Just Sharing


I am having a bad morning.  Arguments with the domestic partner.  A cat – his cat – who’s eaten the seedlings I was lovingly nursing to life, that I might feed our small family homegrown peas, zucchini, cucumbers, spinach, and red peppers this summer.  Now the oil-and-water combination of guilt at having told him he was being a “prick” and indignation at the knowledge that he, perhaps, wasn’t being a full-on prick, but that he was acting like a giant, hairy man-baby.  Progesterone.  Progesterone flooding my brain like rum, but so so much less fun.  Making me unsure whether my indignation is on solid ground.  Whether I’m actually indignant at all.  Or maybe just pregnant.  Prowling a blog written by a girl I went to high school with who, like all the girls I went to high school with, seems to have her shit so much more together than I do.  Her blog led me to this.  And I wanted to share it.  It made me think of my OB.

I have to sign a waiver stating that I want my tubes tied after I deliver our twins.  That I understand that it’s permanent.  That I really, really want it done.  Then I have to wait 30 days.  If I were to go into labor prior to my 30 days being up – an entirely possible scenario, given that twins often come early and I’m into my 8th month – my OB would be legally obligated to leave my tubes intact.  My insurance will be cut off almost immediately upon delivery, because my husband makes too much money for me to have medicaid if I’m not a surrogate for a uterine parasite or two.  I will not be allowed, then to have my tubes tied.

Except that my OB is fabulous and understands that it’s “absurd” for him to treat me based on the moral position of the State of Pennsylvania rather than on my own wishes.  Hearing that from him was a truly empowering experience. I’ve never, ever had a doctor make me feel as though what I wanted was priority one.  I’m pretty sure none of them up to this point could even have told me my own name without consulting my chart.  In fact, the fat shit practitioner I’ve blogged about previously has actually called me by the wrong name – and had the wrong patient chart pulled up at the beginning of our meeting – twice now.  So…my confidence in doctors is shaky at best.

But doctors like this one, like mine, give me the warm fuzzies.  As a woman, I find the idea that any doctor would feel any different both discouraging and frightening.

Faux Patina


So, I bought a changing table.  It was used.  A girl had it for sale on our local garage sale Facebook page.  I’d gone back and forth about getting a changing table.  “Couldn’t I just change them on the floor,” I asked my stepdad, who had helped us get the nursery ready to furnish and had just moved a mini fridge and armchair into it for my helpless, pregnant ass.  He laughed, shook his head, told me the first time I had to change them at three in the morning with less than two hours of sleep I’d be begging for a changing table.

The room is just so small.  It’s so small.  And the back part of it is my poor husband’s “man cave.”  Our nursery was once his room.  His computer, all of the things that he brought with him when he moved in that really didn’t match anything in my house.  His Hot Wheels collection and his Rammstein posters.  Now everything of his is shoved into a tiny little back room that’s really nothing more than a very small walk-in closet.  I’m trying to think of a way to convince him to take my office (since I’m never in it anymore).  My motivations are selfish.  I just want the extra space in the nursery.

Anyway, I bought this changing table because it was the right price.  Problem was that it was the wrong color.  It was white.  I’m talking white-white.  I’m talking, like someone had done their daughter’s nursery in princess theme.  Our stuff is rustic.  Distressed.  Wood grain.  Neutral colors.  Muted, neutral colors.  This changing table was…just…so…white.

So I decided I’d need to roughen it a bit.  I spent yesterday – the majority of yesterday – running to pick the thing up and then beating and staining it so that it would look old and, well, beaten.  I sanded it down, extra hard on the edges, gave it a brush of Minwax, let the Minwax get just tacky, then wiped it off and stood back to admire my work.  Take a look!

Greek Chicken & Garlic Cream Sauce


Sometimes I surprise myself.

