January 2011

The other day, Mr. W was driving us home when my cell phone rang and caller ID revealed it was Lily, whom I hadn’t spoken to for…gosh. A year? She doesn’t have a blog and she doesn’t do the online social networking thing, so the only information I get about her life is if/when she emails. She and her husband Arnold do a holiday newsletter so all the most recent updates I have are from that. I was curious and a little concerned to hear from her out of the blue. The conversation started with the usual exchange, “So what’s new with you?” I told her what’s newest with me, she told me what her work and her husband’s work recently has been like, she told me about their split times between various hospitals (she’s a radiologist and he’s a cardiologist), their recent goals… and I was on the verge a couple times of asking her, “So, what’s up?” to get to the point of why she called. About half an hour into letting the conversation go in its natural meandering course, she told me she had now arrived at her destination and would call me maybe next week to chat some more and catch up.

She only called me to chat because she had free time on her drive to talk? *blink blink* So…there WAS no point to the talk, she had nothing important to tell me, no disaster to seek consolation about, no request to make of me?

And then I remembered how things USED to be. In high school and into college, we used to call each other just cuz we’re bored and wanted to talk. There wasn’t always a point to the call, but we figured we’d collect lots of points along the route of our conversations, and we always did. She wasn’t the only one, I did this with lots of friends. It was how we bonded, hung out when we couldn’t physically hang out. My parents never understood it and thought it a huge waste of time (thank goodness they were mostly local calls so they couldn’t kill me for wasting money, too). They would say that the point of a phone call is to convey a message, and when that task was done, then it was time to hang up and go about the rest of the day. I’d roll my eyes and think about how parents don’t understand anything and how we NEEDED these talks, these bonding times.

I guess I’m in my parents’ shoes, now. Instead of being excited when the phone rings like I used to be, I get annoyed and wonder who is interrupting whatever I was doing. Seeing the caller ID would sometimes mitigate the annoyance, i.e. “Oh, it’s ___. I’m sure it’s important.” “Good, it’s ___ calling me back about our weekend plans.” “Hey, ___’s calling! We like ___!” Not that I want to discourage my friends from calling, it’s just that it’s so RARE these days. We mostly touch base by email or text or social networking; phone calls seem reserved for urgent-response-required matters. Sometimes I’d be texting or online chatting with a friend (which seems less intrusive to their day), and there’d be something they want to relay but would take too long to type out, so they say they’ll call me right then, so I get a heads-up.

I wonder what changed. Have WE changed, by way of getting adult responsibilities, so that we have less time to “waste” on socializing on the phone? Has social communication etiquette changed with the new forms of available communication, such that we’d rather leave non-emergent messages for each other via email (if unimportant) or text (if a little more immediate) so we don’t impose and interrupt our friends’ day, letting them get back to us at their convenience? Have we lost the need for human interaction so it simply doesn’t occur to us to bother with keeping in touch with friends personally, as long as we can laugh at someone’s status message online once in awhile? Is “lol” what passes for “KIT” these days?

I’ve been doing really well in my nutrition-aware new year! I’ve been cooking a lot more, and making as much healthy stuff as I can. Mr. W makes extra breakfast when he makes his, and packs it for me to take to work so I can eat at my desk before work starts. It’s usually something like steel-cut oatmeal with flax seeds, blueberries, raw almonds, raw cashews, raw pistachios, and golden raisins, mixed with organic soy milk or almond milk. I also make sure to take a complete set of vitamins after breakfast (women’s multi, folic acid, salmon oil capsule, Vit C, calcium, acidophilus, glucosamine+chondroitin). This morning, Claudio invited me to join them on a run, so I met up with him, Jenny, Dwaine, and one of Jenny’s girlfriends in a park and we did track laps and short sprints. I’m not a sprinter, so my right hip flexor feels a little odd, like I may have overworked it on a sprint, but I feel pretty good. When I got home, I made a lunch of veggie wrap: red cabbage, carrots, kale, sprouts (all raw and organic) marinated in extra-virgin olive oil and organic apple cider vinegar, with guacamole, wrapped in a low-carb high-fiber wheat tortilla. I’m finishing off the meal by relaxing with a nice hot mug of red raspberry leaf tea (good for woman parts). Tonight Mr. W and I are meeting up with Eddie and Michelle at The Stinking Rose. I’m probably not going to eat raw organic veggies for dinner, but I’ll try to only eat half my dinner (considering the 40-clove chicken or garlic prime rib) and bring back half for lunch tomorrow. I’ve also gotta remember not to drink or have caffeine, to make sure these little eggs are at their optimal health. And isn’t that the best reason to abstain from drinking and bad stuff? I find it more effective than vanity. And that, is definitely unexpected. This kid is already more important than I am. 🙂

