In memoriam

It has been awhile since I've been granted the opportunity to blog about the dead. Long-term readers may remember posts about my grandfather and my lovely dead gay wonder canary, Desmond. I have another to add to the list now. Glory be.

My Mom and my brother have had to put one of my last remaining dogs, O'Keeffe, to sleep. I say "my", by which I mean family pets who have of course remained in the US. Growing up I had a series of dogs - Shane, Toto, Liberty, Talon, O'Keeffe and Rigel. Shane died when I was 12, Toto when I was 13, Liberty when I was 21 and visiting The Dude in the UK, Talon not long before I moved over here, and of course, now O'Keeffe.

O'Keeffe was 16 years old and had apparently gone blind within the past week, having already gone deaf awhile ago. She was already a mere slip of a terrier due to her age, and due to suspected kidney failure had started to lose even more weight. My Mom and my brother decided yesterday that it was unfair to make her carry on in that state, and she was put to sleep yesterday afternoon. I was fortunate enough to talk to my brother beforehand, so he gave her a kiss for me. My Mom was there with her when she passed away, stroking her head and telling Keeffe that we loved her, just as my Mom has done for all of the dogs that have gone before. She said Keeffe knew she was there, and lifted up her head when my Mom sat down beside her.

I'm struggling not only with her death, but with what it signifies - the death of yet another part of my childhood. So much of my past seems to slip away with each year, leaving me with memories rather than anything palpable. The pessimistic part of me, well, that being all of me, knows it only gets worse from here. The sale of the house I grew up in has already occurred, my parents have divorced, pets have died, and the rest is a slow decline. I know some of you have lost parents and/or siblings, so my pet lamentation may seem ridiculous. I do feel a bit silly for being so childish.

Sorry for being so bloody negative and depressing. All my posts lately seem to be about drama and histrionics, for which I apologise. Wrist-slashing melodrama aside, here is my Keeffe:

Keeffe as a puppy trying to get the last bits of food out of Liberty's bowl.

That's Keeffe in the centre, playing tug of war with Libby. Talon is off to the right, barking like an idiot, as he never participated in any sort of play. He was a purebred cast-off, as having only one ball and a snaggle tooth doesn't make a very good show dog. He was a complete blue blood, far too good to join the other mutts in rough and tumble stuff.

Good luck wherever you may be, little one. May you have infinite bones to try and bury beneath the carpet, no fleas to bite you, and thousands of balls to chase for miles.



There are many times when IF bloggers feel like assholes. I've felt like an asshole from both sides of my experience - an asshole when I was desperately infertile and everyone and their third cousin's hair stylist got pregnant with no trouble, an asshole once I got pregnant and was still jealous of those people, and of course an asshole once I had the baby and experienced limited survivor's guilt.

I have trolled new depths of assholism now, however. A good male friend of mine got married in November to a wonderful woman. Soon after he proposed they were going to start trying. When he told me this I was approaching IVF #1, pissed off that I had reached that point at the age of 27, and convinced it would never work since all the Clomid and 4 injectible IUI cycles had been a complete waste of time. His wife-to-be was 40, significantly overweight, and had PCOS. I blogged about it, insisting that she would be pregnant before me, because that's just the way things are.

The couple decided soon after the wedding to start Clomid given the wife's age. I spent hours discussing IF treatment with him via IM, and he was so grateful for the knowledge that I have been so fortunate to gather through experience. She had her first IUI a month ago, and guess who is pregnant? My friend sent me an IM not long after the pee dried, and I am still the only person to know. Their parents aren't even aware of the news.

So my reaction should be elation, right? Joy that my marvellous friend and his wife look to be having a baby? Pleased that a fellow infertile has had early success? No. The asshole that cannot just let go of the residual pain of infertility is sad and upset. A woman 13 years older than me, much heavier than me, and with the same condition as me got pregnant after two Clomid cycles and an IUI. Yes, I have my baby now, but for some inexplicable reason I cannot let go of the years it took to have her.

