Sunday, March 29, 2009

Muse. Bullet. Points.

Yes, yes, I'm still here. Still haven't quite managed to pull the plug.

I have been having many thoughts about motherhood and the like. More often than not I think "what a lot of work and effort all that stuff is" and think maybe I'll just be child-free forever. And downsize my life and live in a tiny apartment in the best part of Montreal. Or New York. Or Paris. Or Buenos Aires. Or...I don't know, anywhere chic and urban. Things I couldn't do with a kid in tow.  I imagine being a funky, cool old lady, not of the cat-crazy variety. With a miniscule wardrobe (that perfectly fits my size six frame - because of course I will be chic and thin) but which is all impeccably made of the finest materials by the finest designers. That I wear to the library. Or shopping to the market, where I will buy fresh flowers, no, fresh orchids, every week. And to my yoga class where I will wow the youngsters with my lotus pose. Sorry, I digress.

Then I think about the steps that turn us into an adult - marriage and children are the big two. I wonder if I never have either of those, if I'll ever be fully recognized as a real adult by certain sections of society. You know the type, the "you'll know what I mean when you have kids" type, whose every pronouncement is accompanied by a knowing look to the other parents in the room. But then again, there are other avenues into adulthood - the big birthdays, the buying of your first home, the responsibilities of bill paying. My family treats me like an adult because I act like one, so it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks, and by the time I'm 70 and living my impossibly cool life nobody else's opinion will matter, after all. And then sometimes I think that I'm getting too old to be looking after a baby, and maybe I'd better just adopt a toddler or something. After I've graduated, of course, and actually have some time to spare. But just so I can skip all that inconvenient baby stage stuff. [And please, don't wander over here and think that I'd better not be a parent after all because I am not interested in the baby stage - you should know that after years of heartbreaking infertility treatment I'd probably kill to get to experience the baby stage. I'm trying to think of the positives, here, of missing out, all right?]

How does one go about forging a life for oneself when so many thoughts take me around and around about child rearing or child bearing, and missing out? I take a step forwards and a step backwards all the time - it is like a dance. I make one decision and then change my mind completely and decide that another is the right way forward. I recently read a quote that went something along the lines of "five birds are sitting on a wire. Four birds decide to fly off - how many are left? Five, because deciding and doing are not the same thing." Or words to that effect. It definitely resonated with me, I can tell you.

Anyway, some bullet points from the rest of my life recently:
  • I have solar panels! Woot! 2kW of sun-powered goodness is now juicing up my house.
  • I have lost a total of 18 pounds. So far.
  • If you suffer from migraines, give up dairy, coffee and artificial sweeteners if you consume any to excess. Says one of the professors. Oh, and do yoga.
  • I seem to have developed a small crush on one of the profs. He has mentioned a wife. It won't go anywhere. But still. It is a nice day dream.
  • If you are overweight, try to always leave yourself just a little bit hungry. If you also tend to being cold and having loose poop (yes really, acupuncturists talk poop a lot) eat ginger, garlic, sweet potatoes, tofu (and some meats but I can't remember which because I didn't pay attention at that point). Ditch the processed carbs and too much sugar. Do strength training (ye-ess, still not so hot on my strength training, but I will get around to it at some point).
  • They mentioned that two students per year from my school win a scholarship from the Chinese Government to go and study in China. For a year. You know I want to be one of them.
  • I planted some plants today so my yard is less embarrassingly dead. I hope I won't kill them.
  • The Craziness at work is not. yet. over. It's been over 2 months already, and I am tired. But to reveal some details - 13 people left, 1 was fired, 2 were laid off, and 1 or 2 more may be laid off still. Everyone else is moving (same building, just squishing up together to stop having so much dead space between those of us that remain). Sigh. But the good thing is that everybody I could have wanted to go is gone. I think it'll be a nicer place to work when the dust settles.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rest and recuperation

It isn't until you are stretched to your limit that you suddenly realize the real virtue of rest and relaxation. And, basically, I haven't had any for weeks until the last couple of days. I managed to rest a little bit on Sunday, and then today I "worked" at home while some workmen were here. I did a little work, a little study, and a little lazing around. And I feel like I can suddenly think again, and maybe feel somewhat normal. Although I still think I could sleep for a week. And I only managed this by going in to work at 6pm on Saturday night, and by getting up at 5am this morning to clean. Yes indeed. Such is my life.

