Another Charity Ball, Another Shaming

Now it’s no secret that I don’t do particularly well at stuffy, overly formal events. I find it difficult to relax and just be my usual, silly self. And let’s face it, maximum boredom plus maximum protocol equals minimum fun. It also pretty much guarantees that at some point I will misbehave.

Kind of like when you dress up a toddler and take them out to a fancy restaurant, and after repeatedly telling them that they have to be good, they only have about a 20-minute window where they can (barely) contain themselves before they have a total meltdown.

Unfortunately that’s also what I’m like at stuffy, formal events. I too have a about a 20-minute window where I can contain myself before I have a total meltdown. (I have about a 4-minute window if I don’t immediately have a drink in my hand).

So last month we were invited to yet another very fancy, very formal charity dinner. It was a relatively small, very exclusive gathering of some of the city’s oldest, whitest and wealthiest citizens.

I didn’t want to go but BR had already accepted the invitation on behalf of both of us (love it when he does that). And that night, while still on the tail end of my year long, wildly alcoholic nervous breakdown, I was feeling particularly bratty.

So we got all fancied up and I got my usual lecture in the car on the way there: Don’t drink too much. Don’t be rude. Don’t get sloppy. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t swear. Don’t try to high-five anyone. Blah blah blah.

BR was a little more “concerned” than usual because the Very Important Person who founded this particular charity was rumored to be attending. Hint: He may have something to do with British royalty.

So we get there and I immediately run to the bar and order a giant glass of vodka. BR was already giving me the stink-eye.

BR: Blondie this is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself.

Me: I am pacing myself. I only ordered one. I haven’t even started doing shots yet.

BR: Blondie, that’s not funny! Now get your shit together and let’s go mingle.

So we started walking towards the very well dressed, very proper, very demure crowd when all of a sudden this woman in a red dress slyly sauntered up to me.

She was sizing me up. I don’t like that.

Woman: I’m sorry, but I don’t believe we’ve met. I mean I don’t recognize you… at all!

Basically a nice way of saying, who the fuck are you.

Me: Oh hello, I’m Blondie.

Woman: Oh, I see. So tell me Blondie, what is your connection to the people here? And what is your involvement with this charity and philanthropy?

Basically a nice way of saying, and what the fuck are you doing here.

Me: Oh, hah hah. Well… nothing!

Woman: I’m sorry? I mean… I don’t quite understand…

Me: Just kidding. My husband plays polo with that guy over there. He and his wife invited us.

Woman: Well that’s… fascinating! Believe it or not, I have never been to a polo match.

Me: Hah hah haaah… well you’re not missing much. They’re really boring!

She looked even more perplexed at that point and since neither of us knew what to say next, I just stood there and gulped my drink and waited for her to walk away. Which she did.

Then before I could turn around and order another double vodka on the rocks, we were suddenly being ushered into the dining room.   And they were closing the bar! NOOOOO!

We found our table where our host had insisted on the typical seating arrangement – boy-girl-boy-girl, but no one is allowed to sit beside their spouse. I never used to understand the point of this, but now I know it’s because most people don’t really like their spouse. Apparently it’s also supposed to help “liven up the conversation” but really it’s just a way for some rich guy to try and bang some other rich guy’s wife.

Luckily I was seated in between two gentlemen who were very friendly and easy to talk to. Actually everyone at our table was quite social and enjoyable, but the conversation was cut short when the speeches began.

And this is where things took a bit of a “turn.”

Now the Very Important Person who founded the charity could not attend so he sent two things in his place: A very conservative, old-money proxy who spoke on his behalf, and a 30-minute video of himself talking.

I had already finished my glass of wine when they started serving the salad, and before I could flag down a waiter for another, someone stood up and proudly introduced the video. The half hour video. The waiters quickly lined up against the wall like a bunch of stiff soldiers and didn’t move for the entire duration. Everyone else was (uncomfortably) silent and stoic while the recorded speech played on. And on. I was getting thirstier by the second. And just when I thought it was coming to a close and I could finally get my hands on some fucking cabernet, he recited the entire speech again – in French.

