Monday, March 31, 2014

Feast Your Eyes

Dear Folks,

Feast your eyes. This is the only pregnancy belly bump picture that you'll be getting. I, unlike many women, do not like advertising my belly for the world to see. My family video chats weekly, and I stand up to show them my profile only once each week- if someone misses it, then they miss it. Yes, I even do that to my family. The only reason that I'm posting this photo on the blog is because of my beloved Aunt Debbie. She sent me an email a while back, and was very sweet. In return for my compliance with her request, she offered a promise of her own. I shall let you see it in her own words. Behold:

Maybe that Prince Charming of yours could send along a photo of your growing Mommy self so we can enjoy the time of changes with you. Of course, I know not to touch The Belly - not even to swipe over it on my iPhone. ☺️

Aunt Debbie is a very smart woman. She has remembered that I have certain strong opinions about belly rubbing. In fact, you may remember some rather boldly put images in a Pictorial from a month or two ago, complete with massive threats to all who felt the need to harass me. Aunt Debbie, because I love you so much, here. A picture taken by my Prince Charming just yesterday. That would make me 37 weeks and two days pregnant in this photo.

(Andrew:  Don't touch it!  Yes - even the picture!)

And there you go. If anyone else has been wondering what I look like now with a belly, you may all say "Thank you, Aunt Debbie!" in the comments. This is all her fault.

In other news, I will be posting tomorrow or the next day about last week, which was filled with a birthday, a baby shower, and a book club. Definitely a big B week.

PS. I've decided to include a little present for you all. This is what Andrew had to work with yesterday while trying to get me to smile for the camera. Not exactly the princess of grace and poise you were expecting. Notice the rather displeased grimace in place of a real smile. Yup. That's just about how it goes around here.

NOTE: Just so you know, I do actually let Andrew touch my belly. It's his kid in there too, after all. And I like him. So he can feel the baby move and all that jazz. But he's just about the only one. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Socially Interesting Malfunctionings

First Installment: Man Voice and the Water Heater
Previous Installment: The Zero-eth Date

