Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Unsolicited Advice for Single Men

I'm an almost 40 year old married woman who's been out of the dating scene for 15 years. I dated before the internet, before texts, before caller ID. I dated in a terrifying age of having to have face to face conversations with my mate for the evening. Even more terrifying- we had to actually break up with each other. In person. Using our voice, and emoting, and maybe even shedding a tear. The horror of it all.
My single friends are navigating new waters.
And because I love my friends and can sit on my married perch and spew advice I have a few things to say. Not to my amazing friends who are the real deal, the total package, the prize. But for the guys they date. Just a few pointers.

1. If you meet a woman and you go out on a date and had a decent time- call her and ask her out again. If you had a horrible time- call her and tell her it was nice to meet her and wish her luck in the future. Don't just disappear. Unless you are hospitalized in a coma. Or you got kidnapped and are in a ditch with Jesse Pinkman. When you just walk away and never call or text (lame) again- this is what you are: a coward. And someone who will do the same thing when you're in a relationship and things get uncomfortable or tense. Its cowardly and unattractive. The karma you put into the world when you make that uncomfortable call will come back to you many times over. I have seen it happen.

2. Ask a woman at least 3 questions about her. And listen to her answers. Or at least pretend to listen.  No one but you and your mother want to hear a monologue about you.

3. If your best friend is a single woman, you will need to explain that dynamic at some point. Until then, the assumption is that you're in love with her and unavailable.

4. If you have ever been married or are still married by law- that's important information to share. On date #1. You don't need to go into detail but you need to put it out there. Not sharing that information makes it more charged and suspicious. And if you're still legally married, it makes you a shady dude. Her friends will never like you until you, ya know, stop being married.

5. Pay for the first date. I don't care how liberated and progressive you are. Or she is. Even Gloria Steinem likes someone to pay for her dinner. It's sweet. It's classy. It shows her that you were raised well. She can pay for the next dinner. If you ask to split the check, you immediately look like a cheap guy who may be living in a van by the river. If you are living in your van by the river- pay for dinner at McDonalds. Or a cup of coffee. If you don't live in your van- and you ask her to pay her way- you look like a real ass. A generous man is so much more handsome than a miser.

6. Don't shovel food in your mouth. Don't hold your fork like a first grader. Use a napkin. Chew with your mouth closed.

7. Smile. Laugh. Smile more. You look better when you do that. It will make you both less nervous.

8. If you have more than one cat- you may want to save that nugget until date # 7. Hopefully she will already be in love with you by then and be ok with it.

9. If you're super close with your mom and sisters- that's sweet and most women will find that sensitive and endearing. If you say your mother is your best friend- they will never want to date you. Because that's creepy. Your best friend should be a man close to your age. Not the woman who changed your diapers and grounded you. It also means you are looking for a mother, not a wife and that's just weird and icky.

10. Again, men- CALL HER. Don't just walk away. Use your gonads and make the call. No one likes a quitter.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

IVF Blows

A good friend of mine is losing another IVF cycle . And, really it is a friend. My lady parts are no longer in that game. I've done 5 cycles, have 3 healthy children so by all definitions- I am a total winner. Mega million jackpot winner- times infinity. I use the phrase "losing and IVF cycle" carefully. There are different levels of IVF cycle losses. Sometimes they just don't work from the get go. Initial pregnancy test negative. Disappointment, anger, sadness, more anger, jealousy fills your mindspace. You look at your credit card bill and calculate that $10,000 just went down the toilet with your uterine lining. But there's no customer service number you can call for a refund. This isn't Nordstroms. You can't get your money back or a positive pregnancy test back. It's a total wash.

