Wednesday, September 28, 2011

buttons

Feeling super pregnant today: bought maternity clothes off the internet then got emotional watching The X Factor while eating cookies. OK, so other than the word "maternity" that sentence could refer to any other Wednesday night of mine. But now I have an excuse.

I've always gotten hot easily with my hyperhidrosis, but now I'm even hotter more often. Can scalps sweat? Because mine seems to think so. I constantly check our thermomstat to see if it really is hot or if it's just me. The sad thing is, I look at the temperature, and don't even know if 76 degrees is hot for a house or not.

I've been watching a lot of the Rachel Zoe Project - this season in which she is pregnant. She is always wearing skinny pants with tall stilettos and a leather jacket - making pregnancy look so fashionable and nearly glamorous which all of us non-millionaires know not to be the case.

But maybe I could clean myself up a little more this time than I did last time. Last time I was a slob. So it doesn't take much to be a step up. I factored that into my maternity clothes purchases tonight, not being so sloppy. I even bought one shirt with buttons on it.

When my little brother was younger, he hated buttons. He refused to wear shirts with buttons. Once mom forced him into one for church and he bit the buttons off in the car. It was a real struggle to find anything acceptable for him to wear to church. I remember he had a striped polo with a zipper. He wore that pretty frequently. Even now, he doesn't love buttons. He's a t-shirt kind of guy.

I wonder if our child will have some weird idiosyncrasy like that. I'm sure he/she will. I don't know anyone without something. I don't know anyone who is 100% normal. How boring we would be if we were.

What I love about normal is that there is no such thing. It's like a holy grail for the oddballs: what other people tell them to be but they probably aren't that interested in becoming. We all have our thing. I cry while sweating with a cookie in my hand, watching reality tv. My brother bites buttons off his shirt. My husband wears soccer socks in his team's colors on game days.

I could out a hundred different people here with the oddities I love about them, but what would the point be? Because the point is to find some odd person and love them how they are. Sweaty, buttonless, crying and all. If you're constantly trying to change people, you're never actually loving them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

expecting the unknown

Parents, close friends, and boss have all been notified. I think that means it's OK to post it on the internet: Steve and I are expecting our first child. And by expecting I only mean waiting for it to come, because we certainly don't know what to expect. Sometimes I ask him, "do you think I'll be a good mom?" because I honestly don't know. I'm impatient and moody and undomesticated and a whole slew of other things a mom isn't supposed to be.

I have always wanted a family, but never felt prepared for one. Six years ago, I had just graduated college and had no idea what my life would bring, but certainly wasn't ready for it to bring a baby. I'm wondering if things have really changed that much over the last six years. On paper, I'm ready: I've been married for five years, I have a house with empty rooms. But in my head, it's a whole different story.

People say your natural maternal instincts kick in once your child is born and I'm really banking on that. I have great plans of family traditions and picnics and back-to-school shopping, but I don't know about the bulk of parenting: the everyday. As much as I hate being pregnant, I guess it's a good thing that it takes 9 months for that baby to emerge. It will take me 9 months of telling myself over and over that we're really having a child before I finally believe it. That is my mental preparation: acceptance.

So until the first week of April, you can expect a few blogs from me bitching about pregnancy. My chin looks like the Appalachian Mountains right about now. I have exactly two pairs of work pants and two pairs of jeans that fit and my shirt selection is getting slimmer by the day (I, of course, have the opposite problem). I pant walking up the stairs. I feel out of shape, exhausted, and just plain fat. But it's all for the greater good.

I will still plan to write about life outside of pregnancy. I hope to keep my individuality and not morph into one of those women who is only defined by the title of "mom." I plan to continue having hobbies and aspirations and friends without kids. I hope to be able to hold conversations that don't start with, "my son/daughter said/did the funniest thing yesterday..." I hope to maintain myself, while receiving my new title. But like I said, I don't know what to expect except a baby out of all of this.

Monday, September 12, 2011

hyperhidrosis

Nobody thinks about it if they don't have it. But I have it. So I can do nothing but think about it. My wardrobe, my mannerisms, my activities are restricted by it. What bothers me is my hyperhidrosis. Because you don't have it, I'll explain what it is. OK, Wikipedia will: Hyperhidrosis is the condition characterized by abnormally increased perspiration, in excess of that required for regulation of body temperature.

It only afflicts nearly 3% of the population, so it's rare to find someone else with it. But I have seen the signs. I have a radar for excessive sweating. I notice people who only wear black shirts or shoes that allow them to wear socks. I notice people with an aversion to shaking hands or giving high fives. As twisted as it sounds, it gives me a tiny bit of happy camaraderie, knowing I'm not alone.

I went to high school at a private K-12 school. As soon as the lunch bell rang, I would walk to the junior high bathroom, because the junior highers were still in class and that was the only bathroom with a hand dryer. I would aim the nozzle up at the pit stains on my shirt and stand there until the stains dried, or until someone walked in - whichever came first. It is humiliating - sweating for no particular reason except for that it's what your body does.

