Monthly Archives: October 2012

Nursery Nesting

Since I’m an overachiever who’s made it my goal to set up the nursery by 30 weeks pregnant (which would be late November — or, yeah, pretty much Thanksgiving), I’ve been pushing myself — and my husband — to get furniture set up, artwork hung, and finishing touches put on.

We’ve purchased everything we need decor-wise, with the exception of the bobbleheads and the light switch plate (which I really just need to go ahead and order from Wal-Mart since it’s the only place I’ve found it in stock), so now it’s just a matter of putting together the rest of the furniture, and then finish up all the fun decorative stuff. Because it’s kind of hard to hang artwork and put up wall decals when you only have the roughest sense of how big the furniture under and around it will be.

Oh, and there’s that DIY mobile I’ve decided to make. At least I have all the supplies now, thanks to a craft store trip on Sunday afternoon.

But the thrilling thing is that it’s actually starting to look like a nice, pulled-together room. I just might make our deadline yet.

Want to take a peek?

















(That last photo was taken at night, hence the odd discoloration.)

Then there’s the ever-expanding to-do list outside of the nursery, like:

  • Choose daycare Done, scheduled, deposit paid.
  • Finalize maternity leave details — I have 6 weeks paid short-term disability and received 8 weeks of paid maternity leave as a raise, so I need to somehow reconcile how that will work and whether that means they’re giving me 14 weeks, or still 12 weeks as discussed.
  • Figure out how short-term disability works — when do I file the claim? How? And more importantly, when does the chunk of money come?
  • Find out how much it will cost to put the baby on Mister Mister’s health insurance. I currently pay $0 for my health insurance. To add the baby, it would cost $170 per paycheck. We’re hoping it’s cheaper at Mister Mister’s job.
  • Tour the hospital — this is scheduled for November.
  • Register for childbirth classes — also scheduled for November.
  • Make freezer meals for after birth — because cooking will not sound good for quite some time.

And the non-baby-related list of to-do items that has somehow become baby-related, like:

  • Buy a real bed that isn’t sitting on the floor like a dorm room I’ve decided not to worry about this for now.
  • Please, God find some front porch and/or patio furniture from Craigslist, please. Done!

Isn’t being pregnant a miracle? And I don’t even think I’m even technically nesting yet.

P.S. I’m planning on doing a full nursery source list once everything is totally complete and I have better pictures for you, but if you really must know where something is from, just leave me a comment!

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26 Weeks: Nursery Progress and Big Feet

Baby is the size of: An English hothouse cucumber (mmmkay…)

How far along are you: 26 weeks, 1 day

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “The network of nerves in your baby’s ears is better developed and more sensitive than before. He may now be able to hear your voice and your partner’s as you chat with each other. Your baby is inhaling and exhaling small amounts of amniotic fluid. These so-called breathing movements are essential for the development of the lungs. These are also good practice for when your baby is born and takes that first gulp of air. Your baby is continuing to put on fat. He now weighs about 1 2/3 pounds and measures 14 inches from head to heel. If you’re having a boy, his testicles are beginning to descend into his scrotum — a trip that will take about two to three days.” <— Son, you’ll thank me someday for telling the world this fact about you.

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: A bit better this week. Not waking up as much in the middle of the night to go pee, probably because I caught a hint and stopped downing a quart of water right before I went to bed. Napped last night from 6 to 8 p.m. after a party at our house. Then stayed up till midnight. winning!

Best moment this week: Starting to put together our nursery. We’re really making progress and all that’s left is putting together a bookcase, hanging a few frames, putting up one more decal and making the mobile. We also have the light switch cover and some baseball bobbleheads to order for decoration. That sounds like a lot, but when you consider we have the crib, glider/ottoman, and dresser set up; book ledges hung with some thrifted books adorning them; one decal — his name — above the crib (which made me cry when we got it up); one piece of art hung; hooks hung; lamps set up; room painted; window treatments hung… you realize we’ve actually made a good chunk of progress for being just 26 weeks. I make myself proud.

Worst moment this week: Being so sore and out of joint on Thursday that I had to call in sick to work because I couldn’t move. On the bright side, I started seeing a chiropractor my boss used when she was pregnant, who determined my left hip joint and some lower vertebrae are out of joint. We started doing some gentle adjustments are are working our way up to stretching and massage. The pain is still there but it’s already significantly better, and I don’t even care that she costs $30 twice a week.

What are you looking forward to: Putting together the remaining bookcase so I can decorate the remainder of the walls (we can’t really hang anything else until I see how tall and deep the bookcase is). And our first wedding anniversary is next Monday! My, how time flies. We also have our hospital tour and birthing class coming up in November, and two friends’ baby showers to attend, both of whom are right there with me at 26 weeks.

