Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A piece of public health history

So I guess I'll always remember that time that I was pregnant in the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. You know, that one that was really extra super dangerous for pregnant women. It really wasn't very good timing, as far as, you know, getting pregnant, but then, bah! There's never a good time. Maybe my grandchildren will all gather round me when I'm even more ELDERLY than I am now--they will have all NO DOUBT continued my passionate lurve for all things public health--and beg for stories of What It Was Like.

And you know what I can tell them? That it freaked me the heck out, that's what. It scared my already-falling-down pregnant pants off! Seriously, I spend a lot of my working hours thinking and writing about high risk groups and such, and all of a sudden, bam! I'm a high-risker! Quick, someone, do a focus group or something because I can tell you all about it.

And then, I'll say oh, and I remember how I fretted about the shortage of the H1N1 vaccine. The fretting! Checking my phone all the time, for The Call From The Doctor's Office saying, we have it. It's in. And how nobody seemed to get the vaccine, ever, and all the news and clinics everywhere were all hanging signs that said WE HAVE NO VACCINE and there was this general air of quiet panic. And people were getting sicker and sicker, though of course nobody I knew but STILL. And I was high risk and the things that were happening to the pregnant ladies, with the H1N1, they were terrible. Fret.

And then I'll say how one day in late October I got The Call, and how they were all speaking in hushed tones, like they didn't want the ANGRY MOB outside the clinic to hear that they had H1N1 vaccine inside. They were all, you need to come in. Tomorrow. Because we'll have it, tomorrow. And I'm all, can I come in today? Because I'm supposed to come in anyway for some blood work. Or I could come in tomorrow and do the blood thing too. I'd just like to do them both at once, if I could.

And they were all putting me on hold and hushing and whispering and what have you. Then they came back on and were all, okay. Come today. Just check in at the main desk and tell them you WANT TO SEE THE NURSE. And they will know what to do.

So I go in to the main desk and I ask to see the nurse. And the reception people were all, what for? (They never ask me that.) And I'm all, for the vaccine. And they're all--WHISPERING--which one? And I'm all, H1N1. And she all GLARES at me, like for saying it out loud.


And they're all, did the nurse tell you to come in? And I'm like, umm, yes. And they're all, are you SURE? And I'm all, apologetic, ummmmmm, yes?

It was all very cloak and dagger, very exciting. They were all lovely and kind, once it was established that I was not dropping in off the street asking for the vaccine and that I am, in fact, a real live OB patient. It turns out I was their guinea pig (ha, ha), not for the vaccine, which you know just arrives from the sky somewhere, but for their own PROCESS. You know, with the forms where you sign that you know that they think that the risk from mercury in the vaccine far outweighs the risk of actually getting the terrible flu and have you ever had an allergic reaction to eggs, and what have you.

And then I put it on Facebook that I got the vaccine, and everyone was all, WHERE? WHERE DID YOU GET IT? Even someone on the east coast said that. And it freaked me out even more.

And hopefully, that is the end of my story of what it was like to be pregnant during H1N1 2009.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The bad wife chronicles, episode 168

There is a little battle going on in our house about what to do about the fruit flies that have TAKEN OVER EVERYTHING.

Which I can't really tell you about without a little BACKGROUND about how Jeff does the dishes, because it's HIS JOB though I'm not really sure he would agree with me on this. But anyway, he does the dishes. Except he refuses to wipe the counters or clean out the sink after he's done because something about becoming like his mother who was too clean or something, blah blah save it for the therapist did I just write that out loud? So I NORMALLY codependently follow behind him--while announcing that it is really his job--and clean the counters and sink and then I get to hate it and feel virtuous and superior. Except now I'm pregnant and I go to bed early and such and I really just can' t be bothered most of the time. So our sink is a little grody. Is that a word? Wasn't it? I think the kids like five years younger than me in high school said that for awhile.

So naturally, being a SCIENTIST, I see a huge cloud of fruit flies poofing (a CLOUD! POOFING, I tell you) out of our gross kitchen sink every morning when I wake up and every day when I get home. Thusly I develop a HYPOTHESIS that PERCHANCE the fruit flies are enjoying our warm moist food-caked kitchen sink enough to get some serious breeding done. That it may actually, what with the dropping outside temperatures, be an IDEAL environment for such reproductive fly shenanigans.

Meanwhile, five feet away across our kitchen, I am--get ready for this--housing a FRUIT BOWL. Seriously, I do this, I bring home fruit and we eat it. And I don't refrigerate all of it because I am from Pennsylvania and that's not what we do there. And this is somehow in conflict to what they do in California where apparently they ALL refrigerate ALL fruit ALL the time. Except not at his mother's house because I've been there and I've seen her fruit bowl and it is at room temperature.

And you know, OBVIOUSLY fruit flies like actual fruit. OK. But given the PAUCITY of flies crawling on the ACTUAL FRUIT, I suggest, gently (GENTLY! because that's really the only way I know how to be, in relationships, all gentle and sweet all the time), that maybe, just maybe, the fruit flies are breeding in the sink, what with the POOFY CLOUD OF FLIES and all. And that maybe, MAYBE, a cleaner sink might help to, I don't know, kill them off.

And he's all, I can outscience you, lady, and remember I went to MIT where I worked on that fly-eye simulator and therefore I understand the mating habits of fruit flies and I'm here to tell you that the flies are only feeding on the actual fruit that you insist on BUYING like a BARBARIAN and putting in the FRUIT BOWL.

And I'm all, but that fly eye thing wasn't ALIVE. It was a computer. And look at the poof. At the sink.

