Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Anna, Carrie, Melissa, Mishana, Skyla, & Vikki

I haven't forgotten about organic food (by the time I actually post my thoughts on that subject all of you will be buzzing with tense anticipation. Well, that's the hope), but I've been thinking about pregnancy lately. Not because I have any plans to get knocked up myself, but because so many of my friends apparently got together nine to twelve months ago and planned to start making babies. Which is funny, because most of them don't know each other. Anyhow it's clear they are all in the same secret league, since there's no way I could have zero pregnant friends in the latest few seasons (ZERO) and then all of a sudden have six at the same time.

We've had a mercilessly crappy summer in Boston so far with bayou-type humidity and unrelenting temperatures, and it makes me wonder how it feels to be pregnant in the summer. Since I already feel bloated, sluggish, crappy, and miserable in this weather as a non-baby-carrying individual, I have to think weather like this is sheer hell on the pregnant set. Of course, they probably have air conditioners, which I do not. (Thanks, Mr. Rufo.)

Which brings me to a larger point. The actual nature of pregnancy itself. On "The L Word," cutting-edge lesbians Bette and Tina are having a bi-racial baby together. ("That's a whole lot of otherness to put on one child," says Tina. "Shut up bitch," says Bette. I'm paraphrasing.) Tina, the lucky recipient of the donor sperm, is going through a whole array of body idiosyncrasies and issues. In fact, in the last episode she was unable to get on a plane to New York for an important event because she felt so crappy. I believe this is true to life. Why? Because on "Sex and the City," my other mainstay of medical information, pregnant Miranda feels like shit, has weird gastrointestinal issues and swollen fingers, and has to buy new shoes because her feet have grown a size. (I'm not even mentioning the most horrific of pregnancy and birth side effects in the interest of not scaring my readers, especially the men.)

These two shows do not jive with the perky, perfectly skinny women (except for cute bump) that compose most representations of pregnancy on screen. These actresses of course are not actually expecting. The question is, if the majority of shows represented pregnancy is all of its true gory glory, would women line up just as quickly to go through with it?

Of course they would. After all, scads of prospective mothers eagerly watch such horrors as real-life "Maternity Ward" on TLC with regularity. I doubt, if you really want to have a baby, that any of these spectres of gloom dampen your enthusiasm. I suppose that's another good sign that I'm in fact not ready to have a baby. Because I feel serious dampening. Fascination and interest, yes (I did read the "The Baby Whisperer" in the course of one night while staying at my pregnant friend's house and, incidentally, highly recommend it), but not excitement to jumpstart my body into a year (or more) of massive and unfamiliar changes.

But, since I have at present such an extensive network of women I know who have decided to do this very thing, I need to ask (if you can squeeze in the time to answer) what your experience has been so far: i.e. more Tina/Miranda, or more Rachel from "Friends"? (whose only notable side-effects from pregnancy were corn-chip cravings and extreme horniness for Ross. I just can't think this is accurate. But my mind is willing to be changed.)

In the meantime, I have to sincerely commend all of you that have decided to go through with this amazing and unsettling process, and that are doing so even at this very moment. May the heat wave pass!

Update, 10 am, June 29: Congratulations on your baby girl, John and Carrie! When will Charlotte be old enough to become a loyal blog reader like her dad?

Update, 12 pm, June 30: Believe it or not, Anna and Casson just had their baby girl, Sammie, this afternoon. Apparently all I have to do to induce labor is write about the subject... Congratulations to you both!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ithaca is Gorges

So, I'm back. My innovative (read: crazy and experimental) panel went very well and is being written up in various publications, none of which any of you will ever encounter, as said publications are created exclusively for the hard-core James Joyce-reading public. Yes, I know some of you already read hard-core material of various sorts; that's not the same thing.

One consequence of my week away in Ithaca, New York, (whose waterfall/mountain type scenery was rather nice, I have to admit) was my complete and utter capitulation to the charms of that category of food called junk. I suppose one could say I gorged in the gorges. Yeah, I've been hanging out with nerdy academics too long. Apologies.

