Tuesday, July 31, 2007



There were two 1's (neither a surprise) and two 2's (only one was really a surprise), but every other stats student passed their AP Exam (including the two who weren't even in the class, but whatever).

Holy CRAP!

There were a couple surprises, a 4 from someone I would have sworn would get a 5, a couple 3's from some people who I was pretty sure would get 4's, but there were surprises the other way too: two people passed that I didn't think had a snowball's chance in hell; three people got 4's that I'm sure weren't expecting to (including my sister's favorite: go Cowbell!). Both of my twins passed, but one got a 5 and one got a 3--but that doesn't really surprise me. And you know what? A 3 counts for credit, so it's just as good as a 5, functionally speaking.

But SERIOUSLY. I now have DOCUMENTED PROOF of exactly HOW MUCH I ROCK. Oh, and that my students were the greatest bunch of students ever.

NINETY PERCENT PASS RATE, SUCKAS! National average: 60%.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I had an oops.

I don't feel guilty. Conversations like this have been going on all over the greater Portland metro area since Wednesday.

Him: What’s this?

Me: A squeegee.

A what?

A squeegee!

Why do we have a squeegee!

It was ninety-nine cents! At IKEA!

I thought you were going to IKEA with Emily on Friday.

Well, yes, but I just stopped by today. I’m sooooo bored, and plus I needed a shelf for the bathroom.

So you went to IKEA, and you bought a shelf and a squeegee?

And a salad spinner.

And a salad spinner.

It was right by the checkout! And we have all that lettuce.

So if I looked all over this house, all I would find is a shelf, a squeegee, and a salad spinner.

Yes, I only bought stuff if it started with an s.



So, that’s it, though?

Oh, yeah, I was great! Well, that, and the mirror that’s still in the car.

A mirror.

Yeah, and some hooks.

So a shelf, a squeegee, a salad spinner, a mirror and some hooks.

Yeah, and I’m going back on Friday with Emily. We totally need some shelving for the basement.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The cuteness. The CUTENESS

In my neighborhood

This morning I went to the farmer's market. Normally, this would not be a big deal: Portland is awash in farmer's markets. Organic farmer's markets, farmer's co-op markets, year-round farmer's markets. You name it, if it's granola enough, there's a farmer's market for it.

But this one was different. It's brand new, and it's down the street from me.

When we moved in to this neighborhood, the wee little neighborhood strip was a four-block long strip of mostly empty storefronts. There was a dusty, dark, and usually closed Hippie Emporium, selling "herbs" (it's closed now: shocker!), but otherwise, all other operating shops were an auto upholstery shop, two auto-body shops, a billiards hall, a specialty lumber yard, and three slightly sketchy taverns.

As I walked to the farmer's market--it's wee, really, not a huge number of stalls--along the four-block walk, more and more people joined me on the sidewalks. A block ahead of me, three families--whole families!--were walking together, stroller and dogs included. Behind me, two hipster couples shuffled along, holding hands and sipping coffee.

Since we've moved in, our neighborhood has been going through some amazing change. A coffee shop has opened up, the kind with fresh-made pastries, that doesn't have that familiar green-and-white mermaid logo. The "herbarium" disappeared; now we have a wine shop and a crafty paper/art store. The old drug store finally got leased; half of it is this super awesome, reasonably priced, rotating menu of American food restaurant. The movie theater that had been closed since the 70's has been through a makeover and now plays recent-release movies for $3 a pop. Oh, and serves beer, wine, and tasty tasty pizza from the pizzaria next door.

Standing at the farmer's market, all I could think was: who knew all of these families with these wee little kids lived within walking distance? I bought some golden raspberries and a margarita melon (less alcoholic than it sounds), sipped my Ethiopian Fair Trade Shade Grown coffee while munching on a ham-and-gruyere croissant and realized I was standing next to the auto-body shop and across the street from the billiards hall.

I love my neighborhood. I can't wait to see what we get next.

Monday, July 23, 2007


So, how's everyone doing with my last few doses of Extra Special Bitter?

Good? Or a little too hoppy?

Yeah, I know.

So, on a brighter note: ANDREW'S FINISHED HIS FIRST DRAFT! WOOO HOO! I might actually get to socialize with him again one day SOON! Yeah, Andrew, go!

I don't think I've talked enough about how proud I am of his endeavor. Frustrated as all hell because I miss the shit out of him (evenings, weekends, that kind of thing), but also proud as shit. You can search his name on Amazon: he has a page on Amazon! My husband! It's like proud by vicarious nearness.

