Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The name says it all.

Cereal = Crack

This gestational diabetes crap is driving me insane. I have to eat six times a day and test my blood four times a day. I can't eat more than a small serving of carbs at each meal or I'll drive my blood glucose too high. Result: I eat tofu and dream of muffins. I eat chicken and dream of corn chips. I eat low-carb bread and dream of fruit. Who the hell dreams of fruit? I'll tell you who: people who aren't allowed to have adult-sized servings of it. Every morning I fantasize about downing a huge, icy glass of orange juice, and end up reaching, bleary-eyed, for "orange flavored" unsweetened sparkling water.

But in spite of the staggering variety of carby foods that make their way into my dreams, there's nothing I desire more than cereal.

For years I've avoided buying cereal because, if it's even the tiniest bit sweetened, I'll polish off the whole box. Who needs milk? Bah. My sugar and carb cravings are satisfied by the direct slap cereal gives my pancreas, and my OCD tendencies are satisfied by the repetitive behavioral pattern of reaching into the box for fistful after grubby fistful of sweet grainy serotonin-boosting goodness. I love the crinkly sound of the inner wrapper in the box. I love the crunch of each sparkly nugget. For me, cereal is like crack. I could simplify the whole process by holding a lighter under the spoon, caramelizing the sugar to syrup and thereby rendering it injectible, but that would rob me of the euphoria produced by a 45-minute jaw workout. And who'm I kidding? I don't even use a spoon.

Last night I had a cereal meltdown. Ignoring the little warning voice in my head, I went to the store and picked up a box of Honey Nut Cheerios. They have 23 grams of carbs/cup, about half the carb content of most other cereals. Must be the air. You'd think that "natural," unsweetened cereals would have fewer carbs, but you would be wrong. I know because I wandered up and down the aisle checking labels for a good 30 minutes. For instance, if you're watching carbs, do not under any circumstances buy Grape*Nuts. One cup of that famous farinous buckshot has almost 100 grams of carbs. They should sell it with a syringe pre-loaded with insulin. The only person who can eat Grape*Nuts with no fear whatsoever of overloading his body with glucose is Lance Armstrong, and that's only if he's planning to race within an hour of eating.

So. I brought home the box of Honey Nut Cheerios, planning -- completely pure of heart -- to have ONE CUP along with some protein for my evening snack. One cup, 23 grams. That's it. So I had my protein (some nuts), and then I ate my precious little cup, one Cheerio at a time, like a toddler. Oh, the balance of sweetness and salt and just the right amount of crunch. Oh, the joy of honey-sweetened grain! Before I knew it my bowl was empty. One more half cup couldn't hurt, could it?

Blink -- gone.

Next thing I know -- I think I blacked out -- the box was flat on the table, half empty. I'd completely done away with the bowl and was two-fisting it. When I came to, both palms were sticky and I was starting to hyperventilate from the sugar rush.

Cut to this morning: fasting blood sugar was 74, perfectly acceptable. But I hate to think what my poor body was going through in the hours following the binge. I hate to think of my little fetus swimming in sweetened amniotic fluid.

I hereby vow, publicly, not to buy cereal again.

I just have to finish off the rest of this box.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The fertile (and infertile) girl's bible

The Insane World of Pregnancy Web Boards

When DH and I started TTC we BD'd, like, 20 times in 10 days! Luckily I had been tracking my EWCM and BBT so I knew when O had occurred. My BBT went triphasic around 10DPO. I got so excited I ran out and bought an Equate and POAS at 12DPO, which was kind of early because my LP is 14 days, but alas, BFN. Two days later, AF came. Not PG this month. :-(

Didn't understand that? You would if you were a regular at a conception/pregnancy web board. Here's the translation:

When my dear husband and I started trying to conceive, we had sex (BD = baby dance, just the sort of vomitous cutesiness that makes me glad I grew up with brothers), like, 20 times in 10 days! Luckily I had been tracking my eggwhite cervical mucus (yum) and basal body temperature so I knew when ovulation had occurred. My basal body temperature went triphasic (during the menstrual cycle the temperature rises significantly the day after ovulation, then again the day after implantation, which occurs about 7-12 days after ovulation/fertilization -- so a 3rd phase is a sign of possible pregnancy) around 10 days past ovulation. I got so excited I ran out and bought an Equate (a particular brand of pregnancy test available only at Sprawl*Mart, preferred because it's cheaper and twice as sensitive as EPT and First Response tests) and peed on a stick at 12 days past ovulation, which was kind of early because my luteal phase (the number of days from ovulation to the start of menstruation, highly consistent within individual women) is 14 days, but alas, big fat negative. Two days later, my period (AF = Aunt Flo, a.k.a. Aunt Flow) came. Not pregnant this month. :-(

Now I know why trying to conceive is so stressful. Not only do you have to cope with a body that won't cooperate, you have to learn an entirely new language.

I began visiting a TTC/PG (hey, no complaining, I just told you the code) board in the spring when G and I decided we wanted to start trying to get pregnant. I thought I might pick up some tips, you know. Mastering the new language was difficult enough, but the hardest part was reading the signatures of the regular posters. Each poster can include graphics and information in her signature that gets inserted automatically at the bottom of her posts. On the trying-to-conceive boards in particular, these signatures read like lists of war wounds. One poster's signature might read:

TTC#1 since 2/01
Clomid 8/01-8/02
IVF 10/02 failed
IVF 5/03 failed
BFP 12/03, M/C 2/04, 11w4d
BFP 7/04, M/C 9/04, 8w6d
BFP 2/05, M/C 3/05, 5w5d

This record denotes someone who was on fertility drugs for a year, then switched to in-vitro fertilization (two failed attempts), then managed to get pregnant three times but miscarried all three times in the first trimester (11w4d = 11 weeks, 4 days).

The problem with visiting these sites is that about 20% of the information you get is really valuable, but about 80% scares the crap out of you. And these signatures are heartbreaking to read. Makes you really glad and not a little guilty when you discover that you, lucky you, don't have fertility problems. (Not yet anyway.)

In spite of the fact that people have been getting pregnant for millennia without websites, books, or other mass media -- though certain publications, namely the kind with a trifold in the middle, have long been helping males with their end of the process -- I am convinced that things would have been more difficult for G and me had we not obtained a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

This book is AWESOME. Don't believe me? Read the reviews. All women should receive a copy when they're about 13. I'm serious. Reading it will thoroughly blow your mind. You won't believe how much you did not know about female fertility. It's not just for people trying to conceive. It's also for people who wish to avoid conceiving without having to put their bodies under the influence of hormones 24/7. And for people who want to monitor the menopause process. And for people who simply want to understand more about their menstrual cycles, really handy things like, What day will I get my period? Above all, it's for people who want to demystify female fertility and transfer control of it from the medical establishment back to regular women, in whose hands it belongs.

Thanks to this book I knew the day I ovulated and conceived (May 24) and the day implantation took place (June 3). From charting I already knew the length of my luteal phase (13 days) so when my temperature went up a few days before I was expecting Aunt Flo, I knew I was pregnant. I actually got my positive test 2 days before the old hag was due. If you're reading this, Dad or Todd, sorry if TMI ("too much information").

Best of all, this book introduced us to Pre-Seed. As women age they produce less EWCM. A lack of EWCM interferes with conception because, ideally, the woman's CM should be just as runny as the man's semen so the sperm can continue swimming undeterred. Pre-Seed is great stuff. Gives you the EWCM of a 20-year-old!

(I can just picture my brother's look of horror: Gaaaaak! TMI! TMI! TMI! Sorry, Todd, I'll stop.)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Barbara Kruger, 1989

I'm Pregnant

Yup. Been waiting to share the news but didn't feel safe doing so until we got a heartbeat. I'm an old bag, you see, and miscarriage is more common among old bags than young bags. They call a first-time pregnant woman over the age of 35 a "senile prima gravida." Chew on that for a while.

Anyway, we had our first ultrasound last Wednesday and saw the heart beating (146bpm). The due date is Valentine's Day 2006.

Seeing a little person kicking around in there was cool. I instantly wanted to give it a name. "Cletus the Fetus" was appealing but trite. Hmm. What to do? Hey, how about celebrity offspring names? "Apple," "Dweezil," "Banjo," and "Peaches," all perfectly enchanting, weren't quite insane enough. I thought briefly about "George" so I could tell people I was carrying George Foreman's fifth son, but Greg quickly nixed that.