The fertility clinic had me go in this morning before work for an ultrasound (to count the number of eggs I have in each ovary for this cycle that they’ll be using) and to start the paperwork for the process. I also had to turn in my surgery paperwork and photos from yesterday. The same female fertility doctor who found the polyps did this morning’s ultrasound.
“They didn’t find polyps? They’re gone? What happened?!” she greeted me as she came into the ultrasound room.
“Yeah, the doctor said I’m clean as a whistle. But she did look at your ultrasound pictures and confirmed there were polyps.”
This doctor suggested what yesterday’s doctor said: the polyps must have come out on their own between their discovery and their removal procedure, possibly with a menstrual flow. This doctor started the ultrasound and said, “Look at this!” She turned the monitor to face me.
“What am I looking at?” I asked, staring at the black and white image of what appeared to be a series of concentric ovals.
She pointed to the center, a black oval within the gray ovals. “You still have some fluid in here so we can see, and it’s totally clean in here. No polyps like we saw last time.” *cheer* She went on to count the follicles in each ovary, found 7 on each side, which she said is “more than adequate.” *more cheers*
“Now, you started on the pills, right?” she asked.
“Yes, I started yesterday.”
“Good, good, good!”
“The timing of this has really been amazing, to catch this cycle in time.”
“I like to think there’s some karma involved in this,” the doctor smiled at me.

Flat Coke & Flies emailed me this morning to congratulate me, and asked if this all feels surreal. No, it doesn’t feel as surreal as much as a “finally!” We’d been working on this for so long, and with the false starts, I feel more than ready for this. I’m sure actually BEING pregnant will feel surreal. For now, the only thing that feels surreal is the fact that I charged $10,000 on the new credit card this morning, maxing it out, and had to charge another $375 on another card, to start the IVF process. The only expenses left after this are a few thousand for the fertility drugs and shots (which I’ll be starting in 2 weeks), a few thousand for Mr. W’s urologist to extract his swimmers, and whatever it costs to freeze and store unused embryos (probably about a few hundred dollars, plus a monthly charge for storage). Given the few thousand I’ve already paid for the tests, consultations, and false starts, we’re well within the $25K expected range.

(a little homage to my favorite modern poet and cartoonist, Bill Watterson, creator of “Calvin & Hobbes”)

I have the day off work today to get those pesky polyps removed from my uterus. The procedure kinda wigs me out, because it’s pretty invasive to go into an organ and snip pieces of it out. (Just my opinion, though.) The bigger bummer to having to do this is the fact that, when I called the fertility doctor for advice on timing the in vitro stuff relative to this procedure, I was told that I should wait a month to heal and given 6 weeks of hormone therapy in preparation for in vitro, we’re looking at April for implantation. The kid just keeps getting more and more delayed.

This past Sunday, Mr. W and I met up with my parents in Seal Beach, and then we visited with our clairvoyant friend Rebecca at her usual coffee shop. My parents remain skeptical despite some amazing stuff Rebecca told my mom that was dead-on (the multiple miscarriages she’d had, mentioned the TWINS she’d lost, I mean, HELLO…among other stuff). Anyway, Rebecca told me, as she’d told me before, “November.” I told her sadly that the doctors are now looking at April for implantation, and she said she may be wrong, but it still feels like November to her. Not that it really matters in the long run anyway. For my wigging out about the procedure today, she told me to visualize myself in a bubble of light, and also from underneath, being held up in God’s hands. She said to also picture the doctor and nurses in bubbles of light, and as they work on me, to visualize their hands being guided and controlled by God’s hands, as they do God’s work on me. She said it’ll be fine, very smooth. I remembered that when I’d first told her I had this procedure scheduled to remove some polyps the fertility doctor found via ultrasound, she was surprised, saying she saw nothing wrong with me, and didn’t see anything preventing this pregnancy from going through just fine. Rebecca told me to practice the visualizations to calm myself down during the procedure, so I practiced it last night laying in bed, and briefly thought about the bubble of light from God being so healing that the polyps just disappear. Wouldn’t that be cool.

