Dear Maternity Retailers

This is an important message for retailers that sell maternity products.


Here’s the thing.  Pregnancy is a temporary condition, okay?  I know you’re selling “specialty products” which means you should be able to ask more.  And if what you sold was worth the price you charged, I would be on board 100%.  But quite frankly, a majority of your crap is not worth the price and you are all severely lacking in products that I considered no-brainers despite this being my first rodeo.

If you look on Pinterest, you will find an incredible collection of useful blogs built upon DIY pregnancy projects.  Why?  Because no one wants to spend $40 on an infinity scarf/nursing cover when literally 5 min on a sewing machine with scrap jersey knit gives you the same results.  And is there anything worse than shelling out a ton of money (more than $20) on jeans that you KNOW will only be worn while pregnant?  I won’t deny that my maternity jeans were the most comfortable to wear the last 2 months and made me feel the most normal.  A giant jersey band holding your pants up will do that for you.  However, if they hadn’t been a gift from my most generous and considerate MIL, I would not have bothered getting a pair.  One pair, on sale, cost $20.  And at the thrift store, I bought 4 pairs of jeans for $5 a pop in larger sizes that were easily adapted to maternity use via elastic hair bands at the buttons and a belly band ($9 at Target) to cover my sins.  No, it wasn’t ideal.  Yes, I did have to spend an inordinate amount of time pulling up my pants and adjusting the belly band to cover up the fact that I hadn’t done up a zipper in 4 months.  But with the looming costs of actually having a baby resting firmly in the back of my head, 4 pairs of jeans for the price of 1 was easy Math.  Also, those thrift store jeans had pockets.  The maternity jeans, for reasons I can’t begin to fathom, had NO FRONT POCKETS.

I have seen jeans with false back pockets.  Even the cutest pair, regardless of how well it fits, will hit the reject pile for false back pockets.  False front pockets are simply an insult.

I don’t know if retailers actually look at social media or if they just dump their ads and run, but if they did they might notice that the entirety of the female population WANTS POCKETS.  In pants, in dresses, in leggings, in bras.  EVERYWHERE.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, retailers.  “If we give them pockets, they won’t buy purses!”  WRONG, MOFO.  We love our purses.  We will never stop buying purses.  You never know when you’re going to need a book, a back-up book, three skeins of yarn, 4 tampons, an inflatable pillow, and a screwdriver.  YOU JUST DON’T KNOW.  Unless cargo pants come back into style, your purse revenues are safe.  You know what I do know for sure?  There is no place for keys in a purse.  Outside pockets, inside pockets, hanging off a bejeweled hook, they always end up in a black hole somewhere just out of reach, especially if it is dark, cold, and I’m alone in parking lot trying to get into my car.  Also, purses are not affixed to our persons.  I have work keys.  When I don’t have pockets, I have to put those keys in my purse.  And every time I had to open a cabinet at work, I would drag myself up, waddle over to the cabinet, remember that my keys were in my purse on the ground, waddle back, *deep breath* BEND OVER *groan, retrieve purse, retrieve keys, forget what I was going to the cabinet for, realize it didn’t matter since I had to pee and the bathroom is at the other end of the store, speed waddle to the bathroom, and sit on the toilet for five minutes reassessing my life choices.  Why would you add extra stress to someone already struggling under emotional, psychological, hormonal, and physical distress?  HOW COULD YOU BE SO RECKLESS?!?

My point is, all it takes to be a hero is pockets.

Here are some things I was baffled by in the maternity departments/stores.

Maternity Skinny Jeans.  I get skinny jeans, in theory.  They don’t really work for me, but clearly lots of people dig them and I’m not here to judge.  Skinny jeans when I am feeling like a manatee already, I don’t know.

Maternity Holey Jeans.  This is actually just a pet peeve of mine with all jeans.  I do not want jeans that have been artificially worn thin.  If my jeans have holes in them, I want them to be made by years of wear and tear, not for aesthetics.  And considering how much some retailers charge for this particular fashion choice, I feel like I’m being charged twice as much for denim that will only last half as long.

Body-Shaping Hosiery. Because Gawd FORBID I walk around growing a human being and have any sign of jiggly thighs.  Now, some of that hosiery claims to have built-in belly support, which is admittedly very important for most kinds of pregnancy.  I carried high, so the I didn’t need the support belts or anything similar to protect my lower back.  It was my ribs that suffered and strangely enough, none of the “support” apparel focus on controlling the boobs (more on this later).

Lacey Nursing Bras. Again, I don’t get lacey bras to begin with.  Adding lingerie touches to a bra and charging $40 for it without also offering ANY kind of economic alternative for the person who can’t afford to drop 3 bills to replace at least a week’s worth of normal bras with nipple accessible bras, well that’s just a bit cruel.  And I guarantee that my little guys couldn’t give two figs about how cute/sexy my bra is as long as it gives him access to the almighty boob.

Here are some things I think should be sold in maternity departments/stores.

Compression Socks.  Poor circulation is a common problem in the 3rd trimester: ankles and feet swollen and sore so that walking around feels like strolling on bruises.  You look down at your feet and despite having them elevated for hours they still look like someone attached a bicycle pump to your heel and didn’t turn off the air.  It is uncomfortable and worrying to look at.  So why is it in a store dedicated to pregnancy apparel, with it’s plethora of cute dresses and lacy nursing bras I couldn’t find a single pair of compression socks?  I had to get mine from Walgreens.  They are functional, but ugly and make me wary of getting too close to any of the many retirement communities around here just in case someone tries to pick me up.  Would cute compression socks be weird?  Weirder than skinny maternity jeans?

Bra/Underwear Subscriptions.  Within the first month of pregnancy, I had out-grown my bras.  So I bought some larger conventional bras that seemed supportive enough and didn’t have under wires, as I was already dealing with rib discomfort.  Then I grew out of those.  And the next set.  I eventually switched to sports bras, first mediums, then larges.  The same thing happened with underwear, by the way. I stocked up on one size larger and then barely a week later had to stock the next size up.   And I don’t know about everyone else, but I can’t just buy 2 bras.  I’m proud that I limited myself to a dozen sports bras (6 med, 6 lg) since I normally prefer at least enough undergarments for 2 weeks.  And that’s just the regular bras.  You can’t buy nursing bras before your milk comes in.  That would be stupid.  Not to mention how much of a jinx that would feel.  There is no stage of pregnancy wherein you are “in the clear.”  Bad stuff happens and I certainly didn’t want to tempt fate by stocking up on nursing bras, even if I could predict how big the boobs would get.  What I didn’t see in any maternity store was 10-packs of sleeping bras, sports bras, extra elastic underwear, or any kind of economic option so that I didn’t feel like I was stealing from my unborn child just to relieve chronic pain and the inevitable expansion of my booty.  If we can’t offer mega packs of underwear that can be guiltlessly bought and discarded during pregnancy, how about a subscription so I can exchange bras as the mams grow?

Breast Support.  And if we’re going to offer “shapewear” for my thighs and belly, how about something for breasts that isn’t focused on making them look sexier.  I don’t care if your product makes them look perkier or pushes them into unnatural shapes.  I wanted a product that was supportive enough that I could sleep on my side (as is medically recommended) without feeling like I was detaching a rib from my spine.  I did try sleeping with sports bras and the elastic band around my rib cage actually exacerbated the problem.  This product, if it existed, would ideally be tank-top-shaped with support bands running around the sides of the breasts, along the sides of the ribs and under the belly.  Or something.  I’m not an expert.

So to recap, how about instead of only offering cute products, we look at the practical side of pregnancy.  Because I guarantee I’m not the only woman who saw the impending costs of a newborn and started looking immediately on how she could curtail her spending by hitting thrift stores and making her own “maternity” clothing.  I actually swore I wouldn’t be wasting any money on “maternity” clothes and the only exception was the bulk purchases of cheap maternity tanks from Target that are longer than my normal camis and will be used until they fall completely apart, pregger or not. I mean, it’s great that you all want to gouge customers for impractical vanity products, but could you maybe consider that you could make a killing selling products specifically created to alleviate the discomfort of pregnancy?  You know, besides the $60 body pillows and serious looking belly support braces?

Any other practical suggestions from my pregger peeps?



Filed under Ramblings, Rants

Platypus Update: Week 38 + 3 days

Well, it’s been a while.  I hope none of you were worried.  The fact is, I didn’t have much to add that was new and I didn’t want to turn my blog into a COMPLAIN DRAIN.

I am now, officially, in the “any day now” stage.  They guestimate a due date based on the date of your last period and adjust it if necessary when you get your first ultrasound based on the size of the fetus.  But really, the due date is just the middle of a 4 week time period where baby can just decide it’s ready and only 5% of births happen on their due date (like my sister > don’t you feel special?).

I get asked a lot if I’m done.  Which is a silly question, to be honest.  Obviously I’m not done because I still have a person in me.  Am I done wanting to be pregnant?  Well, yeah.  But that’s been true since August.  I never wanted to be pregnant.  I wanted to have a baby.  You don’t want to go to culinary school, but you do because you want to be a chef.  You don’t want to take a driver’s test, but you do because you want your license.  Make sense?  Am I ready to be done?  Well, yes.  HOWEVER, I am not done.

This has to do with muscle failure.  When I first joined the Army, I could almost do 5 push-ups.  On my first PT test, I did 13, the minimum to pass.  On the second PT test, they made it abundantly clear that the goal was to do better than last time, so I managed 14 push-ups.  I still got smoked because one rep is not exactly improvement.  Before my last PT test, my DS explained the mentality behind muscle failure.  If you go in with a number in your head, there is little chance you will exceed that number.  Your brain will tell your body to quit once it hits that number and it will.  So for my last PT test, instead of thinking that I only needed 13 or only needed to do better than 13, I went in thinking the number 42 as that is the maximum goal for 18 yo females.  I did 27.  No, I didn’t hit my goal number, but I nearly doubled what I had done just a month before without changing my exercise regimen at all.  Thereafter, I had a sequence in my head (20, 10, 5, 5, 2) and the number 42 in big bold type when I got down on that mat.  And it worked.

So right now I have a date in my head.  It’s my due date, but with sort of a fuzzy caveat that any day the week after is fine.  Because I don’t want my brain to tell me I’m at muscle failure just because I’ve hit a randomly chosen goal.  Muscle failure at this point would be VERY BAD.  It would mean giving up on caring about what I eat or whether or not I get anything done during the day.  It would mean staying in bed all day and getting depressed and anxious and frustrated.  These are not things I want to do.  They are added stressors on a body and mind already pretty stressed.

