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We Might Be Okay Now, Well Better Than Last Year

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Fifty-two months ago Adrienne had a hysterectomy. We have seen four Mother’s and Father’s Days since the decision.  Each one is easier than the previous however for some reason this Father’s day was more melancholy for me than the previous.  The first Mother’s Day Adrienne wrote

There is no I-had-my-uterus-and-ovaries-taken-at-32-so-I-will-never-have-children-of-my-own day. If someone makes one, I hope it’s in August. I don’t have anything else to celebrate in August.

The name isn’t catchy, the sentiment too raw, and it risks emphasizing our infertility.  Whatever it is named, we observe that day on August 11 th .  I originally posted a request to our friends in this blog in 2010 where I detail objectives of the day. We receive a nice response each year.

Most of the time we are okay. Every once in a while emotion overwhelms us .  2013 has been pretty good, evidenced by the sparse blog updates on the subject. (Read most of the saga there.)  Thank you to all our friends sending Adie well-wishes yesterday.  It really means a lot to the both of us.  We spent the day playing video games then went to a private restaurant industry party, kind of a typical day off for us.

I am thankful that Adie & I survived the crucible.  Through the moments of weakness, flaring rage and years of emotional strife we built an unshakable relationship that continues to broaden and deepen.  With all we have been through I am profoundly grateful for this relationship borne partly from hardship.

To end this post I want to invite curious readers to ask me about the experience.  I feel compelled to talk about it, however the subject rarely surfaces and most people awkwardly change the subject.  Engage me if you are going through something similar and want to talk, or just want to know what it is like.  I may tear up, but I am better than last year – sadness and joy are part of life.

I really thought I’d be ok.

It’s been awhile, and I thought I’d be ok. Really. I mean, it’s been years, right? We live in a new state, with new friends, new jobs, new opportunities, and we’ve worked so very hard on learning to deal with this sort of thing. But for some reason when I went to the mailbox today (incidentally, checking the mail is one of my favorite things–you never know what you’re going to get! It’s like Christmas everyday! So fun!) I got a very nice envelope, address to Dr. Adrienne Brundage (nope, still not tired of the “doctor thing!) and in side was a single square of pink cardstock:

 Please join us for a baby shower!

It’s all pink and embellished with flowers and birds and an adorable stroller and it’s for a good friend and all I could do was stand in the driveway and cry.

I dunno. I thought I was through this part. I thought I had a handle on this sort of thing. Dean and I are at the age where we know lots and lots of families. Many of our friends are having kids. I understand there are babies out there. I’ve even cuddled more than my fair share…but for some reason this one hit me.

I think it’s the baby shower thing. I haven’t been to a baby shower since the “thou shalt not have children” verdict came down. I have been to many showers (and even thrown a few myself) and I know exactly what to expect. It will be a wonderful day…full of happy, giggling women excited about the prospect of a new baby. There will be gifts. There will be games. There will be endless talk of all things child. And I can’t do it.

I love my friend. I love her with all my heart, and I am super excited for her and her husband (seriously! They are going to make amazing parents! And I can’t wait to spoil this kid rotten. Oh, the plans I have!) but the idea of spending an entire afternoon at a party basically checking off a mental list of all the things I’m never going to have or experience…I can’t do that. Not even for a friend.

So I stood in my driveway and cried, while my dog rooted around in the neighbor’s yard. I cried for all the pink or blue or gender-neutral colored presents I’ll never open. I cried for those stupid party games where you drink juice from a baby bottle or pick diaper pins from a bowl of rice. I cried for all the advice from the older generation that I will never get. I cried for all the celebrating that I know I just can’t do for or with my friend. I cried for my family, who even though they say they are ok with us not having kids I’m pretty sure they are not. I cried for Dean who would make the most amazing father in all of the land and I can’t give him this. I cried for me, because I honestly thought I was ok, and apparently I’m still not. I don’t know if I’ll ever be.

