Sunday, December 18, 2016

still technically around!

Current mood:
  • Four hours of sleep a night
  • Back at work full-time
  • Toddler got a stomach bug and threw up twice in my car and then on the couch
  • Have only ten pounds to lose post-partum but it's distributed so oddly that I cannot get any pre-pregnancy pants past my thighs
  • Upon review, that's not so much "distributed oddly" as "distributed in my thighs"
  • Whatever, I'm sticking to my story
  • Living in the last days of the Roman Empire, apparently
  • I have been reading but finding the time to blog is another creature entirely
Oh, and I turned forty. There was supposed to be some big profound post about that but then the election happened and I had a bit of a meltdown. However, I need to get some books listed here before the backlog gets completely out of control:

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain, by Bill Bryson. Rather nice and comforting, even if Bryson's curmudgeonly attitude sometimes takes an unexpected turn into vitriol, and you get the feeling that he is one of those people who always acts shitty towards folks in customer service positions. Which is not cool. 

Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins. Decent. I really resented the killing-off of characters far more sympathetic than our narrator, especially since it was transparently done to emphasize that the world completely revolves around her. 

Witches of Lychford, by Paul Cornell. A super-fun novella about a small British village that maintains the barrier between our world and that of the fairies, and how a superstore coming to town could destroy that barrier. I love Cornell's urban fantasy. 

The White Shepherd, by Annie Dalton. A forgettable mystery that I read only because the heroine has just adopted a giant white dog. 

Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell. Victorian novels are such good comfort reading when things are rough. This was sweet. 

The Ghost Fields, by Elly Griffiths. I love this series about a female archaeologist getting sucked into crimes, even though the plots are hilarious stretches at this point. Such lovely characters and sense of place.

The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World, by David Jaher. Did I even finish this? Not sure. That tells you how interesting it was. 

Seventy-Seven Ways to Make Your Life Very Slightly Better, by Tania Kindersley. This is a little self-published book by a blogger I love. It is about Scotland and middle age and dogs and natural beauty and grief, and it is periodically either free for e-readers or costs about two dollars and you should all download it. The self-help format may turn folks off, and I was a bit surprised to see that she had written something like that, but it is so charming and kind and smart and genuinely helpful. I think so, anyway. 

Shakespeare's Restless World: A Portrait of an Era in Twenty Objects, by Neil MacGregor. Oooh, just lovely. MacGregor takes twenty physical artifacts from Shakespeare's time and uses them to discuss the politics and social mores of the time and how those were reflected in the plays. It's wonderfully intelligent and informative, and just a physically beautiful book as well. 

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation, by Rebecca Traister. Very well-done reportage, and fierce to boot. 

The Breaker, by Minette Walters. Serviceable but hostile thriller. I am not so much in the mood for the "people are inherently nasty and vicious" type of books right now. 

The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock, by Lucy Worsley. Really, really fascinating study of how English mystery literature evolved. I liked it a lot.

And now I must dash, since the toddler just informed me, "Mommy, your phone is playing hide-and-seek!" 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

shock, for the most part

Well, as this week continues to soar across the sky on the wings of a zombie vulture, now our furnace has gone out. To look on the bright side, practice for nuclear winter probably isn't a bad thing. 

This week has been, obviously, devastating, and my terror is only growing as we learn about potential cabinet appointees and as violence by emboldened racists escalates. Yes, living in a super-blue state (and being white and middle-class) gives my family a definite buffer, but any new Supreme Court appointees will be doing their best to make sure my daughter doesn't have legal control over her own body during her lifetime, and that if either of my children turns out to be gay or transgender, they have no legal protections and will be denied the right to create a family. This administration will do its best to see that the services my workplace provides for the poor, for immigrants and refugees, for addicts and the homeless, are phased out as unnecessary wastes of money that could be better spent on tax cuts for the super-rich. And that is just what I can write about right now without throwing up. 

