Saturday, February 23, 2008

California Here I Come!

"Open up your golden gates!"

Snapshots from San Francisco:

  • The granny sitting near me in the airport food court is drinking water out of a ceramic Christmas mug she unwrapped from her purse, a leopard-skin tote with a red top. She's wearing big chunky rings on her fingers and two bracelets on each wrist. The bracelets are awful beaded monsters; I hope her grandkids made them for her. She checks the time on her red Betty Boop watch. It's time to board her flight. She adjusts her purple tortoiseshell glasses, drinks the rest of her water, and carefully wraps the mug back up to stash in her purse. I want to bake her a pie, she's so adorable.
  • Every other person is either chatting or texting on a cell phone, tapping on a laptop or Blackberry, and looking very important. I must be at the correct boarding gate for San Francisco.
  • What is this in the air here? Is it... is it... MOISTURE?!
    My hair: "Shape of bouncy curls! SPROING!"
    My skin: "Form of a thirsty drunk! GLUG GLUG!"
  • As we're walking to Fog City Diner to meet friends for dinner, Dusty and I both inhale deeply, hungrily.
    "What is that heavenly smell?"
  • Holy Moses on a candlestick! One of my favorite Fernando Amorsolo pastorals is hanging at the entrance to the gallery of Southeast Asian art at the Asian Art Museum! I miss you, San Francisco.
  • My old roommate and I are enjoying the warm sunshine on Pier 14. She is smoking what looks like a cigarette. She's getting more innovative, but she's still the same stoner girl I love.

"California Here I Come" by a singer I will look up when it is not 5 AM PST and I'm not suffering from insomnia or using a friend's computer. Update: Thanks to Karin's comment, I no longer have to look anything up. Yay!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Total Eclipse of the Heart

"Every now and then I know / there's no one in the universe / as magical and wondrous as you"

My newest niece was born tonight at 8:02 PM EST, just before a total lunar eclipse. Karincita, Jamielita, and I toasted my sister, niece, and family with sparkling apple cider.


Lori Maricel Stillman

6 lbs. 3.8 oz.
19 inches
Beautiful, magical, and wondrous

We also celebrate my wee beastie-in-the-making, who is officially at 24 weeks [SIX WHOLE MONTHS] today. And we raise another glass to Sister Moon, who was resplendent in the chilly February sky, her penumbra slowly sweeping across to cover her illuminated face.

What a gorgeous night! I feel so very, very blessed.

"Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler

Thursday, February 14, 2008


"Find out what it means to me / R-E-S-P-E-C-T / Take care of TCB / Sock it to me"

This song came on the radio as I was driving back from lunch today. I turned it up and sang along with gusto, thinking, "Damn, I love me some Aretha Franklin."

And then I read this: Franklin miffed at Beyoncé's Grammy salute. You see, Beyoncé had introduced Tina Turner as the "one legend who has the essence... the glamour, the soul, the passion, the strength, the talent" of such luminaries as Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross, and Aretha herself. She rightly called Miss Tina "the Queen". I mean, really. Who else in the world could have ROCKED that cropped silver lamé pantsuit? Nobody, that's who!

Apparently, Aretha Franklin was not amused. She has been called "the Queen of Soul" for years and she did not care for Miss Tina to be Queen of anything, even if Miss Tina's official title is the Queen of Rock and Roll. Totally separate kingdom. So she issued a public statement calling the tribute "a cheap shot for controversy".

Oh, Miss Aretha. The only controversy here is that your behavior does not befit someone of your considerable stature. You are Aretha Mothafriggin' Franklin! Why would you stoop to this?

Did you forget that just two days before the Grammys, you were named "Person of the Year" by MusiCares? You didn't see Miss Tina come out with a statement against that, did you? My mother always taught me to call ladies "Miss" as a sign of respect. I don't know if I can rightly call you "Miss Aretha" anymore.

Miss Tina is no doubt happily ensconced in her castle in Switzerland by now and has probably never even heard about this nonsense. So there's only one more legend to implore: Miss Eartha Kitt, please stay classy over in your little kingdom of Slinky Sass. I adore you and I can't bear another broken heart.

