Across the Universe

Since changing up my pharmacological routine, I’m back to the same rapid-fire manic thought process that drove me ’round to a shrink in the first place. Insane-making, but kind of funny! Here’s a sampling of today’s most random thoughts:

1. There is NOTHING good about Taylor Swift’s “Our Song,” it is horrid, but it makes me think fondly of being sixteen and ass-over-teakettle in love with my high school boyfriend so I not only listen instead of changing the radio, I sing along at great volume. FOR SHAME.

2. Speaking of singing, Rock Band has shown me that I can sing exactly like one Mr. Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots. “Vasoline” isn’t an IDEAL lullaby for a newborn but it seems to be working.

3. Giving away a baby’s super-tiny outfits because the doctor says “he won’t need the 4-7 pound clothes” before the baby is even born is so phenomenally arrogant, I’m glad that Owen escaped his first pediatrician visit with only a warning that he had lost a bit too much weight instead of with a really serious problem. Also, buying preemie-sized onesies is really sad when you stop to think about the babies that are so tiny that they swim in them.

4. It’s horrifying how soon pediatricans start pushing formula on mothers. They may have MDs and all, but how can it possibly be healthy to tell a mother less than 36 hours after her milk actually comes in that she needs to supplement with formula? Especially when increased nursing will fix the weight problem sans formula. Might it have something to do with the fact that your waiting room looks like a corporate sponsor display for Enfamil and Similac? Deeeeeesgusting.

5. The title of this book is totally hilarious.

6. Would it be tacky to send a mass message to every person on my Facebook list that says “I delete every group or application invitation I get, sight unseen, so cut it out, and oh, I have NO IDEA what this Scrabulous business is”?

7. Mr. Police Officer, if you’re going to ride around in broad daylight in an “unmarked cruiser” (see also: black Ford Crown Victoria with visible instrumentation suctioned to the windshield) you may want to remove the aviator sunglasses and trim the handlebar mustache. You are not fooling anyone and you might have caused a traffic accident when I had to pull over from laughing at you so hard that I couldn’t keep the car on the road.

8. Being greeted by little cousins fresh off the school bus with bear hugs is great, but…

9. Barrelling over the back roads of Maine in the late afternoon sun, singing along to favorite songs on the radio and sipping an extra-large light-cream-no-sugar-Dunkin Donuts coffee is what I want my heaven to be like.

No mention of babies within

Memory scrapbook (idea from Mighty Girl): Portland, ME

Congress Street and Forest Avenue take you everywhere. Doesn’t matter HOW lost you get, if you can find your way to one or the other you can get from Point A to Point B.

The Old Port has lots of interesting bars and kitschy shops, but last call is 1:00am. Lame.

You can find north-south-east-west using the Eastland Hotel and the Time/Temp sign and orient yourself quite easily.

With the exception of a few major intersections, the lights go from green-yellow-red to flashing yellow or flashing red after a certain time of night. This makes a lot of sense, as I used to wonder why I was beholden to a red light if there was no one around for–literally–miles when I lived in Eliot. This is also sensible because coming west down High Street toward Forest Avenue when there’s two or three inches of snow is a trick and a half, never mind having to come to a full stop and then go again if there’s a red light.

Particularly up near Morrill’s Corner, there are a lot of specialty stores that carry the “buy local” insignia. Appliances, furniture, camera shops, the vacuum salesman’s place–definitely indicates that enough people in Portland eschew the big chains to keep a healthy Mom ‘n Pop atmosphere in the city.

The ice skating area off Forest Ave. near Rt. 77 south, Congress Street near Maine College of Art, and the Old Port have great light decorations up well past Christmas. They are lovely, especially in the snow, except for those few trees by the ice skating area that have red teardrop shapes that look like the trees are crying blood.

Becky’s Diner (“Nothin’ finah!”) has the best apple pie EVAR.

South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, and Scarborough are really not often worth the trouble of getting there.

The best socks in town can be found at L.L. Bean’s outlet downtown–$7 for a pair of “irregular (no idea what that means) SmartWool socks in varying lengths and cushions, but all super-warm. Love!

Munjoy Hill looks very pretty from the Marginal Way at sunset, especially with a light dusting of snow. Munjoy Hill is Portland’s version of a Monet painting.