My meltdown had begun. I was getting fidgety. I was getting bored. I was getting impatient. I was getting hungry. And worst of all I was getting sober.

Something had to give. So I casually nudged the guy on my right and gave a slight nod with my head. Then in my subtlest whisper of a voice I asked him what I thought was a completely appropriate question:

Me: Are you gonna drink that?

Gentleman: Umm… no, no… go… right ahead.

Me: Ok, thanks (glug glug glug).

BR was glaring at me from across the table. I didn’t care. Then after a few more minutes of the recorded speech en Francais, I casually nudged the gentlemen on my left.

Me: Are you gonna drink that?

This time I didn’t even wait for a response. I just grabbed his wine glass and chugged it.

BR was literally fuming. And the woman beside him (who invited us) was giving him the panicked, “what the fuck’s wrong with your wife” eyeballs while still trying to maintain a gracious smile and pretend like everything was fine.

Finally the video was over and the waiters were allowed to begin serving again. I immediately flagged one down. And let’s just say that by the time the entrees came and the Very Important Person’s proxy stood up to give her dry, lengthy, politically incorrect speech, I was drunk.

Now I realize that I may sound like a bit of a spoiled brat who’s complaining about having to partake in a social event that most people would never, ever have access to. But just hear me out:

I not only dislike these charity functions because they are dreadfully boring and socially stressful, but also because they are dripping with hypocrisy. You could literally build fifty schools in Africa with the amount of diamonds these ladies wear. I myself was wearing several thousand dollars worth of clothes and jewelry so I could “fit in.At a charity event.

And then I look around the room at all the extravagant clothes and expensive champagne and at a bunch of people who’ve probably never had to eat Kraft dinner as a necessity (and not just because it’s a delicious novelty food product) and who seem to care more about schmoozing and being seen than the actual charity they’re supporting. And I just don’t get it. And worse, I’m part of it.

And it baffles me because I didn’t grow up with money. In fact, it was quite the opposite. My mother had me by “surprise” when she was 20 and a waitress, and hadn’t even earned her high school diploma. We had no money. It was a stressful existence… for both of us.

It’s a very strange thing to experience completely opposite ends of the wealth spectrum – neither of which were my fault or my own doing. I just sort of… landed in them. But it gives me a unique perspective. And a very low tolerance for bullshit.

And this is why, by the time the Very Important Person’s proxy stood up to give her speech about this Very Important Charity in her very proper British accent, I didn’t react too well.

Dame So and So: …and for those poor people who have had the misfortune of being born on the wrong side of the tracks, they have a chance of becoming better people with your generous support… blah blah blah.

Don’t roll your eyes, don’t roll your eyes, don’t roll your eyes…

Dame So and So: …and I’m so proud to announce that we’ve helped thirty black people find jobs in the last seven years…

Ok, now that’s just racist. DO NOT roll your eyes…

Dame So and So: …and this is why the generous act of philanthropy is so important and why you should all be patting yourselves on the back for helping to improve the lives of these poor, poor hobos living in a ditch…

She didn’t exactly say that but she might as well have. I think I rolled my eyes about 17 times. And I continued to drink any alcohol that I could get my hands on. Until BR angrily leaned in towards me from across the table.

BR: Blondie, get your shit together and act like a lady!

A lady? A lady?? Well if you wanted a lady BR, then maybe you shouldn’t have plucked me out of my normal, nine to five, middle class life, dressed me up in a bunch of fancy-shmancy clothes, and dropped me in the middle of this bullshit fucking charity event!

When the dinner was finally over our table agreed to meet up for some drinks at a bar close by – but not before I stumbled out of my chair and yelled, “let’s get out of here and do some shots!” and then awkwardly high-fived a very bewildered eighty-something year-old gentleman at the table next to me.

BR very quickly ushered me out of the building and threw me in a cab.

BR: Blondie, I can’t believe you rolled your eyes through Dame So and So’s entire speech! What’s wrong with you!