Like most conferences, this one was packed to the gills with receptions centered around any excuse possible. Welcome address, plenary speeches, rare exhibition of James Joyce materials (okay, that one was cool), "neato" view from the 6th floor of the Cornell Art Museum, etc. Every function in turn centers around the food table, packed with pickled this and oiled that, tasty crackers and staggering piles of cheese, scrumptious dips of indeterminate nature, copious amounts of free wine, a full chocolate section, and the "mini" category: mini quiches, mini spanokopita, mini mystery stuffed pillows of goodness. I suppose one could resist the food table. I never do.

These pitfalls formed a united front with other adversaries, only half of which I will even mention here--the visiting friend bearing a huge chunk of Ghiradelli, tasty burgers, fries, huge slabs of pizza, two nights of Thai food enjoyed in downtown Ithaca, and my own wild and unrestrained hunger after writing my paper (yeah, I was late, who's surprised by this) for 24 hours and subsisting only on peanut butter sandwiches made in my Cornell dorm room. After presenting the paper early one morning, I promptly went to the campus convenience store and bought out their supply of Baked Cheddar Ruffles and Nutter Butters (apparently, one can never have too much peanut butter) Ah, college life. I also decided it would be a good idea to stay awake on the 5-hour drive there (peanut M&Ms) and the drive back (Chips Ahoy minis) by eating. Once arrived in Boston, I carried on that Ithaca feeling by consuming most of a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos after a full course Middle Eastern feast and 3 Bay Breezes at my cousin's engagement party. Once I get going, I really do.

I bring this all up to tell you now how utterly wrecked I feel. Apparently, even when I think I'm back in college, my body doesn't go back there with me. It's rather annoying--after spending the last year or so consciously becoming a somewhat healthy eater (no non-organic dairy, no caffeine, no trans fats, lots of fruits and veggies, the barest amounts of red meat, a total cutback in processed crap), it turns out I can't go back. Well, I can, I just feel like I got run over by a truck if I do. Does this happen to anyone else out there, or are you all still living the Hostess high life? (Mmm, Hostess...back in the day, I could kill a box of Ding-dongs in one roadtrip easy)

I actually began this post to discuss organic food, which I will indeed get to next time. Until I discuss what to eat though, it's helpful to examine the other extreme. Consider this a two-parter. Before we move on to the good stuff, let's take a moment to wallow in the bad. What do you really like to eat--really, really, if your health was no option? I have at least four pregnant friends out there right now, but I know the rest of you have some good bad cravings too. Let me know I'm not the only one.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Off to Joyce it Up

I'll be gone for the rest of the week at that male-populated Joyce conference at Cornell that I wrote about in my April 5th post. (You know, the one where I thought Professor Sheldon was a girl.) Stay strong in my absence; read slate.com instead. (Or, if in need of a bracing boost of unintentional comedy, G. Gordon Liddy's official website that I managed to stumble across recently. See especially "Stacked and Packed" and "G-Man Approved." I mean, if you can't trust the recommendation of a Watergate burglar, who can you trust?)

In the meantime, I leave you only with the Sara Sullivan internet sighting of the week. Isn't technology coupled with a complete lack of likeness authorization just incredible?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Whiny Time

I find that as I write more and more about space and Irish literature (that's space as in "roomy" not as in "Star Trek"), I have less and less writing energy to devote to my little blog, who is becoming a bit like a neglected child who is understandably getting a little fussy. Unfortunately, I can't promise the situation will get better anytime soon. After spending (on an ideal day) four hours pounding at the keyboard already, sometimes I can't muster up any extra strength to rant about the state of the world today or (let's face it, the more frequent topic of the blog--) the state of me. As for the non-ideal days, when I don't write for four hours or anything close to it, I am filled with such profound self-loathing for my lack of discipline and self-control that I am more likely to turn my energies to making peach smoothies and watching The L Word. (By the way, isn't it such a good show?)

That's the problem with doing something that you're really not meant to be doing. It feels icky--sort of all the time. (And by "doing something you're not meant to be doing" I mean writing a dissertation, not blogging, which actually is fun, unlike thesis-writing, which is like soul-sucking purgatory.) This is why it feels icky: because either you're doing that thing you're supposed to be doing (for example, oh, reading the same passages of some super hard book over and over trying to make them fit some obtuse theory you came up with and thought was clever 9 months ago but now are realizing may just be cleverly wrong) and hating every minute of it, or you're not doing that thing and instead the weight of it is hanging over your head like a very creepy black cloud of guilt and going-to-the-dentist feeling 24/7 that ruins every other fun thing you may be doing. I've had going-to-the-dentist feeling for two years now. By the way, if anyone you know is thinking about pursuing a PhD, please please have them come to me so I can run a battery of personality tests on them first.