Therefore, I am continuing to put in my 12 hrs a week at my job.  It’s not a hard job and it gets me out of the house.  And I’m still going to most of my yarn groups (3 times a week) and I am planning lessons with students through next week.  I am tired, yes, and I am ambling much slower these days because everything is uncomfortable and I get winded if I forget that my normal walking pace was normal 40 lbs ago.  I am also wearing very sexy compression socks on a daily basis to keep my toes from going all piggy (I’ve started avoiding retirement communities so I don’t get catcalled).  I almost got stuck behind the washing machine door this morning and rolling off the couch makes me feel more and more like a beached whale every day.  None of my rings fit.  My ankles and wrists are stiff and sore.  And I am peeing EVEN MORE FREQUENTLY, if you can believe it, since Platypus has started moving south.  On the plus side, this means my rib discomfort, while still apt to flair up, isn’t a constant nagging irritation and I’ve even been able to stand lying on my side for short intervals!

But I am not done.  I won’t be done until he is because I simply can’t allow my brain to tell my body to give up.  And I really hope he sticks to his due date because St. Patty’s Day is an awesome birthday.

If you’re wondering about that whole “nesting” thing that’s supposed to be happening, I get about 30 min of hyper-productiveness followed by 2 hrs of naptime.  And my nesting is not the “scrub everything to within an inch of its life” kind.  Mine is checking and rechecking packing lists, reading all the packets and guidelines I got from my Prenatal Group Classes, organizing boxes of baby clothes, sending out thank you cards, and (last weekend) making 2 months worth of crockpot freezer meals in an afternoon.  Otherwise, I’m just restless, which is another reason to keep working.  Sitting at home for days at a time makes me edgy and, surprisingly, crochet isn’t cutting it for keeping me chill.

Notes on things not to say to pregnant women (most of these you probably know):

Wow, you look about done!  (What the eff is that supposed to mean? My belly button is still an innie, thank you very much.)

Are you having twins?  (Even if you are joking, I will stab you in the neck.)

Here’s a horrible story I heard from a friend of mine about her delivery.  (I have heard all the horror stories.  I requested all the stories because I wanted to know what I was getting into.  You, stranger, are not going to shock me or scare me or whatever.  Frankly, I’m bored because this isn’t even in the top ten of awful I’ve heard.  I will take firsthand accounts, though.  All info is useful, even if it’s just confirming that I’m better off already.)

Should you be eating/drinking that? (I haven’t actually heard this one.  Which is also why I’m not in prison for murder right now.)

Are you ready?  (No.  Is anyone?)

Pretty much the best policy is to tell me I’m beautiful and give me cookies.  Oh, and know that pregnancy rage is a real beast which can attack at any time.  I have no power over this.

If you are anywhere near a pregnant woman right now, tell her she’s beautiful and give her a box of GS cookies.  I guarantee that she needs it.



Filed under Ramblings, Rants

Platypus Update: Week 32+6

It occurred to me that some of you might have been alarmed by my posts so far in this pregnancy.  I promised myself I wouldn’t sugarcoat the experience, but I think in the process I might have only been focusing on the negatives.  And it hasn’t all been negatives.

I can be grateful that my first trimester was not the vomit-fest I’d been prepared for.  Not that I was really prepared for weeks of intermittent and random nausea with definitive food aversions (some of which I still have).  But the stories from the other women in my prenatal group as well as those of my general female acquaintances are a good reminder that it could have been so much worse.

And while my second and third trimesters haven’t been exactly the glowing, magical experience most often portrayed in film and TV, they have also been blessedly free of scary complications, broken hips, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and psychotic hormonal imbalances.  So far, the only snag is the slight anemia I’ve developed, but I’m on iron pills now.

We have a huge problem with how we portray pregnancy in this world.  From beginning to end, it’s almost as though whoever wrote the script had only ever seen pregnancy on TV, if at all.  It’s most often a plot device and nothing more.  Aha, she’s throwing up so she must be pregnant and therefore has a motive for MURDER!  Well, women throw up for all sorts of reasons.  And frankly, I’ve been sick more times throughout my life for non-pregger reasons than I ever was when actually pregnant.  But that always seems to be the first tell.  I guess if you don’t get sick from anxiety or dehydration or just from traveling, then it might be a suspicious circumstance.  Maybe.  Then again, by the time the misnamed “morning sickness” arrived, I was well into my second month of pregnancy.

So, the first trimester is not exactly the easiest to portray on screen.  Probably because it is ridiculously easy to keep it to yourself.  You aren’t showing and you can often play off things like nausea, frequent urination, and exhaustion to normal stress.  Back in Oct, I got to go home and visit friends and family for a week.  The girls and I were having a grand drinking night in.  Except, I wasn’t the only one not partaking.  My best friend, for whom we were celebrating, was abstaining from alcohol as well.  And she kept having to pee.  Now, we put that down to stress because she was getting married that weekend, she still wasn’t recovered from her stag night the last weekend, and she had been chugging water all night.  I was 4 months pregnant and I was still surprised when she revealed later that she was only a month behind me.

Maybe it’s just that I don’t jump to that conclusion automatically.  When we told my sister I was pregnant the first thing she said was how she’d thought so based on the vacation pictures we’d taken when I was only 6 weeks along.  Which I did my very best not to take that as an insult.  Still, the first trimester was not what I would call easily spotted by outsiders.

Second trimester was where I had to actively camouflage to go unnoticed, baggy shirts and whatnot.  That’s the time when people ask you in hushed tones, as though sharing state secrets, if you’re expecting.  And why do they ask in hushed tones?  Because, again, it’s not the hugely obvious plot device from the movies.  I was still fully capable of taking care of myself.  I worked my retail job and baked and exercised and lived my life just like I normally did, just with more frequent potty breaks and huge boobs.

Now, well, it’s actually hindering my life.  I talked about that a lot in the last post.  Since Platypus decided that the floor is lava (I’m carrying high), my ribs are taking daily abuse that makes it hard just to get ready for work without wanting to lay down.  Long, luxuriant showers aren’t an option because I’ll be in pain within the first few minutes.  If I don’t sit in the right chair with the right support, I’m in pain.  If I sleep on my side, the recommended position, I have about 2 minutes before my chest is on fire.

I still take long showers.  And given the choice, I prefer an uncomfortable chair to standing.  Side note => My Wednesday night yarn group meets at a yarn shop with a wide variety of chairs and those wonderful and generous ladies always save me one of the arm chairs or the glider.  I have never asked them to do this, but I am more grateful for the thought every week.

But again, I haven’t been hindered by some of the other stereotypes of pregnancy.  My brain is definitely mushier than it was a few months ago, yes, but I don’t cry at everything.  I cry at normal things.  If I’m teary-eyed more now it’s because I have cause.  For instance, we just posted our baby registry and I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and family.  We had assumed that the more expensive items would be purchased by pooling gift cards.  Yet those were some of the first things people bought for us and I was completely unprepared.  Not to mention the number of new friends who have said, “Hey I just met you and this is crazy, but do you need a giant bag of baby clothes, a crib mattress, and a bath, maybe?”  Thank you cards are entirely inadequate right now.

But anyway, I was talking about how pregnancy/childbirth is portrayed in entertaining media.  It’s either the crazy, hormonal woman crying over a bag of Cheetos at the grocery store or the really pregnant woman in the episode because she is going to give birth spontaneously at the wrong moment or she’s the woman in the pregger belly and heels acting like she’s Gawd’s gift to the world.  And all of these are problematic.

Have YOU ever seen a random pregnant woman having a meltdown in public?  I haven’t.  I’ll admit to having a shorter temper, but that has a lot to do with how uncomfortable I am all the time.  When people use the classroom at work and don’t put the tables back after I spent hours coming up with a better floorplan (and don’t bother to sign the roster despite knowing that is a requirement for using the space), I get a tad ticked.  Because now I have to move them back and while it isn’t difficult, it is more time on my feet.  When I drop something, which happens more and more frequently, I definitely swear more harshly than I might have before bending over and picking things up became an Olympic event.  This isn’t crazy hormones.  This is me being 30 lbs heavier with a human being between me and the stupid wrapper that is right by my foot.

And the really pregnant woman who is only there to go into labor at the wrong moment?  That’s why new parents drive frantically to the hospital at the first contraction and then get sent home by a laughing nursing staff.  It is highly unusual for a woman to start having contractions and then pop out a baby in 5 minutes.  She was probably having contractions all day.  In all likelihood, contractions will start, we’ll track them for a couple of hours, I’ll take a shower and have a bite to eat, and unless my water breaks, we’ll take our time rushing to the hospital.  That’s not dramatic enough, obviously, but the drama does come a bit later, I’m told.

The obviously not pregnant woman walking around in heels acting smug is by far the most annoying representation.  I don’t normally wear heels, but I know there are women out there who find them perfectly comfortable and not torture devices designed by sadists to make our butts look good.  Good for you.  I also know a lot of women who laugh when heels are mentioned in the same sentence as pregnancy.  Ignore the fact that your ankles and feet are swollen.  You can even ignore the fact that you have gained 25-35 lbs, if you are following mainstream guidelines.  You can’t ignore the fact that your center of balance is jacked up by all your joints shifting to make room for your little alien.  Heels require balance.  I can fall on my face while standing still.

The proper portrayal of the 3rd trimester woman is done.  She may be wearing a cute maternity dress, with her hair all done up and nice make-up.  She may be wearing yoga pants stretched to full capacity and a hoodie and slippers.  But the face should always have a look of “just a few more weeks and I’ll be done with this jazz.”  How do I know this?  Because people keep telling me I look ready to be done.  And in some ways I am.  It’s too early to be done, obviously, so I have to fight that feeling sometimes.  The little mantra “8 more weeks” has been going all week.  Granted, I also have to remember that in 8 more weeks I’ll have a person to feed and clothe and raise into a decent human being, but at least I won’t be the only one doing it AND I’ll be able to sleep in a different position when I do get to sleep.  Plus drinking.

I’d like to take this time now to step away from complaining and step into bragging just for a moment.  You see, there are in fact upsides to this condition and they are WAY better than some fake glow.  I have some pregger super powers.

First, swollen ankles are easier to shave around (if you can still reach them).  Almost every woman I’ve said this to has looked at me aghast because why are you still shaving?  I answer that I had to get a pedicure (those women deal with enough grossness).  But mostly, I’m a show off.  As in HA, I CAN STILL SHAVE MY ANKLES AT 8 MONTHS.  True, this wouldn’t be the case if our shower didn’t have convenient seats.  But I take my victories where I can.

Second, some of my senses are heightened, especially my sense of smell.  I can definitely smell chocolate a good mile away.  Don’t even think about food while you’re reading this because I will know what you’re planning on having for lunch.  My sense of humor is also pretty strong, as well as my sense of awe, pride, and vanity.  My sense of decorum is a mess, though.  Please don’t ask me how I’m feeling.  I don’t know how to answer without saying something crass.  I used to say I felt fat, which made most people laugh (from shock if nothing else).  It was true, that was how I felt.  But how would you feel going up 3 sizes in literally a couple of months?  I don’t feel fat anymore.  I just feel full, like if you pricked me with a needle I might pop.  And there’s more to how I feel because there always is. And I know I should just say I feel fine but the word sticks in my throat every time because I’m not fine.  Not necessarily in a bad way, but the word simply doesn’t fit so I can’t use it.

