Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day-Week-Month-Year Planning

I just got my new day planner-slash-date book in the mail. I have been waiting long enough, I think. I started bugging my usual source back in June because it uses an academic calender, and I run out of calendar days at the end of July.

I've looked and looked for other versions, but this one fits me precisely. Each month has a two-page spread of days, and each week has a two-page spread of days, upon which each day is divided into 12 hours, with room for a summary, and two areas for projects and primary objectives. There's even a condensed Forward Planning Calendar for the upcoming year. Dude, this calender is awesome. And portable.

I have happily used Payne's Time Management System for years, and having experienced this calender, I can't go back to somebody else's inferior version.

This year, my source dried up. I bugged them several times, left my name and number to be notified when the new ones arrived, I begged them to nag the people who order new stock, to no avail. So when I called them two days into August (last chance!), and they still had not arrived, I tracked down the manufacturer online and *ordered* one for myself from Virginia. It was a drastic step because usually I am all for supporting local businesses, but c'mon! It was August and I had run out of days. Did they think everyone takes August off?

So I have this new one that just arrived. I haven't started writing in it yet, although I have been filling up the condensed planner in back. It says things like: Olympics Start 08/08/08 and Bush's Last Day 01/20/09, and Valentina Lisitsa concert in Nov. Also things like Mammogram at 10:40 (canceled) and M&S's wedding extravaganza, Ted's house concert, and Don't Forget to Pick Blueberries This Month. Plus, oh yeah, all the gigs I've got coming up in the next 4 months, circled in florescent pencil.

I don't know what's holding me back from entering all my information onto the fresh, clean pages. Maybe I have invested so much in my condensed version that it's daunting to transfer the whole thing to the full sized calendar. Maybe that's it. Back when I had a January to January datebook, it was always a chore to transfer all the birthdays from one to the other, and I'd invariably miss a few. Now it's not just a fresh year, it's a backlog.

Well, get to it, missy. Time's not going to wait for you and the longer you wait, the more tiresome it will be.

I will be relieved when it's done, I know. I love filling in and scheduling. When I was in college, I'd spend hours picking over the offerings and requirements in the next semester's new course catalogue, and construct a schedule of clarity and beauty. I had my main coursework plotted out over *years*. The charts were something to behold. My academic advisor was *very* impressed, but it was just the way I worked. Had to get it down on paper.

I still like the visuals. I can scan across a page and ask myself if I am over-extending myself by piling up appointments and sessions and gigs. I like spacing them out so that the pages look balanced. Orange for gigs, yellow for tutoring or teaching. Birthdays and special occasions up top. Arrows to account for time spent commuting. Do I already have a lot of things packed into one day or one month? If it looks balanced, I think my life is more balanced too.

I think the satisfaction of the day planner also comes from being a concrete reminder of my decisions. Once I make a decision and put it on the schedule, it's practically done. No more (reliving the) stress over whether I should do this or that. I took the gig in mid September, but not the one in early January. Done! Nice and neat on the page. No more debating or hand-wringing. And if something gets rescheduled or deleted, I cross it out or, if that's too messy, stritch a little white-out across the box. Begone! Out of sight, out of schedule; no time to waste on regrets and what-ifs.

You know how the world tumbles around in ones head? Well, the way it does in mine, anyway. I enjoy taking the different colored blocks and blobs that tumble aboout, pluck them out the air, and arrange them so they make sense. That's my day planner, a conceptual arrangement. That's my NEW day planner, put into use. Yay!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Wiggling & Whooshing

Well, it's been quite the whirlwind week here.

First, we had our wedding anniversary, or at least saw it go by. We have already reached that "old" married state where we don't need to make a huge deal out of it.

I always feel guilty for not doing the things I used to do early on. Things like make homemade cards and poems and make special meals and plot cool gifts. I have total stage fright about it now... it's never as perfect as I think it should be, so I freeze up and don't get anything done. Okay, that's not always true, but it's one area that my perfectionism is still creating unnecessary havoc in my life. Yes, it sucks. I try to be nice to myself and do stuff instead of indulging in guilt. My husband is also sometimes lax in this department, but he doesn't usually suffer the same amount of guilt that I do. I take that back. We both tend toward social neglect.

