November 2010

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Mr. W and I went for our usual parental visit to my parents’ house. As we were about to leave, my mom said, “Oh, I almost forgot. Your Aunt Jessica gave me a book to give you.” She disappeared for a moment and returned with John Edward’s “One Last Time.” I was surprised that my aunt would get me a spiritual book, and one that was so on-the-money something I would read on my own. Usually when people get me books I try to hide my dubious expression out of politeness. “Have you heard of him?” my mom asked. (She was unfamiliar with the author and the subject matter.)
“Yeah, he’s got his own show on TV called ‘Crossing Over with John Edward.’ I’m a huge fan.”
I delved into the book as soon as I got home, and it was a very interesting read about John’s life growing up psychic, his experiences, details on interesting readings done on clients, his theories of life and death and beyond. So interesting, that I read it all week long and then brought it with me to Vegas last weekend to continue reading over Thanksgiving.

Except for an initial awkward period when stepson first arrived Wednesday night and stepdaughter and he did not acknowledge or speak to each other, the two got along swimmingly as soon as we climbed in the car for the drive. We left about midnight and the kids chatted a bit, then slept most of the way to Vegas. Daughter slept in the den at her grandparents’ house, allowing her brother to have the other spare bedroom, which he’d initially expected to share with her. Other than these sleeping arrangements, the two hung out together all weekend and in one or the other’s sleeping quarters until they went to bed. Mr. W offered to sponsor a sportsbet on a football game for Son on Thanksgiving day (he’s now 21), Son chose what turned out to be the winning team, and per agreement, he and his sister split the winnings 60/40. The extra 10% went to Son because the two played darts with that as wager. (Actually, from my understanding, Daughter won the dart game but let Son have the 10% anyway in her weekend of demonstrating generosity to her brother.)

Daughter and I hung out at my in-laws’ (where we were staying) when Mr. W and Son went to the Strip to place and then later to collect on the bet, to allow them some much-needed father-son bonding. Both times when Mr. W returned, he reported the productive conversations they’d had regarding Son’s career choice, social scene, etc. The latest talk had Mr. W’s eyes lit up like it was already Christmas. Apparently Son asked his father about Rebecca, wanting to know how Mr. W understood the cycle of life and spirituality to work. Mr. W told him what he could, then said he wished I were there because I had more information about that type of stuff. So on the drive from my in-laws’ to the Strip one evening, Son brought up something his dad said about Rebecca and asked about what she does. I answered him and then said he should come with us sometime to her workshop when she’s in town. He said he was interested. Then he asked more questions about spirituality and I told him what I knew. This launched an interesting discussion. Daughter was in the back seat, too, but pretty silent. She did ask one question, wondering whether Rebecca’s visions were from God and whether she prays (yes to both). I wondered whether what I was saying was offending her hardcore Christian beliefs. She’s normally one to jump in on God-topics, but she didn’t. Son brought this up again in the car on our drive home Saturday night, and Daughter was completely silent this time. He asked questions, I answered the best I could, told him some stories and case studies that pointed to the existence of life after death, and reincarnation. He was fascinated. The conversation with Son then took another surprising turn. Out of nowhere, he asked into the air, “Do you think I’m competitive?”
Mr. W chortled and said, “Yeah! You’re the most competitive person I know!”
Instead of being offended, Son said thoughtfully, “Yeah, I think I’m the most competitive person I know, too. But it’s starting to affect me negatively because I get really angry, so I think I should try to do something about that.” I gently took him on an exploration of his competitiveness and encouraged him to make a new challenge for himself to go through the motions of not acting angry, even if he felt angry, and assured him that the emotions will follow. He gave the impression he would work on that. We talked about how long it takes to establish a habit, and to break an undesired habit, which is just a new desired habit taking the place of an old undesired habit.
I was floored. I’d said a few times before to Daughter, when we discuss Son’s anger or competitiveness issues, that I wish I could talk to him but he doesn’t open up to me so I can’t bring it up. Son and I had never had a heart-to-heart, never truly bonded. Not the way Daughter and I do on a semi-regular basis. I give him his space out of respect for his teenagerism, but I’ve told him that he could come to me if he wants. He never had until now.