I knew this was coming. I had prepared myself for the invite. I even talked it over with another infertile girlfriend and we had a plan. That plant went out the window. Instead I walked to the local liquor store and tried to buy some pumpkin pie schnapps. They didn’t have any. I probably shouldn’t be drinking that stuff anyhow.  Maybe I’ll just be done with today and go to bed.

When is this going to end? I’d like to be a part of peoples’ live, and this whole having a baby thing is a big part of their lives. I’d like to not break down anymore over receiving a silly card in the mail. I’d like to not have to make excuses when I RSVP.

I’d really like to stop crying in my driveway on a Wednesday afternoon over something I cannot change. I really thought I’d be ok. I guess I’m not, yet.

Happy Bragging Day (still not quite right, but getting closer)

Fourty months ago Adrienne had a hysterectomy.   We saw three Mother’s and Father’s Days since the decision.  Each one is easier than the previous.  The first one Adrienne wrote

There is no I-had-my-uterus-and-ovaries-taken-at-32-so-I-will-never-have-children-of-my-own day. If someone makes one, I hope it’s in August. I don’t have anything else to celebrate in August.

Today, August 11th, we observe that day.  The name isn’t catchy, the sentiment too raw, and it risks emphasizing our infertility.  One friend suggested Bragging Day and sometimes we call it Phantom Uterus Day, but I’m not sure either gets the point across.  Adie & I had some decisions, truly life-altering, world-shaking realities, forced on us but we want to make something positive out of our situation.

Let’s try to give today a good name.  Please think about someone that cannot or will not have kids and drop them a note to:

Celebrate the life and happiness they have

We let go of a lifetime of desires and expectations while simultaneously redefining and reorienting ourselves.  This process is not over, but our goal on this day is to be happy with all we have.

Emphasize accomplishments

Birthing and raising children is often quoted as the biggest accomplishment a person can make.  We do not believe it.  Your affirmation drives us on to other altruistic endeavors.

Show that they are whole people

Any -ectomy takes something away from a person.  We felt “broken” and may not get over that.

Today is not about trying or failing to be a parent.  We need neither sympathy nor reminders of our “enviable freedom ” and that parenthood is “not all joy “.  At the same time the day’s purpose is not to belittle family.  Reinforce the good things that all of us do.

If you have a good name for today post it in the comments, twitter. facebook or email .

It’s a new year! Let’s check in on those life goals….

So every year, as you may or may not know, instead of making a list of new year’s resolutions, I go through  my goals list and mark of the ones I accomplished over the past year (and add a bunch that I thought of at some point). I don’t take things off the list, even if I don’t want to do them any more…this gives me a great way to look back at where I’ve been in my life. Let’s see what I’ve done!

Adrienne’s Life Goals (List started December, 1996 and updated each year since then)  I’ve bolded the ones that I accomplished since I last updated the list last year.

1. Rollerblade in every major city in the world (Don’t know if I want to do this one any more or not. I’m really not all that into rollerblading. Biking might be a more feasible option).

2. Win a Nobel Prize

3. Study insects in the Australian Canopy (I used to get a magazine as a kid that advertised scientist-led trips in the back. One was a trip to the Australian Rainforest where you’d get to help survey the insects. They said you’d probably find several new species. I have to get there).

4. Become fluent in Spanish (took it in high school, remember little)

5. Be written about in some major tabloid

6. Make a major discovery in cancer research

7. Breed some sort of animal (I finished this one in 1998–I bred crane flies, beetles, crickets, and whatever else my boss brought in for a year)

8. Get married and raise a family (Part one–done 9/3/00! So that part two thing won’t work. Anyhow.)

9. Get a PhD in Entomology (Done (ish)! I successfully defended my dissertation in December of 2011, so I’m kinda counting this). 