The Downeaster train from Portland to Boston is $46 round-trip and possibly the most economical deal going–assuming lighting doesn’t hit the tracks in New Hampshire. Then all the signal lights blow out and you only get to go about 100 yards before the conductor has to call ahead and confirm that the NEXT 100 yards are clear. But there’s free parking at the Portland train station.

Made of something light as nothing

“Little sister, just remember
As you wander through the blue
The little kite that you sent flying
On a sunny afternoon
Made of something light as nothing
Made of joy that matters too
How the little dreams we dream
Are all we can really do…”
– Patty Griffin, “Kite Song”

Owen Joseph, January 23, 2008. 8lbs 1oz 20.5 inches. Healthy, STRONG, and hopelessly entangled in an epic love affair with his thumb. He is a little dream.

Hurry up and wait

At the hospital with Erika and Erick, updating people via the internet.  At noon she was dilated to two and a half cm, and while she didn’t appear to have any other signs of labor her blood pressure was high enough to be sent off to the Mercy Hospital Birthplace.  She is bound and determined to have this baby today, and if anyone can will a baby out of their body, I have no doubt that it is she.

In other news, I brought my laptop so I could watch movies in the waiting room and pleasantly discovered that Mercy has free Wi-Fi.  I tell you, it is a GREAT time to be alive.
Updated: 7:52pm.  Inducement may not happen tonight; depends on the lady who moves between Mercy and Maine Medical who is qualified to do those things.  In the meantime, contractions have actually started and are coming about 20 min. apart.  Erika is starting to look less like a spunky-if-round 9 months pregnant woman and more like a woman in labor, which is to say, girlfriend looks like she feels crappy.  
Updated: 4:45am.  Inducement happened around midnight-ish; we left once Erika was comfortable enough to take a sleeping pill and knock off for a few hours.  Barring a phone call from Erick, Catherin and I are reporting back around 7am.  She has been able to sleep; I am on 70mg a day of Vyvanse and coffeeeeeeeee and several Diet Cokes and I’m fairly certain I could go through to Friday without so much as sitting down, so I’m up for the duration.  Last we knew, Erika was uncomfortable but progressing well and the baby was healthy as can be, kicking up a right painful but ultimately fruitless contraction prior to inducement about every 20 minutes or so.  Mostly just to say “You know, I could come out.  If I wanted to.  Which I don’t.  (Neener.)”  We suspect the baby is mocking Erika; between that and his frequent nighttime dance parties we expect him to be born a teenager.
Updated: 10:41am.  Pushing.  Waiting with 1/2 of the Poulin family.  Pushing is taking longer than I had thought, but I am still holding out hope for a morning baby.

Victory!

There isn’t much to do in Maine, even less when your closest companion is a week from her due date, but I have started working out a lot more than I used to in DC.

I discovered after consistent weighing that I have lost, since being my heaviest at 200 in August, about 25 pounds. Today was the day that I realized that the scale is sticking around 175 instead of inching back up closer to 180, and I am psyched. It has been slow going, and the details are boring (ask if you care) but I finally feel healthier. The BEST news is that my arms are starting to catch up with my legs in terms of strength, and taking on nice musculature and tone. Long ago, I made peace with the fact that I have Scandinavian shoulders and legs mixed in with Mediterranean hips. It is silly, and potentially dangerous, to think that I should be much smaller than I am. I would look unhealthy. However, my target is to be about 160, give or take about five pounds for water weight or monthly cycle. That’s close to what I was before I discovered the Belgians make a tasty, tasty beer and that American University Eagle Bucks were accepted at Domino’s Pizza. Most importantly, I want to tone my arms and shoulders and upper back to look good in a bikini; this isn’t vanity, this is a direct by-product of moving to a tropical island. It’s not unreasonable to think that I will spend a great deal of my free time on the beach in a revealing garment. There is nothing more horrifying than someone in a little slip of a bathing suit when they should legitimately be wearing a bathrobe. My parents live on the beach, and I know this is ironclad truth.

So, fifteen more to go before I hit Hawaii. Wish me luck, kids.

Aloha!

Hey everyone! Sorry that I have been aloof from this blog, but maintaining more than one sometimes is just too difficult. Of course Deanna has three, so I really can’t complain. So I arrived in Hawaii exactly a week ago. The last week has been full of new and different experiences. I am glad that I made the trip and that we are eventually going to live here, but I just haven’t settled into life here yet. Everything still seems really temporary. Probably because I am eating out and living in a hotel for the next month, but that is beside the point. That said here is what I have been up to the past week.