Then there's the mindfuck loss. That's when you get an initial positive pregnancy test. ELATION. Halleluya and amen, sisters! You marvel at how amazing your lady parts are and how modern medicine is so cool. You don't even care how much the progesterone shots hurt every evening because you DID IT. The universe rotates on its axis, the planets are aligned. You're pregnant. Every 2-3 days you have to get your blood drawn to make sure your beta HCG level rises exponentially. This tells you that the embryo so carefully grown in the petri dish and injected into your cervix is adhering to your uterus and dividing appropriately. You get this level about 3 or 4 times. If it's rising (usually doubling at least)- all is right in your uterus. If it only rises by a bit or plateaus- you are in full blown panic until the next level a few days later. You will enter "HCG level not rising but I'm still pregnant right?" into your google search and only read the victorious stories. You will ask anyone who has done IVF before if this is OK and could still lead to a baby. You will make them say yes with your estrogen-laced crazy eyes. They usually will. Then you go back for blood draw #3 and you ask the sweet, lovely tech who's digging for a vein if she's seen levels go down a bit but things still end up ok. She lies to you and says "sure, honey, I've seen that". You love her and tell her so with estrogen laced tears streaming down your face. Then the horrible, stupid, awful, asshole, idiot, poo-poo face nurse calls you at noon and says- "I'm so sorry, it didn't work this time, let's schedule you a visit with Dr. Denis to review things". And you just say "OK" and hang up. For some reason, there are no tears. Just anger. White hot anger. And if anyone near you is pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant or even just talking about children, you're not responsible for your actions. You review what you could've done different to make it work. You should've taken another day off after the implantation and laid in bed. You shouldn't have been around someone with the flu. You should've given yourself more progesterone. You should've been more zen. You probably shouldn't have wanted to murder the nurse who just gave you the news. Or your very annoying neighbor. Or your co-worker. Or your spouse. All the time.
You are defeated. And then you rise up and do it again. Because women are made of fucking steel.

Then there's the late loss. That, my friends, is quite possibly the ugliest thing you can go through. You get discharged from the IVF factory at 10-12 weeks and then you are a regular pregnant woman. Normal OB visits. Normal pregnancy complaints. You're sporting the rouched maternity shirts and feeling awfully proud of yourself. You DID IT. And then at a regular, normal appointment- you find out that the little embryo/fetus/baby (depending on the time of loss) no longer is. Just stopped working. Like a clock that was 10:15 at 10:15 and never got to 10:16. Just stopped. Without warning. Without sounding any alarm. Just quit. It is astounding. It takes you days to really absorb the fact that it's still 10:15. Going in for the D&C helps bring that home. It's over. You will still need your maternity clothes though because there's nothing better than not being pregnant but still having to wear maternity pants (full disclosure- I still wear maternity pants when I'm feeling particularly awful about myself. Highly recommend them for Thanksgiving). The chapter closes. The story ends. Badly. There really isn't anything else to say. But here are some suggestions of what not to say- "There's always next time", "You're still young, you can try again and again", "Better now than later on", "There's a reason for everything".  They're just untrue. So, as my dear friend Tracy taught me- "Don't just say something, stand there". It's the best you can do. Just stand there and be sad with her. Quietly. Agree with her how unfair it is. Listen to her be angry. Listen to her be negative and fatalistic. Withstand the urge to make things better. There will be time for that later.

You are defeated. And then you rise up and do it again. Because women are made of fucking steel.

Fertile vibes, sisters.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Birds Fly Free