Other super powers?  Um, well, in a pinch I can simulate a hysterical break down.  If you need someone to show up at your work and pitch a fit until you are forced to take me home, I’m your gal.  The problem is, while I haven’t had a legit hormonal episode, faking one might induce a real episode so we’ll have to get ice cream on the way home.

Some powers are a little more subtle.  Like I apparently give people the ability to mother me without permission.  “You shouldn’t be lifting that!” she says without moving a single inch out of line to help me.  Lady, I know I shouldn’t be lifting heavy things.  This table, however, isn’t heavy.  Yes, I struggle to ask for help because PRIDE is a thing and admitting that maybe grabbing this box was a mistake is much harder than just getting it to a table and reconsidering my life choices.  Thankfully, the examples of obnoxious mothering have been vastly outweighed by people who genuinely care about my well-being and go out of their way to make my life a little easier (I’m looking at you, yarn groups).  And so far I’ve only had one belly-toucher, but she was so mortified that she did it without asking that she apologized for 5 minutes.

The most important super power is convenient excuses, though I wouldn’t call pregnancy “convenient.”  Am I late?  I dropped something on the floor and spent 5 minutes deciding whether or not it was worth picking up.  I did a line of Thin Mints, but I AM pregnant, after all.  We should definitely go out for dinner tonight.  Why?  Because I want to.  I’m going to take another nap instead of folding the laundry.  I’m pretty exhausted from growing a central nervous system today.  This is a power I have to be careful of since it is easy to turn legit excuses into I don’t wanna because who would dare argue with me?

So yes, there are upsides to pregnancy.  But the big takeaway is this: there is nothing magical going on here.  This is life.  It’s not a plot device.  It’s weird and gross and uncomfortable.  It’s also miraculous and beautiful, I know.  When Buddy felt what baby hiccups for the first time, whenever we hear the little heartbeat, whenever I can’t sleep and I just lay there feeling my little sea monster squirming around, I get a nice calm.  But mostly, I just live my life as best as I can and count the days.


I will try to write more of these on “up” days, when my mood and energy are elevated.  Otherwise, all that will be remembered about this time will be how much it really sucked.  And while it does suck, day in and day out, there are up sides.


Filed under Misc Short Stories

Platypus Update – 30 wks

You may be wondering why you haven’t heard from me.  Or you may not.  I’ve been rather dreading this post.

“But why?” you ask.  Am I not enjoying the beauty and majesty of this little miracle?  Am I not daily struck with awe that there is a future person growing fingernails and eyelashes and a central nervous system out of nothing but the supplies my own body provides?  Do I not stare in wonder at the mirror as my body changes to envelop this magical being?  Am I not suffused in that mystical glow of motherhood?

Well, duh.  Of course.  Except for the glow.  The glow is a fracking lie and I’ll fight anyone who says differently.

Now some of that joy and awe and wonder comes in the form of “my belly button looks weird” and “why are you kicking my bladder, I just peed” and “OH MY GAWD, MY STOMACH IS MOVING ON ITS OWN, I’M HAVING AN ALIEN.”  I promise you that I do just lay here with hands on stomach, constantly feeling that little pressure that could be a back or a foot or a hand.  I smile at funny hiccups and wake someone up on purpose just so I can feel that bizarre little squirm that reminds me of indigestion, but without the dread.  I mean, the dread is there, just for completely different reasons.

However, I told myself I would record honestly.  Not for your sake or the sake of future mothers or the sake of my child getting thoroughly embarrassed when I share these posts with prom dates.  I told myself that I wouldn’t allow selective memory to turn this experience into a glowy, fru-fru, fantasy, which ignores how much it can utterly suck.  That way, if we decide to do this again I can go in with the knowledge of exactly how much it sucked the first time.  The problem is in order for this to work, I have to share everything publicly.  Why?  Well, a private diary would accomplish the same thing as far as recording the events, I suppose.  But sharing the experience publicly is healthier for me emotionally.  And, yes, of course I tell people at work and prenatal group and Buddy all about everything (poor traumatized Buddy).  I just tend to temper some of my accounts, as we all do, so as not to sound whiney.

And I want to be clear before I start into the actual whining that I am in no way ungrateful that I am in the position to whine.  I am eminently aware that this is a miracle not granted to all, that it isn’t some kind of automatic privilege/penance for having a uterus, and that some people would kill to be in my position.  Countless women have been killed by my position.  Others live with a misplaced feeling of failure because their bodies will not accommodate their desire to be in my position.  Others have every right to despise me for having the option to simply get pregnant without any to-do and then have the nerve to complain that it isn’t all puppies and chocolate.

But it isn’t all puppies and chocolate.  It’s reality and it sucks.

There is no way to be comfortable.  Not sitting, not laying down, definitely not standing.  Back in October (4 months), I started experiencing pain in my ribs from standing.  At first it was standing for a few hours.  I would start to feel discomfort under my breasts, right where the band of my bra sits.  I tried changing bras a few times.  I tried belly support bands.  I tried Icy Hot and (doctor approved) pain killers.  Nothing would relieve it until it was a lovely white-hot brand of pain across my front and gradually leeching to my sides and back.  Now, I can stand for 5-10 minutes before it starts.  It isn’t just when standing, either.  If I sit or lay the wrong way (there is only one right way, btw), the pain is there.  And it hurts, it really does.  It feels like my inflamed gall bladder is being forced through my sternum, like my ribs are trying to secede from my spine, like my kid is claustrophobic and is pushing the walls out just to breath.  Even if the active pain isn’t going on, I can run my hands over the front of my ribs and they feel bruised.

Now, before you hit me with advice to try this remedy or that, or to tell my doctor or whatever, just slow your roll.  This is not a request for help.  I have talked to my midwife and nurse and they assure me that neither my gall bladder nor any other internal organs are trying to Xenomorph their way out of my sternum.  (If it was a problem with my gall bladder, there would be other rather obvious symptoms.)  This is just part of being pregnant.  My body is expanding to make space for a person and support system and it does that by forcing everything out of the way.  My ribs are simply in the way.  As for remedies, I have a microwavable sock filled with rice that helps a little.  Sometimes, I lay flat on my back to relieve the pressure, but that is not recommended for a few reasons (primarily the weight of my uterus possibly cutting off circulation to the rest of me, etc).  Besides, it hurts my back.

Yes, because if my front doesn’t hurt my back does.  And frequently they hurt together.  I spent part of my Christmas break sequestered in the guest bedroom of the In-Laws because I couldn’t get comfortable anywhere else.  If I did hang out in the living room, which features beautiful recliners and lots of pillows, by the end of the day I’d be wincing from every sudden movement.  Believe me, I tried.  So I stayed in the bedroom in my one (temporarily) comfortable position and tried to assure everyone that I was fine.  Seriously.  I’m fine.  I feel bad that I can’t socialize except at meals and for causing any undo concern for my welfare.  This is, apparently, part of the pregger cross I bear.

And it is definitely the worst part.  It makes life difficult.  There’s no such thing as leisurely wandering a store for an hour, pausing to contemplate labels or price tags or wait for someone to move from in front of the lemons.  The longer I’m in there, the more pain I’m in until I’m getting weird looks from people because I am sitting on the floor in the baking aisle to relieve it.  I suppose this is good training for when I’m trying to run errands with a baby/toddler/teenager, not that I’m dreading that at all.

And yes, you may poo-poo me for being bummed that shopping is a race rather than a meander.  You would be right, I suppose.  However, the other major issue is that I’ve had to give up working the floor in my retail job.  I still have my office work, but that is only 12 hours a week.  I know, I should be happy that I’m not pressing my nose to the grindstone for these last few weeks, that I have the option to relax a little, that I don’t live in a 3rd World Country where women work in the rice fields until the drop the baby in the patties.  But I am deeply selfish.  I don’t like losing the pay.  You see, babies are expensive.  And while Buddy has a stable job and good pay, that extra 13% I bring to the financials is a nice cushion for the disasters that are sure to come.

And having to tell my boss that I can’t do it anymore hurt my pride more than I care to admit.  So, hey, if you see me at work and you wonder why I’m not racing to the register to check you out, why I instead point to the call button that everyone walks by rather than to scan your stuff real quick, it’s because real quick hurts.  I pushed through it for the holidays, even bringing in a stool for the last week or so, but now I’m done with standing.  I’m sorry if that is inconvenient for you, but if you insist on making the pregnant woman ring you out to save you 5 min (especially the pregnant woman who isn’t wearing the standard uniform of salespersons, i.e. a bright green apron), then you can bet I have a very special set of vocabulary set aside for you in my head.

As I said, that is the worst of it.  I can’t work the floor.  Running quick errands is an endurance trial.  There is no way to be comfortable.  And I can’t sleep on my side, despite that being the recommended sleeping position and totally normal for me before I started growing a person.  I sleep sitting at a decline or half on my side with a pillow at my back.  Or I don’t sleep.

And in case you were wondering, I am aware that it’s only going to get worse.  I know that when there’s nothing else to say or when you’re speaking out of experience that this phrase is going to come up.  It is obviously only going to get worse.  For the next 18 years or more.  For the rest of my life perhaps.  But definitely for the next 10 weeks.  I wish there was something to be done or said.  Mostly though, I wish I could stop hearing this phrase.  Which means I should probably stop complaining as it does nobody no good.

My belly button looks weird.  Not in the “button popped, turkey is done” way (yet).  But some of it is seeing the light of day for the first time ever so I have an expanding circle of pale skin right in the middle of my freakish belly.  We don’t measure my growth by scale or tape measurer.  We measure by how shallow my belly button is.

I get nose bleeds more frequently now, too.  I know I’m not drinking enough water, despite having to pee every couple of hours.  Still.  I had to pause my yoga this morning for 10 min while I waited one out.  It was gross.  And I’ll continue to have intermittent nose bleeds for the next few days or so, mostly just a little red when I blow my nose, rarely a full on “grab the Kleenex and start making nose plugs until it stops.”  This is also normal.

And I need to blow my nose frequently because my compromised immune system has been fighting some cold or another for the last 6 months.  To the lady who came in on Black Friday and admitted to just recovering from bronchitis, I hope your cat gets into your craft room and marks all of your fabric and yarn, then yacks 16 hairballs on your sewing machine.

I wake up to pee at 4 in the morning.  Or rather, I wake up at 4 in the morning and then go to pee because I’m awake now so I might as well.  If my bladder does ever get full, it’s too late and I’m going to wet myself.  Thankfully, the bladder is a regular punching bag so it never has a chance to fill before someone thinks maybe 2 Tbs is too much to be carrying.