Or something.

Also, I rearranged the living room today. Again.

In related news, I have three total unplanned weeks left of this summer. Remind me of the cabin fever when I'm stressed as hell next April, willya?


False Promises.

Well-meaning people, people who love me, people I love, have a common refrain that really, truly rubs me the wrong way.

It will happen.

My mom, I love her, but that's her refrain when there's another failed cycle. And we've had our differences about how to communicate lately, but finally last month I just had to stop her.

I know this will work out in the end, she said.

And she meant well. But.

No, mom, I said, you don't know it. You hope it. That's the thing. It may not happen.

It's hard to explain to anyone who hasn't dangled at that precipice, that panicky realization that it really truly may not happen. Yeah, we're using IUI right now, and that may happen, and there are other options, the next step is IVF--but that's expensive/risky/just may not happen. Adoption (oh, boy, is THAT a topic for a future Oh The Things People Say!) is expensive/intensive/just may not happen. And while the fact that Nothing In Life Is Guaranteed is a truism, no one ever thinks it applies to them, not about having children. Until suddenly it does. Some ART-folks maintain their optimism, and my own optimism rises and falls (usually in concert with the levels of clomid in my system, odd, huh?), but personally as I keep going, pragmatism and realism (some might say pessimism) creeps in.

It Might Not Happen. We might not get lucky. That's not me inviting pity (much) or even self pity (well, a little). That's me acknowledging a truth that really honestly kind of sucks, but it's a truth, along the lines of "Actually, no, I never WILL be a supermodel" and "I really wasn't meant to be an athlete". We'll still keep going, try again next month, and probably the month after that, et cetera and so forth, because I want this more than I've ever wanted anything and I will keep trying until we've exhausted ourselves. But that doesn't mean it will happen.

And I can't help at getting irritated at people (usually women) who got pregnant by, of all things, having sex, telling me that I should be patient, it'll happen.

There are two things so very very wrong with that statement. First of all: Look, we've been seeing doctors on and off for almost four years now, and steadily, monthly, bimonthly, almost weekly and sometimes biweekly, for over a year. This is just a drop in the bucket to some ART couples, I know, but seriously, you don't think I know about patience by now? If I could have hurried things up, don't you think I would have by now? I don't have a choice about patience.

Second, you don't know it'll happen. Last I checked, your ESP didn't include reading the tea leaves. That's just an empty empty Thing to Say, comforting you far far more than it comforts me. It's all very well and good to say that from the easy place of having had your child/children, but every time you say that, no matter how difficult your own process was, it is a reminder that you are on the other side of a bright shining line that so far I've been denied.

What could you say instead, you ask?

Most likely--and here's the sucky part for you--nothing. Each failed cycle is a little less carefree than the last, you see, so it hits a little harder. Being there and listening is the best possible thing a friend could do when another cycle fails. Or, being there and distracting if I don't want to talk about it.

If you find yourself in that place where the words are on the tip of your tongue, no matter how firmly you believe it will happen or is meant to happen or God whispered in your ear one night or the chicken bones aligned or whatever!, keep it between yourself and your chicken bones. I'm glad--for you--that you feel that way, but that's your faith. I have my reality to deal with.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

This is the reality of IUI.

So you sit down to take your test and you caution yourself. And it's not like you don't have practice cautioning yourself, because you've taken this particular test a squizillion times.

I don't feel any symptoms, you say to yourself. My boobs don't hurt, they aren't bigger, someone told me I'd have Porn Star Nipples and I definitely don't have those, nothing.

Plus, you remind yourself, this is early. Good ol' Aunt Flo isn't due here till, like, Thursday, so really, chances are super slim that even if I was pregnant, that it'd register.

And really, no matter how many times we've tried, it's still like, a 10 to 15% chance that any particular month will work, you tell yourself. So, really, you remind yourself, the odds are not in our favor.

And you're still crushed when that second line doesn't appear, when there's no plus sign, when the wee computer doesn't tell give you that ten-dollar sign.

The cruelty is that you still have a blood test waiting for you, but it's not for three days, so that if you really wanted to, you could keep peeing. And you will.

Ahh... a quiet, silky voice from the back of your mind reminds you, remember? That one time you actually were pregnant? Remember how you got a not pregnant one day and a pregnant the next? That could happen. You never know. Because that damn silky voice comes back, day after day after day.

And so you get to be crushed tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, until Aunt Flo actually comes and you get to start planning your appointments for the next month.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

PKW event

I got an email from my mom for a "Pamper Kari Week" event. I guess I'd sounded a little pathetic on the phone on Thursday.