In any case, there are things we appreciate about each other more than the ability to choose the perfect gift at the perfect time. We used to eat out at the fancy organic Italian restaurant we ate at for our rehearsal dinner, but they have been not that great in recent years (hard to find enough things on the menu that we are really enthused about for that price), and in addition, I have been feeling a little wonky in the evenings due to that *other* situation. Yes, it does make it hard to eat food. Okay, enough of that little guilt-ridden interlude.

What I like about us, though, is that we have a mutual sense of what makes for a good time, so gifts are optional. He always successfully surprises and delights me, regardless. This year, it was a cute necklace. I ordered him a "Scratch Fury" T-shirt that has been back-ordered for a while since a certain person was at a comics con and hasn't got his orders out... hellooooo, Scott? *ahem*
(Edited to add that while telling DH about this post, he started cackling out loud at the mention of the T-shirt. Apparently, this is the first time I have slipped up and actually said what I had ordered rather than merely hinting at it. Yeah, he's psyched.)

So what constitutes a fun anniversary for us? Lots of fun, boring-to-everyone-else stuff.

Went to the library. I found parenting books and recent fiction and he found a new stash of science fiction. We both run off to our respective sections and reconnoiter to share what we've found. We are both big readers, so yeah, this is fun for us. Ditto on cruising used bookstores, but this time it was the library.

We also did a little clothes shopping to find some new work shirts and pants for him. Sometimes I find the perfect shirt for him, and other times, I need his input as to which color he'd prefer. We zig-zagged through the store and collected some things to try on, then I got to join the small crowd of wives outside the dressing room to give advice and opinions to the men inside. First time I recall doing that in a crowd! Myself and another woman were amused by how some guys needed that extra opinion of confidence in their choices. I watched an older woman hand her husband shirt after shirt, and I mused both about how sometimes men don't like to shop for clothes, and how they sometimes need a nudge to get stuff that actually looks good on them.

Mr. Sweetie ended up with three shirts that looked especially great on him, but no pants. It looked as if all similarly sized men had already picked the selection clean.

Then, although we hadn't planned on any kind of grand dinner out, we decided to go by a little deli in our area for a late lunch. The meal itself was not exceptional, but it gave me the opportunity to audition quiche as a food I can tolerate, and discovered melon again -- melon! Oo, that I can eat, too. It also gave him an opportunity to be gallant and give me the rest of *his* melon. As he likes to say, I have "Food Priority." He is surprisingly non-resentful of this, and in fact came up with the term.

And then we made a little grocery shopping run on the way home.

In between, we had some quality conversation reflecting on how we and our relationship have solidified over the last several years.

Over the years, we've gone from thinking of "me" to "us," then edging back to "me," then refinding the "us." Somehow we've helped each other be more solid, mature adults, who can then be more effective in the relationship. It's as in dancing: we hold ourselves up, connected but not dragging, so that our overall frame is stronger. Pretty darn cool, I say.

For me, the best part of the day was simply being together. It sounds so simple. I love our doing things together, even if it's as mundane as reading together on the couch or running to the hardware store. See? Old married people. No glitz required.

Then the rest of the week, oh my gosh. It was one medical appointment after another, with dancing (play) and calling (work) around the edges, and lots of targeted sharing. And I asked myself last night... and this was all in one week?

Herein starts the pregnancy-heavy part of the post.

So the nurse appointment was lots of paperwork and an interview wherein we discussed the paperwork. We had some questions answered as well. For instance, yes, it is possible to be feeling round-ligament pain this early. Ow. So I still get the occasional pain, but at least I know it's nothing dire.

After that, we had an hour of genetic counseling, which was quite interesting and informative. One friend asked me why we were having that done, and I said, duh, I'm over 40! Also, it's available. Mainly, we're doing screening to rule out certain things now so that (hopefully) I can avoid more invasive procedures later such as amnio. A friend had wisely pointed out to me that if they were able to screen for certain conditions and drop one's risk level to *below* the added miscarriage risk from amnio, the odds became pretty clear. I can't explain that well, but I am all for the early screening for any scrap of information we can gain.