"R-E-S-P-E-C-T" by the former Miss Aretha Franklin

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Am Woman

"If I have to, I can face anything / I am strong (strong) / I am invincible (invincible)"

Two centuries ago and an ocean away, my foremothers fought for their land against those who would claim it in the name of a foreign king. Even while heavy with child, they tilled the soil, planted seedlings, raised their voices and fists, and healed the land. They carried market baskets, mud bricks, water buckets, and each other. They were strong, invincible, badass babaylan.

A century ago in these prairies, Alberta's foremothers tamed this land to yield a bounty for their families. Even while heavy with child, they tilled the soil, planted seeds, harvested crops, and made the land prosper. They wielded shovels, hoes, axes, and even shotguns. They were strong, invincible, badass pioneers.

This morning, as my husband languished in bed with a chest cold, I pushed a plastic snow shovel through eight centimeters of snow just enough to create two grooves for my car tires. I was going to try to shovel the whole driveway, all 25 feet of it, but my back went ping! and I was sortof running late for work and shoveling snow is a Boy Job and I shouldn't exert myself in my delicate condition. Well, except for water aerobics and yoga. That is hard work right there, my friends.

Okay, seriously? I felt like a giant piece of suck-o-tash this morning. I felt like I had failed all these badass women on whose shoulders I stand. They probably worked until they gave birth right there in the fields. I'm sure they squatted-and-squirted, picked up their babies from the earth, strapped those beasties onto their breasts, and kept on working the land. I got tired shoveling two sloppy car tire grooves into my driveway! Hell, I get winded waddling up two flights of steps!

I am the daughter of Amazons and tigresses! How did I become such a lazy bastard? I'm going to think hard about that while I polish off this box of Oreos.

"I Am Woman" by Helen Reddy

Monday, February 11, 2008

Proud Mary

"Big wheel keep on turning / Proud Mary keep on burning"

Tina Turner is going to be 69 years old this year. And she very nearly out-shimmies Beyoncé at the Grammys.

Oh, Miss Tina, you truly are the Queen. When I grow up, I want to be as smokin' HAWT as you.

"Proud Mary" by the one and only Tina Turner

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Shiny Happy People

"Everyone around them, love them, love them... / Shiny happy people holding hands / Shiny happy people laughing"

Awwws! Drew Barrymore, my ultimate "Goin' to the chapel and we're gonna get maaarried" girl crush, is dating Justin Long, the cutest Ubergeek du Jour in Hollywood.

Aren't they the most adorable geek-hippie couple you've ever seen ever?! I just want to bake them both into a pie and take them home to my mother. Do you think they'd mind? Awwws! I need a snuggle. Like right now. Duuuuuuusty!!!!!!!!!

"Shiny Happy People" by REM

Friday, February 8, 2008

Falling Slowly

"Falling slowly, eyes that know me / And I can't go back"

My celebrity crushes fall into three distinct categories:

  • Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I have had VERY impure thoughts. Examples: Viggo Mortensen, Monica Belluci

  • Goin' to the chapel and we're gonna get maaarried. Goin' to the Chapel of Looove! Examples: Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman

  • Let's snuggle on the couch with a cuppa tea and a DVD. May I bake you a pecan pie? Examples: This guy:

That's Glen Hansard, lead singer for the Irish indie rock band The Frames. Red hair? Check. Green eyes? Check. Looks like he smells like Ivory soap and sunshine? Check. Rides the bus [at least in the movie]? Check. siiigh...

Glen plays the "Guy" to Marketá Irglová's "Girl" in Once, which Dusty and I finally watched on DVD last week. This movie was never released in Edmonton theatres, despite getting rave reviews everywhere else. It is a chapter in the romantic yet realistic love story between two people who simply met at the wrong time. I think every one of us has a secret "What if?" love and this "What if?" story was so sweet and so true, it made my heart ache in long-forgotten spots.

