Oral Hygiene Queen

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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Life Is Good

I am so damned happy. I am enjoying my life so very much. There's nothing like being sick as a dog for two months, during which time you are essentially housebound due to the most frigid weather and tallest snowdrifts of the year, to make you appreciate feeling well and celebrate the onset of Spring.

Blogging wasn't easy during those dark weeks in February and March when I was horribly nauseous with the bitterly ill named "morning sickness." (Ah, if only it limited itself to the morning!) I was hard-pressed to find anything to write about because all I wanted to do was bitch and moan. Instead I said "I have jury duty!" I didn't mention that I had to get special permission from the judge to eat crackers on the stand, or that my fellow jurors thus knew I was pregnant when many of my friends had yet to learn the news. (More at a later date on my ambivalence about the "wait 'til you're through the first trimester to tell" strategy.) Or I said "I went and got acupuncture!" without mentioning that the acupuncture was a last-ditch effort to stop the vomiting. (It didn't work.)

Not that I didn't bitch and moan. I was pretty stoic for the first few weeks. Then I entered the "puking every day" phase, which lasted about three weeks, and during which I was really too weak and miserable to complain much. Once that lifted, though, and I realized from my experience with my first pregnancy that I was likely in for at least another month of this general digestive malaise and soured appetite, I opened my mouth and let the bitching begin. My poor Old Man was the main recipient of my daily litany of wishing it would end, cursing my luck as a prego-prone-to-the-pukes, and generally whining about how bad I felt and much I missed enjoying food. My mom also heard her share.

When I was pregnant with O, I was sick for ten weeks. And it sucked. But it wasn't as severe as this time. I felt queasy most of the time, and really nauseous some of the time, and I'd puke every few days during the worst phase. But it was an "oops! there it goes!" kind of puking. The food was in your stomach - now it's in the can. Oh, well. That was gross.

This time the puking got to be a daily thing, coming on like clockwork at around five or six in the evening, inevitable. And it was a squalid, incredibly carnal affair. More like "you will now violently evacuate everything down to the depths of your stomach," rounding off with a series of dry heaves. I stopped using the can. It was just too horrible. I couldn't face it. The bathroom sink became my target of choice, and some days I would look up at myself when I was finally done and, seeing my pale, haggard face, would think "this is killing me." It really felt like it was.

I was glad when that was over. But morning sickness, I know all too well, doesn't just "lift" one day. It tapers off, little by painful little. You stop puking every day, but your appetite remains completely dysfunctional. You have to keep something in your stomach or you feel worse, but nothing sounds good, nothing smells good, nothing tastes good. And for me, the few things that worked inevitably became persona non grata after a couple weeks of constant nibbling at them. Red Oval Farms Stoned Wheat Thins? I never want to look at another one again, ever. Thin pretzel sticks? Keep them away from me. Even my very own homemade chocolate chip cookies turned on me, after two weeks of me baking a batch every couple days and eating them constantly during my waking hours. I may not be wanting a chocolate chip cookie for another couple of years, and I never would have believed that possible.

But - huge sigh or relief - that shit is over. I am feeling good. I am enjoying food. I am loving life. About a week or so ago, O. said to me "Mama, you haven't puked in like a month!" Yes, my little dear, yes.

I know that a small number of other women have it worse. Some women have to be hospitalized for dehydration because they can't keep anything down. I personally know women who were nauseous during an entire pregnancy, and my heart bleeds for them. But there are many more women out there who manage to gestate without ever feeling the pain of "morning" sickness, or who have such a mild form for such a short time it barely fazes them. To those women, I say: don't tell me "wow, I never had that." Not yet. I'm not ready. Just say "you poor thing," and count yourself very fucking lucky.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Today I wore these stockings to school.

Roll 107 - 10

I’m still in that second-trimester phase where maternity clothes would look tent-like on me, but most of my regular clothes don’t fit anymore. So this morning I hauled out an abandoned black cotton scoop neck dress that comfortably accommodates my bump without looking schleppy. And I funked it up a bit with the stockings.

I paused for a moment getting dressed this morning to wonder if the hose were appropriate for school. I got them at sockarmy.com , which billed them as “crocheted stockings.” When they arrived, however, I was struck by how much they were like fishnets with vertical stripes. I would probably never wear fishnets to school, but these seemed a little different. I put them on.

When my vice principal saw me this morning she said “You sure don’t look like a pregnant mother.” This is a good thing. “Pregnant mother” is not really the look I’m going for. Yet the tone in her voice made the comment sound more like “You sure look slutty today.” Maybe I’m just being paranoid. And I don’t really care even if this woman does think I look slutty because 1. I reject the word “slut” and the whole idea that women dressing in a “slutty” way is some problem for people to tsk tsk about, and 2. I don’t really care what my vice principal thinks of my wardrobe, given that she’s one of those female educators who favors vests embroidered with whimsically-rendered chalkboards, desks, and apples and who always has chunky, brightly colored jewelry to fit the theme of the nearest upcoming holiday.