Okay, maybe a lot pathetic.

"You're doing much better this month!" Em had said.

Apparently I'm crying less in public. This is good. But I still have crippling self-pity, though, that sneaks up on me. Yeah, it's still self-pity, so I'm not proud it's there, but regardless, it comes out of nowhere (a JC Penny's ad, a picture, a thought) and then I want to do nothing ever again.

So on Thursday I sounded really sorry for myself. On Friday, Mom emailed me for a chance to be pampered at her home in Michigan. They'd pay the freight.

It's novel, really, to be in my thirties and a guest in my parents home by myself: no siblings, no husband, no crisis for a change. And aside from some snippieness when we were on the way to the movie but MIGHT be LATE, MARY, WHY DID WE CHOOSE TO EAT AT A RESTAURANT ACROSS THE CITY FROM THE MOVIE THEATER, but we'll ONLY MISS THE PREVIEWS, KEN (me in the back: LALALA I'M NOT LISTENING) type of tomfoolery, it's been a really mellow week.

I helped Mom with her newsletter formatting which unexpectedly turned into a lot of laughter. Dad and I have watched the Tour de France and taken the dog on walks through their Faux French Provincial Community. Mom and I went to the Ann Arbor Art Fair and counted people who bought art on sticks. And might have maybe perhaps bought some shoes.


I miss Andrew (hi hon!) but maybe he can USE THIS TIME TO FINISH HIS DAMN BOOK so that I'll see him some when I get back. (hi hon!)

I can dig this PKW event.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

At least...

I just wanted to start a little service for those who are going through ART (assisted reproductive technology). More specifically, this is for those who know someone else who is going through it.

If you are going through ART know this here and now: otherwise well-meaning, sympathetic and intelligent people will say some dumb-ass shit. Family, friends, coworkers--some may know what you're going through, some may not, depending on how open you are--doesn't matter. They don't mean to, but they will.

And it will hurt. I mean, it may be a small pinprick, or it may be a raw seeping wound, depending on the day, the person saying it, and the clomid levels, but somebody will say something that will bother you. In fact, several somebodies, and they'll all say different things.

The truth is, they have no idea what to say. And the painful truth is, many won't do research on the emotional aspects of how to deal with a friend with fertility problems. And the real truth is, almost none will know how to ask you what you need, nor will they know how to react when you talk about it.

When you find the friends or family who know how to ask you questions frankly yet sympathetically? Who follow your lead when you do or don't want to talk about it? Coat them in gold and chain them in your basement. You won't find many, so hold on to the ones you do. I have three chained up down there right now. It's being able to go downstairs and visit those three that get me through the bonehead shit that other people say. And then I occasionally toss them a treat.

That said, I wanted to start a small recurring feature of They'll Say It, But That Doesn't Mean You Have To Like It. I just want to cover what I've heard and why it sucks, and what some viable alternatives may be.

Today's entry:

"At least you know you can get pregnant!"

You will here this after a miscarriage. Guaranteed. You will hear this after every miscarriage. You will hear this in the down times between miscarriages. You will hear this in the empty times between doctor's appointments--assuming, of oourse, that you've been pregnant at least once, whether you actually gave birth or not. You will hear this while waiting after your last IUI for your beta blood tests. It's often the go-to thing to say for people who want to comfort, and they will say it any time you admit to feeling anything less that optimistic.

And you know what? It's not comforting.

Can everyone who only wants to get pregnant, but doesn't want the baby, can you stand up?


The goal is to stay pregnant. Right? I mean, you'd tell me if I was wrong, wouldn't you? The thing is, every fertility story is different, and so yes, some people have difficulty at the getting pregnant stage, while others have diffiulty at the staying pregnant stage. Some lucky winners (!!!) have difficulty with both. But I'm fairly certain, even without doing clinial research, that it isn't anyone's ultimate goal to just get pregnant, even for the women who have problems getting that far.

And besides, how on earth is that comforting? "At least the one event that no one has control over can happen!"

It's a little like comforting your newly divorced sister by saying, "Well, at least you know you can get through a wedding! Now next time you just need the marriage to stick!"

If you find these words allllmost coming out of your mouth, ever, for the love of all the fluffy kittens in the world, stuff your fist in your mouth before these words come out. Check yourself: does this person you're talking to really want comfort, or do they want a sympathetic ear so they can just not be Susie Fucking Sunshine all the time? If they really want comfort, don't give them false promises (more on those in a future installment!), ask. Ask, ask, ask: "How can I help?" If they want sympathy, try something crazy: just be sympathetic.

