Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Pregnant Brain Rant

So there's been this wonderful little side conversation in Maude's comments (okay, between three people one of whom is yours truly) about how my hate-filled rants while writing my dissertation (aka Horror 2007) were helpful and inspiring to others. This has made me feel much better about my writing generally because I've basically felt like I've wasted my life, having dreamt the dream of being a writer since I was seven (and found out that Judy Blume was alive and dividing her time between New York and Taos, rather than dead with all her manuscripts found neatly in a series of drawers) but not having really done it -- that is, not having managed to get a book out ever despite dreams, hopes, and an infinite number of plans to do so. I realize that this is a very product-oriented way of looking at it, but the fact is that despite that my much-younger sister (who has two children of her own) told me to journal about this "magical time," I'm not writing a thing, except right now, to y'all. So the idea that my blogwriting could be helpful and inspiring (especially by being my hate-filled self) has been very uplifting. Especially because my dissertation did not place in the big national award my advisor nominated me for (can you put a nomination on your CV?) and Grad City U did just give the big dissertation award to a creative writer rather than a person who is doing, I don't know, stem-cell research. Don't get me wrong. I love creative writing. I got an MFA myself. But I don't think that it quite makes sense to give a diss award to creative writing when in any given year there's important social science and science research going on. (I certainly don't mean that my diss, which is more or less traditional, should have won. In fact, I don't think my advisor nominated mine.) Anyhow the worst thing about such crapola is that it makes me feel even more like I haven't ever pursued my dream adequately. This is especially bad because I feel as if I'm already a bad mother -- the kind who tells her kid to dream big, but then doesn't provide the concrete example of what that looks like. Of course, the kid whose life I have ruined is merely blueberry-sized, so maybe I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. There may be time to fix things.

This is a perfect example of my pregnant brain at work. Basically, my brain is MIA. Note the circular reasoning and inability to finish a thought in a coherent and straightforward way. But the short version is basically that I'm heartened that people (okay, two people) have found my rant writing useful, because I have more in store. I realize that many of you have had children, but for those of you who haven't and still think it's a magical process, well, I'm here to tell you how miserable the first trimester is.

I'm very lucky. I'm not actually vomiting. And I wouldn't exactly call what I have nausea. But I do know that saltines are my best friends. My tummy area is almost always either crampy, painful, or bloated. Either because I'm eating every bad food I want to or because of "bowel distention," none of my pants are comfortable and some don't button. I'm already pooched out. My back hurts in two places. I can't concentrate on anything. Reading hurts my eyes after a while. You may have heard of a book called Blue Highways. This is all about my swollen and painful breasts. And then there's the bone-crushing tiredness that one very cute book called "bionic fatigue." I'm rarely not tired. Waking up in the morning, I'm tired. If I take a nap, I'm still tired. It's insane. I'm barely doing anything! I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow when I start my SAT prep job training. They are going to think I'm narcoleptic or something. I imagine going off to pee and falling asleep on the john. Needless to say, I have not yet jumped on the social services bandwagon because. . .well. . .I'm too tired. (I know, bad. The candy bars and ice cream I'm eating? Also bad. I don't care. I'm exhausted. This blueberry is sapping my energy. Last week I was out of breath doing my laundry.)

I did, however, manage to call and find out the procedure. First I have to get verification that I'm pregnant. I think I should just bring Absurdist Lover. He can verify that I 1) feel like shit; 2) am totally unreasonable; 3) cry hysterically at just about nothing. That should be verification enough for anyone. Apparently, they prefer more conventional but less reliable confirmation. Like my going to a free clinic and getting a pregnancy test. I have an 800 number for that now. Then I have to go to the social services office with my ID, social security card, and either paystubs (yeah right -- by the time I get paystubs from Adventure U, I'll be sending this kid off to college) or an account balance (in the event of "living off savings") or a letter from those family members who have been loaning me money. I really feel like I should be able to waltz in there and say: "look, I realize you don't get many PhDs here and certainly I have decent income-earning potential at certain times of year, if I'm willing to move across or out of the country, but right now I'm living in a small camper in a campground trying to make ends meet out of practically nothing. How many pregnant women in here have recently had to flush out her camper's clogged waste system with a stick and a coat hanger for three hours?"

I'll let you know how that goes.