10. Make a major entomological discovery (I’m really not sure what counts as “major.” I guess I’ll figure that out as I go along)

11. Become a college professor

12. Ear $20,000 a year with my harp (I think I will work on this in 2012)

13. Read the entire works of Shakespeare (did I mention I’m really into Shakespeare?)

14. Learn to ride a bike well (I’ve decided the tandem doesn’t count, but is a hell of a lot less scary than riding alone)

15. Study insects in Madagascar (the first day of my high school freshman geography class the teacher gave us the coordinates for Madagascar. I’ve wanted to go ever since)

16. Visit Kangaroo Island

17. Become the president of something major

18. Be able to give my Alma Mater something big, and have something on campus named after me

19. Rollerblade 10 miles (so, I didn’t have a bike as a kid. I taught myself to rollerblade instead. Don’t do it so much anymore, but for awhile there it was my only means of transportation)

20. Become fluent in sign language

21. Take a major biking or blading trip

22. Become very physically fit

23. Graduate from any higher education institution with a 3.0 or higher (I vote I’m done with school!!)

24. Work at the Smithsonian

25. Lear how to spell “Smithsonian” (Done! 1996. Have I mentioned I’m dyslexic? Oh, man, in 5th grade we had spelling tests every week, and my teacher made anyone who failed go to detention after school on Fridays and copy the dictionary. I got through “C” by the end of the year. She was nice enough not to make me go right before Christmas break and the last week of school. After my year she stopped using that as a punishment for bad spelling. I am a liberator of 5th graders!)

26. Live to be 100 (This one will take me awhile)

27. Own a motorcycle (Done! 1999. It got stolen, but who’s counting?)

28. Fall in love (Done! Valentine’s Day, 1997. Can you guess who?)

29. Write a book

30. Visit Canada (Done! 2005. Our anniversary. We took a ferry from Washington)

31. Take a cruise (Done! Alaska. Awesome). 

32. Become the best in Entomology

33. Be rich enough to buy my parents a cabin or car (Part of this list was written when I was a starving student. I mean, really starving…like ducking the landlord, saving up for Taco Bell starving. I lived on popcorn and oatmeal for most of a year. I was super thin)

34. Own a home in Australia

35. Travel the world

36. Own a large house with my husband (I also wrote a good portion of this list right when I met Dean, so “husband” and “love” are mentioned a bunch) (Done! 7/2008:  4 bedrooms is large, right?)

37. Have a large wedding (Done! 9/3/00)

38. Tour Iceland

39. Visit Greenland (Notice I don’t want to tour Greenland)

40. Know a song on the harp by every major composer (As soon as I define what a “major” composer is, I’ll get started on this one)

41. Meet someone famous (so, who’s gonna be famous so I can check this off? I’ve met a bunch of famous forensic entomologists, but I’m not counting them for some reason.)

42. Begin an Art, science and cultural center

43. Weigh 120-135 as long as it’s healthy (it stopped being healthy a while ago–right around the infertility time)

44. Create a cross stitch tapestry (Working on it!)

45. Learn to draw (Done! Spring 2000. I’m no Ivan, but it’s good enough for government work)

46. Learn to tango (Done! Summer 2000. I hated it)

47. Get a degree in something totally unrelated (Done! June, 2007. I have a degree in Emergency Prehospital Care. If you’re dying, call me! I’ll tell you to go to the hospital)

48. Own a company (Done! 2011. Have ya heard of New Republic Brewing? No? Look it up!)

49. Maintain a very large garden

50. Arrange a musical festival

51. Go on an African safari

52. Be someone’s inspiration

53. Stay in the best hotels in the world

54. Backpack across America

55. Sponsor a Shakespeare festival

56. Throw at least 1 major formal party

57. Tour England

58. Visit every major museum in the world

59. Love wine (Done! I have no idea when this happened exactly….)

60. Become adept at herbal studies

61. Study at least 3 religions other than Methodist (Done! Mormonism, Judaism and Jehovah’s Witness. I ended up with a boyfriend in each religion, which really made the study easy. Mormons wear sacred underwear. Don’t tell them you know!)