The answer, when it came, was like a bolt of lightning. Of course! There is only one truly insane, truly embarrassing celebrity name. The others are minor league in comparison. It's the name Jermaine Jackson proudly gave to two of his sons (yes, two). Ready?

****drum roll****

Ladied and gentlemen, I present you the fetus, JERMAJESTY.

Like half of the population of pregnant old bags (sorry, senile prima gravidas), I'll be getting an amniocentesis so G and I can get Jermajesty's genetic profile. We can also learn his/her sex that way. Please wish me luck. There's a small miscarriage risk but we feel we NEED TO KNOW about possible genetic disorders. What we choose to do with that information is our business.

Prior to becoming pregnant I wondered if pregnancy would alter my beliefs about abortion rights. I figured (feared) that if there were any change, it would be in the direction of increased sympathy for the anti-choice camp.


There's nothing like being pregnant to make you realize that forcing pregnancy and parenthood on a girl or woman is tantamount to forcing her into slavery. Not a moment goes by that I don't think about my condition and how my actions are affecting the fetus. I no longer live for myself. My body has become a life support system for a little someone I don't know but for whom I am entirely responsible. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes -- yes, skinny, natural-foods-eating, workout-queen ME, how freaking ironic -- and my life is now marked by 6 meals and 4 blood draws a day. And guess who's paying for my healthcare? Well, me, of course. Because I'm employed and have benefits. That's one of the pluses of being a senile prima gravida.

Fortunately G and I very much want this little someone. Jermajesty is ours and his/her creation was consensual. But as long as we live in a world where rape and incompetent birth control exist, there will be nonconsensual conceptions. And nonconsensual pregnancies. And exorbitant healthcare bills, all the responsibility of the pregnant woman. And that's only the start of it. Once the baby is born... Well, you get the picture.

I was wearing a t-shirt silkscreened with the above Barbara Kruger print on the day we got our positive pregnancy test (June 5). It's Kruger's way of demonstrating her pro-choice stance. I can't wait until I'm showing so I can wear it again with my belly sticking way out.

That oughtta discourage strangers from patting my midriff.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

C'est gauche!

Are You a Secret Southpaw?

If you love lefties as I do, you'll find this fascinating. Back in the early 1990s I read Stanley Coren's book The Left-Hander Syndrome. It included a number of tests for the reader to take to find out if he or she is a "secret southpaw." What drew me to the book was not my own left-handedness -- I write with my right hand -- but my observation that I've always been drawn to lefties, both male and female. My first serious childhood crush, Paul McCartney, is left-handed. Joan of Arc, my Catholic confirmation namesake, was left-handed. Robert Redford is left-handed. All of my boyfriends were left-handed (no, I did not prescreen them for this trait), and the hunk I ended up marrying is left-handed. These people rely a lot on their right brains and think in artistic, vibrant ways that I find endlessly appealing. They also tend to suffer more from mental disorders and die earlier, but we won't dwell on that.

Cut to your reason for reading this post: you want to know if you're a "secret southpaw." As you've probably figured out by now, a secret southpaw is someone who is naturally left-handed or a left-leaning ambidextrous but has grown up favoring the right hand (especially for writing) because he or she was taught to use it as a child. In my case, my left arm was broken while I was learning to write, so that may have led to my own right-hand favoritism. In my mother-in-law's case, a 1950s Catholic school education mandated that she use her right hand because her left hand was the devil's tool.

Okey-dokey, here are your secret southpaw tests. Do them BEFORE looking at the interpretations, please.

1) On a sheet of paper, try to write your signature backward in cursive with your left hand.
2) Clasp your hands in front of you; note which thumb you place on top.
3) Grab hold of a broomstick. Which hand is on top?
4) Draw a circle on a piece of paper with your right hand. Did you draw it clockwise or counterclockwise?