Me: First of all, that speech was racist and classist and patronizing and she obviously has no idea what it’s like to be poor. Second of all, my mother was a waitress! WHAT THE FUCK DID SHE DO FOR ME?!

BR: Ok, I guess that’s actually a good point…

Me: And you dragged me to this stupid charity event where I had to watch a bunch of stuffy, old, rich douchebags pat themselves on the back for doing their “good deed” of the season… and it’s all fucking bananas!

BR: Well lucky for you, we probably won’t ever be invited back to another one.

Me: I know. You’re welcome.

The rest of the night was a bit foggy but at least I was able to relax at the bar. And order shots for everyone. And then high-five everyone. For a while I was sitting next to a reporter from a posh magazine who was covering the event. I don’t remember exactly what I blurted out to her, but I do remember slurring, “donn prinn that” a bunch of times. Oops.

But at least we won’t have to attend one of those functions again for a while. Or if BR is correct, possibly ever.

I know, BR. You’re welcome.

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Drinking Solution

So it’s been over a year since my last blog entry. Why, you ask? Well to put it bluntly, the past year has been a complete and utter gong show. Allow me to explain:

Last August, after four brutal years of fertility treatment we were finally pregnant – and then I miscarried.

Now I can only describe what happened next like this: simply put, after the miscarriage those four years of stress, hormones, pressure, anxiety, frustration, sadness, grief, physical trauma, exhaustion, depression and social isolation finally culminated in a spectacular explosion of a year long, out of control, vodka-induced shit show. It was equal parts midlife crisis/adolescent rebellion/full blown regression/wildly alcoholic nervous breakdown.

I basically went a bit nuts.

And I was mad at BR, more so than I’d realized. And I was hurt. He was supposed to be my partner and teammate through our infertility struggles. He was supposed support and console me. Instead he turned into a cranky drill sergeant who became more emotionally withdrawn with every failed cycle. And worse, he refused to acknowledge or believe that this was singularly the worst thing I had ever gone through. Suck it up Blondie. Stop complaining Blondie. Get back to the doctor and start another cycle Blondie. Get me a cupcake Blondie. I don’t care if you’re delirious on hormones and you can’t walk or think Blondie. I’m hungry Blondie! Blondie!! BLONDIE!!!

The anger slowly and steadily turned to resentment.

So I decided – much to BR’s chagrin – that I was never, ever, ever doing another fertility treatment again. I put a “closed for business” sign on my uterus, went back on the pill for some hormonal stability, and poured myself a giant, Fuck You martini.

I finally felt like I had some control. There was also a part of me that wanted BR to pay for all of the suffering he put me through.

And so it began.

BR: Blondie, why did my business partner’s brother send me a picture of you face down on the lawn after falling out of a taxi?

Me: Are you asking why he sent you the picture? Or are you asking why I fell out of the taxi.

BR: Blondie! That’s not funny!

Me: Wrong. It was very funny.

BR: Blondie, you’re a grown woman! You shouldn’t be getting drunk and falling out of taxis!

Me: Oh reeeally? And what should I be doing instead, delicately stepping out of the cab like a lady and walking to the door like a normal person?

BR: Yes, that’s exactly what you should be doing.

Me: Well that sounds boring.

BR: It’s not boring, it’s… wait a second, are you drinking right now?

Me: (Blinking and staring).

BR: Blondie! It’s not even noon!

Me: What’s your point.

BR: My point is that you clearly have a drinking problem!

Me: Oh really? Well I prefer to call it a drinking solution.

Now I won’t lie, I’ve always enjoyed a little drinkity-drink. Or two. Or seven. Ever since the first syrupy-sweet rum and coke touched my inexperienced yet very curious 15-year old lips. Well hello… what’s this? Oh! Oh I like this… a LOT.

And I must admit I am a TON of fun to have drinks with. I don’t get moody or melancholy or aggressive or surly. I literally light up like a giant fucking Christmas tree and become the life of the fucking party. Until I get sloppy.