58 million of my countrymen endorsed racism, sexism, xenophobia, antisemitism, rape culture, homophobia, and basically any other kind of bigotry available  - and don't give me that "willing to overlook" versus "endorsing" distinction attempt. Being willing to overlook racism, sexism, xenophobia, antisemitism, rape culture, homophobia, and basically any other kind of bigotry available IS an endorsement of those things. Period. If a man bragging about committing sexual assault is not a goddamn deal-breaker for you - like, if you even have to think about whether this is going to be a deal-breaker - then you are endorsing rape culture, because a culture where ANYONE will overlook bragging about committing sexual assault in favor of LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE FUCKING GUY WHO JUST FUCKING BRAGGED ABOUT COMMITTING SEXUAL ASSAULT is, by definition, rape culture.

Okay. Breathe. Stop crying. Drink some water. (I've been giving myself that set of instructions every couple of hours since Wednesday morning.)

I am at the period of my maternity leave which involves working from home 20 or so hours a week, so that's had to carry on. Perdita still needs to have her lunches packed in the morning and be taken to preschool. Puck has decided he's not really going to sleep at nights, which is fun. (Of course he slept like a stone Tuesday night through Wednesday morning, when sleep was the last thing available to his panicked, weeping parents.) The routines of our days continue, for the moment, with this unreal shadow over us. 

Concentrating on books is difficult; mostly I just stare in horror at my newsfeed these days. But there is some reading to report:

The Crime at Black Dudley, by Margery Allingham. Even more bizarre than the one of hers I read before. 

Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63, by Taylor Branch. So good. Immense and devastating (especially now, when 58 million people have endorsed a return to those times) and just freakin' brilliantly done. 

India Black, by Carol K. Carr. Ugh, pretty awful. Not sure why I finished it.

The Making of Home: The 500-Year Story of How Our Houses Became Our Homes, by Judith Flanders. Very well researched and well written, but not nearly as fun as her book about Victorian murder and literature. I may need to re-read that one. 

Good Man Friday, by Barbara Hambly. I continue to binge through this series, and take great comfort from it. 

Emma: A Modern Retelling, by Alexander McCall Smith. Blech. If you think Emma Woodhouse is annoying as a product of her time, wait until you see a modern version of her. I didn't really see the point of this, honestly. 

Love Warrior: A Memoir, by Glennon Doyle Melton. A really good memoir - of which there are few - needs to be compelling regardless of whether the reader has had the same experiences or comes from the same general place as the writer. This is not one of those. It was so spot-on for me that it took my breath away sometimes, and felt like exactly what I needed to read right now, but I am a white middle-class woman with a certain level of comfort around traditional Christian religion. This is not a book for universal recommendation; it is a book that might be really fantastic for individual people. 

Revenge in a Cold River, by Anne Perry. The latest in her William Monk series, which I am of late enjoying more than her Thomas Pitt series. In these ones at least the characters still seem like people, not paper dolls being moved through their paces. That being said, I read this book two weeks ago and I could tell you very little about the plot. Conspiracy and courtroom drama, I believe, but I can only say that much because they all pretty much follow those lines. 

Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Quite interesting, even at two in the morning. 

And now we wait for the furnace repairman, and for the next set of horrible news, and for Puck's next smile (he has started smiling and cooing in the last few days and it is a lifeline), and for Perdita's next display of vocabulary, and after a little more time grieving I have to start figuring out what actions to take. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

two weeks postpartum...

...and so much laundry. SO. MUCH. We haven't even started the baby on cloth diapers! How can there possibly be this much laundry? 

Berowne has gone back to work, which was not part of the original plan and about which I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, he won't be able to work between December and February (December: I go back to work; February: a spot in daycare opens up), so accepting a temporary job now is good both for his standing in the union and for our bank account. But I was counting on being able to hand the baby off to him four or five hours a day starting next week, when I start working those hours from home in order to stretch out my pitiful accrual of earned time. Already this week Puck has been fussy and clingy enough that if I was working, I would not have gotten very much done. But we shall see how it goes. 

Monday morning, on my own with both kids, I managed to get them fed and dressed and out the door within thirty minutes of my target departure time, and I am very impressed by myself. True, Puck had peed in his own hair, Perdita's diaper smelled suspicious, and I had to get up at four to make this happen, but still. It counts. 