I think it's safe to say the love is gone. What's left is the commitment. Just the sheer endurance factor. The problem is, I doubt anyone of you are going to understand what the hell I am talking about. Because most people are jealous that I "work from home" and have a flexible schedule and don't have to actually earn any money (Which is another thing that irks me to no end, believe me. Before you quit your jobs, career women, think carefully about the psychological impact of not being able to pay your own rent if you had to. Just, if you had to.) And, after all, what's so hard about writing anyway? Right?

I don't know either. All I know is that it sucks to be in the wrong place. To be doing the wrong thing with your energies and your hours and to know simultaneously that you can't quit now or it will all have been wasted. If you are doing something you don't hate, if you see more than one person on average per day, if you have a boss who gives you both structure and the occasional affirming boost, if you aren't trapped by your own decisions inside your own apartment for the vast majority of your week, don't change a thing! Keep doing that! Even if it makes you no money or involves a long commute or something. Trust me.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


I love a good conspiracy theory. Who doesn't? I thought Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts were just smashing in that movie with Captain Picard. But if a conspiracy theory is too disturbing and unsettling to consider seriously, it's just not fun anymore.

Did everyone else but me know that lots of people think the United States government was involved in the attacks of September 11th? Apparently there have been plenty of books with dramatic and creative names written on the subject, many, many websites, and even the odd DVD, claiming that scads of qualified engineers, architects, military personnel, and other expert-type people consider it impossible that the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were destroyed by commerical 747s (and find lots of other problems with the official 9/11 story). In other words, they believe bombs were planted in the towers or on the planes and detonated during the attack, perhaps from a command center in World Trade Center Building 7, which was then demolished purposefully at 5:30pm on September 11. (That last part is true, about the purposeful demolishing of Building 7. That the building had a Command Center on the 23rd floor equipped with its own air and water system is up for debate. Actually, that's not up for debate either; that was indeed the case. But the theory that it was used as the base for carrying out the attacks on the World Trade Center--now, there's where the opinions differ.)

I went to Ground Zero last weekend for the first time. I hadn't been to the area since the late 90's, when it was not yet Ground Zero and you could still shoot up a speedy elevator to the top floor of the World Trade Center to eat incredibly expensive nachos and see for miles, even at night. The place, changed utterly since then, is remarkably business-like and practical, the untidy screaming metal bits and pieces very long gone, replaced by the beginnings of an enormous and optimistic construction project and a shiny new subway station at the very bottom of a still-empty pit.

When I got home, I flipped through the internet a little bit, looking at pictures, remembering how that day went, how horrible everything was. More horrible is the thought that the United States government could in any way be complicit in an attack on its own citizens. It's a truly crazy, X-Files idea, but read enough of the theories and look at enough of the pictures, and it's hard not to--in a daze fueled by meatless corn dogs from Trader Joe's and the mesmerizing glare from the computer--think for just one tiny second that maybe, possibly, it's not all complete and total bullshit. And that is an unsettling feeling, I have to say.

For peace of mind, you can also find refutation of the conspiracy stuff on various other websites, giving one a glimpse into a whole cyber racquetball game of claims and angry counter-claims, where various conspiracy theorists face off against government toadies and "media whores" who perpetuate the myths. Good times all around.

Maybe it's easier to contemplate the sinister implications of a New World Order being installed even now by the current government than it is to believe that the country is being run by a bunch of idiots. Maybe it's more comforting to focus on such intricacies as fusilage length, F-16 fighter jet speed, and the exact melting point of steel than it is to consider the human suffering that occurred on that day and that still occurs. Maybe some of the stuff is even true. I do know that it makes a girl miss her good old-fashioned belief that this administration is just criminally negligent and spectacularly inept. So, if you don't mind, I'm just gonna go back to that.