Over a decade has passed since then and I still find my daily activities restricted by it. I might as well have a uniform with how often I wear gray pants and a black shirt to work. Black is the only color that the pit stains aren't evident on. I don't wear shoes that I can't wear socks with. I wear boots with slacks or tennis shoes with shorts. I would love to wear this adorable pair of gladiator sandals I found, but my feet would slip right out of them.

I had to wear a dress twice in the last month. I like dresses and skirts, but I can't wear them because they both go with sandals. I was a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding and she wanted to get pictures of us bridesmaids on the beach. The sand stuck to my sweaty feet and turned them a gritty gray. Five minutes before the ceremony, I was scrubbing my feet in a public bathroom. I teetered down the aisle, not only because my heels were high, but because I was afraid my sweat was going to slide me right out of my shoes and onto my face.

My hands also sweat. I used to do counted cross stitch (you know how much I enjoy old lady hobbies), but the canvas would turn brown as I neared the end. During piano lessons, I would wipe the puddled keys with the back of my hand, as if my piano teacher couldn't tell what I had done to her precious ivory. I cringe looking at or thinking about carpet while my hands are sweating. If I ever go crazy, I will be in a padded room in a straight jacket muttering "fucking carpet" for my eternity.

After shaking hands before an interview, the interviewer excuses herself to wash her hands, then returns. I don't dance at weddings because I'm uncomfortable without socks. I don't wear vibrant colors because they would showcase my armpit stains. I hate being in houses where I have to take my shoes off. I wear sweaters when I'm not hot to cover up the stained shirt underneath it. I feel like I am living a slighter version of life: the self-conscious, uncomfortable, crossed arms version.

Even though it's out of my control, it's embarrassing to be writing this on my blog, where anyone can read it. Sweating disgusts people. I am a modern day leper, but not contagious. But writing it out here makes me feel a little better. In high school, there was a girl two grades above me who co-wrote the comic strip for our newspaper. She was named "clammy hands" in the comic, and I admired her for being honest about it, despite how embarrassing it was. There is something admirable about owning your faults, rather than hiding behind them. There is a way to live this life without it being a slighter version, I just have to let go of this dream of a stupid pair of sandals.

the help

I'm reading The Help (if you haven't read it yet, you need to pick up a copy immediately). In it is a woman right out of college who wants to be a writer. She applies to Harper and Row Publishers and receives the following response:

Dear Miss Phelan,
I am responding personally to your résumé because I found it admirable that a young lady with absolutely no work experience would apply for an editing job at a publisher as prestigious as ours. A minimum of five years in the business is mandatory for such a job. You'd know this if you'd done any amount of research on the business.

Having once been an ambitious young lady myself, however, I've decided to offer you some advice: go to your local newspaper and get an entry-level job. You included in your letter that you "immensely enjoy writing." When you're not making mimeographs or fixing your boss's coffee, look around, investigate, and write. Don't waste your time on the obvious things. Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else.

Yours sincerely,
Elaine Stein, Senior Editor, Adult Book Division

I love writing about what disturbs me. So the next few posts will be dedicated to just that. Maybe more than a few. A lot of things upset or disgust or disturb me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

warm nights

I give Omaha a lot of shit, because for three months every year I drive on snow-covered streets in white-knuckle terror. Then in the summer, I dread going outside for fear I will faint from heat stroke, or else just sweat so bad I leave a trail of sweat droplets behind me.

But for as much as I hate winter and summer here, I love fall and spring. Sure, these are the two most overlooked seasons here, as they tend to be week-long segues from extreme heat to extreme cold, but I love those very short seasons nonetheless.

Tonight I stood outside in the warm early fall air, closed my eyes. It felt like fall ten years ago. Ten falls ago I moved to Omaha to begin college. I was young and innocent and excited for whatever the world was about to bring me. I thought I was on my own, even though my mom and dad paid for my dorm room. But in a way, I was. I could be myself completely, without my family interrupting.

In college, we would stay out in the warm nights, at a park or just go for a walk with the sounds and smells of Omaha swirling around us. Those nights are when Omaha became my city. And as each summer turned into another fall, there became more and more reasons to love it.

Tonight Steve is out watching football somewhere while I have some alone time. Steve and I married each other without any intentions of changing the other. We liked each other for who we already were. So when he is not around, I am not moping around (unless I've watched too many Criminal Minds and scared myself shitless). Without him, I am me. With him, I am me. I believe every couple should be individuals.

So in the fall, he watches football on Saturdays and Sundays while I go for long walks or watch tv marathons or put together jigsaw puzzles or read a book without getting up for hours. And sometimes, I just stand outside in the warm Omaha air, and marvel at the falls that have been and the falls that will be.