And he's all, the BANANAS, lady.

And I'm all, can't there be TWO causes of the problem? Like maybe it's BOTH the bananas and the rotting food in the warm, wet sink?

And he's all, no.

And I'm all, but the poof.

And that's pretty much where we are with the VERBAL part of the battle. Except he put the bananas in the fridge and I cleaned the stupid sink and now he's in there cleaning it out again. And I'm remembering that one time I took a genetics class and we did fruit fly-related lab exercises and there was this stuff called FLYNAP, seriously that's what it was called, and we put it in with the flies and they would take a nap and then we'd take out the flies and look at their red vs white eyes or kill all the virgins or whatever and then close up the thingy and the FLYNAP would wear off and the flies would wake up. And how now I'd like some FLYNAP except not the kind where they wake back up.

And I'm also remembering Florence, a coworker who refused to eat any food brought in by a cat owner, no exceptions, because YOU NEVER KNOW if the cat had climbed on the counter before the owner made that food and brought it to the office and it just CREEPED HER OUT. And now I know none of you will ever eat at my house, and that's too bad because we really are very nice--cute, even!--and I even bake.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Always time for angst

So there’s this article, The Referendum by Tim Kreider, from the New York Times. It’s about my favorite topic! Angst! He doesn’t call it that, of course. But it’s in the same general family, how we all judge each other for life choices different from ours, wonder if we’ve picked the wrong life, et cetera. The Referendum is this thing “whereby people, increasingly aware of the finiteness of their time in the world, the limitations placed on them by their choices so far, and the narrowing options remaining to them, start judging their peers’ differing choices with reactions ranging from envy to contempt.” The author is a 40-something man, single, doesn’t want any kids. He envies his friends their marriages, houses, and children (not really the children), and they envy him his free time and singlehood. Everyone wonders If They Did The Right Thing. And there are rifts, in the friendships, and there is angst.

Seriously, I do this all the time! To great angst! Utterly unsatisfying. But can I stop? No siree. Usually it’s the run of the mill stuff I bore myself with on this blog. Should I be working more? Would it be BETTER if I hadn’t gone to graduate school (the pressure!)? Heidi works full time with kids. IS SHE LIVING MY LIFE? Katie lost her job and is loving staying home. IS THAT WHAT I SHOULD DO? Does someone have The Answer and THEY DIDN’T TELL ME??

Now, oh ho HO, it’s a whole new world of social comparison. I should say, I hungered for this second baby in a seeeeeeeerious way. It was like she was already born but I couldn’t touch her. Panicked. Where is she? Almost worse than before we had Hugo, because then I didn’t know how it yummy it would actually be. Now, I knew, and I wasn’t done. So I’m finally at peace, now that he’s here (I’m just making up sex pronouns as I go here), and I feel a deep resting. Oh, there you are. You’re here. Hello. What a relief.

And also now—and it’s an AND, not a BUT here—there is more of the judging thing. We are buying a bigger house, to hold the expanding empire. Yes, yes, what a stress—I was seriously not cut out to always know where my paystubs and W2’s are. And guess who my targets are now? Baristas! THEY are the ones who have The Answer! They with their flannel shirts and thrift store Doc Martens. Their MOHAWKS. Their BANDS. They know the secret. Just live, create, keep it simple. Oh, and the unmarrieds. The free time! The work and travel! The dating! And people who don’t want children? More power to them. Think of the cash they must be amassing!

I know the answer, sort of (I’m so full of baloney). It’s something like, we really all need each other to do different things. It’s not about proof of who is Doing It Right and then us all doing that thing, but more that we are all in this together, and if we get that then we can ALL have it all. I need people who work really hard so I can work part time. My hard-working boss needs me to work on her behalf and not be after her job, like so many others. Carefree bachelors need my family for the occasional home-cooked meal and illusion of stability, a hug from a child. I need childless friends to know where the latest hot spots are, to schedule breaks from my routines, to remember a previous version of myself. My kids surely, surely, need me— to just be, feel, adore, and wipe the occasional counter. And holy crap, I don’t know what I would do if there weren’t all those women physicians and nurses out there entrusting their kids to others so they can take care of me and my family. Parents need childless people, childless people need children around sometimes. Et cetera.

I know, too, that we really have more than one life, so it’s all not that big a deal anyway. I had my single life, and now I have my family life, and one day I’ll have my empty house life, and then who knows. Maybe I’ll even have a life without angst, one day (ha! HA HA!). Just enjoy it, I want to say to the guy who wrote that Referendum thing. Enjoy what you have. Just enjoy it, and enjoy mine too. He writes about living vicariously through another as if it is some kind of proof of having taken a wrong path. No. We can borrow each other's lives, and all will benefit. But still, the judging thing, it happens. I don’t follow my own advice, hardly ever. So I'll go have some ice cream now, the end.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The expanding empire

We bought a house. We totally did. It needs a ton of work, built in the 1920s and not updated since the 1940s--when they updated it with ASBESTOS. It's also in a gorgeous location and actually has the square feet to hold four people as two of them grow big and need space and that kind of thing.

We got the keys on Thursday night, and went in on Saturday, and it sort of HIT ME. Holy crap! the work! I really do pride myself on being quite lazy. How did this happen? Everyone's all, what a good investment!--what fun!--it will be great! I felt those things too, at some point back when buying this house was just a twinkle. But this is really all feeling suspiciously GROWN UP, and I'm not sure I like it.

(It is a sweet house, though, ain't it?)