Food cravings: Barbecue. Particularly barbecue ribs. We went to Chili’s this weekend and I didn’t get them and I’m still kicking myself. Though the queso was divine.

What do you miss: Being able to put on socks and shoes without having a grunt-fest. It’s actually in the 60s in Florida today, so I wore my boots for the first time in a long time. It took me a good 5 minutes to get them on, and then I realized my feet have already grown and they barely fit. I brought flip flops as backups. Oh, yeah… they didn’t tell you that your feet can grow in pregnancy? Mm-hmmm, welcome to the miracle of life.

Symptoms: The usual offenders: heartburn, hip and back pain, some sciatica, mood swings, exhaustion, some swelling. Now add big feet to the list.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Still in but almost had an outtie the other day. It seems to fluctuate with how baby boy lies — if his back faces my front, it pushes more against the button and makes it crater out.

Ring: Still on but I took it off before sleeping last night because I could only get it off by covering my whole finger in spit, and it made me nervous that it’s so tight. But back on today, because I’m stubborn. Off as of this morning. I took it off again last night and then this morning it wouldn’t go back on. Ugh.

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I Hope My Son Doesn’t Turn Out Like Me.

I don’t particularly care for people.

I like the people I like — Mister Mister, my friends, most of my coworkers, a large part of my family — but the rest of the human race just kind of melts into a blur that I could take or leave. Preferably leave.

I can totally relate to Garcin: “Hell is other people.” I find people, on the whole, to be rude, inconsiderate, selfish, self-absorbed, pushy, nosy, bothersome, offensive, and just generally in the way.

And I really hope my kid doesn’t feel the same way.

For years, I took personality tests that labeled me as an introvert. I’d tell you they were wrong. Around my friends and others close to me, I’m a loud mouth. I’m weird and talkative and not at all shy.

And then I read this article from a 2003 issue of The Atlantic, “Caring for Your Introvert,” and I realized that all those free Internet tests had been right.

Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say “Hell is other people at breakfast.” Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially “on,” we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn’t antisocial. It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: “I’m okay, you’re okay — in small doses.”

And it’s true. My own personal version of hell is having to deal with coworkers in our office kitchen while I’m preparing a snack. I’ll softly groan when I approach and there’s somebody there eating their lunch. I’ll wince when I hear somebody approaching while I’m undertaking the 5-minute task of paring my orange down to nothing but orange — no peel, no pith. I hate small talk, and know I’ll have to engage in it. I don’t want to have to answer questions about what I’m eating, how I’m feeling. I just want to be left alone — until I don’t want to be. I despise chatty cashiers. I loathe running into acquaintances at the supermarket. I used to get really pissed off at Mister Mister when he would come into the bedroom to say hi while I was folding laundry. It was my quiet time. I didn’t want to say hi. I didn’t want to tell him what I was doing. Not even my own husband. And I don’t even hate him.

A frequent expression you’ll hear from me is, “I hate people.” I always assume their intentions are terrible. I always imagine a huge affront being made on me. Like last weekend, when we saw a movie, and afterwards, a older man coming out of the row I was standing behind — indeed, standing so he could follow his wife out of the row — loudly stated, “Excuse me. Thank you.” Immediately, I took that he meant I was approaching too quickly and was rudely shouting at me to slow the mother eff down and let him walk because I’m a whippersnapper and he’s 70. I mean, I seethed for like 15 minutes. And Mister Mister, who doesn’t especially like people either, told me I was being unreasonable.

I mean, when one misanthrope tells another to calm down when it comes to hating people, you know we have a problem on our hands.

I don’t want our child to see me like that. I don’t want him to grow up assuming that everybody is annoying and mean and awful. I don’t want him to view the world from the glasses of an asshole who could spend the rest of his days in a bomb shelter with a library of good books and be just fine.

And more to the point, I don’t want my viewpoints and preferences to deprive him of social contact. I want to be able to take him to playdates despite the fact that I want to throttle his friends’ parents. I want him to like his teachers even if I find them unbearably chirpy. I want him to want to make social connections and learn things.

I don’t want to turn my kid into a school shooter.

I worry about this a lot. I am who I am, and I know this. I could probably go a little easier on my vocalizations, and make more of an effort to be pleasant. Deep down, I will always be an introvert, but I don’t have to be so openly hateful. I don’t want my kid to hear me say I hate people. I don’t want him to see my rage while I’m behind the wheel. I don’t want him to catch on to my eye rolling when a fellow shopper isn’t paying attention and is about to wheel right into me. I don’t want him to hear me snap about strangers — and I especially don’t want him to hear me snap to loved ones.