I recently commented on someone's blog that it's tremendously difficult to shed the jealousy that infertility graces us with. Some of us may have success, but envy never leaves. I don't want to look at this woman and resent her for something she and her husband want so badly. I know how that pain is, and I would have a very hard time dealing with the knowledge that someone else resented me in that position.

I have blogged about my anger with IF bloggers who abandon other IF bloggers once they get pregnant, preaching that we should all be happy with one another's successes and joys. Yet here I am, a hypocrite of dazzling heights.

My name is Pru, and I'm an asshole.



So here I am being all cultured and what not this morning, watching a programme on a big country house in Northern Ireland called Castle Ward. Amidst all the talk of the house's combination of Classical and Gothic architecture, there was one room which stood out to me due to the presence of this:

Yes, it is what you think - a sort of tableau vivant featuring taxidermied red squirrels. It's funny that they are dressed as boxers, let alone that the images are sequential.

Because I am a nerd, I wanted to find out if the Victorians made a habit of telling stories via the medium of (geniunely) stuffed animals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they did:

For more carefree Victorian taxidermy tableaux, go here and here.

The Dude thinks I'm strange for finding things like this interesting. I can't say I want to take it up as a hobby, I just think it's fun to do some quick research. Past interests have included abandoned buildings and subway stations, the eccentricities of writers and artists (ie William Blake, Dante Gabriel Rossetti), bricked over windows and entrances, amongst other odd fascinations. My obsessive personality dictates that once an interest is triggered, that I have to Google the hell out of it until I feel reliably informed. Perhaps I'm not so far off a Brain Trust membership after all.

Does anyone else have random, perhaps strange interests? I'm not talking hobbies, just certain things that have intrigued you. Do tell.


Mad, bad, and dangerous to know

I am suffering from mushbrain lately, an affliction I first blamed on pregnancy, and now the fault of motherhood. Oh, to be able to formulate thoughts and clever blog posts again like the good old days.

I'm taking the easy way out on this post. Rather than trying to write about anything which requires a shred of intellectual consideration, I'm just going to trot out a tale of my crazy family. I hope my fuzzy brain can make this as funny as it deserves to be.

I have lived in the UK for nearly 5 years. In that time, my Mom has managed to assemble and captain a group which I fondly refer to as the Brain Trust. The Brain Trust is composed of folks you would swear had just stumbled off a bus from your friendly neighbourhood mental hospital, an assortment of unbalanced and socially inept oddballs. The line-up is thus:

My Mom - a free-swinging single lady of questionable mental stability ever since my parents split up. She insists the correct assignation is "eccentric", I prefer "cracked out". My parents separated when I was 16 or 17. Truthfully, I don't even remember anymore. I recall the moment I was told that my Dad was moving out down to the most minute detail, but yet I can't even narrow my age down to within a year. I have trouble stringing a series of more than four words together, but yet that last sentence made me think of a line from Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales" - "I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six." Look at me getting all Faulkner up in here with my stream of consciousness writing.

So, my Mom. Her motto is, "I don't need a man", yet this very same woman may very well single-handedly prop up Match.com. Additionally, she frequents a bar which has a name straight out of an early 1990s Patrick Swayze movie. But, you know, she doesn't need a man. She has a lodger I will call Ralph, a man in his early 40s who she used to date. Ralph wanted to save some money, so after they broke up a few years ago he moved in. He is a carpenter by trade, so in exchange for the minimal rent he pays, he helps my Mom keep up her mid-19th century four bedroom house.

Ralph has been arrested at least twice for driving under the influence. He has also been busted for marijuana possession and is often laid back and chilled out, characteristics my Mom believes are natural rather than induced by the evil weed. She knows he's a pothead but she is one of those annoying people who sees the best in people and chooses to pretend that she has turned him around with the love of Christ and a good homecooked meal or two.