And now, the long list of books I have read while home:

Mystery Mile, by Margery Allingham. Period British mysteries are so weird, with their aggressively eccentric nobleman-sleuths given full rein by the authorities (including a license to kill, apparently). Such books walk a strange line between soothing and so of-another-era-and-culture that they're almost like science fiction. 

We'll Always Have Paris: Trying and Failing to Be French, by Emma Beddington. I love Beddington's blog passionately, but this memoir didn't work for me. Her humor was missing from it a surprising amount of the time, and by that I don't mean "it wasn't funny enough - make me laugh, damn it, even when you're talking about relationships ending and parents dying". I mean that what makes her blog voice so fantastic just wasn't on these pages, somehow. And that was incredibly disappointing. Not to mention that, nine months pregnant, essentially solo-parenting a toddler (Berowne was working long days and weekends at the time), and trying desperately to arrange work coverage for absolutely every contingency, I really did not need another memoir where the author is "allowed" to have a nervous breakdown. Where everyone bends over backwards to help her keep her job and her income; where her partner is thrilled to be a single parent to their children plus her caregiver for months; where no one in her entire sphere wants anything but that she gets better, no matter how long it takes or how much it inconveniences them. Just... not good timing on that. 

Um. Okay, that paragraph sounds like I don't understand mental illness at all, and like I think that getting to the point of being unable to function is like getting to go to a spa resort for a month. Neither statement is true. I just find that memoirs involving mental breakdowns always make it sound like once help was asked for, everything magically fell into place and everyone rallied 'round and on the other side life was perfect. And I can see why you would not want to tell your readers otherwise, because you do not want to run the risk that someone who needs help will read an honest account of a shitshow that resulted when you put your foot down and yourself first, and will therefore not ask for help no matter how much you emphasize that it was worth it in the end. But by taking the other direction you are inadvertently telling people that if you don't already have an ironclad support system in place, both at work and at home, or you haven't already abdicated all your responsibilities in the build-up to your breakdown, you can't ask for help either. Let's face it: the second you put yourself first, someone is going to be a dick about it. This is just a fact. (Unless you have been putting yourself first your entire life and never let anyone else depend on you, in which case, um, you might be the dick.) I have had co-workers act like I got cancer for the sole purpose of inconveniencing them, and you can imagine how those same people reacted to my eventual pregnancies. People are gonna be dicks. Let's not sugarcoat this. Rearranging your life to take care of mental health issues is not easy, and we shouldn't pretend it is. It doesn't have to be easy to be justified. 

Anyway! Moving on.  

Endangered, by C.J. Box. Serviceable. 

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party, by Daniel James Brown. Very well-written and comprehensive. And, damn it, I may not be able to read about the Donner Party any longer, just as I cannot read post-apocalyptic fiction any more. The idea of going through that with small children is just too horrifying for me as a parent, and I almost couldn't read on once I was reminded that the Donner Party included infants and toddlers. Of course, I can get my survival-cannibalism-in-cold-weather fix lots of other places (thanks to England's strong export line in ill-prepared explorers), but this feels like that Maternal Loss of Identity that the internet talks about. ("What did you give up when you became a mom?" "The Donner Party." *sob*)

Silent Voices, by Ann Cleeves. Mystery by an author I really like. This featured child death and that was rough, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. 

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell. Very sweet little Victorian book. The BBC series is also beyond delightful. I watched it during midnight feedings with Perdita and maybe will re-visit it with Puck. 

Miramont's Ghost, by Elizabeth Hall. Pretty dumb. 

Shirt on His Back and Ran Away, by Barbara Hambly. I love this series, about a free black man solving mysteries in 1830's New Orleans (and, increasingly, many other locations as well). Been binging on the ones I hadn't read before. 

Rock With Wings, by Anne Hillerman. Hillerman's continuation of the Chee/Leaphorn series where her father left off, and very nice light reading indeed.

Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World, by Linda Hirshman. Unfortunately, I found this a bit tedious, despite how much I love RBG (and how much Hirshman clearly loves her too). The actual urgency / importance for Americans of many of the Supreme Court's decisions never quite made it onto the page. 

Requiem in Vienna: A Viennese Mystery, by J. Sydney Jones. Jones wants to be Frank Tallis. He is not. 

A Man Lay Dead, by Ngaio Marsh. See above re: Allingham. I liked this book better, but same issues. 

The Fortune of War, by Patrick O'Brian. Ha! The War of 1812 has started, in this entry in the Master & Commander series, and our intrepid British heroes get their asses absolutely handed to them by the USS Constitution, and I swear that after reading the battle scene I wanted to go out into the yard and shoot off fireworks and raise a giant American flag and be like YEAAAHHH EFF OFF BRITS. Stirring stuff.

(Yes, I'm aware of the irony in us subsequently naming our son after a British ship. But YEAAHHH NAUTICAL EXPLORATION! And we Americanized the spelling because BOO COLONIALISM. [Which I am aware is also a profoundly ironic statement. WHATEVER! SHIPS ARE SUPER-COOL! I HAVEN'T SLEPT IN DAYS!])

The Vault, by Ruth Rendell. Oh, I like her Inspector Wexford books so much, although this one had the unfortunate element of shaming a woman for dating a man younger than herself (and possibly for dating at all while being a mother) and suggesting that when he turned violent she had no one but herself to blame. What is it with female British crime novelists and this kind of woman-shaming crap? There isn't a single P.D. James novel that doesn't feature it, and it's always jarring as hell. 

The Sculptress, by Minette Walters. See: Rendell, above. Enjoyable and problematic.   

Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine, by Max Watman. Fun reportage, and reading about brewing whiskey actually didn't bother me, That may be because I made the deliberate decision to read this while pregnant and so obsessed with my food restrictions that I had no mental space for any other temptations. Most of the whiskey discussed is either rotgut or is talked about in complicated connoisseur terms that just bored me, and would have at any point, so it probably would have been fine regardless. 

And now I need to run the dishwasher again. And eat a loaf of bread for lunch, because I can. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

blogging from the sitz bath, redux

Guess who has arrived, gentle readers! 

The young gentleman's due date was October 17th, and I had been planning to work at least through the 7th. But Thursday the 6th I arrived at work and almost instantly knew, despite the absence of anything dramatic like contractions, that I would be making it through the morning of that day at best, and no more. 

Friday I had an OB visit at which I hadn't progressed in terms of dilation or effacement but the midwife said she would be very surprised if I didn't deliver within the week.

Saturday I started having contractions. Very far apart, but strong enough that we called the friend who would be taking care of Perdita in our absence, and headed to the hospital. I had barely progressed any further, and we were sent home. I cried a bit, mostly out of fear that I would continue to have strong (read: EFFING PAINFUL) contractions which weren't doing anything in terms of dilation or effacement, and would eventually have to receive inducement drugs to bring those things on, and would then be dealing with a level of pain even beyond my previous induction, and then someone would tell me that childbirth is a woman's Mt. Everest, and I. Just. Could. Not. Handle. That. Naturally I convinced myself that what I could not handle would inevitably be what happened.

Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Sunday morning we: got up, started timing the increasingly frequent contractions, went out to breakfast (with friend, who had stayed the night), realized immediately after putting in our breakfast order that Berowne and I needed to leave or become a local news item, went to the hospital, was found to have some progress, was told to walk the halls and be re-checked in an hour, walked the halls for about ten minutes before the contractions were making me literally shout (which I don't believe I ever did in my previous labor) and were right on top of each other, requested an epidural, was found to be 9 cm dilated with the baby halfway down the birth canal, pushed for four minutes while screaming like the world's neediest banshee, and gave birth. 

From start to finish, and I count getting up that morning as the start, it all lasted under five hours. I couldn't have been in active labor for more than forty minutes, so naturally the fellow who put a girdle round about the earth in that time shall be known here as Puck.  