Because in the end, even though I appear fine with my seething discontent, I wish I was nicer. I wish I could make more fluid small talk. I wish it didn’t physically pain me to talk about the weather and exchange pleasantries. I wish I didn’t feel as constantly awkward as Mister Mister assures me I’m not. I think extroverts just have it easier. I think that people who like people are just happier. And I want my kid to be happy.

If you’re an introvert, and especially if you hate people — and are also a mother — how do you make this work without completely screwing up your kids?

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Friday Five: Realigned Spines and Breathtaking Art Installations

The realigned spine was mine — well, sort of. This kid of mine had better be cute, because he’s caused my left pelvic joint and lower vertebrae to go all out of whack and actually twist outward. Which explains much of the screeching pain of the past few weeks. My boss gave me the number to her chiropractor, and while I was kind of scared of those kinds of doctors (chalk it up to bad associations with a whole group of people who visited chiropractors for EVERYTHING, and were otherwise nutty), she has already helped me so much. I still have pain — I’ve only had one visit — but it’s so much more manageable. I actually got up in the middle of the night to pee last night and didn’t fall into bed sobbing because I couldn’t rearrange myself into a pile of pillows without feeling like my hip was dislocating.

And to celebrate my new path to pain-free…

1. This free, customizable, printable Owl Lover 2013 calendar


Free? Owls? Yeah, pretty awesome. Brought to you by My Owl Barn, this project allows you to select 12 of your favorite images from among 40 artists — people like Jo James, Flora Chang, and Oana Befort — and the associated months, and create your own free printable owl calendar. Um, awesome.

Image by Ellen Giggenbach, via My Owl Barn.

2. This film-inspired cartography project


British design studio Dorothy has put together this amazing Los Angeles film map made up of more than 900 film titles. Check out such landmarks as Lost Highway, Jurassic Park, Carlito’s Way, and Valley of the Dolls — all built on a design loosely based off the style of a vintage Los Angeles street map. It even has special districts dedicated to Hitchcock and cult British horror movies, it’s own Red Light district, and an A-Z key at the bottom of the map listing all the films featured in the map along with their release dates and names of the directors. This would be an amazing gift for a film buff you love. I might buy this myself just because it’s amazing!

Image via Dorothy

3. This breathtaking art installation


Just the pictures alone of the Whitney’s Yayoi Kusama installation Fireflies on the Water took my breath away. I can’t even imagine what this would be like in person. An experiment with infinite space, “These are rooms lined with wall-to-wall mirrors and a shallow pool of water covering the floor, with a single narrow platform that juts into the center of the room. Hundreds of LED lights dangle from overhead, multiplying thousands upon thousands in the infinite reflections that bounce back from the walls,” writes Anthology Magazine. Magical.

Image via Anthology Magazine

4. This window nook makeover


Lora Neveu took an awkward window nook in her daughter’s bedroom and transformed it into a gorgeous reading nook. There’s something about window seats that’s so amazing, especially to a little girl. I dream of a space like this where I can curl up and drift in and out of sleep. The paper lanterns clustered at the ceiling and the curtains make for a totally other worldy experience.

Image by Lora Neveu via Design*Sponge

5. This typographical timeline of Sony Music’s history



Created by designer Alex Fowkes, this installation in Sony Music’s London headquarters features 1,000 artists from the major label and its affiliates, from the Columbia Phonograph Company in 1887 to modern-day artists. This is exactly my kind of thing, since I love music and typography and totally ridiculously large-scale art.

Image via Creative Review

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A 9-Month Fashion Victim: Why Is It So Hard to Find Attractive Maternity Clothes?

Here’s the part where I back away a bit from my headline statement. Today’s maternity clothes are way, WAY better than the mu-mus and triangle tops of yesteryear.

Image by Lambert/Getty Images, via The Guardian

I have a few tops and a couple of dresses that are awfully flattering. Some of them came from Old Navy. The rest are from Motherhood Maternity (and are falling apart, but cute).

There are so many tips on there on stretching your budget by forgoing maternity clothes, wearing just your baggiest of tops, holding your jeans open with rubber bands, and the like — and please. I was in maternity clothes at 10 weeks. Wearing regular clothes is like the ninth circle of hell. Actually, wearing clothes AT ALL is like the ninth circle of hell. But if I have to do it, I want to wear something that doesn’t cut off my circulation and actually makes me look pretty and pregnant instead of “I’m hiding my fat” — or, worse, “I’m hiding a pregnancy.”

But this weekend, I stopped by Target for some conditioner and razors (I was going to a party, that’s the only reason I shaved my leg) and decided to try on some maternity dresses. Their Liz Lange line always looks so cute, and I figured that since so many of my maternity tops are now so short that they’re showing off the panels of my maternity jeans, it would make me feel better to have some attractive dresses I could just throw on and breathe in.