Amazingly, I haven’t had an uptick in migraines.  Which will change now that I’ve jinxed myself.

Also surprising, I haven’t really been making baby stuff.  My yarn groups have asked me what I’ve made so far and all I can say is that I made a shawl in Nov that will make a nice cover-up.  Yesterday I started making a floor mat for the nursery, but only because I ran out of yarn for the capelet and shirt projects I had started and I have to wait for more yarn to arrive.  And I made a bunch of little red newborn hats, but those were to donate to hospitals over the holidays.  My nesting instinct is not to make a bunch of cute stuff.  It’s to troll thrift stores for cheap onesies and make lists for what we still have to do.

Shout out to Buddy for putting up with this particular branch of my crazy.  We’ve been talking about big projects that we want to finish before the ARRIVAL, like bringing in pros to fix the back yard (clear the woods some, build a patio/deck, build a storage shed, etc).  And recently, the big nag in the back of my mind has been getting the nursery set up.  Even though the little bugger is going to be in our room for the first few months and it’s not like Platypus is even going to care if we get around to painting the walls.  Buddy has the entire nursery planned out in his head and on graph paper.  But I need concrete plans so I make lists.  What’s the first step?  What next?  And after that?  Have you ever built cabinets before?  No?  Well, I have total faith in you.  (He’s taking a cabinet-building class the end of this month which just sounds awesome and I wish I could take it with him.)

The office is now nearly empty except for the litter box.  (If you were planning on using our guest room when you come to visit, it is currently packed with the office.)  We have spent the last week of his block leave purging like crazy.  Usually, we go through a purge period when prepping for a move since that happens every 3 years or less.  We have been in this house for 5 1/2 years now.  We have accumulated a lot of stuff.  And since space is becoming more of a premium, we’re deciding that maybe I don’t need all these sketch books from 7th grade.  And it’s about time we got those watercolor post cards I got in Korea framed.  And while we’re at it, the big wedding collage has been sitting on cardboard for 4 years.  And this box is still sealed with packing tape from the last move.

Actually, we’re entering into year 2 of the GREAT PURGE.  We just have a much more pressing motivator than we’ve had in a while.

Now the only thing we really have to watch out for is the “while we’re at it” mentality.  Since we’re ripping out the old closet and putting in built-ins, we might as well put up display cabinets for the Legos and a kitty highway around the ceiling while we’re at it.  Since we’re doing some demo, why don’t we replace the vanities in the half-bath and guest bath while we’re at it?  Maybe we should go ahead and rip up this sh*tty carpet and put down hardwood.  You know, while we’re at it.  Let’s fix all the little annoying things about the house that we’ve been putting off WHILE WE’RE AT IT.  Oh, gawd, someone hide the sledge hammer from me.  We only have 10 weeks.

WE ONLY HAVE 10 WEEKS.  If that.

Only 2 1/2 more months to become a grown-up for real.







Filed under Ramblings, Rants

Platypus Update: It’s probably the Hormones, Right?

Depending on what I’m wearing, I get the unsolicited question, “How far along are you?”

Now, among people in the know, this does not faze me.  Nor does it bother me when strangers ask if I brought up the topic that I am pregnant.  However, if I have given no indication that I am pregnant (as far as I know), I have to fight the irrational response to be offended by the question.

Girls, you know why.

See, last year, I had an apron that was adorable but had the unintended side-effect of making me look preggers, especially to people who worked with me.  In such cases, the tentative question are you?  would sneak in and ruin my day.  What?  How could you think that?  I mean, I have a bit of a pudge, but that’s mostly the pocket of the apron and the fact that I have a high waistline.  Right?

Logically, I should never have felt offended by the question since it was never meant to offend.  Honestly, I should give mad props to anyone brave enough to pose the question even to someone they know because we have ALL felt mortified by the insinuation that we look so out of shape we must be harboring a human parasite in our wombs.  That kind of misunderstanding is hurtful for everyone.

And now that I am harboring said parasite, I have to turn off the part of my brain that’s all EFF YOU FOR THINKING I LOOK PREGNANT SINCE WE ALL KNOW THAT’S A HUGE INSULT TO A WOMAN.  Isn’t it weird how brains work?  I’ve been pregnant for 5 months now and I’m still in denial.

For instance, I had my second prenatal group meeting a couple weeks ago, which involved a brief check-up (blood pressure, weight, etc.) with the nurse and midwife.  An insidious part of my brain kept insisting that this is all a ruse and that when they went to listen to the heartbeat, it wouldn’t be there.  The universe is playing a massive trick on me.  My boobs are huge and I haven’t needed a tampon in nearly half a year, and yet…

I don’t look pregnant enough.  I haven’t felt it moving much.  I mean, a few butterflies, but that could just be indigestion.  I’m acting on faith that there is something in there that I can’t see or really feel, hanging out, sucking my energy and eating my food so that I feel like I’m always hungry and I absolutely can’t risk real hunger SINCE I WILL PROCEED TO EAT EVERYTHING.  I have to trust that there is a reason I can’t sleep comfortably, can’t stand for more than 30 min without my ribs hurting from holding up my boobs (did I mention they’re HUGE?!?), can’t go an hour without peeing, and can’t decide if what I’m feeling is my normal reaction to a situation or some over-blown hormone-induced response.

I spent the last two days trying to find a boob solution.  You ladies who have bazungas know what I’m talking about.  Finding a bra that fits is only half the battle.  It has to have enough support and has to be comfortable regardless of what you’re doing.  And it has to keep the ladies in check.  Bras are the bane of our existence and when we find one that works, we do NOT deviate.  However, my bras stop fitting month 1.

Things that I didn’t expect to happen the first trimester: frequent urination, mood swings, and bazungas.  Why is it that only thing I expected (morning sickness) wasn’t as bad as I thought while also being worse in unexpected ways?  Who called it “morning” sickness?  Was it a man?  I bet it was a man.

Did I mention that right before we found out about platypus I had just bought several new conventional and sports bras since it was time to replace my stock?  I bet I didn’t.  In June, I bought new bras bc reasons.  In July, they stopped fitting.  Ugh.  August, I went out and got a few more that offered more coverage, avoiding the nursing bras like the plague.  In October, they got bigger.  Now the problem isn’t the embarrassment of spilling out.  It’s the fact that part of my job involves being on my feet for 4 to 6 hours.  Which recently has started causing pain and not where I expected.

It feels like someone has taken rib-spreaders to my side, especially my right side right underneath my right boob.  And I LOVE how inadequate the solutions are for this problem.  Apparently, all I can do is buy more GORAM bras.

If you enter the lingerie department of any major store, you will find all kinds of solutions for hiding your tummy or back or thighs.  Because that’s what really matters to a woman: stuffing everything into an appeasing spandex shape underneath their business skirt or LBD.  What you won’t find is a section for “My boobs are temporarily too big and I just need a tank top that will help reign them in for the next few months until they stabilize enough for me to shell out money on nursing bras – also, it needs to be comfortable enough that I can sleep in it without cramping because this problem doesn’t seem to go away just because I’m not vertical.”  Seriously, that’s all I want.

What I don’t want is to spend hundreds of dollars repurchasing undergarments for the next 5 months.  Bras are expensive and I already have a whiny panic in the back of my head about all the stuff we have to buy for the human being we’re going to be putting up with for the next 18 years.  This is not when I want to be frivolously spending money on myself just because the industry thinks it’s more important to put my girls on display than to have them cinched in and supported.  I swear, if they focused more on back support than tummy control, well, they’d lose money because I wouldn’t have to keep buying more bras.

In the interim, I bought six new cheap sports bras to sleep in.  And I might start doubling up my camisoles.  Thank goodness it’s starting to cool off around here.

Okay, enough boob ranting.

Here’s something uncomfortable I don’t really want to put out there, but I’m going to or it will continue to scare me.

I don’t want to buy anything for platypus.  Earlier I said that I’m in denial still, which is very true.  I look at me in the mirror, I run my hand over my belly that won’t let me suck in my gut, I wonder if that was Platypus or just my imagination.  The topic comes up every day and it still doesn’t feel real.  Which might explain why I haven’t filled out the baby registry or done serious research on cribs and strollers.  It doesn’t, though.

The thought that makes me avoid making direct eye contact with the baby department is a nugget of paranoid fear.  Preparing for this baby is tempting Fate.  Picking out names, painting the nursery, fawning over baby clothes, all these acts are simply begging the universe to change its mind about this baby actually happening.  It doesn’t matter that I just heard its heartbeat a few weeks ago and next week we’re having the second sonogram.  If I make any decisions on the assumption that this is reality, the universe will kill my baby.

Okay, that’s the extreme dark end of the spectrum of this paranoia, I promise.

How about, if I commit to this then the joke will be up and it will all turn out to be some freakish mistake.  All the piss tests and blood tests and machines and symptoms will turn out to be a fluke.  And it’s too late for me to be okay about that because I picked out a breast pump system so I’m invested in this being real.

And I’m scared about it being real.  This is normal, I know.  So normal, in fact, that most of you will say that me not being scared about my first kid would be disconcerting.

What I’m trying to say, badly, is that there are so many things that can go wrong and I’m not sure I can handle it so I’m trying not to get attached to Platypus in order to protect myself.  And don’t say that nothing is going to go wrong.  It doesn’t have to be with this pregnancy or with its childhood or teenage years or adult life or even directly to Platypus.  Things go wrong because that is life.  And knowing that means I will fail this kid somehow.  I won’t respond the right way, say the right thing, make the right decision, whatever.  I will not be able to protect my kid from the world and I know, I know, I shouldn’t want to.  And I know that I have no control over whatever is going to happen and no amount of unhealthy denial about reality is going to change that fact.

So this is definitely the hormones talking.  That’s got to be it.  I’m going to eat some pudding, good night.


Stage: 21 weeks (2nd Trimester)

Weight: 145-ish

Boobs: More than a handful, according to Buddy

Mood: Not that great, a complete 180 from yesterday


Post Script:

Periodically, we hold little potlucks at work where people leave food in the break room that we shove into our faces during our 15 min breaks.  The last couple of days, the boss decided to do our Holiday potluck since the actual holidays are a freaking nightmare.  They also decided to have a mini-baby shower for me for lots of reasons, including Halloween being my favorite holiday and the other pregnant girl is further along than me (she actually quit right after they decided to do the baby shower, but they chose to do it anyway).

I got some wonderful gifts, all very practical and adorable and I don’t feel worthy of having such considerate and talented people to work with.  And it’s definitely the hormones that are making me tear up right now.


Filed under Ramblings, Rants

Where’s My Rage Now?

Wow, 2 posts in such a short time?  We should have a huge emotional upheaval every weekend.