Last week my mother-in-law, who works at the local jail, was talking about an interesting little kerfuffle going on between the two food vendors that supply the jail’s kitchen.  Basically, one vendor decided that he wanted to compete a bit more…uh…competitively…with the other.  So he decided to start slinging his chicken breast for $1.18 a pound.  Basically, what this meant for everyone who worked there, including my mother-in-law and, by association, me, was that we were being given the opportunity to purchase forty pounds of chicken breast for forty-seven dollars.  That, friends,  is what this housewife calls a damn good deal.

It took a while to process all that chicken breast, wrap it, and get it into my freezer, but my husband was very happy that we were now the proud owners of forty-four chicken breasts.  He loves chicken, my husband.  Sadly, he doesn’t get much of it because yours truly has a bit of an issue with commercially marketed meat.  We get all of our beef from a local farmer.  Actually, we mooch a lot of it off my dad and stepmom, who buy a half a cow’s worth of meat from said farmer and are always willing to float us some hamburger and roasts.  In any case, there’s the local beef.  We tend not to eat much pork, so when we do I’ll usually buy it at the better deli here in town and feel okay about it.  But I’ve yet to find a chicken hookup.  Well, I know that this chicken – especially at this price – is not likely to be the pasture-raised chicken I’d like to be eating.  But we’re are a single income family now, and at $1.18 a pound I couldn’t turn it down.  So our days of chicken drought are over.  At least until this vendor stops feeling competitive.

In any case, I’ve been faced for the past week or so with an overabundance of chicken and not a lot of ideas for what to do with it.  As I may have mentioned, we eat a lot of beef but chicken…not so much.  I have my old go-to recipes, but they’re boring and, not being a huge chicken fan myself, I just couldn’t get motivated to cook any of them.  I wanted something new.  I wanted something really, really tasty.  I wanted to go to The Plaza for dinner.  They serve fabulous Greek food.  We can’t really afford to go there without a good reason.

But I am a cook, even though I tend to cook less now than I used to.  So I decided that there was no reason we couldn’t have Greek food tonight.  It would just have to be a German girl cooking it.  The recipe is below, but be aware that I measure very little.  I give the “eyeball” measurements for things like spices and butter, and unless it comes in a package with a measurement on it I really couldn’t tell you the exact ratio of anything to anything I use.  Also, although I enjoy healthy cooking, this is not a healthy recipe.  Well…it is and it isn’t.  It’s rich.  I cook with real cream and butter.  I just don’t eat a bag of chips and drink a Pepsi with my meals.  I tend to cook like they did in the “olden days.”  They weren’t fat – although they also cooked with butter and cream – because they didn’t eat their own weight at each meal and they, you know, moved afterward.  So, yeah.  No need to flame me about how this recipe isn’t based on almonds and water.  Although…almond crusted steamed salmon does sound kind of good…

Greek Chicken with Garlic Cream Sauce

Dice one medium sweet onion and one red bell pepper.  Peel and mince one head of garlic.  Lay out two chicken breasts on a shallow baking dish and season lightly with salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano.  Squeeze the juice of one lemon over them.  Set aside.  Cut two large baking potatoes into a 1″ dice and toss with half of the garlic, just a touch more salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano.  Cut a pint of grape or roma tomatoes in half and set aside.  Wash a handful or two of baby spinach and set aside.

In a large, deep skillet, saute the onion, pepper, and garlic with a small slice of unsalted sweet cream butter.  Saute until onion becomes translucent.  Pour in 1 – 1 1/2 cups* of heavy cream.  Toss in your tomatoes, spinach, and a half teaspoon each of – you guessed it – salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano.  Allow the mixture to simmer so that the cream can reduce to about half.  It should thicken pretty nicely as it does.  While it simmers, arrange your potatoes on the baking sheet around the chicken breasts.  When the cream reaches a good consistency – not too runny – pour it over everything on the sheet and cover.  Bake at 425 about one hour – until your chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165.  Your potatoes should be fork tender by that point.  Sprinkle with some feta cheese or, if your sauce won’t thicken, just throw the feta right in while it simmers.  That should do the trick.  Reserve some feta as a garnish if you like.