The problem is, Target’s maternity clothes suck.

They’re adorable and trendy on the hanger, but once you put them on, you’re reminded that maternity clothes, for the most part, are based on somebody else’s idea of what a pregnant woman wants (distraction from her disgusting body) versus what she actually wants (emphasis on and confidence of her beautiful, human-growing body).

For one, there seem to be three types of maternity necklines — the cowl neck, the crossover top, and the way-too-effing-deep-my-DDs-are-now-hanging-out neckline. For the most part, I get it. Lots of this stuff can be useful after popping out the baby, so a cowl neck makes for easier nursing while a crossover top is often part of a “nursing top” setup. But sometimes, it’s just like, “We’re going to put a bunch of extra fabric and detail up here so that nobody notices that OH MY GOD WOMAN YOUR BELLY IS HUMONGOUS WHO DO YOU HAVE IN THERE, DOM DELUISE??”

Totally cute, right? No. Most of what I tried on had these weird darts visible, like above on either side of the belly, or the pucker on the boobs. That’s not just how the dress is lying — that’s actual DETAIL. One dress I couldn’t find online had darts coming right up onto your rack and ending mid-boob — AS IN, BASICALLY NIPPLES. And the belted dresses were belted so high that half the belt found refuge under my ginormous bosom. Not hot. Also, Target’s craftsmanship is seriously lacking because anything with a zipper on the back ends in a pucker at the bottom, like I have a tail or a really huge hemorrhoid hanging out. So even if the dress was tolerable, I just couldn’t, because of the tail.

What’s with the top on this thing? No, really. Stop. This dress was so horrific. First I had to pour myself into it like frosting into a pastry bag (mmm, frosting), and then it clung to every single lump of fat and finally finished things off with an awkward and nonfunctional crossover top on steroids with a high, unflattering neckline and some cap sleeves that show off my side boob.

Again with the side-boob bearing sleeves, the disappearing belt, and the crossover shit. Side rant: Why can’t you put your clothes on an actual model? It’s so so hard to tell what this stuff looks like on a normal pregnant person (even though the models aren’t really pregnant, but whatever) when it’s just lying there in space with no context to the shape inside.

This top wasn’t at my Target, and if it was, I wouldn’t have tried it on. I just had to say: what the fuck? Is this like, “I’m pregnant, yes, but I want to distract you with pattern so that you don’t ask me if I’m having twins or comment that I look like I’m about to pop at 6 months”?

OK, and then there’s Asos. I have to be fair and say that a lot of their stuff looks cute. It’s way overpriced, and I’ve heard the sizing is weird and the clothes don’t actually look that great on, but there’s some decent stuff. But just browsing through their online gallery was, at times, baffling.

First, sorry, but she’s not pregnant. Right? I mean, whatever. But I’m guessing the statement here is, “I’m supposed to be like a tiger in the bedroom because of all the hormones, but instead I’m like a tiger in your face wanting to rip your head off because your spawn is inside of me and God I hate you right now.”

I don’t even… what? Stop.

From the “babies having babies” collection.

“I jest you not — I’m totally pregnant! And my body is still awesome enough to wear a skintight dress. Swear.”

Again, it’s like — look over here! No, here! No, down there! I’m not even a little pregnant, so stop touching my belly — DISTRACT WITH PATTERN.

And then there’s the fact that my favorite Old Navy maternity jeans have a NUDE full panel. Which is great for wearing lighter tops, I guess, because it blends into your skin. But when your shirts ride up — because, newsflash, Target’s maternity tops are not long enough to last you even halfway into your second trimester — it looks like I’m flashing belly.

All negativity aside, my favorite place to shop for maternity clothes is Old Navy. In stark contrast, the Motherhood Maternity stuff I bought a few months back has already started falling apart in the wash, and cost twice as much as the ON stuff I have. Plus, ON’s clothes are basic and simple, which is really all I want these days. Gap Maternity is another good bet.

But the worst part about the maternity fashion game is that there is basically never anything in the stores, and when you buy online, you have to return online — i.e., pay shipping. So at a time in your life when you’re most uncertain about how things fit and most prone to hating how you look in goddamn everything, you can’t even try on the clothes before you purchase them.

Solid. Thanks, fashion.

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For Fun: Personality Test Paints Me As the Unabomber

I love quizzes and tests — particularly personality tests. So when a member of a parenting board I frequent posted this free Myers-Briggs test, I obviously had to take it.

It asks you to rank 48 statements about yourself from “Very Inaccurate” to “Very Accurate.” As always, there’s some gray area with some of these, but I answered as honestly as possible and found out I’m an INFJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging.