After we got home that night, Son and I talked a little bit more, just the two of us, in the spare bedroom before we went to bed. I read him a passage in John Edward’s book that hit exactly on something he had asked me about. In Vegas, he’d asked me about the book, asking if it were an easy read. I’d told him it was interesting and not dry at all, offering to let him read it when I was done. He was interested. Now he said he definitely wants to read this book. I also suggested he watch the movie “What Dreams May Come” (Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding, Jr.), which was pivotal in my early spiritual development. We made plans for a future screening of this movie together. I disclosed my existential crisis that put me on this path of discovery when I was 21, his same age now. He seemed to be going through a mild version of what I had gone through. The future looked very bright and I was happy. But I had to make sure Daughter was okay with the conversation that didn’t exactly flow along the lines of her Christian beliefs.

I snuck into her bedroom the next morning as she was getting ready to go to church. “Can you believe that [Son] brought up that thing about his competitiveness by himself, and wanted to talk about it?” I asked.
“I know! Out of the clear blue! I was listening to my music and when he said that I was like, boop!” She made a motion like she was pulling a headphone earbud out of her ear.
I laughed, and told her I was glad she stayed quiet because, as she and I had talked about just a couple of weeks before, her prior attempts to introduce God, Jesus, the Bible, and church to her brother just made them all trigger words for him to claim he would never turn to God or Christianity. She had said in that earlier conversation that she wished she’d known then to just show him God’s love instead of talking about it, because he took it as preaching and is now totally turned off by it. As for being offended, she said not at all; she had immediately started praying, as soon as Son opened the topic, “Please, God, speak through them! Get through to my brother!” She said she’d been praying for this type of breakthrough for weeks, and although she was upset when she found out he was coming with us to Vegas, she prayed about that too and got the distinct feeling that she was being told, “Just go and be a part of it, you don’t have to do anything. There are bigger plans for him.” So she went and did not participate in the spiritual discussions, which turned out to be a good thing. Daughter and I both agreed that it doesn’t matter the path one takes to God, the point is he’s getting there.

It hit me Sunday morning, as I was reading the last bit of John Edward’s book, that the book isn’t for me, it’s for Son. The night before when he and I talked privately, he told me he’s been seeing little signs or messages that seem to be pointing him on this spiritual journey (not his term), or in specific directions. He’d wondered whether he was just forcing a connection or a pattern because he wants to believe there is one, or whether these truly are messages. I told him they’re unlikely to be just coincidences. He looked relieved. We talked about how if I’d talked to him about this stuff a month ago, he would’ve thought me crazy, but given his recent experiences, he really thinks there may be something out there, up there. John Edward’s book is fraught with examples of people on the Other Side practically moving mountains to make sure the right people here get the right messages they’re trying to convey. They use signs, other people, unexpected connections. And it only just occurred to me that (1) my aunt uncharacteristically got me this book so that I would have it with me to read over Thanksgiving (and not earlier, or I would’ve finished the book and probably not have thought about it or had it onhand to show/give him; and not later, or it wouldn’t have come up in our discussions), (2) the book addressed all the questions Son had brought up, and (3) although it was an interesting read for me, it wasn’t anything new for me, so it didn’t seem to serve me much purpose, all of which point to the very retrospectively obvious conclusion that the Other Side pulled many strings to get the book to HIM. So I finished the book on Sunday morning, explained this to him, and he gratefully took it with him when he left that afternoon.

Wanna hear some more signs last weekend? The movie we all went to see is “Hereafter,” starring Matt Damon, which turned out to be a storyline very similar to John Edward’s book. (Both kids enjoyed the movie more than they’d expected to.) And we saw John Edward posters around Vegas advertising his Group Reading appearance at the Flamingo Hotel in December. That’s a lot of confirmation that we were where we were supposed to be, and for this purpose.

We have pending plans to introduce Son to some “firsts”: watch “What Dreams May Come,” play tennis (he announced that he’d just gotten into tennis, which got me very excited because I have yet to try out my new tennis raquet), catch his first movie at the VIP theatre, and see Rebecca. I hope we really do get to do them all.
the stepkidlets at Sam's Town, Las Vegas this weekend

The circle is now finally complete, and whatever happens now, I am content.

