Thursday, February 20, 2014

obsessive rambling and excessive capitalization

I feel as if I've been reading the same four books for weeks. Possibly I have. It's hard to tell, because my dog is dying.

Okay, he's not visibly dying. He in fact seems much happier and more comfortable since the biopsy surgery, but that surgery resulted in a terminal diagnosis. He's still smiling and eating, bright-eyed and very bushy-tailed, and wagging that tail; but virtually his entire paw is an aggressive sarcoma, and because he's too old and big for an amputation, we're in the pain-management stage. We'll keep him happy and normal as long as we can, and I believe we'll know when it's time. And this is our life right now, with occasional pauses when we manage to be happy about the pregnancy (which is going well, and I don't have gestational diabetes, although I spent the weekend after Darcy's diagnosis pretty determinedly trying to acquire it with comfort eating). However, as you can imagine I have no patience for the well-meaning questions about baby-related decorating and the implication that I should be spending my time doing that. When people ask, "Is the baby's room ready?" and "Aren't you having the best time washing all the baby clothes?" I want to scream at them, "I spend all my time forcing my dog into a bag over his foot and a cone over his head, and trying to monitor how much pain he's in, and wondering how much time we have, and locking the other dog in a crate, and I am SORRY that I am FAILING the adorable rituals of pretending that an infant's clothes need to be ironed and giving a shit about a 'theme' for the spare room that of course I have been leaving bare in my spacious house all these years because it was always meant for the The Nursery!"

...Excuse me. I don't blame anyone for asking such questions, particularly since the questioners don't know what else is going on with me right now. But even before Darcy's illness I got, ahem, excessively worked up over the Nursery and the Decorating assumptions, not only because I find the concept that of course no impending parent lives in a one-bedroom apartment or house, or is actually using their spare bedroom for anything that can't be easily moved into the free square footage elsewhere, really elitist (our nursery's theme is "ten-foot-square 'office' already full of bookshelves but I think we can squeeze a small crib in"), but because they also feed the belief that to be a Proper Woman you have to have artistic / crafty skills. I have long been defensive about my lack of such skills; I convinced myself right after the wedding, when I was eighteen weeks pregnant and exhausted and Berowne had just moved in and I was recovering from the most intense social experience of my life, that the expectation was that I send out fifty handcrafted wedding announcements, because that's what women do, and that by not doing so I was disappointing everyone in the world. There was Emotional Fallout. Multiply that by several hundred (for the several hundred baby-related crafty things I am failing to do) and you have my emotions right now.

I'm well aware that there's nothing to blame here except my own obsession with comparisons (okay, I also blame Pinterest a little). Yes, everywhere you turn on the interwebs there are articles like, "The Kitchen Windowsill Gardens You Have to Have", and "Forty-Five Amazing Handmade Wedding Favors (Now With More Mason Jars)!", but a person who wasn't already determined to believe herself more or less constantly failing at arbitrary standards wouldn't be affected by such nonsense. And believe me, I do NOT wish that the women around me weren't all as amazingly crafty as they are, because it means I get the best gifts ever. I just wish I could stop giving a crap. 

The older I get, the more strongly I identify with Meg March, except that I think she eventually got her shit together around homemaking. (Not that nineteenth-century women had much of a choice as far as that went.) It used to be Jo, of course, because I am like every other bookworm girl in the Western world, but I don't recall Jo feeling guilt about not being good at canning or cooking. Let's face it, I'm not the spirited heroine. After decades of wishful-thinking that I was Just Like Lizzie Bennett, I accepted about three years ago that I'm actually Anne Elliot. (It's possible that my marrying a nautical gentleman later in life was a direct result of this acceptance, in which case I can totally recommend it.)

But seriously, ironing baby clothes? I don't iron my own work clothes, and I am slightly less likely to spit up on them. We attempted the paint section in Home Depot the other day and lasted five minutes (Berowne is colorblind and I become paralyzed by choice after looking at more than one paint sample). In our evenings we are busy adoring the dog who doesn't have much time left, and the other one who gets jealous. This baby will be born into a house that centers on dogs and books, so let's not pretend her room needs any decoration but Fiction M-Z; Science / Nature; Biography / Memoir; a comfy armchair; and dog hair everywhere. At least I will try to keep telling myself that. 

Ramble ramble rant. The books, in brief:

Finished Timeless, by Gail Carriger, the latest in her steampunk werewolf / vampire series. It was fun enough, but didn't distract me from my worries. 

Also finished The Deerslayer, by James Fenimore Cooper. It was pretty dull and silly. Somebody finally shoots the "feeble-minded", preachy Beth-March-type character, but it takes about three hundred pages to get there. 

I gave up on Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, by Brad Gooch. It was just a dry-as-dust litany of names and dates, and I couldn't get past her college years. 

So, that's all the news from the little beach cottage. Snuggle your pets for us. 


  1. Are you doing any re-reading? This seems like a comfort-reading time, in addition to the comfort eating. (And good gods, keep eating!)

    1. Yes, I am re-reading, mostly popular history (A Midwife's Tale; The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher), which I find very comforting. And don't worry, the incubatee is not going to let my appetite slacken no matter what else is going on!

  2. Oh, not your boy. I am really sorry.