And if someone says that to you? I'm sorry, not if, but when? God, I wish I knew. If you had a good response, please let me know, because I'm still searching for one that doesn't make everyone want to stop talking to me altogether.

Next up: Variations on a theme: False promises.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Slippety Doo Dah

So, the White Spot.

Beyond that being the name of my first punk album, I have an update. Of sorts.

To recap: in my last few dildo-cam appointments (oh the joy of that being plural! Can you get frequent flier points or something, some kind of coffee club card for those? A dozen ultrasounds, and your next one is free! They could even use some sperm-shaped hole puncher, just for continuity.), the doctor has paused with the oh-so-reassuring sound of, "Huh." Not precisely what you want to hear when assessing the health of the uteral areas.

Last year, this time, I was waiting to have a fibroid removed. They'd tried to do it the non-invasive way--well, they're still sending cutting implements up my happy chute, so it's still pretty damn invasive--but that was ultimately unsuccessful, so we'd gone the surgical route. Wheee! A caesarian for Phil, my fibroid.

So was this white spot a new growth, or unfinished bidness from the Phil-ectomy, or something entirely harmless? The dildo-cam would no longer suffice, it was time for the big guns: radioactive elements.

For the past month, I've been pretty mellow about all of it because, hell, The White Spot was there. If it was harmless, it was still harmless, if it was screwing up our chances of growing a baby, it was already doing that, and besides, ain't nothing fertilizing up in those parts anyway. The past few days, though: not so much. The sort of overwhelming feeling of This Is It was sneaking up on me. It's some horrid growth, left over from my miscarriage. It was The Son of Phil, back for a sequel, and I'd need to schedule surgury for August. Again. It was cancer and I'd need to lose the entire Happy Fun Uterus.

That is to say, I was slightly pessimistic.

I had an appointment for an HSG: a hystero schmemememe gram. Hystero: uterus. Shmemememe: something about scoping or sono or something. Whatever. The upshot (heh) works something like this.

Have you ever cleaned out a bottle or some long-necked thing where you can't get a sponge the entire way in? So you swish soapy water around in the bottom? We did that, only substitute "uterus" and "radioactive dye". Fill it up till it hurts, make me roll around on a table that moves like an animatronic Disney creation from hell, and then shoot the xray machine at me when the correct anatomy is under the mutation-inducing lens. It's like America's Next Top Model of My Uterus. "Okay, now we need a 3/4 angle... shoot that! Great. Okay, now roll the other way, shift the table up a little, Great! Shoot that."

And it's oh so much less fun than it sounds. I know, right? I'm just hoping I don't get eliminated.

Of course, my geeky side can't help but be slightly awed by the images that show up. You kknow those drawings we all saw in middle school, how the ovaries are attached to the uterus? Picture that as, say, a water slide. An egg's last little fun as it descends into the uterus. The drawings in middle school all have the water slide that looks like this:
See the dude at the top? He's the egg, about to slide into the pool of my uterus.

Stick with me here, this weird analogy will pay off. Okay, maybe, I make no promises, but stick with me anyway.

Well, as we swish the dye around my insides (fun! fun! fun!) I got to see as it snakes up through my fallopian tubes. This is good, since it means my eggs, when the pills and the shots make them do their thing, actually have someplace to go and a way to get there, and that's part of the point of this particularly fun test. But what strikes me is those waterslides. They're no direct shot, they're really more like this:
That's one crazy ride those eggs are taking before settling into life of babyhood. No wonder most don't make it.

And about that White Spot? No idea. Didn't find any homonculous-type Head of Satan staring at me from the 3-D images, so that's a plus. Experts get to pore over the negatives and tell me if we're screwed or what. I meet with my Doogie Howser doctor tomorrow (another punch on my dildo card! eeeee!) and I suppose we'll find out. My ovaries feel almost ready to explode out of my abdomen right now (thank you, Senor Clomid!) and if we're going to do another IUI this cycle, it'll be this week, so yeah.

Like everything about this whole damn shit: it's all wait and see.

But I really think now I want to go to the water park.

How to spend a night not sleeping.

One thing that sucks about living in the Pacific Time Zone is that when you have insomnia, it's pretty much guaranteed that no one is awake. So let's say, hypothetically speaking, you have the hours from midnight to whenever the hell you get some sleep to fill. What do you do?