As I went on with my day, I thought I noticed a number of the stodgier faculty eyeing my outfit with some consternation. (And several of my cooler colleagues complimented me on my stockings. The consensus among girl students was consistent: “Ms. Queen, I love your tights!”) Now, this outfit would be completely unremarkable if I’d worn gray tights to match the gray cardigan I wore over the relatively tame black, just-above-the-knee dress (my only color: a small rainbow ribbon to signal my support for the day of silence). But with these stockings, I think it may have raised some eyebrows at my pretty-much-anything-goes liberal high school. And it led me to wonder: what is the deal with fishnets? In an age where a woman’s bare legs are a common sight, why are these stockings still considered racy?

And so I’m asking you: what do you think? What do you know about the history of fishnets? Why are they associated with tramps and vixens? And are they too sexy for work, or school? (What about if they have vertical stripes and claim to be “crocheted stockings”?)

On a side note, one of my favorite students also wore a black dress today, with actual fishnet stockings. I had to smile because this student has often been the center of discussions among faculty about “appropriate student attire,” and for some reason I seem to be the only adult at our pretty-much-anything-goes liberal school who is interested in sticking up for her right to dress however the hell she wants (particularly at a school with no dress code for students or – thank God - teachers). The upshot of these discussions always seems to be “She dresses like a slut, and how can she expect us to take her seriously when she looks like that!” And my answer is always “Because we are professional educators who are supposed to model the mature and ethical behavior of judging people on their intellect and actions, not on external appearances.” This young woman happens to be one of the most intelligent, perceptive, articulate and socially engaged students I’ve ever taught, and the fact that any adult would write her off due to the length of her skirt enrages me. And the fact that she and I coincidentally wore similar ensembles today may reduce my credibility with my stodgier colleagues, but I can’t help think of it as a point of pride.

But, back to the questions above. I want to hear people’s perspectives on the fishnet quandary, because I am truly curious.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Answers to Feral Questions

Feral Mom has also graced me with some questions, which I will now answer.

[A bit of background: Feral Mom and I were in a band together for four and a half years, three years or a bit more as an all-girl power trio, and a year or a bit more as a four piece with a very amiable dude (our drummer’s talented husband) playing second guitar. We put out three CDs and played many, many shows, sometimes to a full crowd at the Metro in Chicago, sometimes to a frigid industrial warehouse full of teenagers in West Lafayette, Indiana, and sometimes to an audience of six or seven at bars in any number of cities.]

1. If you could join any band (past or present) which one would it be?

This is a hard one. There are so many. I think, though, that I can narrow it down to two. For pure songwriting pleasure and the joy of being part of a band that has matured and grown more beautiful over many years, I would have to pick Superchunk. (But only if Mac would let me sing a lot of backing vocals.) For sheer rock energy and kick-ass grrl power all grown up, I would have to pick Sleater-Kinney. I know it’s kind of sacrilegious to suggest that S-K should’ve had a bass player, and I’m not actually saying that they needed one, but I’d love to play bass in that band. I’m not sure what else I have to offer them.

2. You’ve got to start it all over again with a different instrument. Which one will it be?

No question: drums.

3. Name three random things that scare the beejeezus out of you.

Global warming, fundamentalists of all stripes, and beauty pageants for little girls.

4. It’s 1994 and we’re starting a band again. What’s the name of our band and what do we do differently this time?

You know, I really think I’d keep our name. It served us well, and I haven’t thought of any better ones (at least not for that particular band) over the years. Our band name was cute but a little strange, it was pretty abstract except for people who got the reference (a secondary character in a kids’ book about a rowdy, tomboyish little girl), and it was short and sweet. But if I had to pick another name, I’d probably ask O. for guidance. He’s come up with some great band names already, including the Bees, Spaghetti, and the Clock. The Clock! What a great name for a band. I wish I’d thought of it.

I can definitely think of several things I’d do differently. First and foremost, relax and enjoy it. We had a shitload of fun, but I think we took it all too seriously at times, at least I know I did. Second (and this would help with #1): costumes. The shows we played in costume were always the best (the Catholic school kid costumes especially). I think if we’d just had a shtick of wearing matching or themed costumes for every show, it would have helped us loosen up and have more fun. (And somehow I think it would have made the stage banter issue less fraught.) Third, I would have refused to play any show where we were the only non-ska band on the bill. Ska fans, we learned, tend to be very narrow-minded, and they invariably leave as soon as they figure out that no one on stage is wearing plaid and there’s no horns. I love ska (especially actual Jamaican ska), but Midwestern ska fans can suck my musically eclectic left one. Fourth, no touring in the dead of winter. Granted, we were trying to be smart by heading south, and who knew we’d hit Memphis’s only ice storm in living memory. Still, it sucked and I enjoyed the bit of warm weather touring we did much, much more. Five, get a second guitar player much earlier. That took so much pressure off the two of us, and just made things better. (Not Elizabeth Elmore though. God bless her, but I don’t ever want to be in a band with her.)