There are several combinations of four different traits:

I/E = introvert or extrovert
N/S = intuitive or sensing
F/T = feelings-oriented or thinker-oriented
J/P = judging (more planner oriented) or perceiving (more spontaneous/go with the flow)

The INFJ is an “author”: “Strong drive and enjoyment to help others. Complex personality. 1.5% of total population.”

This is creepily accurate.

I could tell you in a second that I’m an introvert rather than an extrovert, and that I’m more of a planner (judging) than a go with the flow kinda person (perceiving).

Where things really got scary — on a level of “this is a description of me” — was in the “more information” section.

  • Creative
  • Smart
  • Focus on fantasy more than reality
  • Attracted to sad things
  • Fears doing the wrong thing
  • Observer
  • Avoidant
  • Fears drawing attention to self
  • Anxious
  • Cautious
  • Somewhat easily frightened
  • Easily offended
  • Private
  • Easily hurt
  • Socially uncomfortable
  • Emotionally moody
  • Does not like to be looked at
  • Fearful
  • Perfectionist
  • Can sabotage self
  • Can be wounded at the core
  • Values solitude, guarded
  • Does not like crowds
  • Organized
  • Second guesses self
  • More likely to support marijuana legalization
  • Focuses on peoples hidden motives
  • Prone to crying
  • Not competitive
  • Prone to feelings of loneliness
  • Not spontaneous
  • Prone to sadness
  • Longs for a stabilizing relationship
  • Fears rejection in relationships
  • Frequently worried
  • Can feel victimized
  • Prone to intimidation
  • Lower energy
  • Strict with self

That makes me sound like the Unabomber.

But seriously, the only two things in that entire list that aren’t really true are “private” and “not competitive.” But if you think of “not competitive” as being somebody who doesn’t thrive in competitive sports and games and constantly seek them out, then I guess it is accurate. Private? I’m an open book and tell everybody everything about me. So, no.

More likely to support marijuana legislation? Um, random. I do, though.

Then there’s the list of favored careers — almost every single one of which I’ve dabbled in as a hobby, wanted to do at some point in my life, or wished I could do.

  • Psychotherapist
  • Artist
  • Art curator
  • Bookstore owner
  • Freelance writer
  • Poet
  • Teacher (art, drama, english)
  • Library assistant
  • Professor of english
  • Painter
  • Novelist
  • Book editor
  • Copywriter
  • Philosopher
  • Environmentalist
  • Bookseller
  • Museum curator
  • Opera singer
  • Magazine editor
  • Archivist
  • Music therapist
  • Screenwriter
  • Film director
  • Creative director
  • Librarian
  • Social services worker
  • Art historian
  • Sign language interpreter
  • Photo journalist
  • Makeup artist
  • Homemaker

Yeah, that’s right — I totally want to be a homemaker.

Funny enough, under disfavored careers, we have “marketing specialist.” Which is funny because that’s exactly what I do for a living. And I even like it.

Take the quiz, and let me know what you are. Maybe you’re a race car driver.

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25 Weeks: Birth of Preg-Zilla

Baby is the size of: A rutabaga

How far along are you: 25 weeks, 1 day

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Head to heels, your baby now measures about 13 1/2 inches. His or her weight — a pound and a half — isn’t much more than an average rutabaga, but your baby is beginning to exchange that long, lean look for some baby fat. As this happens, wrinkled skin will smooth out and your baby will start to look more and more like a newborn. Your baby is also growing more hair — and if you could see it, you’d now be able to discern its color a and texture!”

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Still sleeping through the night for the most part, but last night it was near impossible for me to fall asleep. Actually, I fell asleep on the couch at 7 p.m. while watching “Se7en,” and got up for bed around 9. I discovered our ceiling fan was no longer working (the light works, and the fan spins while the light is on, but not anywhere near full speed, and with the light off, it doesn’t work at all) and had a Preg-zilla-caliber meltdown that rolled into a fight with Mister Mister. By the time I had finished Googling “Second trimester fighting with husband” and we’d made up, I was wide awake. I read for about 5 minutes before my eyes grew heavy. By now it was 10:30. Then I turned off the light and… tossed and turned. I was exhausted, and obviously ready for bed, but my body had other ideas. Also, have you heard that pregnant women are more prone to restless leg syndrome? I don’t know if this is exactly what’s going on, but for a couple of nights in a row now, I just cannot keep my left leg still. It feels so uncomfortable like I just need to… move it. Ahhh, better. No… move it again… and ugh, again.