Except that it all starts again tomorrow and I will go back to crushing exhaustion until Spring Break which doesn't start until April 18th.

So, I'm sorry I haven't been reading or commenting on blogs. Or emailing. Or updating here. Or cleaning my house. Or getting my hair cut. Or doing any number of things that I should do. And I've even been having thoughts about shuttering this blog and saying farewell on the basis that my ramblings are of no interest at all to anyone interested in infertility or single motherhood by choice. It's nothing personal, you understand. Just 32+ hours of work + 24 hours of school + 10 hours of driving + 4+ hours of exercise + 5+ hours of studying + laundry + food shopping + cooking + eating + minimal cleaning + god knows what else = exhaustion.

But strangely, I'm having fun. I can do it, provided that I can catch a mental health day every now and then.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Perfection or bust

One thing I've noticed on this dieting lark is that so many people are paralyzed about losing weight because they think they have to be perfect or it just won't work. Like, you have to be fasting, only eating grapes or only having 937 calories a day, or you won't get anywhere.  All not true. It's actually easy to lose weight, I have found. 

Use an online calculator, and calculate the calories you'd need to take in to MAINTAIN at your goal weight (making sure to calculate your basal metabolic rate and then work upwards using your activity level according to the Harris Benedict Equation), and voila. Eat a range around that, and you'll get there eventually. Don't underestimate your activity level to lose weight faster as that just defeats the object. [If you're very overweight and this works out as more than 1000 calories less than you would need to maintain at your current weight, don't drop so low so quickly - work down from where you are.] You'll be able to eat a reasonable amount of food, including treats, and it'll train you to get out of the "diet" mentality - as you'll already be eating the right amount of calories for you, for maintenance for the next decade or so, so there's no "finishing" the diet and getting back to "normal" as you'll already been eating at your new normal.  Exercise for the health benefits, and because it lets you eat more. Of course, this does require that you track your calorie intake relatively accurately, but there's plenty of online trackers that do that to save all that math.  

I tell ya, 1800 calories a day is a LOT more pleasant than 1200.

Anyhoo, it set me off wondering about the rest of life. I certainly have bought into the "perfection or bust" attitude, both in my food intake and in every other area of life. I am trying to let go of that. And of course, as with all things, it brings me back to trying to conceive. 

I spent so long trying to live according to "the plan" - grow up, go to college, get a degree, get a fabulous job, travel, go up the career ladder, have some fun, meet the great guy, get married, have two beautiful children, blah blah blah. Of course, for me, that started to go wrong at the "meet the great guy" stage, and then really went to pieces at the "have two beautiful children" stage. I spent so long wallowing in how meaningless life would be if I couldn't have children. Life would not be worth living. I got depressed, and fat. I got angry, and bitter. Perfection or bust.

But after some deep thinking, I finally figured out that I have no control over where my life is going. I can just go with the flow, or I can fight against the current. If my life plan is not to have children, or to adopt, I need to be able to adapt to that and to accept it willingly, with an open heart for whatever adventure life DOES bring me. Basically, this is all a long-ass way of saying that I am dropping the "man in a can plan."  I haven't been making any progress on ordering some frozen spermy goodness, because, well, my heart's not in it. What I really want is to meet a real man, and have some great sex, and a lifelong partnership. And if I get so lucky as to find a good egg, all the better. If not, adoption is still on the table. I've been regretting the passage of every month lately, wondering if that was my last good egg, and that shows me that I still haven't really accepted a child-free life. I'm still clinging on to wanting to conceive. I need to let go of that, and open my heart to other opportunities, whatever they may be.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The po-po money game

You know one thing I hate? Telemarketing calls from the police benevolent fund. Or the sheriff's benevolent fund. Or whichever one happens to be calling. I think it's preying on people's fears that they think they need to keep in "good" with the police, and that if the police call them they'd better listen in case it's something important.

