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Archive for March, 2010

Two weeks of scouring Craigslist…

Wrote to someone who posted a house for $1000, got this reply:

May the Peace of the Lord be Upon you and,Thanks for your interest in our property.

bdrm.,\\ full bath home features granite counter tops,living roomand dining room or den, tiled floors and all appliances. The kitchenopens to a private backyard. The home is on a no-thru street creating minimal traffic. State of the art recreation center Me  and family have been relocated to  Abuja Nigeria while my first son which is my lawyer he is in London England but me and my wife will are here in Nigeria…”

Nigeria indeed. I should have known it was too sweet a deal to be true.

Next… a house across the street from my daycare… the landlord showed me around a $1900 2-bedroom because the 1-bedroom, turns out, is already rented. I protest, he says he’ll go down to $1800. Single mom here… not angling for a deal, just sorry the 1-bedroom is gone. So he says, “well let’s be creative, what can you do to make up the rent?” I looked at him blankly. Well, the place was wood-paneled and smelled weird and there are smokers living downstairs. I emailed the next day that he seems like a great landlord, but the smoking makes it a no-go for me, creativity or not. He actually replied, “You’re not being creative! I want you as a tenant!” Onward.

I found a place… with wall-t0-wall plush white carpeting. Yep, and we’re in! I’m already imagining it covered in layers of plastic tarps and overlapping IKEA rag rugs. We’ll see. It’ll be colorful, to be sure.

Actually, I offered a damage clause right up front, while mentioning that I have two cats. She seemed pleased. But the big selling point for her, what apparently got me the place over the other eager parties, is that I didn’t get knocked up by mistake. For real! Seems I represent “a new era for women.” It’s like a crit in art class where someone pins up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and it gets interpreted as everything from the future of humanity to an uncanny reflection of someone’s dream last night.

Well, maybe not that random, but it was unexpected. I wasn’t even playing up that angle! The first time my decision to go it alone has given me Bona Fide Leverage. I hope it happens again sometime.

Meanwhile, I was up half the night making new pictures in my head. It occurred to me that the news of eviction was most disturbing because I had a story I’d built up with the baby in this apartment… birth in the bedroom, her sleeping in the crib at the foot of my bed, wandering in the clover under the apple tree, picking plums in the back yard… And as soon as I knew where I was going next, the anxiety shape-shifted and my brain got busy knitting a new story, demanding particular furniture layouts and making a Bed Bath and Beyond list.

Hope I get some sleep tonight.

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My landlord unceremoniously informed me this past week that he wants me to vacate my apartment. Apparently a pack of homeless Relatives From Europe need to live here this summer. I can’t help but wonder why he doesn’t spruce up one of his many other properties for the wayward travelers, but I suppose that would tarnish his Professional Procrastinator image. He seems pleased with himself for giving me 4 months notice (although this heroic act was actually set into motion by my call and insistent questions about his plans for the unit above mine… “oh,” he croaks “I’ve been meaning to come down and talk to you…”). It doesn’t take a biology whiz to add 4 months + 4.5 month pregnancy and recognize he’s not offering up much of a going-away gift. I pointed this out. Nicely, even. He didn’t flinch and is holding me to 30 days notice when I do eventually find a place.

In an effort to sidestep the hot waves of anger and helplessness this provokes, I’m pretending I’m doing this on purpose: leaving my quiet nest, wandering miles away from the neighboring daycare, disassembling the crib (it won’t fit through the bedroom door), and carrying away every single object I own, just for the fun of it. Yep, feeling wacky! Blame it on the hormones! Pull up the tent stakes, kids, Mama isn’t tired of moving yet!

Craigslist. Pleading emails. Well, so far I’ve had a single mother of 4 proposition me as a potential housemate, negotiated a 45 degree pitched driveway to peer into a tiny, overpriced apartment in the woods, and hit “reload” on the Craigslist search page roughly 1000x a day. No, this isn’t distracting in the slightest.