Last week I was filled with rage over protest that has almost zero impact on me personally.  I’m white, not traditionally patriotic, progressive, and I don’t even like professional sports.  And yet I spent an entire day trying to get out the fury that flared up like a bad case of indigestion.  I sequestered myself in the kitchen for hours and still ended up spending a late even pouring out all the bitter bile that had accumulated just so that I could sleep.

The last few days, what with there being a significantly more horrific event and flare-up of biased political arguments, you’d think the anger would be back with a vengeance.

I wish it was.  Honestly, I do.  Because anger, rage, hatred, all these things fill me with power, passion, and purpose, like a true Sith.  Dark, depressive sadness just makes me numb and helpless.

It didn’t become long before this became a “thoughts and prayers” event.  I do hope that everyone who is posting about thoughts and prayers is actually sending them and not just checking some easy task off to assuage their guilt at doing absolutely nothing else.  I hope that those praying for the lost, the survivors, and the families are doing so in earnest.  I hope it isn’t just a meme to be shared and forgotten once a new inspirational quote strikes your fancy.

I have seen a few different “causes” for this incident.  Obviously, the snowflakes are calling for more gun control, because that’s the obvious response to a gun-made massacre.  The response, in case you were wondering, sounds like this:


Sorry.  That’s kind of how it feels.  Followed by:


Have I mentioned lately that I’m a veteran?  I suppose you might think I grew up in the kind of household that encourages that kind of career choice.  I do have an uncle who joined the service during Vietnam (to avoid the Draft, partly).  However, my mother had an extreme distaste for guns.  Like, not just “No Fake Guns that look like Real Guns” type of mentality.  Zero toy guns.  No Nerf guns.  No squirt guns.  Nothing.  Guns were not toys in my childhood, despite having 3 brothers.  Also no candy cigarettes, but that’s because my mom knows exactly why such things exist and she wasn’t having it.

My folks spent their formative years in the 60s, in the middle of the first major American conflict filmed in color.  Imagine that.  She was not exactly pleased when I was lured in by a recruiter with the bait of college money.  She never said anything to discourage me, but when I think of how she raised me to believe in non-violence and the sanctity of human life, I can’t but wonder at how blind I was to how much of a betrayal a military career might have felt to her.  I mean, not a year before, I had professed that I certainly wouldn’t join an organization that brought about human death, even if I was not the one pulling the trigger.  Turns out teenage me is a hypocrite with beliefs built on the sturdy foundation of butter sitting out on the counter.

Even walking around Iraq with a M-4 on my back, I still didn’t believe that if the situation arose I would be capable of purposely taking a human life.  This may or may not surprise my Battle Buddies.  I was grateful to be the driver of my group because it meant that I wasn’t expected to shoot anyone.  I was expected to get us the eff out of a bad situation.  So what was my plan if I did end up in a situation that required some “action” on my part?  Protect my friends.  I couldn’t justify taking a life for the sake of my own, but I just easily accept taking a life to protect my people.  Because they were, and still are, my people.

I still don’t like guns.  I don’t actually understand the sentiment.  It’s like liking pencils.  They’re tools.  Maybe it’s a girl thing, but I never enjoyed firing weapons.  I wasn’t bad at it, as long as my sights got zeroed properly and/or I had all the parts for the laser sight I got on deployment (that’s a fun story).  I mean, we all have days where we zero in 9 and then get 11/40 on the first firing order, right?  Or the time I had to explain to a MSG that he was firing at my target.  Three times.  Or the first time I had to do the prone-supported position outside of a foxhole and found out that my ammo pouches made me feel like an effing see-saw.  Or how my BQ ended up going to the CQM range 3 times in Kuwait in 140 degree heat.  Got to see a lot of brass burns during that particular exercise.  Or when they added the kneeling position and we kind of had to figure it out because they didn’t send anyone to actually teach anyone the proper form.  Or the time we set the mountain on fire with tracer rounds at the 50-Cal range.  Or how I couldn’t even charge the 50-Cal.  Or the Mk-19.  Did I mention the Mk-19 range where we were delayed for 2 hours because some scientists were talking to endangered birds behind the range?  We saw whales that day.  It was the first time I wore a flak jacket.  I didn’t even have the plates in and I felt like I couldn’t breath.  Which is funny because by the end of deployment I felt naked when I wore the vest without the plates on the way home.

Apparently, there is a type of person who gets off on firing weapons.  There was a lot of boner talk at the 50-Cal range.  All you do is get behind the rifle and push down a butterfly button with your thumb.  Oh, yeah.  That’s hot.  Granted, you do the same thing with a Mk-19, but it’s shooting grenades so the boom is a tad more thrilling.  Still.

Why is it a fun activity to go to a firing range?  The women’s group at my church in Alabama used to do that.  I just don’t get it.  Going to the range was always a hassle.  It took all day, the weather was always horrendous, and a lot of it was just sitting around waiting for your turn.  And there were days where you were spot on and days you couldn’t hit the side of a barn.  You didn’t even get the same weapon every time, so it’s not like you built up a report with the thing.  And afterwards, you have to clean the weapon.  Sometimes for hours depending on how effing detail-oriented the armorer was.  I didn’t even go to the range with my Reserve unit, but everyone was cleaning weapons so I had to.  And when I finished in 30 mins, I got a dirty look from an E-7 because everyone else was still cleaning theirs so why was I just sitting around?  I cleaned 4 weapons that day.  I’ll admit that the task can be very therapeutic for someone like me.  It’s still galling to have to do it when you didn’t even fire that day.

So no, I don’t like guns.  [Note on terminology: I have never fired a “gun.”  At Basic, it was explained that we dealt in “weapons.”  Guns were for civilians.  There was extremely strict protocols for dealing with weapons.  They were either pointed at the ground, in the air, or up-and-downrange, never at a person.  They were to be treated at all times as if they were live.  And pointing even an unloaded weapon at a DS was the only grounds on which said DS was allowed to lay a hand on you.  That hand would be fist-shaped and aimed at your head.]  Just as I don’t like cars or computers or phones or power tools.  I use or have used all of those things and they are pretty essential to my daily life in some cases.  But liking them doesn’t make any sense.

I personally don’t understand wanting a gun.  I have a lot of very handy knives which will chop onions quite fine as well as hamstring a midnight burglar.  I guess I’ve always been a bit more hands on with my weapons, personally.  I don’t carry a pocket knife around anymore, but that’s mostly because I had to keep throwing them out at very tall points of interest.  I certainly prefer knives in a Zompac situation, if only because guns make a lot of noise and run out of ammo as soon as you’re cornered by all the zombies you attracted with all that noise.  Also, I don’t hunt.  I think if I ever took up the hobby I would prefer bow-hunting to a rifle, but I’m a romantic.

Owning a hunting rifle makes sense, especially if you hunt (obviously).  Just like I crochet and therefore have quite a selection of crochet hooks.  Owning a hand gun, well, I have a bit of a problem with that.  It is a weapon specifically designed to kill people.  They aren’t good for much else.  You could, I suppose, say the same thing for things like M-16s and AK-47s and M60s and M249s.  But those are specifically designed for warzones.  Yes, they are supposed to kill people.  They’re also supposed to kill cars, trucks, and even tanks in some cases.  They are not ideal for popping the intruder in the middle of the night.  I know my husband wants a gun at some point.  He also wants a safe to keep it in because he’s not especially dumb.  He respects the danger and power of weapons, just like I do.

Now, I’ve heard a few interesting things over the last few days.  There has been a great deal of the typical “more gun control vs. you can pry my gun from my cold, dead hands” argument.  Lots of statistics showing how the US is obliterating the rest of the world in the “Who can kill more of its own people with guns” game.  People fairly pointing out that it’s really gun-related suicides that give us the edge in that particular game (unless we’re just counting the sheer number of mass shootings in the US compared to other nations).  People also pointing out that a person bent on evil will commit it, whether it is with guns modified with kits or pipe bombs or knives or anthrax.  And, of course, pointing out that none of the restrictions anti-gun people want put in place would have stopped what happened in Vegas.  I’ve also seen that it is the Godlessness of this country that leads to such atrocities.  That I cannot comment on.

There is also utter bewilderment.  Here’s a guy who didn’t fit anyone’s profile.  Not a white male in his 20s.  Not a turban-wearing jihadist.  Not a hyped-up black druggie.  There is nothing about this guy that screams psycho-mass-murderer exact the extreme collection of guns.  And having guns is just the American way, right?

Ah, here’s the rage.  See, the 2nd Amendment gives you the right to own a weapon.  That’s it.  Now, we can argue the intent of the Founders all we want.  It doesn’t matter what they meant, especially when gun sales spike after every mass shooting and that’s just good effing business.  The propaganda being plugged directly into your brain is that it’s your right and no one can take it away from you.  And that is exactly correct, believe it or not.  It doesn’t matter that the Founders couldn’t possibly imagine the destructive power a single semi-automatic weapon could have on a crowd of unsuspecting civilians.  It matters even less that the Founders were laying the foundation to never need a standing army because if everyone can have a gun, then everyone can be the army (militia ringing any bells?) at need.  Well, we have a standing army which is a huge suck on the budget every year because of bureaucracy and inefficiency and clinging to obsolete weaponry because it’s historic or tradition or whatever.  We also have the set-in-the-bones believe that guns = personal defense.  Taking away your guns is just the government’s way to keep you docile.  Or it will just make an easier job for criminals because criminals don’t get guns legally anyway, right?  Granted, taking your guns away might also prevent you from being shot dead by your toddler or keep your depressed teenager from blowing his brains out or keep you from accidentally shooting someone because you have no respect for guns.  Because they are toys and it is your right to have one, neener neener.

By the way, when people bring up the extremely harsh anti-gun regulations employed in Australia after their mass shooting in 1996 (and how it was the last they’ve seen), nobody says anything about how the government “took” anyone’s guns.  They didn’t.  It was entirely voluntary.  You turn in your gun and the government paid you for it.  That won’t work here because the government gets a lot of money from gun companies and they certainly aren’t going to turn around and spend that money buying back guns from hard working citizens in order to destroy them.  That’s just not how it works in this country.

The government CAN’T take your stupid guns.  It won’t even try.  It would rather take a moment of silence for 26 elementary school kids than even consider trying to take your guns.  So rest easy on that score.

There isn’t a solution for this problem.  At least, not an American solution.  We don’t respect guns because they’re toys and proof of manhood and essential for personal protection.  They’re a right that we take advantage of forgetting why it’s a right, just like we forget why church and state are separated.  And how freedom of religion and speech and press is there to protect you from legal government persecution, which is why there was such an extreme response to a high-ranking government official implying that a civilian organization should persecute protesters.  Government officials don’t get freedom of speech.

Before I leave you, I thought I’d provide another list of people who can STFU about this issue:

People who own guns but have never been trained in the proper use of them.