So anyway, in the doctor’s office early this morning and later in the operating room, I was laying on my back in a long bubble of light, each of the two nurses and the doctor were walking around my room in their own bubbles of light, and since I was lighting everyone, Mr. W, where he sat in a chair nearby, was reading his iPad in a bubble of light. God cradled me in his great big hands, comforting me. The procedure had points of discomfort and pressure, but was pretty much pain-free, and on the monitor, we watched as the doctor explored every part of me from the cervix to the walls to the fallopian tubes, and found…NOTHING. “There’s nothing here,” she said as the nurses stared behind her in amazement. “The polyps are gone. You’re clean as a whistle. There’s nothing for me to biopsy.” She pulled out to re-examine the cervix, then went back in again, slowly, exploring everything. “Nothing. Totally clean, and very healthy.”
“So is this common?” I asked.
“No, it’s not very common, but does happen. The body can sometimes heal itself, or maybe the polyps just fell out on their own. You also have a long cervix, which is good because sometimes after a LEEP the cervix is shortened which can affect pregnancy, but yours is fine. You should have no problems. This is good news, I’m happy for you! Tell your fertility doctor to go ahead and start.”
So wait a minute, there was this big delay from them finding the polyps and delaying the process, for nothing?
“No, well, you definitely had polyps,” the doctor pointed out. She said no fertility doctor in good conscience would implant an embryo when there are polyps in there, so this had to be done. No one could’ve known that my polyps were just going to disappear on their own. We all saw ultrasound photos of multiple polyps, clear as day.

Since I had refused drugs (they offered Xanax to help relax me but I’m kinda anti-pharmaceuticals if I can help it, so I just took a few Ibuprofen, and the injected cervical block did the rest), they told me I have no restrictions, just go about my day the way I want. As Mr. W and I exited the room in amazement, he had this great idea. “Maybe you can still use this cycle then, since you’re on day 5 of this cycle. Don’t they start the process on Day 5?”
I put in a call and left a message for my reproductive doctor’s office, hoping we get a call-back soon. We had lunch at Mother’s, an organic market with an attached vegetarian healthy cafe. I texted some friends with this unexpected miraculous development. Flip Flop Girl wrote, “Wow. Everything is just falling into place. From the bank fraud to this…Good news all around!” That’s when I realized…this polyp discovery had a purpose after all. It delayed the in vitro process just enough for me to get 6 months interest-free funding for the procedure thanks to the bank fraud, and didn’t delay a DAY beyond that. The discovery of a clean bill of health is made on the right day of the cycle, so long as the fertilty doctor called us back!
“The universe loves you,” Flip Flop Girl wrote.
“Or this kid is pulling major strings over there,” I responded.
“If you believe in reincarnation this soul just can’t wait to get to earth, and he’s making it as easy for you as possible. 🙂 ”
“I do believe, and I don’t know what his rush is. Haha”
“He’s got things to do! World-changing technologies to invent. Novels to write. Nobel peace prizes to win.”
“Haha, I should save this text and use it to make him study more.”
“Yeah, no pressure or anything. =P”

The universe had yet another surprise for us. I shared it with Flip Flop Girl.
“Guess what! Both our lunches just got comped! Today must be good news day!”
“What?? Why? Where are you? Buy a lotto ticket!!!”
“HAHAHA! We’re at Mother’s and I had another green drink. [Mr. W] found a paper tag in his tofu piccata. Not that he was concerned.”
The restaurant INSISTED on comping both our meals and our Goddess of Greens fresh juice bar drinks (a blend of apple, celery, cucumber, spinach, parsley and kale).