The deputy to this crazy crew is Mom's friend Phyllis. Phyllis is the ex-wife of my Mom's ex-boyfriend of four years, Herman. When Mom was dating Herman, Phyllis was a crazy bitch born of the dark lord. You know if my Mom is referring to someone as being crazy, that other person must have some severe issues. My Mom would fake shudder every time she said Phyllis' name, and regale me with stories of Phyllis' renowned psycho voicemails regularly left for Herman. Fast forward a couple of years, by which time I'm living in the UK, and Mom mentions in a few phone calls that she and Phyllis go to Swayze Bar every Friday night. Oddly enough, they are now totally BFFs.

Phyllis, aside from being "eccentric" like my Mom, has a host of physical problems from which I should really gain no entertainment. My handbasket to hell has been packed for years though, so I might as well just go with it. Phyllis has a slight narcolepsy problem and falls asleep at random points during the day. When we were first formally introduced she barely allowed a salutation to emerge before she was nodding off in her chair. My brother, let's call him Stanley, reliably informs me that she regularly dozes off mid-conversation. Phyllis and my Mom often have conversation littered with randomness and not much sense. Stanley sometimes calls me, 5 hour time difference be damned, with the phone concealed in his hand when Phyllis and Mom are having one of said conversations. It's like being under the influence of some really powerful psychotropic drugs, with the faint whistle of a tea kettle in the background. No snoring though.

Mommy Dearest, Ralph, and Phyllis are the primary members of the Brain Trust. There are two notable fringe members though, and we simply must not forget them. They are fringe members due to the distance they live from the key members, and as such they can only converge with the group on major holidays and the odd weekend.

Brain Trust member number four is my Aunt Florence. Florence is my Mom's sister, so logically she is as nutty as a fruitcake. Florence lives alone in a trailer with a bunch of cats, who she of course refers to as "my babies". She is an unemployed former nurse who was fired from her last job about 7 years ago for peeing in the coffee mug of a hated co-worker. Three guesses as to why she's in The Trust.

Her unemployment continues due to an alleged back injury which prevents her from doing much of anything but hanging out with cats, watching TV, and being more than slightly nuts. Being on a budget, Florence is a bargain shopper, preferring the wares of the Salvation Army. Most interactions with her involve the exchange, "See this sweatshirt? Salvation Army. One dollar and fifty cents. Now that's a good deal." She is on a veritable cocktail of medications, with her possible addiction to Vicodin the most worrying. Florence is often in a dazed state, seeming to take in conversations but not quite sure whether she should reciprocate verbally. Telephone calls are particularly trying, as it is usually me asking questions and being met with silence for about a minute before a response emerges. Even then it is brief and has no lead on questions. Stanley tells me that when Thanksgiving dinner was wrapping up this year Ralph was attempting to buy some Vicodin off Florence on the sly when my Mom was cleaning up in the kitchen. Florence obliged, no doubt because she needed to stock up on orthopedic shoes from Salvation Army.

The final member of the Trust is Florence's on and off boyfriend of 30 years, Arthur. Florence and Arthur started dating way back in the day, went off course somewhere in the late 80s and early 90s so Florence could marry a biker half her age, then picked up again in the mid-90s. Arthur is socially inept, to say the least. He has a distinct serial killer vibe - you wouldn't be far off base if you were to envision him wearing a cape made of human skin, slathering himself in yak blood whilst babbling in a childish voice about wanting to be loved by his mommy. Basically put, he's creepy. The last time he and Florence visited he commented to my Mom that he had no smoke alarms in his house. My Mom chastised him and gave him one of hers until he could get some of his own. A few weeks later she received a package from him which included the offending smoke alarm and a lengthy treatise on how she should stop lecturing people and mind her own business. Two whole pages about a damn smoke alarm.

During one assembly the Brain Trust piled into the car to go to one of those buffet places. When Stanley told me this I laughed at the image of the Trust, 800 kinds of crazy between them, converging on a restaurant at the same time. I have no doubt fellow diners were waiting for them to start eating their napkins or combing their hair with forks, the looney old bastards.

Sometimes when I'm feeling unbalanced, I spare a thought for the Trust, and how I may find myself in their Salvation Army shoes someday - gulping down my Percoset and knitting seasonal sweaters for my dogs. Maybe, just maybe, I can be President of the Trust one day.