As part of the screening, I had several vials of blood drawn and an ultrasound to measure this and that. This was an unexpected pleasure. I am far enough along that they went straight for the belly instead of approaching vaginally.

"Aw, the baby is all curled up in there," the technician cooed. "This may take a while, though," she added. She couldn't get a good angle to get the measurements she needed at first. I was confused.... "Can you make the baby move, you mean?" I asked. "I wish! We'll just wait for the baby to change positions." Change positions??!!! You mean... Oh my god, it's flipping onto it's back! We were totally unprepared to see the kidlet arch its back and wiggle around. Wiggle! It was magical. I was enchanted. Afterwards, they told us that although we wouldn't get the blood test results for another week that the measurements alone looked very good thus far, so whoo-hoo! for that.

You know I had to send my mother some jpgs. She was also charmed. Gosh, the technology certainly allowed for a lot more detail than in her day, she said.

Then we drove drove drove so I could call a dance for a huge, happy crowd that night. I hadn't had much sleep the night before, being nervous about the medical appointments, so I was a leetle more tired than usual, fortified by a big brownie, protein snacks and lots of hydrating fluids. When I got there, I discovered a big-name caller was in attendance, just to add to the stress level. But the band was great to work with and the dancers were enthusiastic. I worked hard, everyone had a good time, and then I conked out in exhaustion. They are already trying to rebook me to come back, which I will be happy to do as long as it's before the new year when the schedule becomes a little chancy.

A couple days later, we came in again to see an actual doctor this time, the first of several. The practice we've chosen has a whole slew of doctors with every kind of maternal-fetal-medicine specialty you could imagine, so if something *were* to go wrong with my pregnancy, they'd be all over it. Luckily for me, I am considered "low-risk" (crossing fingers) despite my "advanced maternal age." The doctor apologized for even having to put it that way, because obviously, a healthy 40-something like not especially old. She herself had her children in that age range.

We had a fun time talking things over with her, and we felt good about the information and advice received. She anticipates I will have a "normal" pregnancy, although of course, they check frequently for any potential problems that might develop. I'm still at higher risk for gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, etc.

The highlight of that visit was hearing the whoosh-whoosh of baby-heartbeat on the doppler stethoscope. "Yup, I agree with the ultrasound that you've got a baby in there!" the doctor remarked.

The low point was the rather brusque pelvic exam. Um, a little more lubrication and a little less haste would make it sooo much easier for me to cooperate. I'm just going to have to be upfront with all the doctors about that from now on. That and about the use of the automatic blood pressure cuff which I find extremely painful. It's kind of hard to get an accurate BP reading when I'm in pain and my fingers are going numb, yes?

Another thing I've done this week is go new clothes shopping, as I've started growing out of my jeans and camisoles, and the need was becoming dire. As best I can tell, I've gone up a full cup size already and and am getting ready to spill up one further. My favorite find was a "body slimming" garment that hugs both breasts and belly so there is less uncomfortable jiggling going on while dancing or walking.

So you can tell how the week has been going... relentless. Kinda like this post. (heehee) Have I worn you out yet? And that's not including a dance and a birthday party and a collegial gathering and ....
But OH my gosh, so much good stuff!! Heartbeat! And wiggling! And time spent with my Sweetie, even if much of it is spent sitting in waiting rooms.

Now we'll breathe a little easier for a while and try to plot what I'll eat when I can eat. The nausea is supposed to go away soon, right? I said, Riiight?!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Glimmers and Glue

"You turn me right round, baby, right round/
like a record, baby, right, right, round, round"

These are my thoughts. This is my typing on pregnancy hormones. It sucks, this brain shrinkage. No patience at all. I got some brain-mutterings for you, that's all.

So this is my post, such as it is.

What is the glue that attracts friends and keeps them together?

I've been thinking about this more recently what with the who-liked-me-who-didn't stories of BlogHer and with my own recent visits with friends. It's interesting to muse over which friends stick around through all sorts of years and changes and which ones drift away.

Then there was a debate on a forum I follow, how two people bonded over waiting for children to be matched, how one person changed to special needs for her second child without telling the other (who is still waiting), and now the other doesn't want to be friends any more even though their first daughters are friends.