On the way home, I got the call from the fertility doctor’s office. They can use this cycle and start today! There’s no delay to April needed, and they phoned in the first prescription to my local pharmacy. Hello, November! (Of course I called Rebecca and told her the good news; the timing she saw is back on!)

I know my stepkidlet had said some prayers for me for the procedure. On her way out the door to class this morning, she said, “I hope things go well today. Don’t be scared, the Lord is with you.” How right she was. And those are some powerful bubbles of light. 😀 I’m humbled, amazed, and SO grateful for the magic everywhere. Thank you, Universe! Your wisdom and perfect planning awe me.
I’m gonna go pick up my prescription now and maybe go for a bike ride or a hike with the hubby. Love to all!

I was up late going thru Mr. W’s photos of Diana and Eric’s wedding. (Mental note to self: If you forget to take your vitamins in the morning, DON’T take them at 10:30 p.m.; just forget them for the day.) Rather than posting photos on a different post, I selected ones illustrative of my tale and incorporated them “nunc pro tunc” into the previous post about their wedding. Enjoy!
me & Diana, peeping through the bridal room windows at the ocean sunset after the wedding

(As usual, rest mouse pointers on photos for captions. Photos courtesy Warren, Sabrina and Jimmy, and Mr. W. And my cameraphone.)

Two days before the wedding, on my way home from work, I went to my favorite mani/pedi salon and they actually buffed the dye out of my left hand’s nails. I ended up with a nice-looking clear French manicure. My bangs had also grown noticeably by then so I was feeling better. Although Pearly insisted, after she dyed my hair DARKER instead of lighter like I’d wanted, that it’d lighten on its own in a week with more hairwashes and sun exposure, it did not. I finalized my maid-of-honor speech, printed them out in 3.5″x5″ format, taped them onto index cards, packed, and was ready to leave for Northern California the next day. It had rained in NorCal around the Carmel area that day, so everyone was a bit nervous on weather watch. However, dry sunny weather was predicted for the weekend of the wedding, and it came true better than anyone had anticipated. I was probably as relieved as the wedding couple, because my dress was a short and sleeveless v-neck, I’m more sensitive to cool weather, and this was outdoor oceanside CARMEL in mid-January. I even wore my wedding attire and then walked outside my house in 55 degree weather at night just to make sure I can stand it.

Friday morning around 9:15 a.m., we were off. We got to Diana’s around 4:30p having made a few stops for gas and lunch, and went straight to Target as she was the ever-hardworking athlete getting a last workout in before the wedding. I bought a white French tip polish pen to touch up the chipped tips (yes, they chipped the first day; why do people get manicures?!), then downed a hot toddy at an Irish bar while waiting for Diana to come back. I think that beat back the rest of my cough for the night. For the first time hanging out with Diana, we all went to bed early (10:30ish). Mr. W was happy about that, I’m sure. Eric was already in Carmel with some relatives, having brought down much of the wedding materials (photos, slideshow, etc).

Saturday morning, we were up before 6am and quickly on our way to the hair/makeup appointment in Mountain View, about 10 minutes from Diana’s house.

There was a tiny snafu as my hair/makeup artist forgot about this appointment and was up all night watching Chinese soap opera episodes, and Diana’s hair/makeup artist had to call her and wake her up, asking where she was. Luckily, she was at the salon less than 15 minutes later. My girl did some crazy magic and fixed my bangs with only hairspray. “Don’t touch these bangs!” she warned. “You’ll mess them up and they’ll be uneven again.”

We left for Carmel a little later than scheduled, but got there only 5 minutes later than sheduled. Good thing Mr. W was driving. A funny moment was when we were pulling uphill into the wedding site Highland Inn‘s turnaround driveway, and the sun shone straight into the windshield, blinding us for a moment. We suddenly noticed a man stepping off the sidewalk to our right and darting across the front of our car to the left. Mr. W slammed his brakes. It was Diana’s dad. Good thing we didn’t kill the bride’s father, that’d be a damper on the wedding.

Many of Diana’s friends were there super-early, and she greeted a bunch of them as we made our way to the bridal dressing room. While there, we proceeded to get ready, as many more popped in to say hello. I ended up hugging someone hello while in my bra. I think that was a first. Jimmy, another Bruin whom I’d met the same time I met Diana and remained good friends with, didn’t recognize me when I opened the door to the dressing room. (Not because I was naked, which I wasn’t by this point, but because, as the makeup artist said, “Wow, you look like a completely different person from when you walked in here!” I guess it was true.)