Basically, I'm just a freak, trying to just slog through this trimester. Exercise is a total joke. I'm exhausted if I walk to the corner and back. I spend a lot of time on mental discipline, trying to not think about how Absurdist Lover's first wife (if I even get to be the second wife -- lack of money has stalled all plans) was probably angelic and glowing and uncomplaining through her entire pregnancy and whole fucking life. Why he loves me I have no idea. Things were good before yesterday because I was in this cloudy dreamy high (the crest of the hormone rollercoaster), when I totally flipped out over (lack of) money (Adventure U's final paycheck coming into my account days and days inexplicably late). Money problems make me crazy. Pregnancy makes me crazy. So I was double crazy last night, crying hysterically and totally taking Absurdist Lover's smallest comment the wrong way. Even when I realized that I was being totally insane that just made me more upset and insane. Oh yes. I'm a glowing happy mother-to-be. What a crock!

I woke up this morning at an unbelievable 7am, the time my grandmother's surgery was scheduled for, panifully tired, but unable to get back to sleep. My mother has already called me this morning and told me Grandma is in recovery and wanting to go home. Her nickname with her doctors is "tough lady," and she has a reputation for being difficult. So despite that Mom has been trying to round up people to be there and has brought Sees Candies and stuff to lure the nurses and hospital staff to treat my grandmother well (what can I say? she's got that crappy insurance that is basically the assembly line of medical care), they'll probably be glad to get rid of her. Then Mom's fun with dressing and cleaning the wounds and stuff begins.

Can I just say that Mr. Tabby is adorable? He's sleeping on a perch of many piled up boxes and coats with his legs hanging off the side. He also sat and purred on my belly today, though it hurt and I had to get him off me.

Absurdist Lover is out paying late bills and will one day come back with a lox and bagel sandwich. If he's smart, he'll run off and not come back. I hope I can fall back asleep soon. I'm craving Taco Bell again. A burrito supreme. I ate one yesterday. Whatthefuck?!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Whole New Level of Absurdity

So now Maude has gone and done it! She's rated me E! Really, lately I'm more like AWOL. This must be Maude's sneaky way to get me to blog! Am I supposed to pass it on? First I have to figure out who has not been E'd.

So lately I've thought about blogging about how not teaching -- and not having a job generally -- is really demoralizing. After all that work on that frigging PhD! I had a dream a while back that I was teaching the next day and that somehow I was a newbie teacher again with people giving me inane advice -- that I was taking! Oy! Last night, I dreamt that I was talking with a brand new cohort about doctoral work while I was graduating in August and getting weepy. I guess I miss the academy.

So since I basically didn't get on the stick about spring adjunct work, I've now just sent off an application for the only place even remotely nearby (in a very broad and ridiculous sense) that is on the quarter system. Cross your fingers that I get a couple classes! Even driving all that way (at least an hour and probably more in Urban City traffic) would be good. I also got a job teaching SAT prep. The training starts in a week and goes on every weekend for about 50 hours, during which I'll be paid minimum wage. Sigh. But then my PhD and teaching experience should get me a good hourly rate teaching the SAT. Assuming I can manage it. Absurdist Lover and I are really trying to get jobs and get out of the camper and into an apartment because. . .

In the tradition of total absurdity, understanding that I have no job, no insurance, none of my stuff, only a couple friends (though most of my family), and no apartment in Urban City and the fact that many people would warn us not to say anything for a while,* I'm telling y'all that I'm pregnant! In spite of all the obvious reasons of concern, we're happy anyway. Not least of which is because I had totally convinced myself (with the help of some doctors bandying around the term Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) that my hormones were screwed and that fertility was going to be a problem. Rather I can tell you that my hormones are now in fact totally looped. I'm exhausted all the time and want to do nothing but lie around. I don't have morning sickness (thank goodness and knock on wood), but my digestion is all screwed up. I now understand why it's sometimes seemed to me that pregnant women can't talk about anything but their pregnancy: your body basically feels like it's been taken over by an alien. It's pretty hard to forget about with the cramps, aches, headaches, backaches, digestion nightmare, and exhaustion. And that's just the glory of the first trimester. And then there are the emotional swings. Before I took my at-home pregnancy test, I was pretty convinced I was losing it because I would cry hysterically at basically nothing. The pregnancy test confirmed that I was not crazy, just being buffeted around by hormones. Oh joy. I will say that Absurdist Lover is totally sweet, cleaning things up and taking care of the cat (oh yeah right -- after a lifetime with cats, I'd get toxoplasmosis now -- gimme a break) and letting me be a big lumpy demanding whiney lazyhead. It's enough to make you fall in love all over again.