I was surprised that all the sympathy was with the first person saying Wah, she doesn't want to accept my apology and be friends any more, and how many people were saying that if the other were a "true" friend that she would get over all it already. I wanted to say that a "true" friend should have told the other woman *before* she was matched and that now she's being pretty insensitive to the fact that obviously the other woman is not ready to "get over it" and needs time alone with her pain. Jeez. but i digress.

This whole "true" friend got me thinking. What is the glue that keep friends together or crumbles up and falls apart?

Granted, I think some bonds are more fragile to begin with. Maybe you are friends out of proximity and convenience. Sharing a job location, neighborhood, interest, or activity leads to a deeper association, or at least more conversation. But there's no guarantee that the friendship will survive when one of you gets another job, moves away or decides to spend more time doing other things.

Same thing when you form bonds when you are a youngling. Maybe it's based on common outlook or the need to hang out with someone, preferably someone you can talk to and have fun with. Or maybe you each have insecurities or a wild sense of humor or an outsider status that needs that other person. Or maybe someone is a friend of a friend and it's just fun to hang out all together. Group bonding is also pretty cool.

The particular weakness of youth relationships lies in our tendency to change and grow up. You and your friends may or may not change in the same direction. It can be distressing, but it's inevitable that some differences will arise. A little respect and caring can go a long way, but it can't make up for major cracks and divisions.

An even greater threat to the glue is lack of interest in keeping in contact when you are out of convenient range. Again, I've been lucky that some old friends have enjoyed corresponding (this was before email, yo!), and/or visiting/calling, at least enough to keep up with each others lives. Now with email and things like mytwitterspacefacebook, it becomes even easier. But some friends can not bring themselves, for whatever reason, to keep up with a correspondence. Or others who do correspond, but only in a compulsive, shallow way (okay, sometimes that still works!). Or sometime a correspondence will die out despite the best of intentions. It's work to keep up with far-flung people, maybe too much work. A sense of flexibility and forgiveness helps. Do we all really need to always relate the same way forever? Either way, some friendships survive and others die out.

Friendships may dissolve because it's only after you get to know someone better that you realize you don't actually like them very much, or more distressingly, that they are really no friend at all. Oy, I have had a few of those, both with and without drama. Or perhaps an otherwise wonderful friend fails to come through during a stressful time and the disappointment and hurt is enough to kill it off. I've had at least one of those. And maybe like the other woman in the forum, one might need some time away for self-protective reasons, to deal with the rest of ones life.

Oh, are all these reasons that friendships fall apart? There are other reasons why the glue still holds.

Maybe the friendship survives because you have a little glimmer of fondness that transcends the inconvenience factor. I've been lucky to have had friends that persist through years of changes. The kind of friends who it's still wonderful to talk to and share with after months or years of little contact.

Maybe the friend has that mysterious spark that makes you giggle or makes you think, or gives you solace in a cold world. Maybe they offer you a breath of fresh air, the smile that lifts your heart, the mutual interest that recommends books and goes with you to make sure you really leave after you break up with your boyfriend. Or who spends all afternoon helping you shop for wedding dress fabric, who says, "I know it!" when you complain, who shares ideas and dreams and even pain, and tells you your creations are wonderful and to keep doing more of that thing you love!

Here's where I get all ethereal and sweeping with emotion, I suppose. I will try to not get all Rogers and Hammerstein on you.

As in any relationship, sometimes it's the small things that keep you going, that keep the friendship tended whether in the early mid or late stages, and even when you are too busy to even email for a while, it's still wonderful to hear from that person. Of course, some friends are hothouse flowers, needing gobs of attention and care, and others can survive dry spells and pop out again when it rains. Either way, we must, almost by evolutionary default, find the people who match up with us, who match glimmers and maintenance levels within acceptable tolerances. We find, as one friend likes to say "our people." The people who love and appreciate us. It goes without saying that this is a two-way street, sometimes a four-lane highway!

Glimmer, glimmer. I see glimmers. Friendly glimmers. At whatever stage of relationship, it's all good. " 'Cause I'm (uh-uh) stuck on you."