Now, I'm not against police benevolent funds at all. At all. In fact, I've been a grateful recipient of help from them when my mom was in hospital and after she died - they really helped us get back on our feet again, helped my dad change his shifts and figure out what to do with us, etc. I don't know the extent of their help to us, but it sure made a deep impression on my dad, and once we were doing OK again, he was a tireless supporter of theirs, and we did many many fundraising activities all through my teen years. But that's the thing: we were a police family. We helped our own. All the fundraising was done "in-house" as it were, like a union. Once we were OK, we pitched in to repay our debt and to help others. I don't agree with randomly calling members of the public to solicit cash.

So, I get this call this morning, and it's from the police benevolent fund. It's a guy with a VERY strong Indian accent. Which, seeing as I am from the UK which has a huge Indian population, I can understand perfectly well. But I totally got the feeling that he was trying to bamboozle me with the accent AND with the police thing into agreeing to something that I didn't mean to, and it just left me feeling slimed all over. It went something like this:

Me: Hello?
Him: Hello, is this Mrs. Sarah xxxx? I am calling from the xxxx county police benevolent fund and...
Me: I'm not interested in giving any money right now but thanks for calling, buh-b...
Him: Mrs. Sarah, we're not asking for money right now, just a pledge of $15 if I can send you something.
Me: Look, if you want to send me something in the mail, I'll consider it, but I'm not interested in giving any money right now.
Him: Just a pledge of $15.
Me: No. I'm not interested in giving any money right now. Bye bye.
Him: Well, OK, I'll send you something in the mail and you'll consider a pledge? Just $15?
Me: Fine, if you want to send me something. I'll consider it.
Him: Great, so that's a pledge of $15. Someone will call back shortly to verify your address.
Me: I am NOT making a pledge. I'm not giving you anything now. Nobody needs to call me back, because I'm not pledging. You can send me some literature if you want but that's IT.
Him: But you'll consider a pledge of $15, yes?
Me: [Sighs] I'll think about it.
Him: OK, so I'll have someone call to verify your pledge of $15.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Perfect attendance?

When I was a wee lass, I was only allowed to stay home from school if I was actually producing vomit or diarrhea out of my body. Or perhaps obvious red chicken-pox like marks. Or maybe a high fever. There had to be physical evidence, otherwise out the door I went, complaining and whining about feeling sick be damned. Of course, I'm sure it helped in this regard that my mother was a nurse, and my dad was a cop, and they both worked (though my mom didn't work until I was about 7 or 8). I couldn't pull the wool over their eyes by faking illness, and they didn't want to have to stay home and miss work. So that was that. And yes, there were occasions when I got sent home later in the day after I barfed all over the floor, but hey, at least I made the morning classes.

When it came to undergraduate studies, I missed quite a lot. I was a slacker who was relishing my freedom and discovering a love of alcohol and nightclubs, and thus my perfect attendance record went completely out of the window. I ended up with a poor grade, and lifelong shame. It is a regret of mine that I wasted some good opportunities at college just because I wanted to party.

So this time around, I am studying something that I find interesting, that I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to be good at what I do, and I want to get good grades. I am also now a responsible adult who turns up to stuff when required. I kind of assumed that others would be the same way, and so I find myself shocked that people miss classes ALL the freakin' time. One of them missed Saturday morning's class because she had a headache (this being a class where you have to have at least 95% attendance to get a passing grade). Others will miss classes and say they weren't well, or their back hurt, or they had stuff going on. And then today, I went to a totally optional, six-week qigong class that one of the teachers is doing. Nobody had to do it, no pressure. One other girl in my class said she'd go. Did she turn up? Nope. I called her and she said she didn't feel like it but she'll probably go next week. OK, I mean, it's optional and all, but when it's an exercise class you kind of need to know the basic moves first so not turning up to the first class seems a big deal to me. Also, I find it disrespectful to the teacher if he is planning for so many to turn up and then half just don't bother. The man is giving up his Sunday morning and you can't be arsed? If you weren't going to be arsed, just don't sign up in the first place! What if he turned someone away because all the places were filled? What if he really needs the extra money?

I mean, seriously, is America full of sissies that get sick all the time or do they just not care?  I pretty much don't get sick - I did get that norovirus that was going around last year (or was it the year before), but other than that I don't remember missing work due to being sick in the last 5-10 years (not counting IVFs).  Also, do Americans not find it disrespectful to the teachers not to show up in class? Do they think that nothing useful is said in class and that it is easy to catch up with 10 minutes of skimming someone else's notes?