Ahem. On the baby front, she’s apparently the length of a carrot this weekend. Which carrot, I’m not sure, but they’ve suddenly evolved from measuring her head-to-bottom (tomato, 6.5″) to head-to-toe (carrot, 10.5″), so it appears she had a dramatic growth spurt and is stretching out straight for their weekly vegetable comparisons. Despite these shenanigans, I still can’t feel much, thanks to a front-facing placenta (apparently they get to attach themselves wherever they please), but this should change soon. Considering the array of stresses I’m experiencing lately, it might be better I can’t feel her fight-or-flight reaction kicking in each and every time I express dismay.

Oh yes indeed, a girl-child a’comin!

Nope, not very good at keeping secrets. Especially my own. And anyway, once you know, it’s impossible to refer to the kid as “it” any longer … unless, of course, it grows up to be a CEO of a small-town commercial real estate firm who forces pregnant ladies out of their homes.

Anyway, kid, off we go, into the sunset and a better community just around the corner…

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Hey, there’s still a person in there!! A bigger one, with a gorgeous spine, a four-chambered heart, kidneys and toes and a brain! While I’d gotten accustomed to seeing the heart beating in these foggy grey images, I hadn’t imagined I’d be looking into my kid’s skull. Clearly this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see your offspring all close up and translucent without even venturing under the bed or into the diary. Almost makes up for the fact that we can’t yet wander out into the sun together.

So here’s that kid –

getting the hitchhiking thumb prepped…

developing that lovely human profile…

and being a happy ghoul!

I should have asked for an image of the spine – it was the best part. When we first zeroed in on it, the baby was sleeping on its belly, those vertebrae all lit up and distinct, heart beating below. We woke it up with a few expert pokes and took a close look at hands and feet, internal organs, spun it around so we could look into the heart – like the empty shell of a walnut, or a fruit cut cross-wise.

Turns out I haven’t been feeling it because the placenta has made a home on the front of my uterus – which is apparently better than hanging out near the exit, but which also interferes with our nascent attempts at morse code. Who knew?

I got the usual sense of relieved assurance that the kid is still in there. Everything was perfect and I was glowing happily, still lying on the table with green jelly on my gut when the Head Doctor Guy came in. White lab coat buttoned up, embroidered with his name, he shook my hand and introduced himself. He said the pictures were good and he wondered when I’d have my second blood draw for the Bad Genetic Juju search. I said I wasn’t feeling it. Done with that. And anyway, I said, “it feels good, doesn’t feel like anything’s wrong.” Apparently changing subjects, he pointed out that my gender guess about the kid had been wrong. I laughed. He replied “See, so much for mother’s intuition.” Badum-ching!

Oh wait, was that supposed to help me reconsider my choice not to pursue second-stage screening? Woah. So much for the older generation of pig-headed doctors making their way out of the stone age.

He went away and I made my way into the sun to tell my story to mom and dad and my most enthusiastic childhood friend. Then I wandered into a local baby store to find something to celebrate the fabulous new person, only to be confronted and confounded by severe Gender Expectations. More on that later. I left empty-handed and soothed my grrrl-ness with a couple items tossed defiantly into the babywit cart. We’ll find our way through this pink and blue minefield yet…

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Now that I know the gender of my kid, I’m halfway toward finding a name. Not having any real family history constraints to guide the process, I thought it would be useful to put the gender constraint around it, so I found out with yesterday’s ultrasound. And here I am on the wizard this morning, where I eventually discovered a first/middle combination I might actually like. Popped it into Google. The first link on the list describes a nursing home serial killer. Bummer.

There are only so many names.

My name was unpopular enough for the first 20 years of my life that I’d actually turn my head whenever anyone said it. Then it became the most popular girls name 10 years running. Amazing it lasted as long as it did in the attic of memory, actually, because it’s such a wonderful, simple, short-but-3-syllable-packed name. Of course it’s hopeless to try to find a name that no one will have, that’s also familiar enough that people won’t make you repeat yourself, and where they might have a chance of knowing how to spell it (though popularity can kill this lovely trait; the rash of variations on my name has ruined this simple pleasure for me).

My dad may have been ahead of his time in claiming that my name came from a close associate of Patty Hearst. I can see I’m about to wander into that territory myself, Google making it impossible not to learn of all the other flawed and notorious adults in history with your brand new person’s name. I’m sure their mothers had good intentions, too.

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