So according to my most scientific calculations (the exact same method that doctors use of calculating from the first day of your last period, meaning that conception doesn't even start until two weeks in -- a very strange system, if you ask me), I'm seven weeks pregnant. I have not yet gone to a doctor, because, get this people, I have to do the whole thing on sliding scale and low-income options. I'll be the most educated person in the Medicaid line (though I think on paper I make too much money for Medicaid -- I'll keep you posted). Now, is that the most absurd thing you've ever heard? I couldn't have gotten pregnant after I lined up a job or anything. That would be too easy. And I'm applying for these local community colleges that are hiring in my field for the fall -- but of course October is when I will give birth. OY!

So now I will blog for you the complete absurdity of being an over-educated, low-income, camper-living pregnant woman. There's got to be a book in this, right? I haven't even caught up on all the other things I'm supposed to write about! (My sister said I should keep a journal, but really all I want to do is cross-stitch and sleep. And eat when I suddenly have to eat or my blood sugar drops to nothing.) I promise to occasionally write about academic and educational matters, but let's face it -- part of this blog is going to become about this half-centimeter in my belly who has already made my belly pooch! For those of you who are going to be turned off by this, I apologize. But I'm sure that even though I have some amount of fuzzy happy hormone brain, there should still be a giant load of the kind of snark for which Maude so sweetly rated this blog E.

P.S. My grandmother is having her lumpectomy next week and my mother is coming down to help her. The gang will all be here. Bedlam. Can I just stay in bed?

*Some people say that you should not tell people until week 12, because one out of ten women have a miscarriage in the first 12 weeks. This is a good theory. But if I don't out this on my blog I will surely never blog! And I had to tell my friends because otherwise I feel like I'm being dishonest -- and probably have nothing to say anyway. I'm very bad at keeping my own secrets. Hopefully, the sesame seed bean is totally healthy and everything and there will be no more complications beyond how on earth I'm going to get some exercise when I feel totally like crap and live in a teensy camper. But if something bad happens, well, you'll probably hear about that too.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

February Already?

I'm so sorry, lovelies, for my radio silence of late. Like many people across the blogoverse, I've had the most wretched cold -- as in, I can't remember being in so much pain and had many moments where I thought I'd reverted to childhood and was going to break down and begin to cry incessantly from a bad ear infection. Not cool. This morning was the first in a while that when I woke up I felt good. I'm still coughing, still have my little camper table aclutter with snot rags, still don't expect much from myself. Yesterday, I went stir crazy and decided I was going to go for a drive to Starbucks, which from Weird Mountain Town takes about twenty minutes. By the time I drove through the other weird mountain towns and to a normal sprawly city, my back really hurt. While I had thought I might read or whatever at Starbucks, I found myself exhausted and just wanted to go home. (Or maybe I just wanted to get back in the car to listen to my book-on-CD, Steve Martin's irrepressible and inspiring Born Standing Up. I recommend it.) By the time I got home, I had to lie down (bringing the CD book into the camper, of course.)

I have learned a few things from my delirium:
  1. I have toxic sludge in my brain that tells me I can't do anything and am a total waste of space and an irredeemable fuckup. Fighting against this constantly with a mixture of busyness, kinder self-talk, disgust for such ridiculous self-indulgence, and a sense of humor takes considerable energy and fortitude.
  2. Getting out of the house and seeing people and doing things are good things to help battle against the Toxic Sludge Monsters.
  3. Toxic Sludge Monsters seem to feed on my physical pain. Or else, being in pain seems to travel to all my other deeper roots of (emotional) pain and then I'm one hysterical crazysickperson.
  4. It is possible to cough so much you throw up.

A friend of mine, the delightful Jane D., has given me an assignment to write about camper-life. I am honor-bound to fulfill assignments (e.g., I've only ever been good at school and have fucked up everything else was an important refrain of the TSMs) so expect some description of my environment. I am also giving myself some space from the novel right now and am going back to finish a project that was and is very important to me that I had to put on hold to finish the dissertation.

But now I'm tired and have to go do something else -- like lie down.