairs to unload the car. Of course, instead of groceries, I like to transport myself through the door. I would hoist myself up on the dark wood banister, push up on the bottom of the door's opening and voila -- I was in a den of granola bars, spaghetti sauce, and dried beans. It was particularly fun when a friend was over, and one of us could be in the pantry while the other squeezed herself through the secret door.

The house provided entertainment in other wasys as well. The green Jotul woodstove had animals in bas-relief on either side about whom I would sometimes craft stories in my head. Other times (when the woodstove wasn't being used) I enjoyed tracing a finger around their smooth, glazed contours. The wallpaper of the upstairs bathroom provided similar diversion and was perhaps my first history lesson. Going to the bathroom meant staring at brown, gold and white images of Paul Revere, and other colonial figures and objects set in a toile-like pattern.

For a while, I was in the habit of waiving goodbye to the house every time we left. I had an irrational fear that it might burn down while we were at story time at the library, getting groceries, or visiting a friend. Luckily, the most violence that has ever been done to the house was a break-in (though I'm not sure that you could even call it that seeing that the doors were unlocked). Nevertheless, I still sigh with relief each time I turn into the driveway for a visit home and see it standing, stalwart as ever.

My parents have made a lot of improvements -- gone is the brown wall-to-wall and the trap door -- but I still know that house better than any other place in the world. And odd though it may be, I don't think it's an overstatement to say that having this constant familiarity has provided me with a great degree of psychological comfort.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Right now we're living on law student loans and a medical intern's salary, which is to say we're not exactly rolling in it. However, thanks to the generosity of our families we live a very comfortable lifestyle.

That said, we're in a bit of a catch-22 right now. There are some trips we'd like to take in the next few months because we have the time now. Once I start working next year we'll have a bit more money, but it's highly unlikely that we'll have the time to take a 10-day vacation (in addition to the vacation we'll want to take during the holidays). So, we're doing the obvious and budgeting ourselves into vacation (it's like dieting to fit into that great pair of pants).

We did the usual - charting of expenses, anticipating big purchases (special shout out to BarBri for your exorbitant class fee), and then determining where to trim. We're running two experiments right now. The first is the $100 cash save-off. Last night we each put a $100 in our wallets to be used for anything that either of us wants to do (a round of golf, drinks with a friend) or purchase that isn't a household necessity. The person who is able to keep the cash longer wins the smug satisfaction of being the thriftier person.

The second experiment is the kitchen-cabinent clean out, inspired by this post We do a pretty good job around here of not throwing food out, and I pride myself on planning ahead and grocery shopping so that I provide us with balanced meals most days of the week. However, this month I'm trying to slash our grocery bill by using what is already in our cuboards and by stretching out left-overs. I'm finding it a fun challenge that is actually adding variety. For example, tonight I was going to serve up a dish that requires marinated sun-dried tomatoes from Whole Paycheck. Instead, I scanned the cupboards and was inspired by a can of split pea soup, some ham we have in the fridge, and bread that needs to be eaten soon. It's a game to see what pairings I can create that utilize the non-perishables and also the perishable items in order of what is going to expire first.

If you've got any tips for squeezing out some extra savings, I would love to hear them!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Walking the Line with a Webbed Foot

In my dream I was busting at the seams pregnant. My stetched skin hurt everytime I stood up because my belly would sag, tugged by gravity. I cradled my arms around my massive stomach to relieve the discomfort. Then I was in the hospital where nothing was happening. The baby hadn't moved in a while and I was terrified that it had died. They found its heart beat on some sort of monitor and relief washed over me. I was desparate to avoid a c-section so I was doing my best to coax it out, massaging my abdomen with downward strokes.

In another clip of the same early-dawn feature, some close friend was telling me that she and her husband had to face the difficult decision of whether or not to abort their web-footed baby. To me a webbed foot didn't seem like a crippling abnormality, and certainly not one that would warrant an abortion. But she explained that in her community everyone had to wear opened toed sandals and that a webbed foot would be detrimental to the child's ability to live a happy life in her community.

Law school has changed the way that even my sub-conscious thinks. At dinner with friends last night (one who is Mormon and the other who tends toward the libertarian) we had been discussing the presidential candidates and the pro-choice/ anti-abortion debate. There was cautious agreement that permitting an abortion when the mother's life was endangered was okay. But where to draw the line. The law is all about line drawing, and the more I learn, the more arbitrary many of the lines that have been drawn seem. We draw lines in our own lives all the time about what we are comfortable with, what we believe is right or wrong, how much we value one outcome over some other.

But after a dream like this, I wake up grateful that my life right now is so simple, so uncomplicated, so free from having to make difficult line drawing decisions myself - let alone for someone else.