It was... intense. But no one tried to feed us any useless gendered mountaineering analogies, or withhold pain medications, or, later, refused to take the baby to the nursery so we could sleep (somewhere around the thirty-fifth straight hour of no sleep with a newborn Perdita, we begged the staff at that hospital to take her for a few hours, and were flatly refused and it was hinted that only monsters who didn't want to bond with their child would ask such a thing), or expressed judgement around formula supplementation should that prove necessary, or treated us with anything but kindness and the assumption that we are equipped to decide what is best for our family. The difference between our previous experience and this one? Night and day. 

I'd say now we know where to have our next child, but part of this experience was a tubal ligation for yours truly. I know, I know, Mom; but I'm a month away from being forty and pregnancy is hard on me. Also we live in a two-bedroom, 870-square-foot, house. In any event, the decision was made. And of course it is very convenient to have the procedure done when you're already in the hospital, but what it ends up meaning is that you are recovering from vaginal childbirth and abdominal surgery at the same time. Not a picnic. 

Puck is a delightful little creature and as good a sleeper as his sister, though she was obliging enough to sleep during the night, and he is on a completely different schedule (also appropriate for his namesake). Hopefully this will resolve itself eventually. Perdita, while very much enamored of this new small person, is not differentiating between good and bad forms of attention, which hopefully will also resolve itself. Berowne and I are dazed with exhaustion and toddler-related frustration but happy. You can fit a lot of love in 870 square feet.  

Books, next time: I read a ton in the night watches, after all. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

30-ish days, high stress

Four weeks to due date! Getting there!

Of course, I'm a complete and total wreck, which at least this time around I knew would be the case. What I posted to Facebook the other day:

30 days to due date! 

...and I'm having a tough time. 

Last pregnancy at this time I had to deal with both Darcy's death and the TOTAL PACK OF LIES that women are sold about pregnancy: that it's the strongest, sexiest, most existence-validating, time of your life. This time at least I knew to expect the enormous physical discomfort/pain, the peeing every 15 minutes, the inability to sleep AT ALL, the throwing up from heartburn, the explosion of anxiety and hormonal madness. At least I'm not beating myself up for not wanting to take 10-mile hikes or pose for professional glamour photos.

But this time I'm parenting a toddler. 

And Bingley had a seizure a few weeks ago - all his blood tests came back fine and it hasn't happened again, but of course the thought that my remaining dog might be sick is one I can hardly stand. 

And the diabetes thing, with the accompanying need to police my eating and deny myself foods I want, is beyond triggering and miserable. It's so hard to feel like the competent, patient, organized adult that I absolutely need to be right now at work and as a mother, when food and the scale are the enemies again just as much as when I was seventeen. (And no, telling myself "it's for the baby" doesn't help, because narratives of maternal martyrdom make me itch.) 

I forgot to add that last time the political situation was not like this. The energy reserves that are tapped by being frightened every moment of every day would drain me even if I was not pregnant, not parenting, and able to eat a damn carbohydrate now and then. As it is, I always feel like I have more or less just satiated a vampire (ha! joke's on him! I'm anemic!). It is the worst. 

This morning I went out to the store for something I had already ordered on-line. Love pregnancy brain.  

Read since last posting: 
The Eagle Catcher, by Margaret Coel. Mystery set on a Wyoming Indian reservation. Not at all bad for the first in a series.  

The Fallen Leaves, by Wilkie Collins. Hilarious! Victorian novel coincidences may be my favorite thing ever: in this one a character hears about a long-lost person who has been the object of professional searches for sixteen years. He then goes for a walk through London and no prizes for guessing who literally the first person he talks to turns out to be. Also there are long digressions on socialism.  

Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South, by Christopher Dickey. A pretty good non-fiction book about a British diplomat and his attempts to stop his country from siding with the South during the American Civil War. Interesting, accessible, but felt somewhat non-comprehensive at times and I can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe because the diplomat himself disappears for long periods of the narrative?  

The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris, by Jonathan Kirsch. Odd little book about a Jewish teenager who shot a diplomat at the German embassy in Paris and then got caught up in the propaganda machine as the Nazis tried to decide how to try him and how to frame the incident. There isn't much more to the story, and Kirsch isn't always successful in making it represent the Jewish experience as a whole, so it felt a little unsatisfying. 

Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain. A fictionalization of Beryl Markham's life, complete with people telling her every other page how beautiful and "unlike any other woman in the world" she is. How do we get across to writers that we don't need that in a heroine? Petitions? Seriously, I need to know. The "A Unique Snowflake Is The Only Worthy Snowflake / Not Like Other Girls" narrative is honestly fucking toxic for female readers (especially young ones), and I am sick of it. 

Dark Fire, by C.J. Sansom. Mystery set during Henry VIII's reign. Both gripping in its own right and does a really good job of bringing across how absolutely terrifying it must have been to live under an unstable dictator allowed to do whatever the hell he wanted. NOT THAT I AM SAYING THIRD-PARTY SUPPORTERS SHOULD BE LITERALLY FORCED TO READ ABOUT HENRY VIII RIGHT NOW BUT I DO NOT THINK IT IS A BAD IDEA. 

The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas, by Alison Weir. Weir is SO hit-or-miss, and this was a miss: convoluted and dull. Having an author be this erratic is more frustrating than writing them off completely. 

And now I think I really do have to pack the hospital bag. I've been delaying it because of course it feels like a jinx, but who knows what might happen and being unprepared is not going to make anything easier. And since we have, like, 200 size 1 diapers now thanks to my pregnancy brain, might as well pack some of them up. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

quick (the post) and dirty (the house)

I have reached the Contradictory Stages of pregnancy:

I Cannot Wait To Not Be Pregnant Anymore vs. Please Please Cook the Whole 40 Weeks and Be Healthy;

I Remember Well How Sleeping Only Two Hours Feels vs. At Least I Would Be Sleeping Those Two Hours Instead of Painfully Half-Dozing for Six;

Work Will Implode While I am Gone vs. Work Will Realize They Don't Need Me At All.

And then of course there are the stages that hardly confine themselves to confinement:

Nesting vs. I Need a Nap;

House-Cleaning vs. Nope, Gonna Nap;

Folding Laundry in a Timely Fashion vs. Meh.

Other major aspects of my life pretty much include the gestational diabetes diet (SO bored with nuts) and the delightful physical sensations of being thirty-three weeks pregnant. Perdita is being moved up to preschool starting in September, which has me sobbing helplessly at random moments of the day. Berowne is working seven days a week, thirteen hours a day (temporarily). I am tired.

Read lately:  

Shirley, by Charlotte Brontë. Weird, yet enjoyable.

Manners and Mutiny, by Gail Carriger. Steampunk teenagers, in a series that gets fluffier with every book. And of course our heroine gets more universally adored and impossibly skilled in each one as well. Yawn.

A Famine of Horses, by P.F. Chisholm. Very fun historical fiction about dealing with the Scots in the sixteenth century.

Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World, by Anthony Doerr. Gorgeously written, as you would expect from Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See), and a lovely memoir about living in a foreign country for a year. But not good to read if you are currently not permitted pasta.

The Man Who Touched His Own Heart: True Tales of Science, Surgery, and Mystery, by Rob Dunn. Popular medical history, in its usual vein (ha! genuinely no pun intended). Jumps around a bit chronologically and occasionally gets obsessed with the subjects' eccentricities to the detriment of the scientific discoveries. But I enjoyed it.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes. Basically just reads, "Yeah, all those people are as sweet as you want them to be."

The Silent Wife, by A.S.A. Harrison. Ugly, boring thriller in the genre of "no one really behaves like that ever".

Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol, by Ann Dowsett Johnston. A good balance between memoir and research, and compellingly readable even while being quite sad.

The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell. Sweet in its own way, but rather too obsessed with name-dropping and reminding us every other page that Kilmer-Purcell used to be a drag queen. Yes, I do remember that from the last chapter, thanks!

The Witches: Salem 1692, by Stacey Schiff. The language is too overwrought and the dramatis personae are not kept nearly clear enough. Also Schiff ends up with no real hypothesis as to what caused the Salem witch panic, and that was frustrating.