Being busy is a double edged sword. The good edge is that it keeps me productive and purposeful. Every hour of every day is full. I feel necessary, a part of something bigger than myself. The sharp and dangerous part of that sword is that it enables me to not be present and aware of life that is quickly passing. Aware that my kids are growing. That my hair is grey and I will never fit into those jeans again. Aware that what used to resonate with me no longer does and that things that I used to never give pause to now rings loudly. Like birds.
Lately, I am keenly aware of birds.
For the record, I don't like animals. Never have. I am deeply fearful of living creatures that don't have facial expressions. They're 4 legged sociopaths as far as I'm concerned. We rented a dog once (and by rent I mean tried to own one  but after 6 months found a much better family for it since I couldn't really pet the dog without cringing a bit inside) and that underscored why we should never try to have a pet. There are animal people and then there are those of us who think animals are gross. I think its part nature part nurture. People are born with a part of their soul reserved for animals and kindness. And then there are those of us who, while we don't want to hurt animals- we don't want to touch them either. I've always been the latter.
And then the birds started singing to me.
And no- I am not drinking or high or medicated. Well, ok, I am medicated but that's not relevant.
What happened is that I've become more open to things that never used to penetrate. I love watching the cardinals and the robins and the grey cute little ones with the orange beaks flying through my tree branches and landing on the bird feeder outside my window. I love how free they are. They just pause shortly to eat, pee, poop, chirp and then when they're ready to take off- they just do. They just fly away. Perfectly. Maybe they'll return. Maybe not.
There have been times these last few months when I've watched the birds and been jealous. They can just fly free, far from the nest. I've wanted to do that as well. Fly far away from here. To where? Who knows, who cares. Just into the night. It's a feeling that is visceral and real and scary. It doesn't mean I don't know how blessed and perfect my life is. I know that I found a man who is my other half, my heart, my happy place. He is a crazy, broken, kind, brilliant, generous, hilarious, mess of a man. And great looking. I know this. I know that my 3 children are HEALTHY. They breathe every day. Dayenu- it is sufficient. They are little humans who eat, pee, poop, chirp on their own. They bring me tremendous joy. And tremendous angst. We hurt each other but try to help each other more. We are winging it every single day. They bring me joy.
Yet, there are days when I want to fly.
The good news is that there are more days where my nest is where I want to stay. As long as I can still see the birds.
I think what I also want to fly far away from is the God of my childhood. The system. Orthodox Judaism. And while I don't remember ever learning about God per se, or cultivating a relationship with a higher power (20 years of Orthodox jewish private education and sadly this is true- but I can recite the entire siddur/prayer book and large blocks of torah by heart, and I know every single one of the 39 prohibitions of shabbat)- God and Orthodoxy have always been intertwined for me. Until now.
I don't know if the birds have to do with this shift but it feels like they do.
It just simply doesnt resonate with me. The ritual and the liturgy are so familiar and so empty. Sometimes I even have to laugh at how absurd it is. Sometimes I do laugh. Other times, the familiarity is comfort. Like an old blanket that smells bad but feels so good. I wouldn't want any other temple or prayer or ritual. I look at it all as the same attempt at a connection with something big. Whether its Jesus, Mohammed, Hashem, Buddha, Nature.  No one way is the right way. We're probably all dead wrong, actually. But who the hell knows?
What I do know is that this system that I was raised/indoctrinated in- doesn't work for me at this very moment. But it's the system that I am heavily invested in. I live in the system. I send my kids to the system. My family is the system. So I need to find a way to feel genuine and true while still keeping a toe in. Some days this is hard. So I stay very busy..... and I watch the birds.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Going home

Maybe you CAN go home again. 
After working in pharma this past year, I've made the decision to go back to the hospital. The place that raised me and taught me libraries full of lessons on how to be a nurse practitioner. Practical, clinical things like spinal taps, bone marrows, choosing antibiotics, figuring out a 2 page algorithm for chemotherapy. And not so practical, yet critical lessons too. Like how to get a kid to Disney World even though they're on an epidural pain pump. Quite possibly, the most important thing the hospital and the people in it have taught me is how incredibly lucky I am to have a job that is meaningful. Even if there were days that I didn't love it or even like it (ok, there were days where I hated everyone in the building) I always knew that what I did every day had meaning

My year in pharma has also been a great learning experience. I learned things about medicine and industry I never would have been privy to in a clinical setting. I learned a small part of the business world. I learned that I can be super social if I'm being paid to do that. I learned that new drug development is critical to patients (I know, duh- but when youre treating patients every day, that little fact can get lost in the mix). I learned that if you want to motivate people to excel, you need to throw cash at them. I learned that even though the cash is amazing- I can't stay in this field. Not because of any heroic, selfless desire to cure children with cancer but rather for a selfish reason. I need to have meaning. I need to love what I do. I need to connect with people on a level that goes beyond superficial niceties. Because small talk with strangers may actually be worse than a sharknado. I am incredibly grateful to pharma for this past year. I think I needed a break from the grind of the hospital too. I also got to see how the other half lives. The half with high paying jobs that aside from travel, doesn't require much hard labor. I got to feel like a part of corporate America. I got to learn that I don't want to be part of that. I got to meet fantastic people in the industry. Good, kind, smart people.

So, come January 6th- I will be going home again. This time I will be a Nurse Practitioner with the Leukemia/Lymphoma team. Previously I've done solid tumors and brain tumors which carry a far worse prognosis that leukemia so hopefully I will be on the winning side much much more often than not. The people on my team are old, solid friends. We get each other. There's no small talk. The kids we treat are gunning for a cure and we have an excellent shot at it. I know there will be days where I will miss working half as hard and making twice as much. Especially when I need to get my hair dyed and my kids to a well check-up. Or when they have a school function I'll have to miss. Or when I need to run to the store at 1pm for milk. But.....at least I'll be home. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Genes and a Grill