My husband does not eat spinach, peppers, or tomatoes.  He generally doesn’t care for potatoes.  He eats all of them when I cook them right can trick him into it.  He ate all of them this evening.  So…

*I used nearly 2 cups of cream (a full pint) and there was a lot of unused cream that got thrown out after baking.  It set up nicely as it cooled, I think because I threw quite a bit of feta directly into the simmering sauce, but by that time I’d already discarded most of the liquid, meaning it had basically been wasted.  I’d recommend cutting it down to 1.5 cups of cream and seeing how much extra you wind up with after baking.  If it’s still too much, then cut it down to 1.  I just think 1 might be too little to properly wilt that much spinach.  But it’s all you, folks.  Consider my recipes nothing more than a jumping off point for negotiations.

Wifedom


I recently realized that my husband has no real expectations of me aside from those anyone would have of another human being with whom he might share his home.  Well, it was my home before it was ours, but…You know.  The typical expectations we have of anyone we live with.  Contribute to the household.  Don’t poop on the floor.  Don’t murder me while I sleep.  Those types of things.

Then I got fired for being pregnant.  I know.  I keep harping on it.  But it’s what happened and the company knows it and I’m not going to pretend here – the one place I ought to be able to say exactly what I think – that it was anything else.  So here I sit.  No longer contributing financially to the household.  Still not pooping on the floor.  No immediate plans to murder my husband in his sleep.

And I can’t help but think of the cultural archetype of the smiling fifties housewife, gleefully vacuuming the floors in heels and concocting dinners of butter and meat with giddy abandon.  Is this the truth of the matter?  Were American housewives of the era really that chipper?  The ones on amphetamines, perhaps.  Kidding.  My understanding of the social history of the time, which is based on history classes I took in college not dealing explicitly with women’s history, is that the swinging of the pendulum back to a focus on family and stay-at-home wives and mothers was a function of the end of WWII.  The period of time from 1945 to the official start of “The Fifties” marked a period of social change.  Where women were encouraged during the war to contribute to America’s success by taking jobs that men left behind as they enlisted or were drafted into the military, postwar American women were portrayed as more fulfilled by domestic endeavors.

So I’ve been trying to learn a little more about how much of our popular understanding of the 1950’s housewife as an oppressed and rather pathetic creature is authentic and how much of it is an insinuation perpetuated by television, magazine articles and other media.  One of the things that comes up most persistently when one runs a Google search on terms such as “1950’s Housewife” is this.  I referenced that particular instance of the article because it sends people straight to Snopes, which I think is one of the best websites ever.  Anything that seems wrong or off to me immediately gets “snoped.”  Snopes says that the article is, “an exaggeration with a point.”  While no one has found the source of the list  (leading most to believe that it was written long after the fifties had given way to modernity), it seems to be a sort of amalgam of the worst parts of a woman’s existence – its point being to give us a more cheerful outlook on the current state of things by comparing it to the worst of the past.

But it really doesn’t help me.  You see, while I spend the next two months cooking my twins, I find myself at home all day with nothing to really do aside from be a housewife.  I cook dinners.  I clean.  Sometimes.  I watch Toddlers and Tiaras and vomit.  The two are strongly causally related.  I start drafts of blogs.  Sometimes, like this morning, I finish them.  And I’m wondering whether I could hack it as a housewife in the fifties.  Trouble is that I can’t find any real references to what being a housewife in the fifties was actually like.

Jen (but never Jenn) had this idea before me, as have many women.  She did a Fifties Housewife Experiment and, for her reference material, she used household guides, magazines, cookbooks and home economics texts from the era.  She also used (and as a result, hipped me to) videos from the Prelinger Archives that were meant for women of the era.  In her experiment, she tried to recreate the schedule, social life and work load that a housewife would have in the fifties.  She also attempted to stay as true to the era as possible while still remaining within the bounds of reason.  And, in the end, she took a lot of heat for it.