And now, a nap. (What? I vacuumed fully half of the downstairs this morning, and I have only half an hour before my next required handful of almonds. Nothing more useful is getting done between now and then, I tell you.)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

pregnancy number 2, contd.


1. Gestational diabetes diagnosis, sigh. And of course no matter how many medical professionals tell me it's probably due to hormones and not to anything I did wrong, all I hear is "probably" and then we have the conversation that starts with "what do you eat?" and my face turns bright red and I start stammering, because I can't respond with, "Only kale salads with local grilled salmon," or something. It seems especially unfair because I have eaten so much more healthily this pregnancy than I did last time - I've been craving salads and fresh fruit rather than chocolate donuts - and yet here we are. But at least now we know that how shitty I've been feeling isn't just the heat (which is what I was attributing it to) and I get to play around with data points. (And the nurse I saw told me that she did have a patient who ate only kale salads and still got GD to a degree that ended up requiring medication to control, so I shouldn't keep beating myself up.) It's nonetheless good that I was already in therapy for my body image issues, because this is rough.

2. Eating every two hours while parenting a toddler is also rough. If we have any errands to run or such (Friday I had to stay home with her and get her to the doctor after a lovely rash showed up), then things are hard to time, and in any event if she sees me eating she wants to eat too. I suppose it's not the end of the world if, on the next ten weekends, she gets to eat every two hours as well, as long as she doesn't eat too much. (Same for me, I guess).

3. The baby is most likely fine. There is a chance he'll get too big through the shoulders, but with Berowne as his father that chance was there anyway. He's also still breech, and while there is some time for him to turn (Perdita turned long before this), I am starting to wonder if his blog name will end up being Macduff, if you know what I mean.

4. Honestly, I'm totally fine with it if Macduff he turns out to be, though we'd rather he not be untimely, of course. I have yet to see any compelling data on the Horrifically Absent Immune Systems of Babies Born Via C-Section that corrects for gestational age, meaning that the immune systems of babies born via emergency C-section six weeks early are being compared to those of full-term babies born vaginally, and the conclusion that the only thing which could cause the difference is the time in the birth canal is - what is the scientific term? - stupid. But what do I know, I just work with data for a living.

5. I swear, though, at least once a day I feel like I would knock old ladies down for the chance to eat a bowl full of grapes. It's August, damn it, I should be allowed to eat chilled grapes if I want to. But noooo.

6. On that note, to anyone out there thinking about getting pregnant: an October delivery may seem perfectly safe, but my advice to you would be to avoid your third trimester and summer overlapping at all. Like, plan to deliver no later than May and no earlier than December. The heat is just too miserable, and it's entirely possible I avoided GD last pregnancy simply because it wasn't summer - being overheated messes with your blood sugar. At least I can go to the beach often and stand bump-deep in the waves until I feel a tiny bit better.

7. Books:

Lady Audley's Secret, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Ah, the overwrought Victorian scandal-novel! Love me that stuff.

Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. I... skimmed. I had to. Very intelligent and comprehensive and more abstract than I had expected, and too emotionally hard for me to read in depth right now.

Death of a Hollow Man, by Caroline Graham. Solid British mystery, in the character-development vein that I love so.

Heresy, by S.J. Parris. Historical mystery that bored me.

Bad Faith, by Aimee Thurlo. Crime-solving New Mexican nun. Hard to miss, right? Especially once she's adopted the enormous white German Shepherd. But it never gelled, and the characters' dialogue was agonizingly unrealistic, and while I know the first book always has First Book Problems, I am not thrilled at the thought of trying more in the series.

It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History, by Jennifer Wright. Occasionally a little too silly in its efforts to be like a Buzzfeed article, which was sometimes mitigated by Wright's obvious amount of research and sometimes made more irritating by it (as in, stop assuming your reader needs these "timely" [i.e., dated by the time the book is published] pop references to enjoy your narrative voice and the history itself). But overall I quite enjoyed it. I'd been reading too much heavy stuff and this was an excellent palate-cleanser.

Eat some ice cream and fruit for me, and stay cool.