My daughter's working on her grill these days.
She currently has 5 silver-capped teeth and has 3 more to go.  We're trying to come up with a name to engrave across her mouth. I'm thinking "DECAY4EVA".
Her brother who has equally atrocious dental habits has a pristine mouth. I took him to the dentist who congratulated him on his excellent teeth brushing. He then turned to me and gave me that shit eating grin that says- "I won". It was the same grin he had when I took him to the pediatrician because of his dangerously skinny frame. Because of his enormous head of hair he looked like a lollipop. In Auschwitz.
On our way to the doctor, I told him about the feeding tube I was sure Dr. Awesome was going to threaten him with. It was like an episode of "Scared Sober" and I was confident this kid would eat out of sheer terror. After he got weighed, Dr. Awesome comes into the room and says: "Good job, man- keep doing what you're doing". I was stunned silent. And not missing a beat- my son looks at me and grins. He was victorious. He then asked me to please get him some donuts .
So the teeth issue is a small example of lucky genes. The skinny issue is a mystery. There are NO skinny genes on any branches of our family trees. So my daughter inherited the miniature, soft, corn on the cob teeth from her father. Those teeth were created to rot. My son got his hardy, resilient metal teeth from me. Those things can cut wood. So even if he brushes them with each solar eclipse, he will likely not have a single cavity. I'm 39 and have 2. I went to the dentist this year for the first time in 5 years and got an A+.

So, my kids inherited some twisted, messy chains of DNA. The ones that make them impulsive and twitch and shout. The ones that make them loud and out of focus. The ones that make them run around my house like golden retriever puppies. The ones that give them a mouth full of capped teeth, asthma and diabetes. Not to mention the multiple mental illnesses that course through our family veins. Oh, and the food issues. Sorry kids- those issues run so deep. I apologize in advance.
But they also inherited some great teeth,  musical ability, brains and quite possibly the greatest gift of all- the ability to make things funny. No matter what. So even if they're getting a whole new grill in their mouth or filling their zoloft prescription- they'll be able to laugh about it. You're welcome, kids.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Summer 2013

So here's a run down of Summer 2013:
My sister and her family came from Israel. Awesome.
Long distance relationships are tricky. When you're finally together, you spend an unnatural amount of time together with the knowledge this may be it for a long while. Then, it IS it for a long while. And that is so not awesome. So in my very black and white worldview I've determined that Zionism is over-rated and that families shouldn't live so obscenely far away.

We temporarily moved to allow for some house repairs and now we are all living in a 2 bedroom apartment while they finish up. We're kicking' it old school and going back to our immigrant roots. Baby J is in a pack and play in the bathroom. Yes, I know, our great grandparents would've killed for a pack and play (although to be fair, why would they have ever needed to "pack" it? It's not like they were going on a quick weekend trip to the beach), or even for a 2 bedroom apartment. They stuck kids in drawers or on the floor or what have you. We're lucky Baby J has his own room/bathroom. His older brother is on the couch and loving every minute of it. Needless to say, we are having some serious quality time together. Lessons learned so far- we have way too much stuff we don't need. We need 1/4 of the space we think we do. Basements are unnecessary (because of the stupid amount of stuff we don't really need). Kids can sleep happily a foot away from a toilet. Nine year old boys love sleeping on a couch. Not being able to have company for awhile is really not such a bad thing. Our family and close friends homes are always open if we need our kids to run free.

My new gig in pharma has been interesting. Travelled like a mofo all summer. I know the Atlanta airport south terminal like I know my childhood home. Lessons learned: Women need to stop wearing stilettos to the airport. Ladies- aint nobody got time for that. You look as uncomfortable as you feel. I hear your pinky toes shrieking. Stick the heels in your carry-on and out your flip flops on. Girl, please.
The slowest people in security line are the very old and the very young. Aim for the middle. Find a 50 year old guy with one small carry-on and get behind him. Even if it means pushing down an infant or an old guy with an oxygen tank. People, we need to make a flight. Farting on an airplane is quite possibly the most anti-social and selfish act. Get up and go to the shitbox and release your valve in there. Take your Sodoku with you, enjoy yourself, take some time to pat yourself on the back for being a solid citizen. Nobody deserves to sit in your colonic vapors for 2 hours. And finally, if someone has ear buds on, it means they don't want to chat. Most frequent flyers know this code. But there's always the rogue traveller who needs to know where I'm heading to. Despite the ear buds and lack of eye contact. To them I say- "Unsure. Where's this plane heading?"