Best moment this week: Our nursery furniture was all delivered by Saturday! We put together the crib (and had a fight, because I’m a Preg-zilla, but then made up and got it done), the dresser came assembled (the difference between paying $100 for something at IKEA and $700 for something at Land of Nod), and the gorgeous, amazingly comfortable glider just required us to screw in the swivel/gliding mechanism to the bottom. It’s starting to look like a real room now! I struggled with the insane IKEA picture frames yesterday and got the artwork framed, so now all that’s left is the bookcase assembly — and in a moment of unexpected serendipity, it looks like only one bookcase will fit in the space, which means we’re cutting our manpower in half and will possibly be able to recoup some of the money by selling a still-packaged Expedit on Craigslist. We’ll see how things look once we get the one case up. We also had a nice little date night on Saturday, when we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant and then spontaneously decided to go see “Argo” at the nearby theater (It was amazing!). It felt great to have an adult outing since I know those days are numbered, and to know that I can still sit through a two-hour movie at a theater without dying of back pain and bladder failure. I just strategically planned my bathroom breaks — two pre-movie, no soda during movie, one post-movie.

Worst moment this week: The two meltdown fights I picked with Mister Mister. Not my finest moments. I feel terrible when I yell and scream at him, and I feel worse now that our little baby can actually hear  me loud and clear. Eff you, hormones. You’re a crazy bitch, hormones.

What are you looking forward to: Putting together the remaining bookcase so I can start decorating the nursery walls. We’re having a little party at our house next Sunday, so even though it’s not baby-related, it still gives me plenty to look forward to this week.

Food cravings: Chocolate McDonald’s milkshake. The BBQ beef I’m currently slow cooking for tonight’s dinner — despite the awful heartburn it will unleash (everything does, so it doesn’t matter)

What do you miss: Sitting for long periods of time without my back screaming obscenities at me.

Symptoms: Sciatica. Heartburn. Restless leg syndrome. Major fumble fingers (oh my sweet lord Jesus, if I dropped that Allen wrench one more time while assembling the IKEA crib, I was going to throw myself out the window). Back pain. Mood swings.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Still in but definitely cratering out at the top.

Rings: Still on! This is a major triumph.

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How “Saturday Night Fever” Taught Me Everything I Need to Know About Love, Life, and Dancing

I originally wrote this in 2009, and decided to post it here so it didn’t just float around my Google Drive forever, unappreciated. You’re welcome.

Growing up, my mom was truly my best friend and my constant companion. We hung out on a regular basis, as she was a stay-at-home mom and my dad frequently worked nights. Also, I didn’t have too many friends my age.

Much of what I obsess over today comes from what my mother adored: music, movies, and random celebrity gossip.

I believe Mom had seen every movie there was to see (well, except the war movies, but my dad filled that gap for us). We had a VHS library well-stocked with films taped from television. Some Pellett family favorites were “Funny Farm,” “Money Pit,” “The Great Outdoors,” and the National Lampoon vacation series.

But the one movie that I will always relate to her is the John Travolta blockbuster “Saturday Night Fever.”

This is partially because my mother had a wicked crush on the man. She couldn’t look directly at the screen when watching “Grease” because his adorable face was too much to for her to handle. She knew many facts about him, including the debatable tidbit that he danced in every movie he made – even “Michael.”

It’s also due to the fact that the movie itself played such a huge role in her life. She’d tell me she and her girlfriends saw it a million times in the movie theaters, and that the lines stretched for blocks. When she’d go to the discos, men would attempt the Russian cossack dance that Travolta trots out in his famous dance floor number – often with disastrous results, including but not limited to split pants.

Quotes from that movie were bandied about for years as dinner-table entertainment.

“Aaaaaaal Pacino! Attica! Attica!”

“Hey… don’t hit the hair! I work hard on my hair and he hits it. He hits my hair.”

“One pork chop!”

Over time, however, I came to realize that this movie was more than just a Bee Gees soundtrack vehicle. In fact, I think of “Saturday Night Fever” as the one movie that truly has it all: music, entertainment, comedy, romance, and deep ruminations on social, ethical, and moral issues.

And for how very ’70s it is, it’s actually pretty timeless.

It’s easy to get hit over the head by the big, obvious parts of the movie. But there are many gems hidden here. For example, you want to know how to cook a good marinara? Make sure not too add too much liquid, or you might end up with the sauce Tony’s mother makes: “Your mother’s spaghetti sauce, it don’t drip. It don’t taste, and it don’t drip.”

Tony Manero is an excellent example of proper grooming, as well. As he gets ready for his customary Friday night outing to the discotheque 2001 Odyssey, he carefully coifs his hair, arranges his gold chains just so, and is conscious of what the aforementioned spaghetti sauce might do to his polyester shirt.