Mr. W, BOTH kids (each agreeing to participate on their own) and I will be spending Thanksgiving with Mr. W’s parents and local-ish brothers’ families. We rewarded Daughter’s integrity and assistance — for all that she did while we were in Europe — with a nice dinner at one of her favorite restaurants last night, The Cheesecake Factory. Dinner provided the backdrop for a good talk for Mr. W to lay down his cards, connect with his daughter, and have her connect back. She’s on board, good to go. In my mind leading up, this talk was very important to me because it was the final link that I had any control over (I strongly STRONGLY recommended that Mr. W let his daughter in on his plans regarding his son, and resolve any lingering misunderstandings about intent, favoritism, priority, etc.). She had already come to the same point on her own over the weekend while she was visiting friends in San Diego, but it’s nice to clear the air. Speaking of clearing the air, I broke the ice last week between me and the son because I don’t want negativity to fester with him and then he won’t know how to deal with me, so we had this very encouraging exchange of texts.
Me: Hey [Son]! I was thinking about you so I thought I’d say hi.
Son: That’s nice…I hope you’re not still mad at me or anything.
Me: I think the world of you. I think you made one of your poorer decisions that week but you’re still one of the brightest guys with the most potential I know…no matter where you choose to apply your potential. I’m looking forward to hanging out with you [for the Thanksgiving plans].

We continued a little more of the texting talking about the Thanksgiving plans. I’m happy he brought up the “elephant in the room” on his own, because it shows a taking of responsibility and acknowledgment of his behavior. So now hopefully it won’t ever have to come up again.
I also literally cleared the air in the house. After being instructed to sage the house to cleanse it of negative energy, I did it over the weekend, my first smudging ever, with a blue sage and lavender stick that Mr. W and I selected for its cleansing, purifying, healing, and protection. I started with a prayer to connect to God and my higher self, to open good intention, and to ask for help. And I did every room, inside and out, starting east and going counter-clockwise, while commanding any negativity that is not of God and love to leave immediately and be transmuted by the light of God into positive energy. Passing by Dodo who was lounging on the bed, I smudged him a little, too, just for good measure. And I also cleansed Mr. W when I passed him. He was playing with his iPad.

I hope there will always be a circle of fluid harmony wherever I am. And I hope I see it happen at Thanksgiving. How appropriate that would be.

I meant the title as in “ahem,” altho I just started coughing, too.

We saw Rebecca on Wednesday and she advised me to hold off on the surgery until January. I was troubled and said something about it being so far away. She said, “There’s too much going on right now,” motioning around me with her hand, as if to circle me in her field of vision. “It won’t make a difference,” she reassured me. “You’ll be so much calmer after the surgery, and the extra time doesn’t make a difference. You understand what I’m saying? Does that make you feel better?” Trying to be discreet. Yes, I knew what she was saying. The kid will be the same kid, whether born a month sooner or months later. He’s still gonna be born in 2011. What’s the difference? And now I can drink at college roommie Diana’s wedding in January. “And the surgery will go well; they’ll go in and take care of it. It’s a small thing, no problems.” All this was prompted by, “I have an upcoming coming surgery that I’m nervous about.”

She’s right; there is a LOT going on, more than I thought there would be when I sat there near her. I think a lot got resolved last night in the wee hours, but not before the stress sent me dry-heaving over the toilet. As I sat on the floor of the bathroom, I thought, “She was right. If I were pregnant now, I’d probably be too affected and lose the baby.” Thank you for knowing what’s best, Universe.

And, given the fact that there’s a lot going on, and I’m still blogging, you lazy bloggers should feel inspired! Hint, hint!