62. Watch or be in every Shakespeare play

63. Organize 5 missions (So I grew up in a Methodist church, and Methodists are really into volunteering. All through high school I went on youth missions

organized by the church–I’ve been to Mexico 12 or 13 times to work on churches and houses, I went to Yuma, Arizona several times and worked on the Indian reservation there, and I helped organize a huge mission to Alaska, but I couldn’t go. This is the one thing I miss about not going to church anymore. My old church went to Mississippi last spring to rebuild houses destroyed in hurricane Katrina. I wish I could’ve gone)

64. Study scarab beetles (they’re shiny!)

65. Visit Egypt

66. Never have to worry about money (once again, I was a starving student at this point….)

67. Become adept at rock climbing

68. Visit every state in the union (I’m working on it!)

69. Visit Easter Island

70. Perform in a large theater (Done! Christmas 1997 and 1998. I was part of a Christmas show playing in LA. I played the harp–3500 seats in that theater)

71. Visit Morocco (Ah…here comes my travel list….)

72. Visit Sri Lanka

73. Visit the Philippines (Earl? When we going?)

74. Visit Norway

75. Study cancer (When I add to my list each year, I sometimes don’t go back and review everything first, so there are a few duplicates. Apparently I really want to do these things)

76. Visit France

77. Visit the Eiffel Tower (just in case I was gonna miss it while in France….)

78. Visit the Statue of Liberty again (I saw it when my class went there in Jr. High, but I was a bit boy crazy and didn’t really care about the big green woman)

79. Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa

80. Stay in a small Russian town

81. Go to a health spa (Done! I now do this as regularly as possible)

82. Win a major contest

83. Become a photographer (I don’t think I have much of an eye, but I can try)

84. Visit Dublin

85. Become monetarily comfortable (still hungry!)

86. Own a store

87. Learn to fence (Done! 2004. Hated it!)

88. Learn a martial arts (Done! 2004, black belt in kenjo ki karate–better known as kickboxing)

89. Visit a homeless family

90. Learn massage

91. Write a major research paper (Done! June 2007. It’s going to publication this year W00t!!)

92. Work in a vineyard (Done! Spring 1997, Cal Poly SLO. 1 year. It was fun)

93. Witness a controlled burn (Done! Summer 1998. We had to do several controlled burns in the orchard that summer)

94. Save an insect species

95. Discover an insect species (I like me some insect species)

96. Biologically solve a pest problem (I haven’t decided if I want to do this on a grand scale or not…if not, then done! I’ll leave it unmarked for now, though)

97. Read Moby Dick, A Tale of Two Cities, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Hans Christian Andersen series, The Metamorphasis, The Fountainhead, It, The Lord of the Rings, and a book by Chaucer. (Some of these are done. The hardest so far is The Lord of the Rings. How do people get through this. )

98. Fall asleep in a hammock overlooking a beautiful beach and sea under a full moon (Aw! Aren’t I romantic?)

99. Learn to horseback (Done! Did you know that Dean’s grandfather raised horses?)

100. Take a trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

101. Be interviewed by the press (Done! 2005 FFAS conference. CNN interviewed me about entomology)

102. Go to England to see the Shakespeare Festival

103. Help to solve a crime (Done! I’m a forensic entomologist!)

104. Learn to belly dance (I keep meaning to do this one. Someone help!)

105. Discover the purpose of an insect and use those facts to save it from extinction

106. Write out the entire rocky scrip, block it and use it to get a show started (This is half done–I have the script.)

107. Plan an orchard

108. Read the Bible (This may end up harder than finishing Lord of the Rings)

109. Read the Book of Mormon (And this will be harder than the Bible)

110. Read the entire works of Edgar Allen Poe

111. Build my own harp (You can get kits for not that much and build your own lap harp. Want!)

112. Visit all the National Parks

113. Live in France

114. Design and build a custom lab for my work

115. Have a maid or cleaning service (I don’t do windows! Or any other cleaning, for that matter)

116. Visit all the amusement parks in the U.S.

117. Design a set (Done! Fall 1997. I designed the sets for a performance of Hamlet)

118. Be a main part in a show

119. Picnic on top of a mountain (Wouldn’t this be fun? Hint!)

120. Ride the trolly in San Francisco (Done! Summer 1998)

121. Try Sushi (Done! And I never looked back)

122. See 100 Rocky Horror Picture Shows (I’m at 82)

123. Plan a very romantic trip somewhere and take it with someone I love (Done! We went to Costa Rica for our honeymoon)

124. Help someone in need (I don’t think I’ll ever mark this one off, no matter how many times I do it)

125. Buy my own car (We’ve been given our last several, so I haven’t really had the chance yet. Not that I’m complaining…we’ll happily take anyone’s car off their hands! It’s what we do!)