The sad state of the economy has plenty of exposure – from the early moments of the movie, when Tony puts a blue shirt on layaway for $5 and doesn’t wait for his receipt (“I trust you!” “Please, don’t trust me,” the shopkeeper responds) to Frank Sr.’s lackluster reaction to Tony’s raise at the paint shop.

“You know what 25 cents buys these days? It don’t even buy 25 cents.”

And then there’s Mr. Fusco’s invaluable 20-second lesson on personal finance and proper planning:

Tony: Mr. Fusco, can I have an advance?
Mr. Fusco: Payday is Monday.
Tony: I know, but everyplace else pays on Friday or Saturday.
Fusco: And they’re broke on Monday. Booze, whores, pissing away their money. This way you’ve got money all week. You can save for the future.
Tony: Fuck the future!
Fusco: No, Tony, you can’t fuck the future. The future catches up with you, and it fucks you if you haven’t planned for it.

We even have some commentary on the effects of a marriage that’s lasted too many years, when the family slap-fest at the dinner table ends with Tony’s mother muttering to Frank Sr., “You never hit me before. Never. Not in front of the kids.”

Speaking of relationships, I learned much of what I know from this film – and most of that consists of what NOT to do. For example:

  • Don’t overdo the commitment talk: Annette doesn’t get very far with Tony when she talks about her married sister, her other married sister, and her third married sister – in fact, he gets the impression that all she wants to be is a married sister.
  • Know your limits: When Tony asks Annette if she’s a nice girl or a … well, let’s just say “slut,” she responds, “I don’t know. Both?” Tony wisely advises her that you can’t be both, however. “A girl has to decide early on what she’s gonna be.”
  • Sometimes, it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission: When Tony asks Stephanie if he can walk her home, she keeps saying “no.” Finally, she says to him, “You shouldn’t have asked – you should have just done it!”

The dangers of social pretension and being something you’re not also plays a huge role in this film. Tony seems to be the only person who really has a sense of who he is – a dancer – yet everybody slams him for it. Then we’ve got Stephanie, who’s just happy to be out of Bay Ridge, lunching with such interesting people as Paul Anka and Laurence Olivier, “that English actor from television, from the Polaroid commercials.” Take this conversation between Stephanie and Tony, for example, as she tries to impress him and he tries to play into it – both rather unsuccessfully.

Stephanie: This week I had business lunches with Eric Clapton at the Côte Basque. And Cat Stevens at Le Madrigal.
Tony: Far out!
Stephanie: You heard of those restaurants?
Tony: No, I don’t know those exact restaurants, but I know the type.
Stephanie: But you must have heard of the artists.
Tony: No, I don’t know … Not really.
Stephanie: Why did you say, “Far out”?
Tony: It sounded like far out. Wasn’t it?

Stephanie plays her game of “I live in Manhattan now” with Tony’s friends later on, as well. But we see her true colors when her ex, Jay Langhart, drops by as she’s moving out. In a desperate move for approval, she tells him she read the book he suggested. When he asks her whether she read the Kerr or the Lawson, she responds “Kerr.” Ooooh … “Should have read the Lawson,” he responds dismissively.

(I always wondered, too, what Kerr and Lawson were writing about. My guess is they were history books, though they could just as well have been analyzing literature or translating Russian novelists.)

And when Stephanie and Jay part, she exclaims that something is “super!” “Stephanie,” Jay chuckles. “Nobody says ‘super’ anymore.”

Of course we have another biggie: faith. A big chunk of the movie’s plot involves Tony’s brother, Father Frank Jr. In the beginning of the movie, we see Tony’s mother cross herself at the mere mention of Frank Jr.’s name, and she later asks Tony to walk her to church so she can pray for her favorite son to call her. “I don’t believe it,” Tony says. “You’re turning God into a telephone operator.”

Frank Jr. is, indeed, the golden child, though we suspect they’re more proud of themselves than him (“When a family raises a priest, they think they’ve scored points in heaven”). Late at night, however, while staying in Tony’s bedroom during his visit back home, Father Frank confesses that he’s leaving the priesthood.

“One day you look at a crucifix, and all you see is a man dying on a cross,” he says.

This movie’s full of flawed figures. In fact, I’m not sure there’s one decent person in the bunch. Even the guy who runs the dance studio is a sleazeball, bedding a certain percentage of the females Tony’s crew brings over to “practice.” So what an odd thing to claim, that it’s a moral tale that really teaches you how to live.

Sometimes, though, the most effective morality tales focus heavily on the “don’t” side of the equation.