Toward the end of the workday, Mr. W let me know that he was leaving to go home, but that he was going to drop off his drycleaning first. I said okay, and presumably he left after that conversation. I then spent the next half hour or so on the phone making my ob-gyn appointment with Kaiser. (Earliest available with any doctor in the county: December 10. Ugh.) I expected with the half-hour headstart, that even with his drycleaning (which was on Mr. W’s way home), Mr. W should get home before I did. So I called him as I drove up our street to ask him to open the garage door for me, since our garage can’t be opened remotely right now. He picked up after almost 4 rings, sounding serious. “Are you home?” I asked.
“No, I just got back,” he said.
“Got back to where?”
“I mean, I just finished dropping off my drycleaning and I’m just now getting back home. Are you home?”
“I’m just pulling up. What took you so long?”
“I had to drop off my drycleaning. I’m almost home, I’ll be back shortly.”
“But you left work almost 2 hours ago.”
“Well, I left late, and then I had to drop off my drycleaning. I’ll be back soon, so I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
Odd. And he sounded so serious, almost irate. And so CLEAR. No road noise whatsoever. Plus, he picked up after 4 rings, when his car has the bluetooth connection set to automatically pick up after the first ring. Something wasn’t right. Drycleaning doesn’t take that long, I’ve been to that place with him, he’s in and out in 5 minutes.
“You left late?” I prompted.
“Yes! I left late. And I just dropped off my drycleaning. I’ll talk to you when I get home, I’m almost home now. Okay?”
He sure was in a hurry to get me off the phone.
“Okay,” I said. I went in the front door and opened the garage door from inside the house by myself. After I parked my car in, I closed the garage door behind me. And I locked the front door, too. Hmmph.
Less than 15 minutes later, Mr. W called. I actually considered deliberately taking my time to pick up the phone. But I didn’t; I picked it up. “Yes?”
“I’m outside. Can you open the garage door for me?” he asked. I was silent. “Hello?” he said.
“I’m thinking about it,” I grumbled in my best cranky voice, even as I was already pushing the button. He laughed like he understood I was messing with him.

When he finally came in the house, I heard plastic rustling around, and he called out, “I got this for you.” Curious, I walked into the kitchen. He dumped an armload of stuff on the table. “Forty dollars’ worth of chocolate,” he said proudly. I gawked. And then I laughed. Check out this loot:

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream singles in Cherry Garcia, Strawberry Cheesecake, Mint Chocolate Cookie, Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Breyers dark chocolate ice cream. Claim Jumper’s infamous 6-layer Motherlode cake. I’m not a comfort food person, but I was TOUCHED. He brought home dinner. We each had a portion of the Motherlode cake (I couldn’t finish mine) with some ice cream for dinner, washing it down with tea. Mr. W did offer to pour alcohol over our dinner, too.

Apparently when I had called and he let slip that he’d “just gotten back,” he WAS back, in the neighborhood, across the street at the grocery store.
(If you’re thinking, “What’s with the chocolate?”, read the previous post.)

…I can drink and eat chocolate again.

It was a day of great people and bad circumstances. I took the morning off to go to two girlie doctor appointments. At the request of the fertility specialist we’d been working with, I scheduled a pap smear with my regular doctor for this morning, and then after that I’d scheduled another appointment with the fertility doctor’s office. Both are to make sure my reproductive parts are healthy and ready before we get into the heavy stuff. I had written down that my pap appointment was 8:40a, but on my drive there, I checked my voice mail just to make sure. I knew that over the weekend, while I was in San Francisco celebrating college roommie Diana’s bachelorette shindig, I had missed an automated call reminding me of that appointment. I stopped breathing when I heard the voice mail play back that my appointment for 8:20 was confirmed. I was 20 minutes late! The receptionist called up to the doctor right away and said that it wasn’t a problem, I was the first patient and they would still see me. Thank gawd. I hurried up and apologized profusely to the nurse who took my vitals, and then profusely to my doctor. Everyone was calmer about it than I was and said it wasn’t a big deal, they’ll catch up. I just hate thinking that I was one of “those” patients who threw off the entire day’s appointments. Luckily they only had one other morning appointment aside from myself. I had the quickest pap smear in history (2-3 minutes just like he promised) and they sent me on my way to my next appointment. It was a great thing they hurried for me, because I had instructions to “empty [my] bladder” at 9am, then to drink 16 oz of water at 9:30am to prepare for the trial transfer and sonohysterogram.