My sleep schedule can’t be a very healthy one, thought Lia, especially considering the fact that I don’t get any sleep. Those were her last thoughts as she slipped into the cozy warmness of the blanket, and a loud voice shouted, “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife!” in the back of her mind.
Although she was no longer conscious of this fact, Lia was lying on a couch in a boy’s apartment. It had been a long week. Finals were next week, and all of the big papers and projects were coming to be due. She had only been able to catch a grand total of nine hours of sleep over that past three days. It was becoming a bit of a health hazard since she was in danger of falling asleep every time she sat down.
Finding it impossible to focus on writing her paper, Lia had walked down over to apartment 9. Brandon opened the door. He looked rather disappointed with her physical appearance, and the fact that her stomach was growling loudly. Oops. She had forgotten to eat again too. Brandon thought that was a very horrible habit of hers. She needed to eat more. He pulled her inside and sat her down on the couch and covered her with Joey’s school blanket (Warm!). He warmed up some leftover pasta for her (Pasta!) and made her sit and eat while watching The Princess Bride (INCONCEIVABLE!). It was the only girl-approved movie in his collection. Brandon is the nicest person in this whole apartment building!
Lia was finding that sleep was sneaking up on her. Her old, neglected friend sleep. She missed him. She missed sleep like she would miss warm water for showers. Man Voice….she thought. Lia hadn’t thought of him in quite some time. She heard Brandon’s voice talking, saying something. I don’t think he’s Man Voice. He doesn’t sound the same. A door opened somewhere, then closed. Lia stopped paying attention to the noises. Sleep is good. Beauty sleep is important. What if I meet Man Voice and I look like a sleep deprived, book obsessed girl? Sleep. Sleep is good.
Sleep came.
The doorknob was jiggling. Lia stirred on the couch. Why was someone trying to get into her apartment? She ignored the sound and cuddled further into the blue and gold blanket. It was warm in here.
The door opened. She groggily looked up to see Joey confusedly looking back at her. Why was he confused?
“What are you doing in here?” she mumbled out.
“What am I doing here? I live here! What are you doing here?” Joey was still standing in the open doorway, right next to the couch where she was all curled up and comfy in his favored fuzzy school blanket, staring at her.
Lia was more awake, more confused, and more self-conscious by this point. What if she had mascara smudged across her face? “Oh. You do?”
“Yes, actually, I do.”
Trying hard to think of something to say, Lia started surveying the room, taking in her surroundings. “Oh, hmm, I guess you do. It certainly looks like your apartment.”
“Indeed. It doesn’t look very different from when I left this morning.”
“Anything out of place?”
“Just a girl sleeping on my couch while none of my roommates are home and the door is locked.”
“That is out of place.” More looking around. Then looking up at Joey to ask ,“How did I get here?”
“That I couldn’t tell you, Lia,” said Joey with a crooked expression on his face.
That’s kind of a cute facial display. It was as if he couldn’t decide whether to be amused or confused.  “At least they rhyme.”
“What?” Now it was just confusion.
“Oh. Amused and confused. Don’t worry about it.”
Lia had never made it any secret that she couldn’t do squat with technology, or that she was like kryptonite to electronics. It wasn’t her fault. It just happened. A lot. Her laptop was one such victim. Though with the way Lia was banging her head on the keyboard in frustration, who knew whether Lia or the laptop was feeling more victimized at the moment. Lia felt that she had a pretty solid case on her side, however, with plenty of evidence against the laptop. Exhibit A, the computer kept freezing and wouldn’t open Microsoft Word. How the Dickens was she supposed to write her papers if she couldn’t open Word? What in Wordsworth’s name was the worth of a computer if it didn’t have Word? Exhibit B, the freezing became even worse when Lia tried to open the internet browser to do some research for her papers. As the laptop of an English major, this kind of insubordination was intolerable, nigh unto high treason!
Feeling a slight headache coming on, Lia decided to take a break from harassing and being harassed by the evil laptop. Yes, enough of this nonsense for now. Lia would just go over to apartment 9 for a little breather. Her boys could always make her feel better. After that catastrophic date, Amber had lessened her interest in Joey, and decreased her visits to both Lia and Joey. Lia, however, had increased her attendance at the boys’ place because if its happy, drama-free atmosphere and occupants. The boys, led by Brandon, and Lia had rather adopted each other to the mutual satisfaction of all.
Things were normal at the boys’ place when she arrived over there a few minutes later. Ricky was doing his homework on the couch, probably something mathy or sciencey. Joey was working away on his trusty old laptop at the table, ever the responsible engineering student. Brandon bellowed a greeting from the kitchen and Lia responded while looking around. The boys had a very nice set up of television, sound system, and gaming devices right next to her. She pulled a face and took a large sidestep to the left, away from that expensive pile of technology.
That same step brought her closer to Joey. “Hello, Joey,” she said. “How goes the homework?”
“No, I need a break,” Joey responded as he snapped his fully functioning laptop closed. “That neutron flux simulation for my nuclear class is killing me.” He rubbed his eyes.
Brandon came in from the kitchen. “Kinda makes ya just wanna fix something, huh?”
Joey agreed, “It’s nice to do something not for a class.”
Brandon gave Lia a snack. Brandon always fed Lia. She didn’t mind. He made excellent food. Especially these chicken plop things. Culinary brilliance. As she munched on her food, Brandon asked, “And how are things going for ya, Lia?”
Lia lowered her head to inspect the small edible specimen on her plate. She was trying to figure out what was in it it to make it so scrumptious. “Oh, I’ve been trying to work on my papers, but can’t because my computer keeps freezing.”
“Did that just start today?” asked Joey.
Head still down, Lia said, “No, it’s been deteriorating in speed and usability over the past two weeks.”
“Lia!” Brandon shouted incredulously.
She lifted her head to see Brandon, Joey, and Ricky all staring at her in disbelief. “What?” she demanded defensively.
“Young lady, you do realize that all of us are computer whizzes, don’t you?” Brandon asked.
Lia looked around at the boys. Ricky and Micah were both in computer science majors. Joey was in mechanical engineering, and Brandon was enrolled in the same major for when he started school again after a break. Lia looked then at the stack of entertainment equipment she had dodged earlier, and acknowledged its complexity.
“Why yes, I suppose you are,” Lia conceded.
“Why didn’t you ask us for help?” Ricky asked. “Didn’t think we could do it?”
“People ask us to fix stuff for them all the time,” added Joey. “Just a few days ago we fixed some old VCR for the girls down the hall.”