126. Visit Alaska (Done! Summer 2010)

127. Be loved by someone I’m not related to (Done!)

128. Don’t die lonely

129. Retire

130. Fall asleep in someone’s arms (Done!)

131. Have my own CD

132. Pass Music Theory 1 (Done! I got a B! Stupid class)

133. Figure out how to raise Jerusalem Crickets (Done! Those bastards are a pain in the ass to raise. And they bite super hard!)

134. Finance my education (Done! That was hard, and now I’m in debt forever, but done!)

135. Create a large folder of research on raising insects (Done! 2011)

136. Have something published (Done! July 2008, my very first article. Ask me and I’ll let you read it!)

138. Turn my car into a work of art (Done! You should have seen it….)

139. Get an A in Beekeeping (Done! Easiest A ever. I like bees)

140. Manage my own beehive (Just might happen soon…I have plans)

141. Have a webpage (Done! Ah, remember the early days of the web when webpages were novel and only geeks had them?)

142. Get into grad school (Done! For years and years!)

143. Learn to sew (Done! July 2008. I learned, now I just have to get good at it)

144. Finish the Chaos book (It’s a book about Chaos theory. I really only started reading it because I was dating this super cute math major who told me it was good. It’s sitting on the shelf with a 10 year old bookmark in it. I’ll get back to it eventually. I’ll probably have to start from the beginning, though. That’s gonna suck)

145. Create at least one of my clothing designs (So I took this design class for my minor–I had to design clothes. I based all of them on insects)

146. Get an award from a scientific association

147. Get certified in some aspect of entomology

148. Present an original paper at a scientific meeting (Done! June 2008. Presented “Seasonal Distribution and Abundance of Forensically Important Flies in Santa Clara County. It was well received)

149. Get my masters (Done! June 2007)

150. Save 1 million dollars

151. Buy a house (Done! July 2008, and it’s beautiful. Come and visit! We have cookies)

152. Visit every state in the nation (See what I mean about duplicates?)

153. Start a consulting business (Plans, again. Plans.)

154. Read every book in the library (Wanna watch? Or help? Join me! )

155. Visit every country in the world

156. Learn to ride a motorcycle (Yep, this is gonna be done this year. Someone teach me, please!)

157. Climb a mountain

160. Write a book (I must really want to write that damn book!)

161. Be on tv

163. Create an intricate treasure hunt

164. See a musical on Broadway

165. Be self employed with an actual income

166. Own a cabin

167. Plant 100 trees

168. Read 1000 books (up to 310 since I started counting)

169. See an iceberg (Done! 2010)

170. Get rid of that dead place inside of me (Done! 2007 or 2008. Ask me about it sometime, if you really want to know)

171. Ride a snowmobile

172. Take a speed reading course (Done! 2009. It was bullshit)

173. Learn to surf

174. Walk across a swingy suspension bridge (Done! Malaysia, 2011)

175. Arrange a harp song

176. Learn Latin

177. Visit Walden pond (Then talk about it all snooty like)

178. Create a hedge maze (How cool is my house gonna be. )

179. Be a groomsman (You see, I’ve been every part of a wedding–Bride, bridesmaid, acolyte, harpist, flower girl, officiant, guest on the bride’s side, guest on the groom’s side, but I’ve never been a groomsman. That would complete my takeover of all things wedding!)