I would’ve been a tad early to the fertility clinic except that the freeway exit I was to get off on was closed due to construction. I went one exit past, then came back on the freeway the other way, hoping the same exit wouldn’t be closed to both northbound AND southbound traffic. The rest of the drive was uneventful and I was just barely on time, so it didn’t help the anxious state I was already in. Signing the consent form for the sonohysterogram, I read about potential side risks that made me even more nervous (bleeding, infection, dizziness, etc.). So in this other doctor’s office across town, I was once again on my back in stirrups, this time for a quick initial ultrasound (everything still looked normal; they counted 8 eggs on one ovary, 7 on the other, which is pretty good). Then the speculum is inserted for the trial transfer, and a very thin clear rubber/plastic hose is threaded through my cervix into the uterus so they can measure where they need to turn and direct the actual hose that they will use to implant the embryo when that time comes. This caused some cramping. I “ow ow ow”ed it a few times and the doctor stopped, letting the cramping subside. “Sorry, that was me,” she said, “I contacted the front of your uterus.” I knew they would have to do that to measure where they can put the instruments later on. You can’t go bumbling around in there when there’s a delicate embryo stuck to the end of that instrument later on. So once the thin hose was in place, the ultrasound instrument went in again for their measurements. And then, “Saline is going in now,” they told me, and I watched a dark cavity blossom on the screen. “Wow, that’s interesting,” I said. Then we all saw something fluttering in the black space as saline fluid inflated and lifted my uterine lining. I didn’t know what I was looking at, attached to the side of the uterus, and the doctor didn’t say anything yet, just took a bunch of screen shots. About a minute later the ultrasound wand came out, and the doctor and nurse said, “Okay, saline will start leaking out now, it’s okay,” and the tube was pulled out. I didn’t feel much leakage, I don’t think they put in much liquid. I was, more than anything, relieved at how quick the procedure was. “I told you it’d be nothing,” the doctor joked. After that, the bad news came. The doctor pointed at a screen shot of two oblongish, droplet-shaped things sticking out the side of my uterine wall. “Those are polyps,” she said. “You’re going to need to get those surgically removed before we can do anything further.” So it turns out that, although the polyps are not dangerous, just 1-2mm skin flaps, there’s a chance the embryo could adhere to a polyp instead of to the actual uterine wall, and that would prevent blood supply from forming to the embryo, or it simply wouldn’t stick and I’d lose the embryo. I was advised to call my regular doctor and schedule the surgery as soon as possible. After that, I’d get a month of recovery, and we’d start this fertility thing again.

So this means that this cycle isn’t going to be “the” cycle. I guess I could’ve drunk champagne and coffee and eaten the chocolate-covered strawberries with the girls this weekend. I can go take a shot of chocolate liqueur and chase it with a cigarette. The nurse said I can stop the prenatal vitamins, but to keep taking the birth control pills for now until the doctor calls and tells me otherwise. Meanwhile, they’ll call the Mr. W’s urologist, who had coordinated his schedule to be available for the sperm retrieval mid-December, and let him know it will all be rescheduled for later on. The pharmacy providing my shots and estrogen patches were also put on hold (I was supposed to start a series of shots called Lupron tomorrow, which I’d spent all week mentally preparing myself for). When the doctor (who is not my fertility doctor but another doctor in the same office) was explaining the polyps to me immediately after she discovered them, she said, “You seem to be very rational about all this.” And I am rational. I’m glad that they did this check first, or it would’ve been a lot of time, medication, and money wasted if something kept the embryo from attaching properly. I’m glad to know that there’s something minor wrong with me that could easily be fixed with a 1.5 hr surgery. Timing-wise, it means I have another month to recover economically from our vacation because all I paid for today was $903 for the ultrasounds and some other things, and not $10,000+ to start on the baby cycle. And I’m pretty sure insurance would pay for my surgery, since this is a non-elective medical issue that would interfere with fertility. The nurse handed me an antibiotic “just in case” since the procedure was invasive, told me to take it soon with food, and I was done there for now.

In the car after walking out of the fertility clinic, I called the regular appointment line for Kaiser and asked how to get a referral for this surgeon. The guy was very nice and sent a detailed message to my primary care doctor, whom I’d just seen earlier that morning for the pap. “He’ll let you know whether he’ll refer you to a general surgeon, or an ob-gyn surgeon.” I heard from my primary care doctor’s office within 15 minutes as I was driving to work. His assistant or nurse asked me to fax my doctor a copy of the Follicular Sonohysterogram Report, which had lots of photos of the ultrasound screen shots. The fertility doctor had printed the report and given it to me, saying my primary doctor may want to see it for the referral. So I faxed that over to my primary doctor’s office as soon as I got to work. His office got back to me within a few hours, relaying my doctor’s message that a referral is not needed in my situation; to just go ahead and call the ob-gyn specialist for an appointment. He also instructed the caller to tell me that the follicles on the ovaries may be normal. That was odd; I was never told anything may have been abnormal with the follicles (egg sacs) in my ovaries. So anyway, I will make that appointment with the ob-gyn shortly since I received this call in the middle of my blog post.