“I know you did. I remember,” Lia said.
“Then why didn’t you say anything?” Brandon demanded.
“Honestly, it didn’t occur to me,” Lia admitted. She decided by the looks on their faces that she would not share the fact that even if that option had occurred to her, she still might not have asked. Lia really didn’t like inconveniencing or bothering other people, so much so that a problem which could have been solved easily with some help could escalate into something harder to handle.
Joey stood and said, “Up. Come on.”
“Where are we going?” inquired Lia as she rose to join him.
“To your place to see what we can do about that computer.”
And with that she was frog-marched back down the hall to her apartment. Lia wondered about the boys’ reaction to her suffering in silence. She figured that she must have struck some kind of primal man need to fix things to prove manliness, worth, and capability to provide for a cave-full of children. She should tread carefully to not further incite this strange offended behavior any more than she had already done. No further aggravation needed.
As they entered her place, Joey asked, “Where is the computer?”
They sat on the couch Lia had vacated not that long ago, and she handed him her ornery laptop. He began poking around and calling up little black windows with fat blinking cursors, in which he then typed some kind of foreign language. More screens with the same strange hieroglyphics appeared in response. Lia was glad that the symbols meant something to Joey. Maybe it hearkened back to those early days of cave painting. Maybe she couldn’t comprehend what those symbols meant because she had no lurking cavemen deep within the confines of her soul.
Lia gave Joey a look out of the corner of her eye. It was a bit of a stretch imagining him having any caveman tendencies or roots. Except for that time he had frantically shoved a paper in her face, she had never seen him out of control. And while, yes, that was a rather caveman like thing to do, shoving and grunting and all, he was generally well read and well spoken. She liked speaking with him because he was excellent in the witty banter category. He could make it in the Olympics if the higher-ups would bother making a proper sport of it.
And not only was he smart in his ability to learn and converse, he was also smart in his appearance and manners. Lia had never seen Joey without a collared shirt, which was usually a nice button-up, and she honestly doubted whether he owned any t-shirts. With his gentlemanly manners, he never failed to open a door for a girl. No, Joey wasn’t very Neanderthalish in his tendencies. So what was it about technology that brought out this deeper side of him?
Lia realized that while she had carried out her analysis, Joey had been narrating what he was doing and why. She blinked. “Wait, you’re doing what?”
“Your computer needs defragmenting,” Joey repeated.
“I didn’t realize that it was in fragments. Silly me.”
Joey smiled at her and began to explain, “When there are lots of files that are constantly accessed--”
A knock on the door interrupted the computer lesson. It was Lia’s friend Andrea, come bearing gifts in the form of miniature banana cream pies. After a quick chat with Andrea, Lia was on the couch again by Joey, and the two munched happily on the tasty bite-sized morsels.
As the computer was “defragging,” Lia insisted on showing Joey some golden YouTube videos that she knew would make him laugh. While a longer video was playing, Lia felt her body beginning to shut down for the evening. Her mind was wandering as Joey explained the different technical steps he was undertaking with her enemy, erm, nemesis, erm, laptop. Her eyes drooped. Her muscles relaxed. She wondered what time it was. Though she had been doing better lately at getting some sleep, Lia was still prone to nodding off when she was in a comfortable position.
Joey’s voice was suddenly a bit deeper, and her right side was a bit warmer. Lia wondered why these things were so, but then became focused on the happy fact that she had stopped drooping further down. She definitely didn’t want to squash the remaining pies.
Squash. Squash and pie don’t belong together, Lia mused. Unless pumpkins were actually considered a member of the Squash Collectorate. If that were the case, the squash and pie definitely did belong together. In fact, they should be married. But wait. Were any other squash acceptable pie associates? Sweet potato pie was orange, like pumpkin pie. But sweet potatoes could hardly be a part of the Squash Collectorate since they had potatoes as part of the name. But maybe-
“So, did you fix the problem?” came Brandon’s booming voice through Lia’s reverie.
She gasped and sat up straight. “The pies!” she cried. “Potato or not, they deserve life!”
Brandon was giving Joey and Lia a strange look, and for some reason he had stopped short on his way into the apartment. He raised an eyebrow and asked, “Getting cozy, were we?”
Lia searched about for the plate of remaining mini-pies while touching her face and hair. “Oh no! Did I snuggle with the poor little pies? Are their innards all over me?” She turned to Joey for an answer, but he was just looking at her. She could tell he was trying to assess something, and she was rather certain it was herself. “What? For a pie, being snuggled to death is a pretty ignominious way to go, don’t you think?”
Joey put his hand on Lia’s arm and said, “Calm down. No pies were slaughtered except the ones we ate before you nodded off.”
Lia furrowed her brow. “Did I fall asleep? I thought I had just zoned out a minute.”
Joey and Brandon both stared at her. Joey stood up. He was still wearing that same expression, like he was attempting to solve a complicated problem, or putting a puzzle together. He said, “Your computer is working now, but you should probably go to bed.”
“Thank you for your help, Joseph. You’re splendid,” Lia said sincerely.
The boys let themselves out. Lia tried to pull herself back together. After struggling in vain for a few moments, she gave up and decided that Joseph was right. She should just go to bed. She got up from the couch, pondering. Why had the boys looked confused? While not an uncommon sensation to experience when they were together, Lia thought this one felt different. Oh well. She must have said something truly bizarre while waking up.
Lia climbed upstairs to her room. Ally was out, so it was just her and her thoughts. Maybe she had drooled, but they were too nice to say anything. Or maybe- she paused. Maybe she had fallen against Joseph’s shoulder. That would explain the warmth, and his voice being so close. And that would also make for potential awkwardness the next time she saw him. This could create problems.
She sighed while jumping inelegantly into bed. She couldn’t do anything about it now. Oh well. He had brown eyes, but he had rather nice resting shoulders. If she had cared for a crush or a boyfriend, that may have been a point in his favor. But she didn’t want a crush, and she definitely didn’t want a boyfriend. After that last dating fiasco, she was content being single for a while. No, all she wanted was sleep, finals to be over, and to go home.
Besides. His eyes were brown.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fits of Pregnancy Madness Vs. Phantom of the Horridly Horrible Haircut