You've got your blogroll, the RSS feeds, but very few people update their blogs between midnight and eight a.m. on an early Monday morning.

There's MetaFilter, a good site to go to that takes you to other sites, but it can be hit or miss.

Surf YouTube, sure. Find some mildly amusing clips like Marvel vs. DC (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on--now with more mutants), a sort of low-budget Robot Chicken. I mean, REALLY low budget. You see the hands. But there's some great geek in there.

There's other YouTube stuff that might occupy you for a while. LisaNova amused me for a little while, especially her three part series on Keira Knightly, Johnny Depp, and the Pirates of the Carribbean (parts 1, 2, and 3). She's got some other stuff, but those were my favorites.

You can try watching old movies. Something like Back to the Future has held up astonishingly well, actually; of course, parts are period and so aren't affected by the TWO DECADES since the movie. And really, the other part is now period all on its own. Ahhh Michael J. You were adorableness.

Also: apparently Billy Zane is in Back to the Future! Who knew?

What's next? I mean after the couple hours you lie back down and toss and turn and haunt yourself with the stupid stressors you let invade your brain.

So, next up on cable: Cousins! Yes, it's that wonderful movie, the one with Ted Danson as a romantic lead! Verdict on Isabella Rosselini: still an always gorgeous, but the eighties were not kind to her. Not kind at all. (I've been trying to find images to link to, but I can't say I blame Isabella for erasing all memory of herself in shapeless Coldwater Creek Tops and blazers that--no kidding--go down to her knees.) But where else are you going to see a movie with Ted Danson, Isabella Rosselini, William Peterson, and Sean Young? Oh, and Lloyd Bridges.

So, now it's 5:30. The sky is starting to get lighter. You check your email, but who would have emailed you by now? Update your blogroll. Nothing. Is that... yes, it's the paper arriving! And the garbage being picked up! You, my dear, have officially Not Slept. Yay, you!

It's time for Crap TV! Yes, that lovely thing that TNT, USA, Spike and TBS all do all day long: those syndicated shows. JAG, perhaps? Or maybe you'd prefer Charmed? Baywatch? Something, anything, to get those beloved alpha waves? I do still draw the line at Walker, Texas Ranger. Even sleep-deprived, I have some standards.

No? Well, crap, it's 8:00 by now anyway. You've got a doctor's appointment to dread. Might as well get up and get to it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

This just happened.

Andrew in truck
Originally uploaded by karijean

Andrew: Hey, can you do me a favor?

Me: What?

Andrew: Can you do me a favor?

Me: Yes, what?

Andrew: Can you do me a favor?

Me: Yes, Andrew, what favor?

Andrew: I'd like you to think of a favor, do it, and then tell me about it.

Me: ...

Andrew: Thanks, bye!

Me: What?

Summer Vacation

Double time
Originally uploaded by karijean
With the Fourth of July over (or, as Will says, "Happy Birthday Fourth!"), I'm staring down the gun at a long summer.

I know, poor me, right? It's hard to get sympathy about two* months off. To be fair, I work hard all year in order to earn this summer off. Plus, I get paid for crap, so I might as well get two months off--one of the very very few perks of teaching.**

Sometimes, though it doesn't really feel like a perk. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind not having to get up with an alarm in the morning. But to go from a world of daily deadlines where planning and organization can make or break you to absolutely aimless days is a little overwhelming.

I don't do aimless well. I do one of two things: I sink into a well of inertia which, yeah, good times! or rearrange every closet in my house while weeding the lawn and building a to-scale model of Portland's Pearl District.*** I may have a problem with finding a happy medium (ya think?)

In the meantime, take a look at Flickr. Fourth of July pictures are up (compare them with last year's! Lookit me, coming full circle!), and I'll be updating the Flickr stuff with pictures as I find a way to distract myself from having nothing to do. I've got some geocaching I did out in wine country, and I plan to do more around PDX and its environs.

Happy Fourth of July, happy summer everyone.

* Yes, it is only two months. June 20-something was our last day, and I have to return on August 20-something. Again, I know, poor me, but I just wanted to clear that up.

** Not that I don't love teaching, because I do. But it's a damn. Hard. Job. With very very few upsides. Objectively speaking, summer is one of the few.

***Or I rearrange someone else's basement. True story.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Originally uploaded by karijean
Back in civilization, there's nothing so awesome as a shower.

You know, I can dig this new hobby of ours, this "camping" thing. I feel tired and sore, but in a good way.

Click on the pictures to go to flickr, or click here to go to the set.