I told Mr. W about the findings at the fertility clinic. He seemed…crestfallen. That surprised me. I felt okay about it; I can see the advantages of finding out all this. But he thought we would be doing baby stuff within days, and now we have to wait at least a month after the surgery to allow my uterus to heal. But really, it’s not a big deal, right? What’s a month when there’s no actual deadline anyway? I’m gonna be over 35 when I give birth no matter what, and this way we ensure it’s not a wasted effort.

I briefed my supervisor on the sonohysterogram’s findings and warned him a future surgery is coming, but that it should be simple and out-patient. He said to go ahead and schedule it based on the surgeon’s availability, and not to worry about work; he’ll figure things out and get me the time off when I need it. He also told me my judge called out today. I was surprised; he never calls out. He comes in on his days off to do extra work. (I later found out he was in a car accident last nite. I should call and check up on him later.) Since I don’t have a judge, this means I can be floated out anywhere. I asked where I was to be this afternoon. My supervisor told me to go to my own courtroom and do whatever work I may still have. Basically he was giving me a freebie. That was very nice of him.

Mr. W and I went to lunch together. He asked me what I’d like to eat, and I suggested pho, knowing he craves that stuff. He was surprised, as I’d sworn off pho at our local area because of the high MSG content. I said I didn’t really care about it at this time, so he took me up on the suggestion. Walking into the pho restaurant, I thought about how I had been refraining from alcohol, fish, caffeine, raw foods, chocolate, etc. because my focus was on giving the baby the best chance at health. It wasn’t difficult, altho it was a bummer. I would’ve liked to celebrate the same way as the girls did this last weekend (everyone was respectful of my dietary restrictions and didn’t pressure me about anything). But because my goal was something so much bigger than myself, I wasn’t even tempted to drink tea or taste the free chocolate bon bon the restaurant made for each girl. I had refrained from MSG and unhealthy foods long before the baby thing, but I had done that for myself. My personal health (and yes, vanity to a degree) was very important to me. But after I started prepping my body for a pregnancy, THAT became the focus of the goal of health. Suddenly, that focus no longer exists for now. And instead of reverting back to my original focus that had been a part of my thought process for so much longer, I instead felt like I had no focus. No goal. I felt a little self-destructive. But what changed, physically? Nothing. I didn’t LOSE a baby. Human psychology is interesting. But I’ll refrain from drinking myself into oblivion tonight; I will still have use for this body, even if later than originally expected.

After retrieving all spare keys from non-residents, and professional maids bleached, deep-cleaned and vacuumed all surfaces reachable, the house is starting to feel a little less violated and I’m feeling more like myself. Except for the fact that I either don’t sleep, or sleep immediately upon my return home from work and skip dinner. Mr. W remarked this morning that he likes my early bedtimes as it ensures early mornings wherein I watch the news with him. I’m still not quite loving the news.

Yesterday evening Dodo came downstairs for water, then beelined to the stepdaughter (even though we were all there), meowing at her. She started petting him and he stuck to her side. This is new. Even more new: as he ascended the stairs, she walked up to the landing from downstairs and cooed his name. He went right to her on the other side of the stairway railing and she petted him as he flopped back and forth on the landing floor trustingly, enjoying her affection. You can really tell she’d put in her time with him while we were gone. The two have well-bonded, because Dodo is not normally a love-everybody cat. Not that he dislikes people, but he’s just usually cautious.