It usually starts with me sipping a Kettle One martini up with a twist, while indulging in some friendly banter and a little joking around. Then it quickly moves to “shots for everyone!” followed by many awkward, ill-timed high-fives. Then more shots, then “oh my gaaaad I fucking LOVE this song!” followed by bad air guitar, slightly worse air drumming, many, many more shots, then more high-fives – all of which inevitably lead to some very sloppy, not even remotely sexy, spastic white-girl dancing (always a crowd pleaser). This is usually followed by a deep, completely nonsensical heart-to-heart talk with some random chick in the bathroom, then more shots, then finally ends with me slurring a bunch of incomprehensible compliments to my new best friends – whoever they happen to be that night.

Lishenn na me… I… I luff you… ok? Fuckinnn LUUUFFFF you. Yurrr slush a guh persnn… ok? Now les do a shot.

Now indulging in a few nights of this as a “responsible grownup” is fine. But this was not happening on occasion. This was happening all the time. And I was acting like anything but a responsible grownup.

This was made abundantly clear at the cottage this past summer when I led a pack of teenagers in a series of week-long binge drinking activities. My little sister “Molly” and her friends came to visit and so did my brother-in-law’s nephew and his friend. I mean they were all at least 18, so that makes it sort of ok… right?

Wrong.

We kicked-started the week by playing a game I learned called “shot roulette.”

Skill level: zero.

And how do you partake in this delightful parlor game, you ask? It’s very simple. You place a bunch of different shots on a tray, spin it around, close your eyes and pick one. Then you drink it and try not to barf.

Bottom line: you get very drunk, very fast.

Me: Ok kidsh, les play annther rounna shah roulette! Woooh!

Molly: Oh no, I think we’re ok. We’re all pretty tipsy.

Me: Thass bullshit. We’re doing it.

Molly: No, Blondie, really… we can’t play anymore!

Me: Ok, ok, ok… I’ll make itta lil easier this time. Only one will be vokka, the ress will be water. Ok? Now spin the fffuckin tray.

Molly: Ugh! Crap, I got the vodka shot! I think I might barf!

Molly’s friend: Ugghh, so did I!

Brother-in-law’s nephew: Me too! What the fuck Blondie!

Molly: Blondie, you gave us all vodka shots! None of them are water!

Me: Hah hah… I know. Thah meansh you’re ALLLL winners. Donn tell Daddy.

The next morning, while I was nursing a wicked hangover and trying to piece together what happened the night before, the boys walked into the living room.

Brother-in-law’s nephew: Oh my god… you’re alive?

Me: Ugh, barely. Umm… quick question – I didn’t try to, you know, “rape” either of you last night, did I? Haha.

Brother-in-law’s nephew: Um yeah. You did. A lot.

Me: Oh dear. Sorry about that.

“God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson…”

By the end of the week we were all in trouble. My brother-in-law yelled at the kids for being too rowdy. And I got yelled at for being a “bad influence.”

Brother-in-law: And you! You are the WORST adult supervisor in the history of ADULT SUPERVISORS!

Me: Well I wouldn’t exactly say I’m the worst

Brother-in-law: No, don’t talk. You’re not allowed to talk! Just sit there and listen!

This was followed by a rather long lecture with a series of accusations that I don’t quite remember. Let’s just say I was in trouble.

But I didn’t learn my lesson. And I was in no mood to slow down. By the end of summer I was yelling “get the funnel!” whenever anyone showed up for dinner. My in-laws had had it. So had BR.

But then summer was over. And after a very teary, angry argument, followed by two sessions of awkward couples therapy, things started to turn around a little. BR was finally able to understand why I was so angry with him. And I began to realize that maybe this downward spiral of alcoholic lunacy wasn’t the best way live or cope or maintain a relationship. We were both sorry.

And although I still have my wild moments and crazy nights out (and let’s face it, I always will) they’ve tapered down. A lot. This whole ugly infertility chapter is finally, finally closed and I think we’re both (cautiously) ready to move on. To what exactly I’m not sure, but at least we’re doing it together.

And I’m happy to be back online.

Back online bitches. Lookout.