Lauren Bans, in an article for Slate, said of the results of the experiment, “Though I suspect “pretending” for two weeks probably makes days of cleaning and cooking easier than when it’s the immutable reality of your life.”  This was my first thought when I first began forming the idea of doing a similar experiment in my mind – long before stumbling on Jen Byck’s blog.  And, to be fair, Bans also opened her article by stating, “Looks like someone wants a book deal!”  I won’t lie.  That was also at the forefront of my mind.  So…transparency.  But to be honest I have to wonder what Bans wanted from Byck.  I’ll be honest, I’ve not read through all the entries regarding Byck’s experiment and I’ve only casually glanced over her “results,” but it seems to me that one would have to read such an experiment as unscientific.  I’m not sure whether Byck failed to explicitly state that the experiment was not up to snuff in terms of the rigors of science – worthy of peer review and replication – but any reasonable person should understand that to be the case after just reading the introduction.  And the experiment I thought of doing  – one similar in most ways to Byck’s – would be the same.

The majority of complaints Byck received on her work seemed to center on the argument between those who feel that the fifties housewife was oppressed and forlorn versus those who feel that there may be something to the lifestyle that may have been – and may be now – beneficial to a marriage.  The disconnect between the two is obviously (to me, at least) the issue of Free Will.  Choice.  Something that women in the fifties seemed to have precious little of.

The problem with women’s roles in postwar America was that they were enforced.  Expectations of women and wives were that they would marry, keep a house and bear children.  Those who didn’t risked being ostracized as social lepers.  Spinsters.  No one wanted to wind up a spinster. According to the US Census, the median age of marriage for women in 1940 was 21.5.  By 1950, the age was 20.3, and that age didn’t rise significantly until 1980, when it rose to 22.  Perhaps now we feel that social pressure to behave in a certain way is less of a factor in our behavior.  Perhaps it is.  I really don’t know.  But what one needs to understand about that period in American history is that it was a time when one did not want to veer too far from the prescribed path.  Social damnation was a very real and very formidable fate.

We were trying “communists” and The Monsters (were) Due on Maple Street.  I know, that particular episode premiered in 1960, but it was about this time in the fifties, when the chill of suspicion infused everything.  It seems to me that the plight of the American housewife was that she really didn’t have a lot of choice.  Women in the forties had had a moment of independence.  They’d had jobs.  They’d had freedoms.  They’d been able to make it independent of a man and a marriage.  It was as if women had been allowed out of the pasture and were now being rounded back up as their fellas came home from war.  Patted on the shoulder and told “good job, girls, now kindly make us a sammich.”  Not literally, but one can see how the changing role of women seemed to be taking a step backward.  Many women were fine with it.  Many were led to believe they were fine with it because they bought into the American ideal of the Affluent Society – appliances and conveniences and the facade of security.  Social pressure can be an incredibly powerful motivator.  I’m not saying that all women were oppressed or not oppressed.  I think it depends on the woman.

The same social pressure exists today.  Do you know how many of the girls I graduated with wanted to become housewives after high school?  None.  That I knew of.  If any of us did we certainly didn’t talk about it.  It wasn’t even discussed as an option, although classes were offered in both Foods and Parenting.  I took both.  Because I didn’t want to take another class I’d have to study for.  After working and going to school, though, I always kind of thought fondly of what it would be like to just be in charge of a home.  My aunt was my model for what a stay-at-home-wife looked like.  Trouble was that my uncle had a swanky ass job and they could afford all the luxury they liked without her bringing home a check.  And that was the thing in the fifties.  The austerity of wartime was over and everyone was being pressured to buy, buy, buy!  And it was possible, at that time, to live with reasonable comfort on one income.  Such is not the case today.  The only reason we’re going to be okay is because The Company (cue lightening bolts and frowny faces) “laid me off due to lack of work.”  Read that as “you may collect unemployment.”  Also, pregnant women in my state are generally universally eligible for Medicaid through delivery.  And keep your mouths shut, folks.  I’ve worked and payed into the system since I was sixteen and I have ten weeks of my pregnancy left.  I’m not one of “those people” who sits on her duff from graduation on claiming all sorts of maladies that prevent her from working just to collect “your money.”