In a quiet moment, Diana and I peeked out at the crowd gathering below and noted the glorious day — brilliantly clear blue sky meets dazzling sapphire ocean.

Diana was remarkably calm, in a pleasant mood the entire time, and only admitted to some beginning nervousness as we stared at the full-length mirror attached to the back of the door, turning our bouquets in front of our dresses for the best placement. My yellow tulips completed the Bruins theme colors of blue and gold, the way the Bruin couple wanted it. Then it was time to assemble for the procession.

Diana’s dad picked us up at the door and we walked out with the coordinator. We stood in order around the turn of a pathway, hidden behind view of the wedding guests, waiting for the coordinator’s clearance as a harpist played on a balcony over the scene.

We hadn’t rehearsed, so I kneeled down and whispered to the little godson of the groom who was the ring bearer. “Aidan, are you nervous?”
His eyes wide, he said, “No.”
I said, “Did they tell you how fast to walk?”
“Okay, just wait for her to wave you out, okay? You see her hair? Yup, that’s her. And when you go, don’t run, and make sure to smile because there’s going to be lots of people taking pictures of you, okay?”
“Okay! I see her there with my grandma.” She cued him, and off he went, the ribbons on his little pillow trailing behind him. He did great, even with “his little fake smile” as the groom described it. But he smiled and got to the right place at the right time.

And then I went…

I saw Eric standing at the altar, his brother, the best man, behind him looking so like him I did a double-take in confusion. The smile of recognition was the first thing that helped me identify Eric, as I had never met his brother Kevin before. I smiled and nodded my greeting at him before taking my place opposite the guys’ side.

And then, as everyone stood on cue of the harpist’s strumming of “Bridal March,” the beautiful bride marched into view…

Here was the picture formed at the altar:

L-R: MOH me, officiant Gene, bride Diana, groom Eric, BM Kevin

The officiant’s face is blocked in the above photo, but I’m posting it because Diana’s veil looks cool. 🙂 (Actually, it’s my veil, as Diana’s “something borrowed.” I joked that I was her “something blue,” although she does have a blue flower in her hair.)
Look at that glorious backdrop. The day turned out to be about 80 degrees in the direct light, and Diana’s shoulders got a little pink from the extra attention the sun paid her. At 11am in mid-January! I said she must’ve done something right and made someone very happy.

Later, as the guests mingled at open bar cocktail hour inside with a live pianist at the grand piano, Diana and Eric took some posed photos around the beautiful grounds of the Hyatt’s Highland Inn.

This is what I all The Picture of Contentment:

The lunch reception was in a different room of the giant resort, and I love going to the weddings of foodies, because they can pick food! Mr. W and I split each others’ salmon (a touch rare in the center, perfect) and spare ribs (chunk of fall-apart tender beef). I made him match me for once:

I wish I knew how to shrink vertical photos. =P

The tastefully Bruin-themed cake:

Before our wedding, I “conditioned” Mr. W about one thing: if he smashed cake on my face, it would be the equivalent to pushing the “Instant Annulment” button. I repeated this a few times leading up to the wedding. He was a perfect gentleman day-of. Diana did no such conditioning, which is how we get great shots like these:

Don’t worry, she forgave him.

I wonder if Diana would’ve let me change right after the wedding, too. Hmm, maybe not. 🙂

Oh, and somewhere in there, before we dug into the food, I gave my maid-of-honor speech. I had ideas popping around my head for months now of things I wanted to touch on, and the weekend before the wedding, I finally decided to jot them down on my phone. Then all there was left to do was flesh the outline out. I got a lot of positive feedback afterwards about my toast, my favorite being the bride’s, which she wrote me yesterday: “We just watched the videos from the wedding; wow, your speech was so
good. Touching but amusing; casual but well prepared. Thanks for taking it so seriously.” In case you want to read it, click on “more” below.

Congrats, Eric & Diana! I could not have found a better match for Diana if I got to hand-pick him myself.