Last Friday, I decided to get up early and climb Diamond Head. I really did have good intentions at the start, but I was a little frustrated when I couldn’t find the access road to the top. Finally, after walking around almost the entire base of the extinct volcano, I was able to find the trail to the top. It takes about 30 minutes to get the top, via a trail that is meant more for donkeys than humans. The views from the top though are spectacular (pictures are coming soon I promise)! The day afterward though I felt exhausted and sick, probably a combination of sushi and moving non-stop for the past few days. Sunday though I felt much better and decided to not watch any of the football games. Instead, I was able to visit the Fort DeRussy Army Museum, which has a really great exhibition on coastal defense fortifications around Hawaii. 
Monday through Friday have been devoted to work and getting setup there. My morning looks something like this: walk down Waikiki beach for one mile to find car (cheapest garage I could find), commute to work (45 minutes), work till about 4PM, commute home (1 hour), dinner and sleep. The food in the area is pretty good, but expensive. Honolulu is after all a tourist destination, so you pretty much can find a lot of chain restaurants that cater specifically to tourists. 
Not sure what I plan to do this weekend. Hopefully it will involve heading up to the North Shore after visiting some potential apartments. I will also pick up a USB cord so I can finally upload my photos.

Discovery!

I have discovered the secret weapon in the vigorous exercise vs. persistent sciatica war: pregnancy workout DVDs.

In an entirely selfish effort to lose weight of my own, I have been encouraging my sister to use the Fit Mama Workout DVD I bought her in June so I can work out with her.  To her credit, I could tell she had used at least one of the sections once or twice because she said she did not enjoy the salsa dancing part as it was too shuffle-y.  Around the time Erika found out she was pregnant, I bent over to pick up my cell phone and apparently my back decided that was an egregious enough offense that it warranted retaliatory action.  Thus, I spent most of June and July with an ice pack shoved down the back of my pants–as attractive as it sounds, I assure you–and in and out of doctors’ offices being treated for a pinched sciatic nerve.  The sciatica flares up now and then, particularly when I have to sit in a car for long distances or when I do exercise that involves weird twisting.  I love yoga, particularly because it tones core muscles, the same muscles that support and protect against pinched nerves, but it doesn’t mesh well with sciatica.
Lo and behold, in doing the Fit Mama DVD with Erika, I discovered that it’s all about toning core muscles AND relieving pressure on the lower back and sciatic nerve!!  Because Amazon screwed up and lost the package with the original DVD, they sent her an extra one free a day before the original package made it out of post office limbo.  I took the extra one back to my apartment with me today.  I’m hoping Mark won’t notice, because I will get unending grief for it.  If I do that one every other day and mix it up with my Yoga Burn DVD, I’m going to be beach-ready in no time.

I don’t know.

With Christmas comes Amazon gift certificates.