A month or two ago, I was thinking about my personal appearance, and I decided that I needed to have my bangs trimmed a bit. They were constantly falling into my eyes, and I felt like I looked a bit too emo for the sheer amount of pink that I consistently insist on wearing. And then, it happened. In a fit of pregnancy madness, I seized some scissors, and attempted to trim and style my bangs on my own.

A big mistake.

I lived with my mistake instead of going to get it fixed in an attempt to impress upon me this valuable lesson learned: Don't. Just don't. I also lived with it because I have some awesomely wide headbands that don't give me headaches and cover up most of my bangs. That meant I didn't have to see my bangs, or let anyone else see them, while they were growing back out.

Fast forward to last Saturday. Andrew has been pining for a haircut for some time, but he's afraid to go in anywhere to actually accomplish the job. Why? Because haircut people down here are insane, and don't really know how to cut his hair without making him feel like a foolish child. They always cut it too short in the back, so that it sticks up all over the place, instead of listening to him and giving him a haircut like Han Solo's. Maybe haircut people down here just don't watch Star Wars by rule.

But it had gotten to the point where it was either look like a foolish child with rebellious hair, or look like a slob. I don't like when he gets his hair cut because I like the curls that form on the nape of his neck. Andrew prefers looking like a gentleman with tidy hair. I support gentlemanliness, so I allow him to get his hair cut.