5. What is your least favorite place in the world?

West Lafayette, Indiana.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Answers to Questions

Esereth asked me to answer some good, meaty questions, ones that she has already answered herself over at To Throw Away a Button. So here are my answers:

The last conversation you had with your mother

I talk to my mom every almost every day, so many recent conversations jump to mind. The last mundane conversation I had with her was about logistics for her to pick up O. at school while my old Man and I went to a sonogram appointment. My last interesting conversation with her was me asking her about two different stories about friends of hers I’d been told as a kid. It turns out I had one story completely wrong, and one basically right. The one I had wrong was mildly interesting, but I had somehow totally altered one of the basic details. The one I had right was like a Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story, only set on a bike trip in Nevada.

The last conversation you had with your father

The last conversation I had with my father was the first conversation I’d had with him in more than two years. We talked on the phone for about 40 minutes, and he did 98% of the talking. He mostly talked about Lord of the Rings, which he has been doing supplementary reading on lately and believes is historical rather than fictional. He shared with me that he thinks he might be part elf, and thus could live to be 200. I didn’t challenge him on any of this. He didn’t ask me how I was, though when I mentioned O, he did inquire after him.

I could write a book about my dad, and it would be a funny book and a very sad book. I haven’t written about him on this blog, yet, because a basic explanation of his life history and our relationship in the last six or eight years would take about sixteen posts. But perhaps someday I’ll do a dad series.

Do you regret the person or manner in which you lost your virginity?

No way. It was my first love, we’d been together for two years, had been busily doing “everything but,” and we both felt like it was time. It did kind of suck, unfortunately, because it hurt like hell the first time. (And the second, third, fourth, and fifth.) That was a big disappointment, because I’d pretty much convinced myself that pain on first intercourse was a big myth created to scare girls into keeping their knees closed. Of course, for some women it doesn’t hurt, or not much. But it did for me, oh boy. I shudder to think of what it would have been like if I’d been with some less caring and sensitive person who I wasn’t completely comfortable with.

The thing your parents never found out about.

This has to be a separate question for my mom and my dad, since they never lived together after I was about two. And, truly, I reluctantly admit that as an adolescent I was actually a really good kid and not at all a troublemaker. So I have to go back to my earlier days when I was capable of being a naughty little kid, or to my pre-teen days when I went through a phase of experimenting with being something of a delinquent.

My dad never found out what happened to that pot lid. When I was seven or eight, I used to get up earlier than my dad on the weekends, and this was kind of the golden hour for me, when I could do whatever I wanted as long as I cleaned up the evidence before Dad got up. One Saturday morning I wanted to eat chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, and we had some cookie dough in the fridge. I didn’t know how to turn on the oven (you had to light the pilot every time), but I figured I’d just cook the cookies on the stovetop. For some reason, instead of using a frying pan (merely a bad choice), I chose to set the blobs of cookies dough to cook on a pot lid (a terrible choice). The cookies melted, then burned hopelessly to the lid, and I couldn’t get the blackened cookie dough off the thing. So I just chucked the pot lid to the back of my very messy closet. My dad wondered aloud numerous times what happened to the pot lid, but I kept mum.

My mom never noticed that some of her weed was missing. When I was eleven, I swiped a sizable chunk of my mom’s dope stash out of the glove compartment of her and my stepdad’s VW bus in order to impress my older boy cousins. They were talking about wanting to try pot, and I said I could get some. So I rolled us a giant Cheech and Chong doobie. (I used two, maybe three rolling papers. Obviously it was my very first attempt at joint rolling.) We “smoked” it behind the A & P, though I doubt I really inhaled. (I didn’t get high in any case.) As far as I know, my Mom and stepdad didn’t notice that their stash had been lightened. But it was an old school 1979 bag of weed, I would guess a full ounce or so, so they probably never missed it.

How much do you spend a month on groceries?

About $500.

The last lie you told.

I claimed that my the big revelation I had to make on my blog was “too strange, too complex, too unforeseen” for anyone to guess what it was, because I figured if I didn’t throw people off a bit they’d just guess right away what the real news is (that I’m pregnant). But then as soon as I read the first comment, where DoctorMama was like “What? What? I can’t guess!” I felt guilty and had to comment and admit that it wasn’t really all that strange or unforeseen. And then some anonymous commenter totally guessed the real news. Ah well, I’m a terrible liar.

How often are your comments on other blogs made out of obligation?

Very rarely, actually. I’m a talker. I tend to blurt things out just to fill silences. I will leave a four minute message on your voicemail. I was always the kid in class with my hand in the air. I was voted “most talkative” my senior year. Back in the late nineties, my New Year’s resolution for several years running was “Talk less, listen more.”

I always seem to have something to say wherever I am, and the comment box is no exception.

(This basic fact of my personality makes my answer to the second question even sadder. And it’s been true for years: when I talk to my dad on the phone, it’s monologue on his end and mostly silence on mine.)