People who profit from the sale of guns.

People who state that victims “deserved it.” Period.

Idiots who think that if only they’d had their gun, all of this could have been averted.  No.  One shooter is bad enough.  Two shooters only ever compound a situation.

People who say you don’t need a gun or whatever.  You don’t decide what people need.

People who think that this is an easy fix.  If only we just did this, we would never have this problem again.  Don’t underestimate the depth of evil human beings are capable of achieving.

People who think the problem isn’t guns so we should just do nothing.  The problem isn’t just guns.  There is much we should be doing.  Maybe not having a cult of gun ownership and comprehensive care programs set up for the mentally ill?  Just to start?


I made pumpkin oatmeal cookies today.  Half the batch got butterscotch chips.  The other half got chopped up candied ginger.  If you want some, you know where I live.


Filed under Ramblings, Rants

I hate Football.

I’d like to start this by saying I got home and spent 7 hours in my kitchen trying to calm down.  I roasted sliced yellow and zucchini squash.  I made a stock out of shrimp tails.  I baked bacon.  I made gumbo (because why else would I make shrimp stock).  I listened to Pandora loudly.  And when my husband got home from work (early because power went out at work), I still ended up crying on his shoulder.

I am about to say a lot of things.  I’m trying to exorcise feelings that I’ve been bottling.  You may not like what I have to say.  You can disagree with me.  You can call me whatever you like.  You can blame it on pregnancy hormones or just being a chick or being a liberal snowflake or whatever.  You can unfollow me.  I don’t care.  My chest hurts, I still feel like crying, and I am terrified that I have to bring up a child in this daily apocalypse.  Stop reading whenever you like.  See if I freaking care.

Hi.  My name is Jo.  I’m an Army combat veteran.  I took an oath a while ago to protect and uphold the Constitution.  I deployed to a war zone.  I was indoctrinated into a cult of patriotism.  When I was growing up, I was given a test on the Pledge of Allegiance to make sure I understood what I was saying when I faced the flag in the morning.  I was also raised to stand for the Anthem with my hand over my heart.  Well, in public anyways.

I do not like professional sports, football most of all.  I find that athletes, like most celebrities, are overpaid and celebrated far more than they should be.  I believe that a proper society would celebrate those who contribute positively to that society.  Nurses, school teachers, soldiers, police, fire fighters, artists, and blue collar workers.  The worship given to athletes is wholly disproportionate to their actual contribution.  We shower them with scholarships for schools they aren’t learning from and drown them in sponsorships because they have good hand eye coordination and can hit people really hard, especially after drinking this electrolyte drink and wearing these $200 sneakers.  Some of you may think you know where this is going.  Some of you are wrong.

I have never in my life been proud of an NFL player.  Until one of them started a protest.

Don’t stop reading yet.

You see, most professional athletes make headlines for beating their wives.  Or abandoning their teams.  Or getting arrested for dog fighting.  Or rape.  Or drug abuse.  Or gangs violence.  DUIs.  Prostitutes.  Steroids.  And what’s funny is that those headlines are barely headlines.  They’re expected to a degree.  And fans will go out of their way to pardon these players, make up a million excuses for them and be ready to fight anyone who says anything against the character of the person whose name is on the back of their over-priced “authentic” jersey.  Those players are heavily fined and suspended.  They’re traded to other teams sometimes.  However, in general, their behavior causes very little long-term damage to them.  They may not be on a Wheaties box, but they won’t be shunned by society.  Some of them won’t even lose their jobs, despite videos posted publicly of them punching fiancées in the face or actually jail time.

People lose jobs for being convicted of crimes.  Some of them lose their whole futures because an ounce of marijuana makes them a felon for the rest of their lives. People even lose their jobs for posting things on social media.  Yet some of the most infamous criminals in the limelight get it written off because, again, they can throw a ball or hit someone really hard.

And then there are politicians, who can get away with all of these offenses, put a flag pin on their lapel, get re-elected, and then get pulled into another “scandal.”  It’s “scandal” because that’s what we call it when a person who has called for tougher illegal drug regulations gets caught with cocaine.  Or when an outspoken opponent to same-sex marriage gets caught not only in an affair, but in a homosexual extramarital relationship.

Let’s talk about patriotism.  I hear the phrase “that’s how I was raised” quite frequently.  I was raised to respect the flag.  I was raised speaking the Pledge every day in school.  I was raised to stand for the anthem.  However, I am not a blind patriot.  I hate this country sometimes.  I hate how broken it is.  I hate how ashamed it makes me.  If I say the Pledge, it’s because I am a citizen of this nation and I believe that we should pledge allegiance to the unity of a republic as a goal and a promise that I will be there for my neighbors.  Because I choose to, not because my peers pressure me into it.  I acknowledge that the pledge was altered in the 50s because jingoists were scared the Reds were infiltrating our Democracy and we know how much those Pinko Commie bastards, like Demons, can’t say the words “under God” without bursting into flames.

I hate that people call America a Christian nation.  Maybe if we acted like it, even a little, sure.  But there is a reason we separated church and state.  The state corrupts the faith.  Theocracy is not faith.   If you want more Christian ideals enforced by the government, better not turn your nose up at welfare, public works, and “free” healthcare.  We as Christians are called to help those who need us, the sick, the impoverished, the sinners.  That is how we become Christ-like.  There is no way mandated charity qualifies as Christianity.

Mandated is a good word, you know.  Also indoctrination.  Ever been indoctrinated?  I have.  In 9 weeks I went from a scared 18 yr old girl who hated guns and couldn’t stomach the idea of taking a single human life to being a “killer.”  I was going to be in forever, this was going to be my career, and I was better than all those pansy civilians who stayed home.  This lasted all of 2 hours after I got out of Basic.  But some of it sticks.  Like, I will stand to attention when the Army song comes on.  I won’t sing the stupid words any more, but I won’t sit through it, either.  That’s not because I like the song or am super proud of my service.  The fact is, I earned the right to stand.  You didn’t.  I do not like seeing civilians in military attire of any sort, even spouses and kids.  I do not like seeing the flag used in propaganda ads political campaigns or plastered all over clothing.  I do not like seeing a flag flying that is ripped or one flying at night without a light on it.  I do not like the Confederate Flag.  I do not like when civilians get upset about someone “disrespecting the military” with a peaceful protest.  I do not like when my military friends have the same reaction.  Because free speech is part of the constitution I swore to protect.  Disrespect is spitting on soldiers when they come back from Vietnam and calling them baby killers.  Disrespect is allowing the VA to become so corrupt an ineffectual that veterans die befor they can get treatment.  Disrespect is parading soldiers about like little puppets to show everyone how patriotic you are, you who have never served a day in your life.

And speaking of civilians, I despise the fact that the people who tell the military what to do and how to do it, the people who send my friends to die, are privileged civilians with absolutely zero military experience.

I don’t like that a draft-dodger is tweeting threats about the leader of a sovereign nation.  How dare he?  How dare call a POW a loser, congratulate a purple heart recipient, take two days to condemn violent protesters, call peaceful protesters “sons of bitches,” threaten the medical coverage of veterans and military families, and claim that he knows ISIS better than the Generals?  And then he just nonchalantly tweets an act of war that could get my friends killed?  Not my friends here, you understand.  My friends stationed in South Korea.  You know, the country that is DEFINITELY within rocket range of nuclear weapons.  The soldiers who will be first if that runty little psycho decides to test America’s tough guy stance?

But hey, like I’ve been seeing on the Facebook, this isn’t about him.  It’s about one player disrespecting the military and the flag and the anthem.  Or it was.  Up until that effing mook decided to make it about him by calling for a non-government entity to punish protesters.  Way to make it worse, idiot.

You do not have to like what has been going on the last year with these protests.  Or any protest, for that matter.  I don’t recall any protest in history that had the goal of making everyone happy.  Sit-ins and hunger strikes and effing Buddhists lighting themselves on fire, these are not supposed to be a delightful romp.  You protest to draw attention, not to blend in.  Again, Christians, let’s look to our model, shall we?  Jesus broke the law.  Repeatedly.  Publicly.  On purpose.  And they nailed him to an effing tree.  (Oh, please don’t go and say that I’m making these protesters “Christ-like.”  That is not the point here.)

A lot of people seem to be upset by the manner of protest.  Which is interesting because that would be the bloody point, wouldn’t it?  It is supposed to upset you.  Now, I’ll admit that it is slightly more blatant than, say, sitting at a lunch counter or trying to go to school.  Imagine how bad sh*t was that it was so easy to piss people off.  Sitting in the wrong seat got you arrested.  Using the wrong water fountain got you beaten.  Looking at the wrong woman got you lynched.

Oh, but thank goodness that’s all behind us, right?  No one’s getting shot in the street for being unarmed.  Or for reaching for their wallet.  Or for being 12-years-old and brandishing a toy gun.

Oh, but they were criminals.  Right?  They deserved to be gunned down because they made the wrong choice.


We have a legal system for a reason.  It’s to lock up minorities by the millions.  The system is broken.  Our prisons are being run by private companies.  Did you know that?  That they get money the more people are jammed into their facilities and therefore like to lobby for laws that will pack their cells?  That they could give 2 sh*ts about due process or rehabilitating prisoners into useful members of society so long as they get paid?  There are more people in prison than there are people in the entire state of Nebraska.  Which I will have you know has way more people than Montana.

Oh, but let’s focus on these over-paid, prissy athletes “disrespecting” the flag/anthem/military.  Name three careers available to minorities that will make them rich.  Athletics is one.  Acting is another.  Music is another.  How many CEOs are minorities?  Can you name 10 famous minority millionaires who aren’t athletes, actors, or musicians?  5?  Anyone besides Ben Carson, Al Sharpton, and Obama?  Do you realize that for a lot of minority kids, athletics is the only way they can afford college?  Do you think all those rich whiney babies started out rich?  Are you aware that at the end of the day, regardless of their paycheck, they are still minorities?

They are called privileged.  Because they are rich.  But they are rich because they are lucky.  They had a specific skillset that got them out of their underprivileged schools, out of the cycle of violence and poverty faced by many people in their neighborhoods.  But for the grace of God, they could have been murdered in the street just by living on that street.  That’s why they care.  That’s why they protest.  Because we still have a big issue with race in this country.  And they have to protest because people don’t listen to the poor.  Remember?  The 99% getting mocked for having iPhones and having the luxury to protest while everyone else had to go to work?  All the while, the 1% worked tirelessly to turn the poor against each other so they could continue to be the 1%.  The “thugs” leading protests in Ferguson and Cleveland and Chicago?  Well, now the thugs are your former heroes, the guys on your fantasy football leagues whose names are hanging in your closet with your other sports paraphernalia.   And they aren’t rioting.  They’re kneeling.  The nerve, right?