My favorite scene in the movie was probably carefully crafted to tug at female heartstrings, and I was a total sucker for it. In a darkened room, the Girl plays a song on the piano for the Guy. The softly intense way the Guy looks at her communicates his longing and love for this woman. She gets a bit emotional toward the end of the song and stops playing. He tentatively reaches out to touch her, and she puts her head on his shoulder. You expect them to kiss, but they don't, and I was secretly glad they didn't. Like in all fairy tales, a kiss would have broken the spell.

Go see Once. It's the best musical I've seen this year.

"Falling Slowly" from the Once soundtrack

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hey Baby

"All the boys say, / Hey Baby, Hey Baby, Hey / Girls Say, Girls Say, / Hey Baby, Hey Baby, Hey / Hey Baby Baby"

As soon as I confirmed I was pregnant, I made four phone calls: one to my sister, one to my mom, one to my endocrinologist, and one to the Shared Care Maternity Program in Stony Plain. It is the only licensed midwifery program in Alberta covered under provincial healthcare. You basically have to do what I did to secure a spot. There are many things I love about the program, but fundamentally, I love that it makes me feel very involved in my prenatal care. The midwives have taught me how to take my own blood pressure, check my glucose levels, and read my own medical chart. I feel like a healthy pregnant woman who is independently informed and prepared, not a sick patient who is completely reliant on someone else to tell her what is going on with her own body.

This afternoon, I went to my first group maternity care appointment and met seven other women who are due to give birth in June. Today was our first meeting, so we were still a little shy towards each other, but I already got the sense that a little community was forming. In fact, there are four other women who live within a few miles of us here in Edmonton. Go go Gadget Babysitting Swap! We took turns getting our monthly checkups, chatting while we waited.

One woman's hospital labor horror story convinced us all that we had made the right decision choosing the birthing centre and midwife route. It was her first baby and she didn't know what to expect, so she was naturally scared out of her mind. Not surprisingly, her labor had stalled because she felt uncomfortable being constantly poked, prodded, and exhorted to either push or not push. After her poor baby was delivered using both forceps and a vacuum pump, the doctor quickly sewed her up, LEAVING ALMOST HALF A ROLL OF GAUZE INSIDE HER. As the woman ended her story, I noticed that each of the other women in the room had instinctively, protectively put a hand on her own belly. I... can't... even... um... yikes!


Today marks 22 weeks and 1 day of gestation: more than halfway there! W00t! Dusty and I read in a few of the hundreds of baby books lent/given to us that our baby is just beginning to hear sounds outside the womb at this time. I'd already been playing music for the baby, but a couple of nights ago, we decided it was time to start reading a nightly bedtime story.

We picked a book called "The Spectacular Tree" or "Ang Kagila-gilalas na Puno" by Robert Magnuson. It's written in both English and Tagalog, so we take turns reading it in our respective first languages. The cover alone sold us:

Just look at that cranky ol' tree and that spunky lil' plant! You just know there's going to be some kind of throwdown between those two. BRING IT!

I've been feeling really good and healthy lately, trying to stay active despite coming down with the flu and a head cold in the last three weeks. My wee-beastie-to-be is healthy and active, too. As Viv, the visiting SCOTTISH midwife said, "Yer baby's hearrrtbeat is strrrong! Tha's brrrilliant!"

Speaking of Scots, I keep meaning to mention that we felt some wee mighty kicking for the first time on Robbie Burns' Day. Either this kid is inheriting Mama's thang for Scots [Yay bagpipes!], or just letting me know how s/he* felt about me eating haggis [WTF, Mama?! Was that sheep guts?!].

I'd just gotten back from the Burns mini-supper at the Rose and Crown and settled into bed early with a book. Suddenly, I felt a twinge, like someone nudging me from inside. I put my hand where the nudge came from and felt another nudge, more like a kick this time. Excited, I called Dusty into the room. He crawled into bed with me and placed his hand where I had mine. It took a few moments, but he distinctly felt a nudge/kick. We called, "Hello in there, Button! Hey, Baby!", and giggled when Button seemed to kick in response.

We stayed like that for a good long while, his hand on one side of my belly, my hand on the other, until all we could feel were tiny ripples.