The early mornings have another advantage. I’ve been put on a pill regimen, and some of these require to be taken in conjunction with food, so I have to eat breakfast. I had no idea that prenatal vitamins are horsepill-sized, or that they are prescription. The antibiotics (azythromycin 500mg; double the dose of a z-pack) I was put on as a precaution is probably a good thing, given that I’d been traveling in 3 different countries that rained consistently, was confined to a cruiseship and planes with international diseases onboard, and have not been sleeping well or been in the best spirits. It’s a wonder I didn’t catch some exotic ailment already. I’ve also been banned from any intake of caffeine (this includes chocolate! and tea!), alcohol (great for my gutline, since moderate drinking has become a regular thing in the past month or so and I’d been meaning to cut it out), and tobacco (good thing I’m back from Europe; just being there probably gave me the equivalent of a cig or two a day from second-hand smoke alone, despite all my efforts to avoid it). Mr. W has to avoid alcohol for the next month, too. I had my concerns about that, since his stress level hasn’t been low either and he would normally turn to whiskey or add a little something to his coffee for a picker-upper. I think he’s been straight, though. It’s only fair; if I have to do everything I can and be as clean as possible to make sure this ridiculously expensive procedure doesn’t go awry, he could at least do his part. It’s not like they told HIM to cut caffeine, which would be close to torture for him. I find it interesting that I wasn’t told to avoid raw meats or fish. Does this mean that the cliche sushi-ban is based on nothing more than old wives’ tales?

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I wish I knew where to go to feel safe.
I want comforting to ease my shaking, not volume to increase my tears.
If raindrops are a form of cleansing, then I should go stand outside, in the dawn, in the now.
But if they are the natural world weeping with me, then I should… join her anyway.

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I’m writing from the Hotel Caravaggio in Florence, where we just checked in. We got here by an uneventful 2 hr train ride aboard the Eurostar from Venice, which is where we disembarked this morning after a weeklong cruise along eastern Europe, ie southern Italy, some Greek islands, and Croatia. There, all caught up? And jealous? Well, don’t be. This trip so far has been basically me struggling along the crowded rainy streets of various parts of Europe hugging my umbrella and coat, watching the husband’s tall form dart effortlessly between people 10 paces ahead (he can see over peoples’ heads, you see), trying to follow his disappearing form while getting cut off by rude Europeans, turning a corner and finding myself completely among strangers, looking wildly down different streets and alleys cussing in my head, fighting the anxiety attack and butterflies as the minutes wore on, hoping he’d finally turn around soon to realize I was nowhere in sight. Okay, so that only happened 3 or 4 times, and he did eventually come irately looking for me only to find an even more irate me in return, but the rude Europeans and rain has been a constant theme. Venice flooded the weekend we were there before the cruise, and welcomed the cruiseship back with more of this pathetic fallacy. Earlier walking in the wet square which was busy with dripping umbrellas and Italians in galoshes and leather boots, I saw a homeless man in the rain holding a white plastic cup with both hands to his salt and pepper beard. He came to us where we stood under our single umbrella eating some cookies we’d just bought from a bakery, and murmured something in Italian with pleading eyes. I didn’t know if he wanted money for his cup, or if he wanted food as he eyed the cookie in my hand, and I only had the one half-eaten cookie and none of the cash, so I just stood there wondering what to do. Mr W didn’t respond either, and within seconds the man walked away. I watched him turn a different direction, hold his cup up and plead with his fingertips touching as if in prayer, and heard another voice. A priest said warmly to him, “Un caffe?” and held his hand up as if to say to wait a moment there. Then the priest turned and went quickly toward some storefronts.
“That was nice,” Mr W said.
I was haunted after that, and remain haunted. I wanted to stop right there and cry. The image of his wet form holding the cup wouldn’t leave me and I looked for him as we passed through again, hoping I could give him the half of my cookie which I’d immediately lost the ability to eat. I felt like such an ass. Mr W said he wouldn’t want a half eaten cookie, and we didn’t find him anyway.

Siiiiiiighhhhh so anyway, we started with rain and technical problems galore (including my bank card locking me out, my inability to connect on Skype to call them about it, the social networking site locking me out, inability to find free wifi or even a spot that offered wifi whom we could pay, then finally having wifi for the iPad but having the communication app crash) and I cried waiting for the cruiseship to board us because I thought Dodo was gonna die at home and daughter had no experience caring for a cat, not to mention a sick vomiting cat which refused to eat, but then things started looking up and I sent Ann a pleading email and she went above and beyond any bounds of friendship to save the day and save Dodo. More on that later. Meanwhile, my husband is eager to explore Firenze in the early evening rain…

Ciao for now.