It was a Cruel, Cruel Summer

You know you’ve been in the fertility game too long when a friend tells you they’re pregnant and you look at them with total, utter confusion.

Friend: We’re pregnant!

Me: Oh my God!  But… how?

Friend: What do you mean.

Me: Like, from doing it?

Friend: Yes…

Me: With each other?

Friend: Yep.

Me: That’s all you did.  You just… did it.  And now there’s a baby in there.

Friend: Um…

Me: Wow, that’s just… I had no idea people got pregnant like that anymore.

This past spring BR and I went through another long, painful round of fertility treatment.  Number six.  We’d had pretty crappy luck so far, so this time BR wasn’t taking any chances.  We were going to the best clinic with the best doctor.  We were going to New York.

At first I wasn’t really jazzed about this decision.  I was comfortable at my usual clinic and I didn’t want to start all over again in a strange city away from home.  But BR insisted.

BR: Blondie I’m not giving our idiot doctor any more money.  All this time and he still hasn’t gotten us a baby!

Me: Yeah, but it’s not exactly a guarantee.  I’m not really sure it’s the doctor’s fault… I’m kind of out of eggs.

BR: Of course it is!  That’s why we’re going to another doctor!  A Jewish doctor who knows what he’s doing!  In New York!

So we flew to New York before the cycle began to meet our new doctor and to get some tests done.  We also went to look at some hotels which would be suitable for me to stay in while I was there.

Me: Um, BR?  Why do we keep looking at all these shitty hotels?  I’m starting to get a little nervous.

BR: Blondie, I’ve looked up a bunch of prices and there’s no way you’re staying in a nice hotel while you’re here.

Me: What’s that supposed to mean?

BR: It means you’re going to have to lower your expectations.  I’m not forking out a jillion dollars for you to live it up at the Plaza for three weeks.

Me: First of all BR, I’m not “living it up” during an IVF cycle.  I’m suffering.  Second of all, it wasn’t my idea to come to New York.  So if you want me to stay here you better make sure I’m comfortable.

BR: Blondie!  This baby is costing me a fortune!  Do you know how painful this is for me?

Me: But you have a fortune!  And you’re not the one going through it!  And making me stay in the Bates Fucking Motel isn’t going to help me get pregnant!

BR: Oh really?  You’re lucky I’m not making you stay over there!

Me: In that cardboard box.  With that homeless man.  Oh that’s nice.

BR: It is nice.  Too nice.  You’re getting spoiled.

But after a few days BR finally relented.  I think he was just tired of listening to me cry.  So we booked the room and a month later I was off to New York.  BR came for the first couple of days to help me get settled in.  But then he flew home and I was left to fend for myself in a big city while facing inevitable hormonal delirium.

And for approximately two and a half weeks, the cycle was relatively manageable.  I pumped myself full of hormones, went to my appointments, ordered room service, napped, watched a bunch of trashy television and hid out in my hotel room.  And I was sort of doing ok.  So one night I called BR to wish him a happy birthday.

Me: Happy birthday BR!  What are you doing tonight?

BR: I’m going for dinner with my parents.

Me: Oh that’s nice.  Are they taking you to the strip club after?  Haha.

BR: Ugh, Blondie… I’ve already been there so many times since you’ve been gone, I can’t go back for a while.

Me: Pardon?

BR: I need at least a week off from the strip club.

Me: Are you telling me that the whole time I’ve been in New York enduring fertility torture alone, you’ve been whooping it up at the rippers?

BR: Blondie, I’m helping to support to single moms.

Me: (pause…)

BR: It’s my way of giving back to the community.

Me: How charitable of you.

BR: Exactly.

Was I annoyed by this?  Oh slightly.  He was at home having all sorts of scandalous fun while I was here suffering through yet another agonizing round of IVF.

But then I thought, what would the alternative be?  Would the alternative be having him here to support me through this difficult treatment?

No.

The alternative would be me trapped in a New York hotel room with BR for three weeks while trying to manage exhausting levels of physical, emotional and psychological stress.