Perhaps the greatest example of this is Bobby C., Tony’s short little friend who buys last year’s hitmakers in the 8-track bargain bin and couches the panic over his girlfriend Pauline’s pregnancy in sad jokes about Communion wafers. He wants nothing more than to be Tony’s best friend, but the only reason the crew hangs out with him is because he has a car. Finally, at the end of the movie, terrified of marrying a woman he barely likes and feeling out of place, he tries to impress his buddies by drunkenly balancing himself on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. His pathetic last words before he tumbles into the bay? “Tony … how come you never called me?”

Ultimately, the moral of the story is that the drinking, the drugs, the indiscriminate sex, the hate crimes – they all catch up with you one way or another. When the police chief asks Tony and his friends whether they felt Bobby had committed suicide, Tony muses, “There are ways of killing yourself without really killing yourself.”

So true.

Oh, and if you want to know how to properly carry a paint can? It’s got that, as well.

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Friday Five: What’s With All the Fat Jokes?

Four weeks ago, after I told an older man my due date (almost five months from then), his eyes bugged out and he asked me if I was having twins.

Yesterday, with three-and-a-half months to go, a coworker told me that I was about ready to burst at any minute.

And Mister Mister doesn’t understand why any of these things bother me.

Onto happier things…

1. This DIY $18 Console Table Tutorial

This is one fetching DIY $18 table. Crafted by the blogger behind Desert Domicile, it just required about $8 worth of wood and a slab of utility shelf (plus on-hand stain, paint, nails/screws, and other tools, so mileage may vary). I love this, and will file it away in my “why I should be craftier” mental bank.

Image via Desert Domicile

2. This vintage rug 

Sold by the Nazmiyal Collection, this rug is from around 1900 — and it is GORGEOUS.

Image via the Nazmiyal Collection

3. This striped entryway

Designed by Design Manifest for a client, this foyer… I mean… stripes, ethnic rug, Malachite box, horsey lamps… and THAT MIRROR. Love.

Image by Courtney Apple Photography via Design Manifest

4. This print

This Matte Stephens print is all my favorite things bundled into one: City prints, midcentury modern design, muted colors… and, naturally, Chicago.

Image via Matte Stephens

5. This art wall

I have a thing for art walls. I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to them. We may have one too many in our own home. But this one has everything I love in a room — classic chairs, rustic table, exotic rug, and tons of unique art.

Image from Elle Decor via From the Right Bank

Apologies for the brevity — I have a rip-roaring headache and an hour and 15 minutes left of work. All I want to do is go home, down my spaghettini and meatballs from last night, and watch Gossip Girl on Netflix until I pass out in a nest of pillows.

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So Many Pillows the Mob Would Have a Field Day

Sleeping while pregnant is an unusual and painful endeavor. And while I’m well aware that I still have 16 more weeks to go, and will indeed become even larger and more uncomfortable, that doesn’t change the fact that this week, I have been stricken with sciatica on my lefthand side — which just so happened to be the only place that was comfortable to sleep on — and exquisite lower back pain.

I have seriously tried everything. I bought a body pillow and started wrapping my whole being around it, and that helped for a bit. I’d usually wake up on my back, so I started propping pillows behind me, too, so that when I roll in the middle of the night I’m kind of slanted and not really flat on anything. But then my back started feeling like a ton of bricks, and my hip started screaming at me, and my waist was like, seriously, like you haven’t done enough to me? So I got two pillows from the couch and kinda shoved them against my back and butt, and even that didn’t help.

I sought advice on Facebook, and everybody pretty much just said, “Sorry about your luck, p.s. it gets worse.”


Which compelled me to Google “pregnancy can’t get comfortable in bed” late Saturday night, and stumble upon this little gem.

Her first arrangement of a gajillion and two pillows was ridiculous and awesome. I look like an old man whose fallen asleep in his recliner during “60 Minutes,” and Mister Mister laughed his ass off when he saw me, but damn if it’s not the most comfortable sleep ever.

Unfortunately, when I actually get out of bed, my ass reads me the riot act because my sciatic nerve has been super compressed all night, and my bones or muscles or something deep in there is so sore I can’t walk. And I feel stupid about the fact that I’m 24 weeks and I already can’t walk, because… come on. I’ve got a ways to go. And I work, so as much as I’d love to, it’s not like I can just sit on my butt (or, as it were, not) and watch “Gossip Girl” on Netflix all day every day while I rest my sorry bones. I have to do such complicated things as walking all the way to the printer room, turning on the color printer, walking all the way back to my office, printing one piece of paper, walking back to the printer room, gathering my print and turning off the color printer, and walking all the way back to my office.

Ya’ll, my life is mad hard.

So, tell me. What sleeping position gained you the most satisfaction? As one of my Facebook friends noted, I need to lower my expectations of comfort, but how do I get as close as possible? And please don’t say, “Sleep in a recliner,” because we ain’t got one.