Now, let’s make this perfectly clear.  In 2009, the DOD paid the NFL to do more patriotic displays.  Remember that word mandated?  Before 2009, you didn’t see the players until they ran onto the field, after some clown butchered the anthem.  Then it became mandatory for them to show their patriotism.  You know what mandatory means, right?  That’s when you are forced to do something even if you don’t want to.  In the Army, we have stuff that is required by regulation, but we voluntarily gave up a lot of our civil rights.  So, you know, we accept that mandatory is part of the job.  Ever hear the phrase mandatory fun?  That’s when there’s a “fun” event that the commander has decided is mandatory because otherwise no one would show up.  There’s also the word “voluntold.”  That’s when they ask for volunteers by making a list of who’s going to volunteer.  Get it?  It’s like making people swear allegiance to the current ruler or swear fealty to the state religion.  With the prospect of being burnt alive if you refuse.  But, you know, probably not so extreme.

Mandating patriotism is sick.  End of storyMandated patriotism is a lot like mandated religion.  It isn’t real.  And it is anti-American.  Imagine sending your kid to a school that requires them to pray to Mecca 5 times a day.  Or they have to have a bar mitzvah before they graduate 6th grade.  Or they have to write a paper on how glorious the beloved leader is.  Every day.  Or else they get shot.  In the head.

If you aren’t frightened by the images of blank-eyed children swearing by rote to something they don’t understand, you aren’t paying attention.  That’s what mandated patriotism is.

But there has to be a better way/time.  Actually, no.  The protest is working, to a degree.  We are effing talking about it.  Even more so since some moron made them martyrs and therefore multiplied the participants exponentially in one day.  Instead of a few kneeling, entire teams either knelt or locked arms to state plainly that they will not be threatened into silence.  Some people are still blindly sharing memes and dismissing this as a publicity stunt.  “They don’t know what they’re protesting.  They just want attention.  They are disrespectful.”  Well, they do know what they’re protesting (police brutality and systemized racism), they already have attention (duh, millionaires on TV every week), and disrespectful?  Kneeling?

Okay, lighting the flag on fire.  Yes.  Blatantly using the anthem to show off your mediocre voice.  Yes.  Claiming that 26,000 unreported military rapes are just what happens when you put men and women together.  Yes.  Kneeling?  No.

Are they protesting the flag?  No.  Are they protesting the anthem?  No (but you do know why we don’t sing the other verses, right?).  Are they protesting the military.  No.  They are protesting police brutality and systemized racism.  And they are doing it in a public way to draw attention to the cause.  Does that make sense?  You don’t like when they kneel?  “Can’t they kneel some other time, some other place?”  Why?  So you don’t have to see it?  The Anthem is the best time to do it because it draws the most attention.  Again, that’s the fracking point.  Do I like that?  No.  Do I have to?  No.

And they aren’t just kneeling, you know.  Some of them are putting their (considerable) money where their mouths are.  Many players participate in community projects working with underprivileged kids and donate to charitable causes related to these issues.  But are they supposed to enforce internal police investigations?  Change legislation to increase funding to schools and conflict management training for officers?  Are they supposed to show up to every traffic stop to make sure that no one gets shot for smelling like pot?  Or protect nurses from being arrested for doing their jobs?  Or investigate every instance of police brutality and ensure that the officers are reprimanded accordingly?


They’re effing football players.  You know?  Modern day gladiators who get paid to get brain damage.  But isn’t it amazing what buffoons in helmets can do when they act together for a cause.

You want to stand, do it.  You want to kneel, fine.  There isn’t a law to enforce either because then it wouldn’t be patriotism.  It’d be fascism.  I swore to protect your rights and that includes your right to sit.

When the leader of the free world demands that free speech should be punished, we have a much bigger problem.

As a last note, the following people can STFU about this issue (especially as it concerns “respecting the military”):

Draft Dodgers

Anyone who has ever worn the flag as an article of clothing (see the flag code)

Anyone who has ever flown the Confederate Flag (cuz that’s called treason)

Anyone who refers to POWs as losers, soldiers as rapists, or in any way uses the military as some kind of pawn in their campaign

Anyone who believes that people who don’t prove their patriotism through meaningless acts should be shot (see fascism)

People who don’t stand with their hand over their heart every time they hear the Anthem, even when they are home alone or when it plays at 8:00 every morning on the base loud speaker or when they are getting their concessions before the game starts because the line was so freaking long and you don’t want to miss the kick o


Remember kids, we aren’t North Korea.  We don’t have a gulag for political dissenters.  We don’t have death camps for those who look different from us (anymore).  We don’t mandate patriotism.  If you have a problem with the protest, do something about it.  Either close your eyes to the whole thing (boycott or whatever) or look for ways you can make a change so that they don’t need to protest any more.


1 Comment

Filed under Ramblings, Rants

Platypus Update Week (almost) 14

Back in July, we found out I was pregnant.  We’d been trying since February, so it wasn’t that much of a surprise.  I’ll admit that when the second pink line showed up, there was a tiny voice in my head that cheered because I did it.  I am the mother goddess worshipped by the cavemen.

This is not me being smug.  I know pregnant woman can be smug.  This is me expressing that inescapable primal voice which stated categorically that this is the one thing, the only thing, that I should be able to do.  And if I can’t do it, then I am not a woman.

This is a surprisingly un-feminist statement, I know.  Logically, I know that the biological imperative to reproduce is not a requirement for my identity.  Choosing not to have kids is a valid life choice and one I wish more people would take considering the over-population problems we have on this planet.  And while I have been tempted to opt-out of baby-making, especially as I got older, I also feared that sense of regret that childless women are supposed to get.  Utter nonsense and propaganda, I know.  And also a kick in the teeth for all those people out there who can’t have kids.

Among my parents siblings, my dad’s sister and both my mom’s brothers didn’t have kids.  And growing up I always felt there was some kind of shame attached to that.  Hurray for cultural programming.

I am friends with several couples who don’t have kids and they don’t sit at home bemoaning their decision.  Nope, they go on vacations when they like, eat out at nice restaurants, and spend money on nice things that they don’t necessarily need.

I also have friends who can’t have kids.  They have serious health conditions that either make them infertile or make pregnancy a life-threatening condition.  It is a source of trauma in their lives and very much part of the reason I feared “trying” for so long.  That being said, these friends aren’t less for being unable to reproduce.  They are wonderful, beautiful, whole women who inspire me everyday because they survived an ordeal and live a reality that has killed lesser mortals.

The I did it I felt was more in the lines of relief than pride.  Has there been any indication that I might not be able to have kids?  With a mother who had 5 kids and two siblings that are already 2 kids in?  No.  But I’m 32 now.  And modern myth would have me believe that already my eggs are shriveling up and blowing away in the breeze.  Plus, my hubby just turned 39.  We are not what you would call “spring chickens.”  The only reason “trying” was stressful was because there was the implied possibility of “failing.”

So here I am, grateful that we only “failed” for 5 months and that we started this whole thing with the verbal agreement that there was no pressure to succeed.  If it happens, it happens.  If not, we can adopt.  That didn’t shut up the niggling voice in my head every time my period came, but it helped.

Anyway, I’m now at nearly 14 weeks and edging into my second trimester.  At 10 weeks, we got the first ultrasound and discovered we were having a platypus and our dream of having twins was dashed.

Since making the public announcement, I have been asked about morning sickness and cravings.  I found it funny that a lot of the first trimester woes were things I deal with on the daily.  Headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, etc.  Honestly, I’ve had a hard time distinguishing between pregnancy nonsense and my normal life.  First of all, “morning” is a misnomer.  For a few weeks, I had random nausea and severe food aversion.  This means that when I tried to eat some reheated chicken, my body noped so hard I almost didn’t make it to the bathroom.  Food aversion is something I’m normally able to out-think.  Yes, body, I know you don’t like leftovers but I don’t like wasting food so suck it up.  Now, thanks to Platypus, I can’t trust that my mind can conquer my body so I can’t risk eating anything that might not agree with me.  When I go off on the food in the fridge, I’m having cereal for dinner.  I’ve had a lot of cereal in the last 3 months.

The nausea is supposed to go away now that I’m out of the first trimester.  Let’s hope that means I can go back to eating real food for a bit.

As to cravings, I can’t say that I’ve legit had any.  Before I knew I was preggers, when we were on vacation, I wanted salads a lot more than usual.  Having asked around, I found that consensus on cravings was that they are intense and for foods I don’t normally want.  But that doesn’t explain why I want mac & cheese-stuffed meatloaf.  It would explain why out of the blue I decided I needed cereal (we haven’t done cereal in maybe a year) at the commissary and proceeded to have a bowl of it as soon as we got home.  Then again, I could just be giving into my normal food desires because I’m pregnant and feel entitled to eat what I want, damnit.

And now I’m starting to show.  I am wigging out a little.  This pregnancy is inexorably progressing and I am both constantly aware of it and in mild denial that it is real.  I thought the sonogram would make it real.  I was wrong.  We haven’t bought any baby things and we’ve barely touch the registry and I’m not suffering from any nesting instinct yet.  I am tired a lot and bloated and gassy.  I have sudden extreme bouts of rage which have included some pretty awesome dreams where for once I didn’t feel helpless.  I can’t stand in place for very long without feeling uncomfortable, I have to drink more water, I have to pee a lot (even when I don’t drink more water), and my boobs are HUGE.  Like, they keep getting in my way and I have to be careful rolling over in my sleep.

And that is where I am right now.

Week: 13, 5 days

Weight: 137lbs

Platypus: Small Peach

Baby Bump: 37″

Bra Size: Medium (that’s all you’re getting, pervs)

Pant Size: 10



Filed under Misc Short Stories

New Game for SOs

It is Sunday.  There is football on the TV.  I happen to glance up to see a player in his pregame suit walking across the field and to my utter surprise the announcer confirms that I actually knew his name.  This delights me, so I share with my husband and receive a well-deserved high five.  And then the challenge starts.

Since he has been cultivating my appreciation in sports for the 10 years we’ve known each other, he decides to test my knowledge.

“Name 5 Steelers players.”

“Um, Ben, Troy, Hines…”

“Troy retired, Hines retired.”

“Crap, uh, Beardy Guy…”

Laughing, “I would have accepted Da Beard, but Beardy Guy?!?”

“Fine!  Name one Harry Potter book you’ve read.”

“I haven’t read any.”

“Well there you go.”

“But I can still name them!”

“Fine, name 5 Hogwarts professors.”

“Snape, Minerva, Dumbledore, um…oh…what’s her name, that bitch!”

“I’ll accept that.”

“Yes, that’s four!  Um, too bad Hagrid isn’t a professor!”

“Actually, he is, 3rd book!”  He cheers.  “Her name’s Umbridge, by the way.”