1) If you're a secret southpaw, you should have little trouble doing this. Your penmanship will suck, but the name will be legible when you hold the sheet of paper up to the mirror. If you are a true righty, you will find this task excruciating, and the results unreadable in a mirror.
2) The thumb of your dominant hand is usually placed on TOP.
3) The hand on the BOTTOM is usually the dominant hand.
4) If you drew it clockwise, you're probably left-leaning. Full righties tend to draw it counterclockwise.

My results: All four point to leftiness (as if my voting record didn't already reveal that). The fact that I hold a pencil the wrong way while writing -- I brace it against my ring finger instead of my middle finger and grip it in a tense, clawlike fashion -- probably also indicates that I was never truly comfortable writing with my right hand. I do athletic and gymnastic stuff left-foot-first. I also play guitar with my left hand. When my brother was teaching me to play, he was convinced that I was trying to mimic Paul McCartney, but honestly, it just felt better that way. When I told him Jimi Hendrix was left-handed too, he let it go. Because, you see, Jimi was The Man.

For a comprehensive list of famous lefties, go here.

And remember, however you scored, most people are some combination of right- and left-dominant. So if you show any leftward leanings, even if you write with your right hand, I'll still think you're cool.

Monday, July 11, 2005

William H. Macy looks like this dog.

This dog looks like William H. Macy.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Today's Quote

"What we know comes to so little. What we presume, so much."
-- Pablo Neruda

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I suggest you go a little easier on the sesame seeds

A Recipe to Make Kids Pee their Pants with Glee

Cheeseburger Cookies. These are also called Big Mac Cookies, but I don't want to plug McDonald's here.

1 box Nilla wafers
1 box Keebler Grasshopper cookies
1 tub vanilla frosting
1 small bag shredded sweetened coconut
a few tablespoons sesame seeds
1 egg white
red, yellow, and green food coloring
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Prep: Sort out 40 “perfect” Nilla wafers, and 40 not-so-perfect ones. There should be just enough in the box. The “perfect” ones will be the top buns, the others the bottom buns. Brush the tops of the “perfect” ones very lightly with egg white, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Let dry while you color the frosting and coconut. To color the frosting pale orange (the color of cheese), use red and yellow food coloring, starting with 3 drops yellow and 1 drop red. If you want, flavor the frosting with the almond extract (this is traditional), but honestly I find that the almond clashes a bit with the mint of the Grasshopper cookies. To color the coconut pale green (the color of shredded iceberg lettuce), use one drop green and one yellow. Put coconut in a big, air-filled Ziploc bag, and shake for a few minutes until uniformly colored.

Assembly: Start with a not-so-perfect vanilla wafer for the bottom bun. Dab with a little frosting (glue), then top with a mint cookie. Dab with more frosting (enough to squeeze out the sides and look like melted cheese), and top lightly with green coconut. Squish a sesame-seed-decorated vanilla wafer on top, just so the whole is “glued” together and looks – voila! – like a little cheeseburger!!!

Repeat until you start to question your purpose in life. When finished, set aside in a cool, dry place to “cure” (the frosting needs to harden to hold it all together), preferably overnight. Makes 40 “cheeseburgers” because there are forty “patties” in the Grasshoppers package.

Hint: Use a Ziploc bag to apply the frosting. Spoon it into a corner of the bag, snip the corner off, and use as you would a pastry bag.

Wow, for somebody who doesn't like to plug brand names, I've sure used the word "Ziploc" a lot. And "Nilla" and "Keebler." Hmm.

Anyway, I've included a picture posted by "Chef Kathy" at, but I've got to tell you, she overdid the cheese (these aren't nachos, Kathy) and has got the placement and color of the lettuce ALL WRONG. Iceberg lettuce is not the color of astroturf. And it goes on TOP of the patty, not underneath it. Jeez.

A word to the wise, friends: please use your aesthetic sensibilities when constructing these cookies.

Suitable for kids of all ages but those who get the cheeseburger concept and delight in mini versions of everyday foods and objects -- that is to say, kids about 7 and up -- will find them positively enchanting. You will be the hero of the picnic. Plus, if you have your own kids, you can recruit them for assembly so you don't have to do everything yourself. And with no ovens or knives, you don't have to worry about scheduling a trip to the ER into the preparation process. What a timesaver!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The face of fulfillment?