I just don't understand.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I dreamt I was pregnant last night

And then I woke up, and realized I was snoozing flat on my back with my cat curled up on my tummy. 

No big predictive meaning, then. Just kitteh weight pressing on my internal organs. Thanks, kitteh.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Just two things (OK, four actually)

I admit, I was getting stressed at the weekend about this lifestyle of mine. We had a test at school on Saturday and I didn't do as well as I would have liked, because I hadn't devoted enough time to studying. And at the same time, my house was basically descending into squalor because I hadn't cleaned or tidied up in forever. I was beginning to have mild panic attacks at the thought of somehow squeezing out more time in which to get things done, while at the same time knowing that it's still busy at work and that I couldn't possibly manage it all.

But, I sat down, and really gave things a good think through. First of all, getting up in the morning. I'd been setting my alarm for 6, intending to get up and tackle things, but was not actually getting up. So all I was doing was cutting my sleep short unnecessarily and giving the snooze button a workout. I have reset it for 6.30 to give myself an extra half hour of sleep.

Then on the house squalor front, I decided I'd just have to keep it tidy and clean as I go along. There's no time any more to spend a couple of hours at the weekend making it look presentable. So I came up with a plan to just do two things every morning and evening. I can do two things. Just two things. And that's what I've been doing. And what a difference already! After only a few days I feel so much happier coming home and feel that I can breathe a bit easier. The first night I put the junk mail on the dining table into piles, threw away the pile that was actually junk and can finally see some wood. And I unloaded/loaded the dishwasher. That has moved on through a couple of dishwasher loads (yes, there were huge piles of dirty dishes in my kitchen - ugh) and laundry through to sweeping the floor, cleaning the kitchen countertops, dusting, starting to clean up my dresser in the bedroom. Ahhhh! Breathing room! It's actually quite amazing what two cleaning jobs every morning and evening can accomplish.

And finally, as far as studying goes, I decided that I just have to get into the habit of studying 6 days a week. I'd got into the habit of just doing whatever homework was set, and studying only when there was a test, trying to have a night off from studying whenever possible. But I need to step my general reading up so that I can stay up on the theory. So last night, even though I didn't need to, I picked up a book and spent 40 minutes or so reading up on qi.

I am definitely feeling happier about this new plan. I think I can, I think I can...

Sunday, March 01, 2009


I want to document some health changes, both since I started acupuncture all those many years ago, and since I've been losing weight lately.


1. Easy bruising. I used to bruise if you just looked at me. I was covered in them constantly. And I wouldn't have a clue where most of them came from. Not any more! This was an acu success - easy bruising is a sign of spleen qi deficiency, which I still have, but not nearly so bad as before. Now I only bruise if I get a really hard knock. As it should be.

2. Fatigue. Oh lord, the fatigue. This has improved a lot. Of course, it's probably from a mixture of more exercise, weight loss, less booze, an interesting course at school to get up for, less depression. All that. Now I sometimes marvel at the energy I have in my belly - the fire, as it were, burning away, enabling me to get stuff done. The house is still a mess, though, as I don't have enough energy to clean, so it's not perfect!

3. Coldness. I was constantly cold. And if I wasn't cold all over, my hands and feet were icy. Now I'm very warm blooded. In fact, I'm frequently hot. Women all over the office now marvel at how I manage to share a thermostat with my boss, who likes the temperature frigid. Again, cold hands and feet are a sign of spleen qi deficiency, so I attribute this to acupuncture and possibly qigong.

4. Puffy feet. My feet used to get painfully swollen by the end of most days. I expect this was due to putting on weight. I couldn't even wear half of my shoes because they were too painfully tight due to the swelling. Now my feet'll get slightly puffy on an odd random day, but it is definitely not the norm. I also used to get puffy fingers if I walked anywhere, but not any more.

5. Low back pain. Along with the weight and lack of exercises came chronic low back pain. I had to force myself to walk again, and I had to start slow, taking a break midway through even a 10-minute walk to do some yoga stretches. This is mostly gone. I attribute this success to exercise, although I've had acupuncture for it when it flares up.

So there you go. The new, healthier me.