We went to a hair salon- actually, lest you gather from the word "salon" that this was a fine or spendy establishment, I shall be frank. It wasn't. It was Great Clips. But it is possible to get a good haircut there. We were ushered to our stylish stylists' chairs at the same time. And thus began the horror.

I will take a moment to say that the girl cutting my hair did an excellent, albeit incredibly slow, job with the back of my hair. Some stylists have a hard time with long layers, but she was wonderful with that task. I was very pleased with how my layers came out. That being accomplished, I will now inform you of what happened to the front of my head. I asked her to start the bang at my right eyebrow, and swoop it down to my left cheek bone. A side bang. A swoop bang. Here is a picture of what I could see since the stylist was standing directly in front of me and was blocking the mirror.

That large mass of pasty whiteness is my skin, yes. And that horrible claw-like appendage is meant to represent the stylist's hand. But pay more attention to the hair flying everywhere. She didn't put any water on my bangs, so with every snip of her sheers, hairs shot out explosively like so many bits of shrapnel. That especially large brown blob was a hair that tried to take up residence in my eye. I kept my peepers firmly shut after that, but I could still feel the little rain of hairs sticking to my nose, cheeks, and lips. At one point, the lady actually dabbed at my face with a cloth to try to alleviate this surfeit of unattached hairs.

But the worst part of it all was this: Look at how she's cutting my bangs. In a straightish line. Does that look like a swoop to you? Nope. It doesn't. And if you tried to say yes, you're wrong, because it doesn't look anything like a swoop. Go get an education.

When she stopped to ask me how I liked it, I just stared in the mirror for a moment. They were very short bangs. Very short. I saw that she had added a bit of a slant to my bangs. Unfortunately, instead of being a sweeping swoop from one side to the other, it started and ended within half an inch. Right at the end. It looked something like I had tried to do it. Since I had asked her to feather it a bit (I have very thick hair), she grabbed her thinning sheers, and snipped at my bangs. That meant that half of my bang hairs were short than the other half. Right next to that cowlick on  my forehead. Yup.

Basically, if you spread and curve your fingers into a claw formation, as if you're pretending to be a monster or something, and then stick that up by your hairline, that's what my bangs looked like.

Since she was waiting for an answer, I turned to ask Andrew what he thought.

He wasn't at all reassuring. I looked back in the mirror, then smiled at the lady, and said, "All done now."

We paid, then left. However, instead of being able to rush home and fully assess the damage done, we had to go grocery shopping. As we walked into the store, a breeze rushed past us, lifting my hair as if I were in some commercial. Only, I don't know what I was advertising. Maybe something like this: "Get your hair cut, and you too can walk slow-mo through a door with bits of hair shrapnel flying off behind you and your bangs sticking all about like a hideous loon!" Not very persuasive. Too bad I was the poster child.

When we were home, I decided that I would just have to wear my faithful old gray headband until my bangs grew back. It was too short to be able to fix with more cutting. I seized the headband and donned it. I dropped my head on the counter. My bangs were too short to stay up in the headband. Too short and sticking out all over the place. I wailed in frustration and went to bed.

The next morning was church. I managed to get my bangs to stay back with a double headband approach to styling. When I got home, I switched to my gray (more comfortable) headband, but kept the band just barely on the hairline. I looked pretty clever.

I started becoming worried that someone would bump into me and knock my headband off. Then I wouldn't be covered in its protective concealment. I knew that if that were to ever happen, dramatically loud chords from The Phantom of the Opera would instantly start playing, and that there would be screaming and general horror all about.

Then I would have to give up the one person that I loved, and go live by myself in a cave somewhere with a little toy wind-up monkey that played "Masquerade." And people might even try to kill me. Not good on either account.

So now I'm trying to decide which is better: Being seized by a fit of pregnancy madness and mangling your own bangs, or paying someone else to make you into the hair version of the Phantom. Only without that sheer musical genius, which at least would be an upside. But also without the homicidal tendencies, which is at least one bright point in all of this.

I think it's the fit of pregnancy madness - because at least that's free ugliness.