"Hey Baby" by No Doubt
*We don't know for sure because our last ultrasound technician was an incompetent asshole. At this point, we're okay with not knowing. We prefer green and purple to blue and pink anyway.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Heat Wave

"It's like a heat wave / Burning in my heart / I can't keep from crying / It's tearing me apart"

The radio was playing this Martha and the Vandellas song just a few minutes ago. After last week's -46 F/C with windchill and blizzard conditions, 18 F/-8 C apparently counts as a heat wave in Edmonton in February.

You're right, Thom Yorke. What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here.

"Heat Wave" has also been covered by the Supremes, Linda Ronstadt, and Bruce Springsteen (?!)

Come and Talk to Me

"Come and talk to me / I really want to meet you / Can I talk to you / I really want to know you"

This is the third time I've gone into the ladies' room to find the second and third stalls occupied by two ladies whose voices I know well by now. They whisper to each other in Mandarin Chinese and take turns flushing their respective toilets every 30 seconds or so. My heightened prego olfactory senses have never picked up any poop stink, so I think the flushing is just a ruse.

Stall #2 Lady has a low, nervous laugh. Stall #3 Lady talks like the older, wiser counselor. So far, I can only surmise that Stall #2 Lady's younger brother wants to try [go? pass?] something [or is it somewhere?], but Stall #3 Lady cautions that it's dangerous [maybe expensive?].

Curse my metal body! Especially my tin ear! Maybe tomorrow I'll bring my phrasebook in there with me. This is better than watching a Mexican soap opera!

See, Mom and Dad? I am too using my degree in Chinese language and literature.

"Come and Talk to Me" by Jodeci

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Voices Carry

"I try so hard not to get upset / Because I know all the trouble I'll get... / And I try so hard to keep it inside / So no one can hear"

I'm becoming more and more forgetful and absent-minded these days. I can't tell you how many times in the last week I've gone to the kitchen to get a glass of juice, opened the refrigerator door, and promptly forgot why I was there. My girlfriends warned me that this would happen, that pregnancy would make me a little stupid. They didn't warn me, however, that it would make everyone around me a little stupid, too.

People seem to feel they can say just about anything to a pregnant lady, like they are socially obligated to comment on my pregnancy. Some people act like this pregnancy involves them as much as me and Dusty, who are actually responsible for the unborn baby. Usually, I try not to get publicly upset about what people say to me, but there are things I really wish I could say back.

When people say: My god, you're only five months pregnant now? You'll be as big as a house!

I wish I could reply: Maybe, but in four months, I'll be able to unload this house and have an awesome baby. You're fugly and that's forever.

WPS: I have two pregnant friends who are tiny, just like you. They'll never survive childbirth.

IWICR: I have a co-worker who can't keep his goddamn mouth shut, and he looks exactly like you. He'll never survive my foot up his ass.

WPS: How is our baby today?

IWICR: MY baby is fine, thanks. How is yours?

WPS: Wow, you're packing it away. Look at that belly! Really eating for two, eh?

IWICR: So I guess you're not happy with one asshole. Really want two, eh? Let me help.

WPS: You're having a natural water birth with no drugs? That is going to be so hard and so risky. I've already scheduled my C-section. Quick and easy.

IWICR: You're letting someone cut your gut wide open while you're unconscious? That is going to be so hard and so risky. I can't wait to push my baby out of my vagina, the way women have been doing for centuries. Quick and easy.

WPS: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

IWICR: If you can't say something sensible or supportive to a pregnant woman, shut the fuck up.

Thank you, Antonia, for this. It inspired me. "Voices Carry" by 'Til Tuesday

Friday, February 1, 2008

Hush Little Baby

"Don't say a word / Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird"

Overheard at yesterday's water aerobics class:

Granny #1: Obama is doing quite well in the American elections, eh?

Granny #2: Wouldn't that be something if he was elected? He'd be the first colored president!

Granny #3: Oh, honey, they say black now.

Just keep aquacising, Cookie. DO NOT ENGAGE. If there's one thing unwelcome in the community pool, it's a pedantic rant about political correctness. That, and pee. Don't pee in the pool, either.

It's a nursery rhyme. Come on. You know you know it.