It’s been a busy month, but one major focal point was college roommie Diana and Eric’s wedding. That was in Carmel this past weekend, January 15. Congratulations to the newly married couple, Diana and Eric! As one of their friends said, “It’s all community property from now on!” Not necessarily, but I’m sure Diana knows the ropes, being a lawyer and all. They’ll do what’s best for them.

I had some adventures in hair dyeing pre-wedding. I figured I’d have a partial or complete up-do as Diana’s maid-of-honor, and hair designs don’t show up well in a mass of dark hair, so I wanted my hair lightened a few shades. When Mr. W was dropping off his dry-cleaning, I wandered into a beauty supply store next-door. I was looking for the usual box set of hair dye, but this shop was a professional supply store and sold everything separately. The salesclerk listened to what I wanted to achieve, and selected a level 20 developer for “lift” (which I found out meant “lightener”) and a colorant that she said would look very pretty on me. The color sample in front of that colorant showed an ash light brown, so I was a little concerned. She said no, the Level 20 wouldn’t let it develop that light on my dark hair, so I’ll be fine. She also pulled other supplies I’d need off the shelf, knowing I’m coloring this way for the first time. So I got a mixing bottle thingie and some tips on mixing proportions. At home, I went to work. An hour later, I showered and looked in the mirror, and the only thing I discovered that I had dyed was my left palm and fingertips. My hair was dark-dark. If anything, it may have been more dark than before I started. When I went to show Mr. W, he mentioned that he had disposable rubber gloves somewhere. Great, thanks for letting me know. And thanks, supply girl, for not including gloves in the kit you were pulling together for me.

On the drive home from work the next day, Mr. W suggested we go to my regular salon to see if they could do something with my hair. My regular haircut guy (Richard) was busy with another customer, but there was a new girl (Pearly) free. I said I was mainly looking for just a bang trim, and we discussed color, and Pearly convinced me to let her recolor my hair. I agreed. While working on my head, Pearly then kept trying to sell me other services, which was annoying, but I figured, I was doing this for a wedding in a week, so fine. “They not going to fix your eyebrows for you when they do your professional makeup,” she said in her Vietnamese accent. “It look better if I fix your eyebrows today, so your makeup will look nice next week.” Made sense. Lots of money later, I walked out with my eyebrows trimmed the same as if I did it myself, with my hair even darker than when I went in, but with my wallet quite a bit lighter. And my bangs? Looked like a dog chewed on it while riding a lawn mower: it was uneven and WAY too short. *Sigh* When Diana found out, she said, “Oh, you should’ve waited. When they do your hair and makeup next week, they would’ve done all that for you.” *Sigh*

The next day, people wanted to know what my hair looked like after two dye-jobs (I think they just wanted to see if I still had hair left on my head), so I took this photo with my cell phone to show them:

The way I swept the bangs over made it look slightly more even, altho I couldn’t do much about the fact that the short chunks are very short. And yup, people’s comments were consistently, wow, how black. I had a week to grow my bangs out to something manageable, and for the first dye to come off my left hand. Glad Pearly didn’t see that, or she would’ve upsold me a manicure.

It’s no secret that I’d been a little concerned about the upcoming costs of fertility I’d be paying. $25K is nothing to sneeze at. My plan was to have close to enough in the bank account to pay it all, then pay the costs with my credit cards so I can (1) get cashback for the giant purchase, and (2) buy myself an additional month to save more money before I have to pay off the credit cards. However, I don’t have a high enough credit limit between my 2 cards to pay for the entire expense. I requested a credit line increase with one card, and was denied. That was a shocker; last I checked my credit score was excellent. I was talking to a judge about this last week and he informed me that a new law signed by our president put a ceiling on existing credit lines. In exchange for better interest rates and payoff benefits for credit customers, the credit card companies are no longer allowed to increase credit lines so that the customers can’t incur even more debt than we have. Makes sense. He said that the way to get around it is to just apply for a new card, get a high credit limit on that one, instead of beefing up existing credit lines. But I don’t want a bunch of cards and credit liability sitting around, so I continue to shred all the credit card offers I get in the mail.