The alternative would be having to hear things like, Blondie i’m bored.  Blondie I’m hungry.  Blondie massage my feet.  Blondie stop complaining about the hormones and massage my feet.  Blondie I’m still hungry.  Blondie I don’t want to watch Mad Men.  Blondie change the channel.  Blondie turn the music back up.  Blondie I don’t understand why you don’t want to listen to Rhianna really loud at 7am.  Blondie where’s my Iphone.  Blondie where’s my Ipad.  Blondie.  Blondie.  Blondie.  Blondie!!!

The alternative would be me losing my shit and eventually murdering him.

So that’s fine BR.  If Cinnamon and Destynee are what it takes for you to leave me alone in New York with some well-deserved peace and quiet, then knock yourself out.  “Make it rain” for all I care.

But then… BR came back.  He came back for the egg retrieval and to make his small yet important contribution to the cycle.  He blew in like a hurricane and as the door to the hotel room swung open I realized that my little cocoon of solitude was now ripped to shreds.

Me: BR you have to turn the TV down, it’s really loud.  I can’t think.

BR: Blondie no one’s paying you to think.

Me: If you don’t turn the television down, I am literally going to punch you in the throat.  Please turn it down and come and help me take this shot.

BR: What shot?

Me: The shot that’s supposed to induce ovulation.  I have to take it at exactly 10:30 and I need your help sticking it in my butt.

BR: Are you coming on to me?

Me: NO!  Now turn down the TV, get over here, and please help me with this giant fucking needle! 

BR: Wow, that is a really big needle.  How do you want to do this?

Me: Ok, I’m going to pull my pants down, lie on my stomach, and you’re going to gently stick the needle in my butt and carefully push the plunger.  Ok?

BR: Blondie, I’m basically a surgeon.  I’ve got this.  Now take a deep breath and count to three.

Me: Ok.  One… two… MOTHER OF FUUUCK!  I said gently!  GENTLY!

BR: Oh.  Whoops.  I thought I was supposed to jab it.

Me: Who said anything about jabbing?!  I never said jab!  That really hurt, what’s wrong with you!

BR: Blondie, you’re overreacting.  That was way more stressful for me than it was for you.  I’m tired now.  Come and put me to bed.

Me: BR, you just stabbed me in the ass.  My ass really hurts.  So do my boobs.  So does my head.  And tomorrow I have to go and have my ovaries harvested, which I’m dreading.  So maybe for once you could put me to bed.

BR: Blondie, shhhhh.  Nobody likes a talky-talk.  Now shutty your trappy and come tickle me to sleep.

So I did.  I also contemplated smothering him with a pillow.  Many times.

So after an anxiety-ridden, sleepless night it was time to go to the hospital for the egg retrieval.  I was not looking forward to the procedure but I was looking forward to being heavily drugged.  Now I won’t go into graphic detail about what an egg retrieval entails, but if you feel like barfing, google it.

Anyway, the retrieval sucked as usual but the recovery was no picnic either.  I had a solid week of abdominal pain and swelling.  I was put on progesterone shots which immediately made my boobs ache and my entire face break out.  I couldn’t really move around without moaning like a wounded animal.  I couldn’t really wear pants.  I was only allowed to take Tylenol.  And BR was my nurse.

Kill me.

All this for three piddly little eggs.  Then a few days later it was time to have the embryos transferred.  Miraculously all three eggs fertilized, and all three were put back in.  I should have been happy (or at least hopeful) about this but I was so tired of being poked at like a barn animal that all I could do was quietly sob in the recovery room afterwards.  I was just too exhausted and sore to do anything else.

But I was also mad.  Mad that all of our hopes and efforts to have a family had resulted in… this.  This wasn’t baby making.  This was bullshit.

Then a couple of days later we flew home.  I didn’t have high hopes for this cycle, so I spent the next couple of weeks waiting for my period to come.  But then it didn’t.  So I peed on a stick.  And I was about to chuck it in the garbage when I thought I noticed a very faint, second line appear.  What the… so I peed on another stick.  Same thing.

Holy shit.