Son of SAHM

My husband, that is. Me, I'm the daughter not of a stay-at-home mom (a.k.a. SAHM) but a working MOTHER. As my former colleague Susan Douglas points out in her insightful and hilarious book The Mommy Myth (coauthored with Meredith Michaels, 2004), the rhetorical use of the word "mother" for moms who work out of the house is not accidental. Stay-at-home moms, working mothers. Soccer moms, welfare mothers. Moms are warm and fuzzy and dedicated to their children. Mothers are cold and distant and inaccessible. (Didn't we all call our moms "Mother" when we were pissed at them? "Yes, Mother." "Whatever you say, Mother.")

As Douglas and Michaels point out, governmental refusal to support pro-parenting policies like day care and parental leave force parents (i.e., mothers) to become the sole caregivers of their kids. We have become so deeply mired in the mother-is-best rhetoric that our knee-jerk response is, "Of course! Who is better qualified?" I have heard many women boast with righteously arched eyebrows that they plan to quit their jobs to become SAHMs, as though this is the only way to raise a kid properly.

Well, let me ask ya this. If you were starting a business do you think you'd have the best chance of success by hiring a single, young, completely untrained employee and having her do all of the necessary work in utter solitude?

The religious right has done a great job ridiculing dems such as Hillary Rodham Clinton by attacking the notion that it takes a village to raise a child, but let's be honest: it does. Think back to your own childhood. Did every single important lesson and moment of inspiration come from your mother? (If so, I hope she was a member of Mensa.) Didn't you have teachers or neighbors or relatives or coaches or clergy or mentors or older siblings who made a big difference in how you felt about yourself and what you wanted to do with your life? Lucky me, I did, and they were all monumentally important.

One of the saddest aspects of the pro-SAHM rhetoric is that fathers are almost completely omitted. My dad was extremely important in my life, though he did work long hours and I would have loved more time with him. As a working woman who may or may not (hear that, family? may or may not) have a kid in the next few years, I can't imagine settling for a life in which I am with the kid 90% of the time and Dad only gets 10%. Not only do I want my own Son of SAHM to share the work load--otherwise, why not just be a single parent?--I want my kid to have a rich relationship with his or her dad. My husband is a kind, loving person and has a lot to offer. He's also much more sane than I am, so really, it's in my kids' best interest psychologically to spend as much time with him as possible. (I'm kidding!--sort of.)

I certainly don't mean to rip on SAHMs. I like cool SAHMs. I admire women who say, "Yeah, this is what I want to do right now. And lucky us, we can afford it." But righteous SAHMs who buy into the republican rhetoric that there's no other way to raise a kid and therefore stand in judgment of working moms can kiss my office-chair-imprinted ass. They push the myth that children resent their working moms. Well, I'm sure some do. Kids are self-centered. They also resent the fact that they can't eat frosting for breakfast. But, speaking for myself, as the daughter of a working mom, I didn't grow up wishing she didn't work. She was smart as hell and would have been driven insane by a life at home with the three of us. I knew this at a very young age. She needed adult interaction, and lots of it. So do I.

(This is not to say that SAHMs aren't smart. Quite the contrary. One of my concerns is that the increasing number of talented women leaving the workforce represents a large-scale brain drain. The idea that brilliant minds will raise brilliant children who will go out and conquer the world is encouraging only if we assume that the girl children won't abandon their careers to raise children of their own. And many careers are difficult if not impossible to reenter after a multi-year leave of absence.)

The worst part of this whole thing is that women are pitted against each other, SAHM against working mom, as though the struggle were solely between us and has nothing to do with the extremely uncivilized way our government treats its citizens, especially its females. If you can force your citizens into battle with each other, you don't have to worry about them banding together and attacking you for being the real source of the problem.

Remember that awful Bruce Cockburn song "If I Had a Rocket Launcher?" Bruce wanted to fire it at "torture states" who attacked poor countries. I sympathize, but I think Bruce had it all wrong. If I had a rocket launcher, I wouldn't fire it. That would be wasteful. Do you know how expensive those things are? Instead, I'd sell it for millions of dollars and use the money to subsidize safe, effective childcare programs that families of all socioeconomic backgrounds could use. But that doesn't make for very good lyrics.