180. Have a grand library (With a fireplace and leather chairs and a secret door) (I’m so close!)

181. Have a cabin on a lake

182. Take a gondola ride (Hey! Another great date idea!)

183. Hold a hawk

184. Rehabilitate a wild animal

185. Fire a sniper rifle

186. Fire an automatic weapon

187. Fly first class across the ocean

188. Go hot air ballooning

189. Stay on a houseboat

190. Go hang gliding (But not by myself–with a trained professional so I won’t die. I want to live to be 100, remember?)

191. Do that thing with the parachute hanging off a boat (Doesn’t that sound like fun. )

192. visit the Bermuda Triangle (And not get lost)

193. Put $500 a month in my IRA (Up to $350 a month, as of now. See…I’m well on my way to saving 1 million!)

194. Go see the Ice Hotel (I love the Discovery Channel)

195. See Grand Central Station

196. Drive across America, coast to coast

197. Climb the highest mountain in California

198. Renovate a house

199. Cross the Panama Canal

200. Finish the world’s largest crossword puzzle (Don’t really know if I want to do this one any more, but there you are)

201. Go a month without TV (Done! 2008. I was super busy, and TV is the first to go)

202. Buy some aboriginal art in Australia (I blame Chris and Yanira for this–stupid HDTV showing Australia and stuff!)

203. Be married for 60 years (at least!)

204. Make a quilt

205. Go white water rafting

206. Own a sports car (A green RX-7)

207. Buy a house in Costa Rica (Love it there!)

208. Bike 1000 miles in a year

209. Create the perfect, craveable Thanksgiving dinner (I think I’m close! I shall see)

210. Ride the orient express

211. Stay in a haunted hotel (Done! 2009, actually…we stayed in Le Pavllion in New Orleans, and apparently it’s haunted. Who knew?)

212. Be under 30% body fat

213. Be nominated for a teaching award (Done! Fall, 2008, distinguished teaching award at Texas A&M)

214. Visit the poles (The South and North poles you dirty minded people!)

215. Go sailing

216. Go on an Alaskan cruise (Yep, really wanted to, and now we have!)

217. Attend a movie premiere

218. Spend over 2 weeks at a nice hotel just enjoying the grounds (I got this idea from reading The Shining. Maybe that’s where I got the haunted hotel idea, too)

219. Attend the Rockettes Christmas Show (I hear this is great!)

220. Celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico (you know, after they figure out all the drug killings and kidnappings. Still wanna live to 100)

221. Adopt a toddler or baby (Decided this year we will not adopt. Gonna leave this one on the list just to remember, though)

222. Visit the Louvre (I wonder if that’s even close to how it’s spelled)

223. Kiss Dean in Paris

224. Do a food tour of the USA: Pizza in Chicago, Blue Crabs in Maryland, Cheese Steak in Philly, (and a bunch of other stuff I haven’t come up with yet)

225. Learn how to write my name in Japanese

226. Celebrate Christmas in New York and London

227. Air Boat the Everglades

228. Pay off my student loans ($32,000 and counting….)

229. Become known for great Thanksgivings

230. Have an art show (Maggot art, baby!)

231. Live in the mountains

232. Take a trip in a motor home

233. See the great barrier reef (But there’s no need to scuba dive…I’m morally against going anywhere I have to take my own oxygen. We need it to survive, people!)

234. Create a secret garden (I love that book! And play! And movie!)

235.Drink mint julep in the French Quarter (Done! June 2009. It was super fun. We bought art).

236.Enter a cooking contest

237. Have a pool

238. Put all my photos/mementos in scrapbooks (Done! It’ll be an on going process from this point on, but most of it is computerized now)

239. See all the movies on AFI’s top 100 list (30 down, 70 to go)

240. Visit Alcatraz

241. Try real absinthe (Done! 2007. It tastes like licorice, and has no hallucinogenic effects)

242. volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank

243. Look good in a 2 piece

244. Have $100,000 in my IRA

245. Paint a really big painting

246. Get certified with a handgun

247.Ride all the rollercoasters in the US (30 down, 602 to go!)

248. Work at Quantico

249. Get 5 articles published

250. Go back to London, at least once

251. Have a real office that I don’t have to move out of every semester

252. Pass my quals (Done. )

253. Write my lab manual

254. Own some art by someone famous

255. Become a consultant (a final duplicate!)

256: Win a teaching award (Done! December 2009. I won the Vice Chancellor’s award for graduate student teaching. Woo!)

257: Build three projects for the house

Category: Bank

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