Back to the direction I meant for that paragraph to go in.  The same social pressure exists today, but in reverse.  We women are told that we should desire careers and lives outside of our homes.  And here’s my argument:  We should be allowed to desire whatever we want.  I’ve spent time at college.  I have interests other than my husband and his interests.  I feel happy and fulfilled catching up on my housework, working on my writing, cooking actual meals instead of depending on that Ginger Kid Wendy for all of my sustenance.  I’m enjoying being a wife and making a home.  I’m chosing to be a homemaker, in a way.  I am applying for work, as per the requirement set forth by the  Department of Labor and Industry, but I’m fully aware that any interview I walk into is doomed by the size of my belly – triple Sneetch at this point.  I don’t expect to be working until after I deliver, and I’m okay with that.  And the hardcore feminists are, I’m sure, looking down their noses at me from their big, you know, executive desks or whatever and either pitying or mocking me.  But I’m doing what I’m doing fully aware that, at least after delivery, I have every option to be doing something else.  I have the Free Will that the fifties housewife didn’t have.  And that makes it okay.

Hmm…but maybe I could trade just a little bit of my Free Will for some of their amphetamines….

Debriefing


Finally met the doctor who’s supposed to be responsible for the delivery of my twins.  He had a golf vacation planned during the week that one woman I know went into labor, but that’s one time and I’m not holding it against him.  She still got a fabulous delivery from another doctor in the practice and the delivery was performed according to the plan they had set up, so all in all everything worked out.

He gave me no trouble about the C-section, unlike some of the preachy nurses who wanted to make sure I knew that “God has a way he likes these things done,” whatever the fuck that’s about.  Seriously…I’ve got some issues with God’s method as opposed to the knock-her-out-with-the-good-drugs-and-leave-her-vajay-intact method.  Just sayin’.  If my doctor feels that it’s safe to go surgical with it then I say do it up.  And he does feel that it’s safe.  He was more than willing to sign on for that as well as the tubal ligation that the super religious nurses seemed to have issues with.

First of all, the way to get me to not do something is not to tell me that God doesn’t want me to do it.  Then I’m just going to go do it extra hard, just to be a bitch.  I’m sorry, but in my opinion – unless a client has expressed a deep spirituality herself – it’s inappropriate for a medical professional to impose her own religious views on the poor creature.  And by “inappropriate” I mean, of course, “absolutely fucking unforgivable and possible grounds for termination from the practice of medicine altogether.”

Furthermore, what is it with everyone pushing women to have more children?  I understand that the procedure is permanent (if done properly).  That’s, you know, why I fucking want it.  I understand that it’s not a decision to make without careful thought and consideration but come on.  People are allowed to get married with less heckling from the peanut gallery.  Why is it so hard to believe that a woman approaching thirty, who is of sound mind and competent to say the very least might want to close up shop and put the old uterus out to pasture?  I mean, the one time it was called to action it wound up spitting out extra parts anyway, so…you know.  My husband and I are 50% above plan.  We know our limits financially and emotionally.  I was emphatically anti having kids before we got serious.  When we got serious I looked deep within myself and made the decision that one kid might not usher in the apocalypse.  Now we’re having two and I’m just saying let’s quit while we’re ahead.