In trying to decide how I wanted to spend my gift certificate from my sister, I stumbled across The God Delusion, a volume on the case for atheism written by Richard Dawkins.  Why I had not heard about this when it came out is beyond me; perhaps I should crawl out from under my rock now and then.  I decided that it was important for me to buy this book.  I also decided it was equally important to buy some C. S. Lewis or the writings of Aquinas to supplement Dawkins’ tome.  And why?  I don’t know.
It would be more than slightly dramatic to call the ever-changing nature of my spiritual ideology an “existential crisis.”  It’s more that I am full of questions and every time one is answered to my satisfaction, five more crop up.  It’s the spiritual version of the Medea and is a real pain in the ass.  Raised in the Baptist faith, I stopped going as soon as I was given the okay from my mother.  Until I was about 17, I called myself a Christian and had attended many Christian camps and youth groups.  I had not gone through the baptismal process, but I considered myself in the born-again camp.  I left because I believed the Emperor had no clothes.  There are so many things in Christianity and in other religions that completely chafe against what I believe in my heart to be right.  
At the present, my thoughts on Christianity can be summed up thusly: I cannot, and will not, believe in a deity that insists on people attaining redemption through a single conduit.  It is unfathomable to me that someone who does not believe in Christian principles but lives a good life is subject to eternal torture under Christian dogma.  The concepts of heaven and hell themselves are unfathomable to me; when life is lived in so many shades of gray, how can there be two black and white outcomes for the life that was lived?  Shouldn’t there be a sliding scale?  Somewhere between the mansions of heaven and Hell, which I imagine looks a bit like Darfur, isn’t there a middle-class suburban option?  
I consider Jesus to be a wonderful teacher and a man of principle.  He was a liberal in his time and a model of unshakable faith, which I admire as I am constantly doubting and questioning.  I don’t believe that believing he was the Son of God is the only way to get to Heaven.  Even now, typing that out, my upbringing whispers back to me: “If you’re wrong, when you die you’ll have to eat every single one of those words at the throne of judgment.”  But I believe it is true.  I believe that whatever deity–or deities–a person chooses to believe in is between them, their spiritual mentor, and their mental wellness professional.  I believe that because I don’t believe that any religion is the true answer, or even half the answer.    
Beliefs themselves are tricky things.  I believe that Love is Love; all partners, regardless of orientation, should be given the option of being equally protected under the banner of Marriage.  Not civil unions, not domestic partner registries, Marriage.  First of all, heterosexuals have really not covered themselves in glory with this whole sanctity of marriage thing, hello 50% + divorce rate.  Anyone who trots out that argument really ought not to insult their own intelligence like that.  Second, and most importantly, marriage is a government institution.  Don’t agree?  How many hetero couples do you know that get married in a religious ceremony without the benefit of a license, without changing insurance policies and a tidy legal document proving a union?  Marriage can be officiated by a clergy-person, but it is a government institution.  Ergo, all couples who feel the need to combine their lives and protect the family they want to create should have the option of establishing a legally recognized union that is the same as all other current marriages.  And yes, should the subject of polygamy arise, I think that if consenting adults choose to enter into that agreement, it’s not my cup of tea in the slightest and I think it would be the height of insanity to take on multiple wives, not to mention actually being a wife in that scenario, but if that’s what they want, go for it.  I cannot believe that God would create a man with the capacity to love a man, or a biological woman who identifies as male, or any other GLBT position and then turn around and condemn that person to hell.  I can’t.  I won’t.  It’s not right.  It’s not fair.  And I know “life isn’t fair,” but if we are children of Christ, are we not operating on the principle of a just creator?  To me, the whole scenario sucks rocks.  
There you go.  A huge, long, outpouring on ONE issue.  Abortion, environmentalism, foreign policy–it would seem that organized religion has something to say about all of it.  Some of it I agree with, some of it I don’t.  And at the end of the day, I don’t know what to think.  Especially when I look to nature, I can see the presence of something huge; I think that I could be a part of something greater than myself.  
On the other hand, I find “coffee hour Christianity” disgusting.  That term applies to all major religions, from Islam to Hinduism and back again.  Groups that band together under the guise of being in the same religion, but the spiritual instruction and worship takes a back seat to the coffee hours, the basketball games, the bake sales, the alcohol-free cocktail hours and meet-n-greets.  Spirituality is paid lip service and practiced at the voting booth, but not in daily life.  I can’t muster respect for that kind of person, especially when they try to tell me that I’m wrong for abstaining from church.  If I want to worship, I will worship in a way that’s meaningful to me.  If I want to hear a listing of community events with a hand bell performance, I’ll pop in to my local place of worship, but only if they’re putting out the good donuts.  
Those who insist on their religion as the “truth” are especially bothersome. This may be why people of the Ba’hai faith are my favorite sort of believers; they are only allowed to discuss their faith when asked directly.  I don’t know what’s right; I resent those who presume to know that they do.  I would never tell a believer of any faith that they are wrong, because I don’t know.  All I can say that is I don’t agree.  Perhaps that language is not specific enough, but I think that makes all the difference.  However, I don’t want to be put in a position where I can remain silent, and through my silence imply agreement, or say that I disagree and invite debate.  That’s a good way to ruin a nice meal.
Beyond that…I don’t know.  I simply don’t.  I will put my beliefs on social issues into practice when it comes to raising my children (which I do not yet have) and when it comes time to vote.  On the day-to-day stuff, I think it is going to have to be enough for now to just be as good a person as I know how to be, and to question everything as possible evidence for the existence or non-existence of God.  I’m not sure I’ll ever come up with an answer that suits me, but I’d like to try to look at all the options first.