This challenge has been proclaimed as more fun than Scrabble.  It’s also an exercise in finding interest in what interests your SO.  I clearly failed.  However, if he asks me for Penguins players, I think I’ll win.


Leave a comment

Filed under Ramblings

I did this for Reasons

Yesterday, I got a tattoo.

Tattoo 1Tattoo 2


I saved my babysitting money and spare change for well over a year because I knew it was going to be expensive and I didn’t want that kind of frivolity to come out of our savings.  By April, I had $800, $270 of which was from change.

For my birthday, we went for a consult in Richmond after sourcing around for a good month for the right artist: reading reviews, interrogating my learned tatted friends, looking at dozens of artist galleries, and finally talking face-to-face with the artist about my design.  The artist I chose was booked nearly a month out, but he managed to find an appointment for me on a Thursday afternoon, which was perfect.  Except that Buddy had to work.  This was going to be a solo endeavor.  I was incredibly nervous.

What if I didn’t like it?  What if it cost more than I had?  What if it hurt too much?  What if I did like it but in a year or two, stopped like it.  My inclinations change over the years, as do everyone’s.  Ten years ago, my go-to colors were blue/black/silver and I despised pink.  I was going to get out of the Army one day and be a costume designer.  I was super into Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.  I idolized Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  I was surrounded by people who had tattoos.  But even then, I knew that my tastes were too fickly to permanently stab something into my flesh.

Since then, my favorite color has shifted to purple.  And my job of choice has shifted quite a bit as well, settling somewhere between writer and book editor.  I have delved deeper into literature through my English degree and expanded my skills as a baker.  I’ve even picked up new hobbies, like sewing and crochet.  I am still super into Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and Gaiman and Pratchett are still my writing gods.

None of these things are etched into my skin.  No beautiful quotes or Biblical text.  No runes or Elvish scripts.  No Deathly Hallows or crochet hooks or yarn or cookies or the faces of strangers whom I love for their work but wouldn’t know me from Adam.  I went with cherry blossoms.

And it hurt.  The shoulder part was fine, like scratching a light sunburn, an experience I’m well versed in.  It wasn’t much more painful that picking a scab.  The spine was much more needle-like, not in sharpness but in depth.  It felt like a longer, sharper needle sticking straight into my nerves.  It hurt, but was bearable.  The petals on my lower back were excruciating.

I feel awful about looking down on women with “tramp stamps.”  I know biker guys with sleeves and devils all over their arms and shoulders look tough, but anyone willing to do their entire tat on the lower back has got ovaries of adamantium.

Some of you might have heard the story I told a few weeks ago about a wasp that mysteriously ended up in my bedroom and woke me with a friendly sting right on my earlobe.  If you have ever been stung by a bee or wasp, you know that pain.  It is hot and deep and nothing you do alleviates it.  This is not a flu shot.  This is an anthrax shot.  Every petal was a set of bee stings.  And he had to keep going back to add details.  He was as merciful as possible, taking breathers when I started swearing, asking if I was okay.  Yes, I’m fine.  It hurts, but as soon as you stop, the pain stops.  I can do this.  I will bite my knuckles and kick my feet, but if you keep going so will I.

It took just over two hours and cost only $300, with tip.  I went to a neat shop down the street and bought an umbrella with a katana handle as a reward.  I also picked up a couple of pastries from a bakery because I had been too nervous to eat all day and my blood sugar was tanked.  It took me most of the drive home to come down from the adrenaline, which had me shaking and jittery.  I spent the rest of the night eating yogurt and drinking lemonade to get balanced.  When nerves get to my stomach, that can take a long time.

I chose the cherry blossoms for three reasons.

First, cherry blossoms have become synonymous with my relationship with my husband.  We both share an appreciation for Japanese culture, though he’s the only one of us lucky enough to get stationed there.  We spent most of our early relationship long distance and when he came to visit for R&R from Iraq, we went on deployment-money adventures.  This included a week stay at the Animal Kingdom Resort at Disney World and a week-long visit to see friends stationed in Japan.  I don’t have any pics from the Japan portion of that trip because the flash drive I put them on got left at Disney.  What I do know was that most of my first days in Japan I was sick from Jetlag.  But then there were the cherry blossoms.  When we went to see the big Buddha, they were still out.

Big Buddha

That was from the second time we visited.  Or rather, I got to visit Buddy while he was stationed in South Korea and we took a 10-day jaunt to Japan.  That site reminds me of visiting the Grand Canyon with my family.  You can take a million pictures (and believe me, I did), but never capture the majesty of something so huge.  You could say that my first Japanese vacation made me enamored of cherry blossoms and in the years since, they have accompanied the happiest adventures with my husband.  They were even on our wedding cake.

By themselves, cherry blossoms are enchanting and my favorite thing about spring.  Symbolically, they represent renewal and rebirth, which is why there are festivals that celebrate them every year.  Something about the blankets of delicate blossoms springing forth so unexpectedly after winter just renews the soul and brings hope.  At least for me.  This is the second reason for choosing them.  I could have gone with any flowering tree and called it a day, but cherry blossoms remind me of the hope of spring.  And sometimes I need that.

The third reason has to do with falling blossoms.  It’s funny how seeing the blizzards of petals is both inspiring and a bittersweet melancholy; it’s a reminder that all beauty passes away.  Trying to hold tight to the blossoms only bruises them.  And those that linger on the branch merely wither.  This last year we lost a lot of people in our families.  I was going to do a petal for each person I have lost in my life, maybe updating it every time someone else passed on.  But who to add?  Just family?  Close friends?  My cat?  By the end I would have a massive flower pile on my hip and would have to add a little guy with a rake to keep them neat.  (Also, considering the amount of pain those blossoms would individually cause, it turns out I’m not that much of a masochist.)  It is enough, I think, to recognize that the falling blossoms represent loss, but a loss that isn’t always an evil.  For some it is just their season and for others a mercy.  It is still sad, still causes grief and pain.  But it is and shall always be the Truth of life.  Beauty fades and all living things die.  That’s also why I decided to stick with the watercolor style for the upper blossoms after learning that the ink will fade faster.  I can touch it up if I want, or let them fade as nature intended.

So that’s why I chose the cherry blossoms.  Yet some of you, might still have the burning question of WHY ruining my Zen.

Look at the top two photos again.  Now look very closely at the second one of just my shoulder.  If you have sharp eyes, you might notice that there are scars all along my trapezius muscles.  Tiny little pale circles, dozens of them.  You see those?  Good.  Now imagine them all along my other shoulder and along my collar bone.  I have compulsion issues.

I sucked my three middle fingers until I was 5, despite everything my Mom did to stop me, including soaking my fingers in tabasco sauce.  I had a sharp corner on my pinky nail once and sucked on my fingers despite it gouging a hole in my cheek.  I remember the exact moment I stopped this habit.  Heather looked over at me in kindergarten and with the utmost derision of a 5-year-old, told me to stop.  So, ashamed, I did.  Thereafter, it was chewing pencils.

And I know some people gnaw on pen caps and the like.  I did that, too.  And I chewed the ends of pencils until the metal end with the eraser came off, totally deformed.  I would bite down pencils like they were corn-on-the-cob.  I don’t remember when I stopped doing that, but it might have been around when I started getting nicer pencils.  As for nail biting, well, that’s another story.

Nail biting was twofold.  If I was anxious, they were goners.  I took to taking extra straws into movies to make sure I had something to worry on besides my nails.  However, if I found a snag in a nail or a rough edge, I would have to fix it.  So I’d keep tearing off a piece, trying to clean it up somehow, unable to stop despite knowing that I was only making it worse.  Have you ever chewed your nails down to the beds?  You don’t realize how much it hurts until later when that exposed skin starts aching.  And you still have to fight that urge to mess with the rough edge.

I have mostly defeated that nasty habit.  What happened was, I was in Basic Training during a field exercise.  I had spent the last month or so stressed so far beyond normal that I hadn’t even thought about my nails.  You really don’t have the mental space for fiddly little nervous ticks.  I was finally getting to a mental place where I could relax and in that moment, I went to chew a nail.  However, upon looking at said nail and seeing all the nasty that was under there, I swore off nail biting for good.  The first time I ever, in my life, trimmed my nails was at AIT a month or so later.  I still do chew them sometimes, but not out of nerves.  It’s that compulsion to fix that edge that still gets me.  Which is why I have nail files hidden everywhere.

My last tick is picking.  There was a time when I thought it was just a bad habit, one I should be able to stop whenever I wanted.  And, typical as this seems, I thought I was alone in this nasty habit.  Picking is related to my nail biting in that it has to do with smoothing rough edges.  A scab is a rough edge.  Remove it and the skin is smooth, if only for an instant.  Logically, it’s dumb.  You lengthen healing time, risk infection, cause pain, AND increase the likeliness of scars.  But logic doesn’t come into it.

Mom saw spots of blood on the back of my shirt once, maybe 5 years ago.  I told her I pick scabs.  She said, “Well stop it.”  And I replied, rather rudely, “It’s a compulsion, I can’t.”

This is not entirely true.  I can redirect my compulsion (as I’ve apparently been doing my whole life from finger sucking to pencil chewing to nail biting).  If I keep my hands busy, they can’t find those little blemishes and worry at them.  It’s an indirect benefit of taking up crochet.  Unlike my other hobby, reading, my hands are in full use with crochet so they can’t wander.  I suppose I could get on medication.  I have a friend who is also a compulsive picker, which is how I found out that I’m not just a freak with a gross habit.  She got on medication which helped curbed her picking.  I just have a problem with doctors, especially Army doctors, who always seem to look for the fastest way to get rid of you.

But I digress.  People look in the mirror and see their flaws first.  When I am dressed, I like how I look.  It is when I undress that all the ugly comes out, all the stretch-marks and cellulite and scars.  I look in the mirror and worry that I’m getting fat (just LOOK at those THIGHS) or my face is the wrong shape or my teeth are crooked.  These are all little, daily things, the diatribe built in by an image-obsessed culture.  I also see blemishes and scars.  On bad days, that’s all I see.  It hurts.  It hurts that I can’t always stop myself.  It hurts that there are bloodstains on my nice clothes because I couldn’t help it.  It hurts that I shy away from parts of my closet depending on the state of my shoulders and back.  It just hurts.  Lying on the tattoo table, when the needle first started in my shoulder, it felt no worse than what I do to myself.  I knew then it was the right decision.

I got a tattoo because for once I wanted to look at a self-inflicted scar that was beautiful.  And if that is vain or selfish, fine.  I am vain and selfish.  I dye my hair because it looks good on me.  I wear clothes that flatter my figure.  I don’t wear makeup because it is a hassle.  And now when I look at my ugly naked body, I can turn my shoulder, not to see the damage I’ve done to myself, but to remember that scars can be beautiful.


Filed under Misc Short Stories