Life of the functionally insane

I freaked out this morning. As in, whirlwind of tears, mad hair, and near-vomiting. You'll recall from some of my previous posts, the stay at home mom gig is so not me. I have really been struggling with it lately - shouting at The Dude for trying to hug me, crying as I get out of bed in the mornings, and crying at night thinking of the long day which lurks on the other side of sleep.

I just don't know what to do with myself during the day. P is a charming, happy baby who only cries when denied a newspaper to chew on, so my complaint does not lay with her. I have a habit of getting bored very quickly with the status quo, and if being a SAHM is about anything, it's the status quo.

I get up with P every morning, anywhere from 5.45am-7am, generally on the earlier side of the spectrum. I give her breakfast, she plays for awhile, then naps. After her nap, we play a bit more before lunch. After lunch, we sometimes go out shopping or for a walk. We return, bide our time in some dull manner, and she has her 3pm bottle. Post-bottle she sometimes naps, and if not, I spend most of this time counting down the minutes until The Dude comes home at 4.15pm. Once The Dude gets home, I cook a dinner for us, and one for P if I don't have anything in the freezer. We bathe, put P to bed, then catch up on taped TV shows that we have missed. All the days are interchangeable, with the only variant being the type of food we eat.

I go back to work full-time on 6 September. The easy solution would of course be to go back earlier, but not only am I discontent, I'm also fickle. I have a feeling that if I were to go back now, I would soon regret it and wonder why I lamented having all that time off. After all, who likes to work?

It all makes me wonder if I'll ever be happy. I always assumed that infertility was the singular barrier to my happiness. I believed that once I had a baby it was that hurdle conquered, leading to my immediate and assured optimism that life would be just great from now on. That hasn't happened, much as I love being a mother to P. I know all I need is a little time away in the form of work, but the other concern which emerges is that once I'm working again, I'll just go back to times as they were - tired of the drudgery of full-time employment. Now it will have the added bonus of parental responsibility at the end of a soul-sucking workday.

I suppose it is a matter of changing my frame of mind. We all have to work, and if we have children, we have to parent. It just is. Do I stop focusing on what happiness means and just get on with it? Maybe I will find happiness in that, I don't know. Perhaps if I spent less time worrying that I don't have enough in my life to make me happy, then I would be a bit happier.

Rereading what I've written thus far makes me look like I'm just aching from intervention from Dr Phil. God help me. Well, Dr Phil, things may change shortly, it's just getting to that point which is the struggle. P is going to go to 2 half-day nursery (daycare in Yankspeak) sessions for 6 weeks in early June in preparation for her full time attendance from September. Monday mornings I will be able to sleep in, and Friday afternoons I can read/watch DVDs/IM with my Cheese Wife. It's a fragmented version of the month's maternity leave I was supposed to have sans baby when P decided to show up 2 days after the bloody thing started. In July we're going to the States for 5 weeks, which eases quite gracefully into my working life starting again in September.

I hope P's nursery sessions make me realise that the discontent I'm feeling at the moment can be alleviated. I know I'm lucky. I have a (let's be frank) fucking adorable baby that was a long time in the making, and that's something that could just have easily not happened. I live in a country whose maternity & annual leave guidelines mean that I get the first 14 months of my child's life off. I have a husband who is a fantastic father, even if he does have to consult me each time he feeds her.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go do one of the things I do know brings me happiness, however temporary - dancing with P to Styx's "Come Sail Away". There goes my street cred...


Shiiiiit, it's all good son

I'm creeped out. It seems that Will Farrell and Co. have been spying on me for fodder to use in their shorts featured here.

You must be confused since I live thousands of miles away from Hollywood, and my only connection to the rich and famous is that I watch "The Daily Ten" and "E! News" every day while I'm giving P. her breakfast.

Behold, the proof that I am far more inspirational than you all thought. My Innard Twin, a fellow user of urban slang and fan of the aural pleasures offered by rap music, will surely be jealous.

The only inconsistency I spotted was that when I'm ridin' around in my whip, I'm more of a Jay-Z kind of girl.