Yesterday, I opened my checking account statement to see a weird check approved. It was a check number way higher than the series I’m using, but the amount was nominal, just $29.95. I’m very accurate in my records-keeping, and my checkbook register showed no checks written for that amount. I looked online for an image of this check. I saw that this check is not one of my checks, has the name of my former bank on it instead of my current bank, seems electronically processed with payment to some Red Systems Ltd company I’d never heard of, the bank branch is in Northridge (nowhere I go), and the name of the account holder is my husband’s name (he’s NOT a joint account holder on this account), but with an oddball address in Clovis, CA (nowhere I go). AND…instead of a signature on the signature line, there’s a typed message saying “SIGNATURE NOT REQUIRED. Your depositor has authorized this payment to payee. Payee to hold you harmless for payment of this document. This document shall be deposited only to the credit of payee.” WHAT?! I didn’t authorize crap! The only thing that links this check to me is the fact that the check has my correct routing number and bank account number on the bottom. It’s just absurd that this bank would lock me out of my account for suspected fraud in October when I used the ATM in Venice, Italy, and then lock me out for suspected fraud last month when I made an online purchase for a Christmas gift with a vendor out of the country, but allow a check to go through that has the wrong customer, wrong customer address, and no signature. My guess is that the small theft of $29.95 didn’t raise any red flags. The thiefs probably assumed that because I’m married, my husband and I share joint accounts on everything so he’d be an authorized user of checks, and that if I wondered what the $29.95 check was for, I’d see that he wrote the check and let it go with the benefit of the doubt. Wrong.

I called my bank immediately on this, and they set up a claim for that fraudulent check and temporarily credited me the money. I was advised that as the fraud check uses my bank account number, that I should close the account and reopen a new one to avoid any future draws to pass through. I texted Rebecca and asked for a favor — whether she could tell if all this is a bank error, or fraud. If it’s fraud, I’m gonna close the account. She texted back that she sensed there was clerical error involved, but suggested I go to the bank and close the account anyway. (I’ll say there’s clerical error; the bank should’ve never let that check pass through.) So after work, I went to the bank.

It took almost an hour and a half to do a fraud freeze on my account; to authorize only my pending check payments and next direct deposit on that account (I had to fill out a form to say I authorize only these transactions); to open a new account; to move all the money not going to payments over into the new one. I’d missed my direct deposit deadline by one day, so I have to wait until after the checks clear and the next direct deposit comes in to move the remaining money over to the new account and permanently close the old one. And I have to change all the online and automatic billpay stuff linked to the old account to the new account. It’s a lot of hassle. But as we sat there and all this moving around was happening, the banker helping me said, “Because you’re opening a Premiere checking account, you’re also pre-qualified and pre-approved for our bank credit card.” I immediately said no as I habitually do, but then I thought better of it.
“Is it backed by Visa or Mastercard?” I asked. The only reason I use my ATM/Checkcard sometimes is because the occasional vendor takes Visa or Mastercard only. I’d been thinking I needed to get an actual Visa or MC credit card as backup for these situations.
“It’s Visa,” she said, showing me their three types of cards. One of them had no annual fee and had cashback perks, both of which are requirements for me to get a card. I wondered how much they would approve me for, thinking about the recent rejections of credit line increases. She took my information and sent it through on the computer. Moments later, she said, “Ten thousand.” So my credit score can’t be THAT bad! The card also has a 0% interest introductory period of 6 months.

And suddenly, I realized that THIS is the answer to my recent financial concerns. I can now put a large part of the fertility costs on this card, and get 6 months to pay it off interest-free. Meanwhile I’ll concentrate on paying off the amounts I put on the other cards that are not interest-free. Not having to pay this new card for so long allows me to pay off the other cards immediately, but still get the cashback perks, and I should have no problem paying off this card in 6 months.