My kids and spouse have been awesome with my new schedule. In many ways, my household runs much more efficiently and calmly without me in it. Marc runs a tight ship and is able to be much more rigid than I can ever be. The kids have a healthy amount of fear with Marc. They have none with me. What I need to say 7 times for the desired result, Marc says once. Jerk.
I think the kids are Ok with my schedule. I don't think I've committed them to maladjustment because of my travel. I am home more than I ever was when I was at the hospital. Baby J is still a nervous jew whether I travel or not. Although I still think his separation anxiety/insecure attachment is way worse because of my intermittent absences.
So lessons learned from me being away from home a lot: if you have a co-parent who's as good as mine- it works. This guy is Mrs. Doubtfire minus the drag. He may actually have more estrogen than I do. He makes to possible for all this to happen. I am one lucky bitch. I get it.
So I can "lean in" (whatever the F that means) and have a very full professional life because I may be married to one of the biggest feminists I know. I hope that even though my kids don't have their mom home every single night, they're at least learning gender equality. To my future daughter-in-laws: you're welcome. It's your job now to make him not pee all over the seat.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Finding time to write is hard. Many times a day when thoughts flit through my head, I say to myself- "I need to write that down". Then a squirrel darts by and I immediately forgot what profound thought I had seconds ago. I used to be hyper focused; sort of the anti ADD. Now, approaching 40- I've developed adult ADD. Otherwise known as old. married with crazy job and 3 crazy kids.
I went to a psychiatrist at the beginning of the year to see if I can get some meds for this condition I've developed. Surprisingly, getting my hands on some stimulants was WAY easy. This psychiatric practice was fascinating. I walked in and immediately saw this broken young man chain smoking out on the catwalk, muttering to himself, shaking his head back and forth. Clearly needing a xanax or a dart gun or something. I was so transfixed on watching him that I didn't hear them call  my name the first time. Also, they called me back less than 3 minutes after I signed in which I think was due largely to the fact that I presented an insurance card. The other folks sitting in that waiting room waited much longer than me. And I assure you, they needed to be seen quickly.
I was ushered to a room by a 14 year old psychiatry resident. Short white count and acne look great together. This sweet boy proceeded to ask me the battery of questions straight from his laptop.
"Are you fatigued?" Yes
"Do you get distracted easily?" Yes
"Are you irritable often" HELL yes
"Do you have feelings of despair" Excluding right now, no.
"Do you ever want to harm yourself or others" No to myself, yes to others- especially the people that irritate me.

I explained that I think I developed ADD in my late 30's and since I have a job where I kind of need to be on my A game most of the time, can I please have adderall, thank you very much. He smiled nervously and completed his questionnaire and went off to get Dr. P.
That's when things got interesting.
Dr P. walks in and all I can notice is her bizarre fashion sense. Nude knee-highs (also referred to as passion killers by my dear friend Sandy), mismatched skirt and top (like completely different patterns) and a big gold necklace that read: "God Loves You". In gold. Worn around her neck.
My mother always says that if someone dresses seasonally inappropriate, they're probably mentally ill. So if a woman wears a sweater in July or a tank top in December- beware. Well, Dr P was seasonally appropriate but the necklace and the mismatched outfit bought her the same diagnosis.
She asked me 2 more questions- "Do you get enough sleep?". After I stopped laughing, I said no.
"Do you eat a healthy diet?" She was killing me. Again, no.
Then she gave me a prescription for aderall and told me I should get more sleep and eat more balanced meals. Success.
I tried the aderall for a month and it may have marginally improved my attention span. It definitely gave me dry mouth, halitosis, mild palpitations and decreased appetite. My prescription ran out and I never refilled it. I learned that I don't have ADD but I have 38 year old Working Mother Disorder. There's no pill for that. But there is alcohol.
So to all of you who may live with a person with WMD- here's some good advice:

1. Don't tell them they need to get more rest, that they're working too hard. No shit. They're working this hard for a reason. It's usually attached to a dollar sign.
2. Don't tell them they should make time for exercise. No shit. They probably know that exercise is important already. If you watch their kids 3 evenings a week at a certain time, maybe they can get out and go for a run. If you don't- shut the frick up.
3. Don't tell them that time flies and their kids are gonna grow up before they know it so they should enjoy these amazing years now. They know their kids are going to grow up and move out and call once a week and ask for cash. They know they will look back at pictures and wont be able to remember when they were so tiny. But you know what? That's gonna happen whether or not they stay home and spend a ton of time with the kiddos or have to work long hours out of the home. Saying stupid shit like that just makes the mother with WMD feel like crap. So don't say it.
4. Tell your loved one with WMD that she is doing a good job and that her kids and husband seem like they are emotionally healthy. You may make her cry. But it'll be worth it.