Oh, but super evangelical nurse practitioner lady is probably the type of woman who would also argue against her right to make decisions about her own reproductive system.  I never understood that.  Legislating that some woman, at some point in time, might be allowed to have an abortion/tubal ligation/other serious work done on her undercarriage does not mean that every woman is required to do so.  Why would anyone with a uterus not want complete control over it?  I really, really don’t understand that.  No one is strapping you down and making you have a partial birth abortion, ladies.  No one is vacuuming your fetus out and doing weird science experiments on it if you don’t sign off on it.  So mind your business and let the women who know what they can and cannot handle make those decisions.

Okay.  I just got really angry at that nurse practitioner.  Let me just say that it was nice to finally talk to someone – someone with a penis, no less – who had no personal interest in forcing me to leave my tubes intact or destroy my love tunnel in the name of Life.  I’m giving that dude a mental fist bump right now.  Right on, brother.

Also, he hipped me to this dude.  He bought a woodcut that the guy did of La Llorona.  My OB is fucking harsh.  I love it.

Additionally, my sugar was good after only the 1 hour test, so I got to avoid the horrible three-hour test.  My blood pressure has gone up but is still well within normal range, so the elephantiasis of my feet and ankles really is just normal swelling – nothing to be done about it.  Damn it all.  I get another sonogram in two weeks so we’ll get to be very sure that I am, indeed, having two girls in two months (keep your fingers crossed that whatever they are they’re the same sex.  The longer we can put off thinking about a separate bedroom for one of them the better).  We’ll also get an idea on how much of this weight I’ve gained is baby.  I know it’s going to be very little, but still.  It would help to know that at least some of it really is their fault and not my poor excuses for emotional food choices.  So…good day.

On Technological Ineptitude


I…am a luddite.  Not by choice, really.  Not because I hate technology and all of this, although I do have a healthy, natural distrust of it.  It’s just that I’m getting old.  I’m aging.  I’m getting old early and I can’t help it.  Those exasperated sighs I give my mother when she asks me how to “send someone a comment” or “play the Facebook…”  Those are the sighs that the young people would be giving me right now as I try to understand how to embed this video of Janeane Garofalo into this post so you can just watch it right here, without having to go to Twatter Video or whatever the site that hosts it is called.  This video is not on YouTube.  I don’t understand why.  I like YouTube.  I started using it before I got too old to figure things out.  I’ll bet if this video were on YouTube I’d be able to embed it.

Maybe not.  Wordpress has, thus far, managed to confuse the living hell out of me.  There are so many acronyms.  RSS and SEO and blahbity bloobity wah wah wah like the teacher on Charlie Brown.  Do you kids even know who the hell Charlie Brown is?  None of it means anything to me.  I’m reading Blogging For Dummies and I still don’t understand what I’m supposed to be doing.

But Janeane speaks for me.  She may be slightly – and I do mean slightly – older than me, but I’m about square with that generation in my mental, you know, leanings.  I was always about ten years older mentally than I was physically.  My poor children are so, so fucked.

I like Janeane Garofalo.  She makes me feel like it’s going to be okay.  It’s an odd feeling, aging.  I’ve been one of the young people, watching with excitement the birth of the internet and all of the opportunities it presented.  I grabbed onto things quickly.  I was a full-fledged member of a new generation.  The first generation to rely nearly entirely on the connection that the internet provided to the rest of the world.  And somewhere along the way I fell behind without realizing it.  Around the Myspace era.  Remember when Myspace was it?  It was the shit?  It was all you needed to know and you checked your Myspace all the time and you looked up pictures of those bitches you went to high school with and made fun of them and relived all of those horrible four years of your life at two a.m. on a Friday morning over a bottle of merlot and a pack of Camels, with work staring you dead in the eye from three hours away like, “come on, bitch.  I’m waiting for you.”

Maybe that was just me.

Right now, my dad knows more about technology than I do.  He has to help me do things like, you know, make my computer run when it won’t.  It’s like he’s had to bury his own child.  I’m an old woman from rural Pennsylvania lost on a Manhattan street with a map I can’t read.  It’s outrageously disturbing.  And a little funny.

Janeane Garofalo as the voice in my head