So thank you, idiot fake check guy, for giving me reason to go to the bank and open a new account. Thank you, idiot bank-transaction-approval clerk, for your error in allowing such an obviously wrong check to go through, so that I had to go to the bank to close the account. Thank you, banker, for offering me your credit card at just the right time I needed it the most, since I had to sit in front of you anyway, or I would’ve ignored the pitch. Thank you, Rebecca, for telling me there wasn’t a big problem but that I should go in and close the account anyway. And thank you, Universe, for all the strings you had to pull to pull this one off. <3

My judge wasn’t around the second half of December, so I floated to various criminal courtrooms instead. Criminal is tougher than it used to be for me, because of the new Proposition 36 in effect (eligible drug offenders can opt to go into a drug treatment program instead of getting a sentence, and if they successfully complete the sentence, their case will be dismissed; I’ve been handling way more violations of this program than completions), some changes to the criminal computer program, and because I’m just slower now, having been away from criminal law for so long.

Christmas was low-key and uneventful, just the way I like it. Mr. W tried to coordinate the stepkidlets for a dinner or lunch, but when one is available, the other is not. We ended up going to Original Mike’s with Son for ribs as an early Christmas Eve dinner as Daughter was singing at 4 Christmas church services back-to-back, then we spent some time with Daughter Christmas morning exchanging presents before she rushed off to spend the day with her best friend’s family and we went to have hot pot with my parents and grandma. My parents recently went on a small trip during which my dad found he disliked his current camera, and has been trying to convince my mom to go get a new camera with him since their return. The problem is, my mom knew I had already bought him a new camera for Christmas, so it was her job to stall him. She managed to convince him to hold off on the camera-shopping until after Christmas so they can catch a good sale. He was VERY happy when he opened his gift, and he and my mom have gone hiking since then and sent me photos they took while on the trails.

New Year’s Eve was spent with Eddie and Michelle at their house. They invited a bunch of friends over and set up three long tables for Chinese hot pot. Each table had their own hot pot, half clear broth and half red-hot spicy Szechuan. Mr. W was in hog heaven. They bought so much stuff for ingredients, and there were tons of stuff we’d never tried before, such as a calorie-free noodle tied in a knot. There were a lot of new moms and a pregnant woman in attendance, and toddlers running around. I guess that’s how friend gatherings are going to be now that we’re all at “that age” or that stage of life. Since Eddie and Michelle live in Pasadena, very close to the annual Rose Parade route, we’d planned to stay the night and visit the parade in the morning. However, as Mr. W and I were up chatting with Eddie and Michelle until 3:30am, we woke up after the parade ended, so we walked ot a quaint nearby town and had lunch instead. Another couple met us there, with their ultra-friendly 10-month-old boy in tow. The mom is pregnant again. Both the mom and dad are Asian Americans whose jobs transferred them to Beijing, where they met and started their family. They’re back in the States visiting their respective families for the holidays. The lunch table conversation was very informative (for me and Michelle, both thinking of having our first this year), and now we want to have our kid in China and get pampered the way this friend was. There’s new information to consider, definitely.

On our drive home from Pasadena, Mr. W called each of his kids to check up on them. They both seemed to have avoided big scenes out; Son spent the time at a friend’s house with many more friends playing beer pong and hanging out. He said his New Year’s Resolution is to stop smoking all things — marijuana, cigarettes, anything that requires inhalation, he was going to avoid. Even if he doesn’t stick to this 100%, any little bit of bad stuff avoided is extra good stuff banked in his life. And at least this means he knows better and has made a decision about where he feels he should and wants to be. Daughter had dinner with her boyfriend and his parents, then because he wanted to attend a couple of parties and she wanted low-key, he went out and she went to her best friend’s house to just hang out and watch TV and sports. Mr. W and I stopped by the Irvine Spectrum on the way home for lack of anything better to do, and seeing a sale sign, I went into a Levi’s jeans store and bought my first pair of Skinny-cut jeans. They have a new “curvy” cut that allows for more room in the butt and hips with a smaller waist, so that was a winner for me. I never wanted to get “skinny cut” jeans but if I want fitted jeans with legs that would fit inside boots, this is all the fashion world has to offer anymore. No more slim cut, no more fitted cut, just “skinny” and “ultra-skinny.” This just means I’ll have to work harder to look good, I guess.

Yesterday, Mr. W baked a lasagne I’d assembled on Friday and I spent all day watching a House marathon on TV, as Mr. W watched sports, played games on his iPad and his PC. The only time we got out was when we did a 4.5 mile run soon after we got up, and got back just in time to miss the rainfall.