A couple of days later our family doctor confirmed it.  We were pregnant.

Once the initial shock and confusion wore off, I was thrilled.  Panicked, but thrilled.  But BR was a little more cautious.  He wouldn’t allow himself to emotionally react to this baby until he knew we were in the clear.  And until then, he took it upon himself to micromanage my every move.

BR: Blondie!  You’re not supposed to be having coffee!  Spit it out.

Me: BR, I’m allowed to have a cup of coffee.  Stop overreacting.

BR: And what are you doing walking around?!  You’re supposed to be lying down!  Lie down!

Me: But our doctor said I can resume normal daily activities.  I don’t think puttering around the house is going to kill me.

BR: Blondie, he obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  He already lost a patient this year.

Me: Your grandmother – may she rest in peace – was 91.  And this is not a high-risk pregnancy.

BR: It’s high-risk to me!  Now put down that coffee and get back to bed!

So aside from BR acting crazier than usual, and having to hear lots of unsolicited advice from family, I was actually doing ok for the first couple of weeks.  Until the nausea kicked in.  And never. Let. Up.

This happened at about the same time we moved up to the cottage for the summer – which should ideally be a relaxing and tranquil place to be.  It isn’t.

The “cottage” is an enormous property that functions more like a small hotel.  We move up there with BR’s family, and there is a revolving door of guests from the moment we arrive until the moment we leave.

Allow me to sum it up for you: I was pregnant, constantly nauseous, and exhausted.  I had a huge ass and raging acne from the progesterone.  I was too sick to stand upright for more than a few minutes, let alone walk around.  I was too hormonal to talk.  And the cottage was full of people.

Now I don’t care how much you love your friends, family and in-laws – I don’t recommend this.

So I basically slept through the summer until it was time for our 12-week ultrasound. We drove back to the city and arrived at the hospital.  BR was nervous, but I wasn’t.  I was actually excited.

A nice, young technician performed the ultrasound and then called in another doctor to take a look.  Neither of them said anything, they just nodded and smiled.  It wasn’t until our own OBGYN came into the room that we were told there was no heartbeat.

No heartbeat.  No baby.

We were devastated.  But then it got slightly worse.

Me: So… what do I do now?  About the pregnancy, I mean.

Doctor: You have two options.  We can give you some medication to take at home which will induce a natural miscarriage, but the results can be a bit unpredictable.  Or we can call you in a few days when there’s an opening and you can come back and have the fetus surgically removed.

Me: Well those both sound awesome.

I chose the latter.  At least I would be knocked out.

So we left the hospital and drove back up to the cottage where we would have to break the news to everyone.  I didn’t feel like speaking during the drive so I just numbly stared out the window… until BR provoked me.

BR: Blondie, don’t be upset.  This will all work out eventually.

Me: I hope so.  I don’t know how many more times I can do this.

BR: Blondie that’s loser talk.  You need to be more positive.

Me: Oh really?  About what exactly.  The weight gain?  The nausea?  The exhaustion?  The explosion of acne all over my face?  The fact that I have to wait around for a phone call so I can go back to the hospital to have our baby removed?  The fact that I have to go through another painful gynaecological procedure?  The fact that once I recover I have to do this ALL OVER AGAIN?!  THE FACT THAT WE HAVE NO BABY?!  No BR.  I think the only “positive” thing here is that I haven’t flung myself off a bridge yet.

BR: Blondie, come on.  You’re not the only woman going through this.  I think you should suck it up.

Me: (blinking and staring)

BR: It’s not like you have cancer.

Me: is that the most… helpful thing you could think of to say right now?

BR: Blondie, it’s not my job to be helpful.  It’s my job to be in charge of getting us a baby.  Damn it, why am I not allowed to just clone myself?  All of this would be solved! 

Me: (blinking and staring)

BR: Seriously, how awesome would it be to have a bunch of Me’s running around.  I’m going to do some more research on this.

Me: Oh look, a liquor store.  You can just… drop me off there.

And then summer was over.  What a shit-show.

We planned for another round of IVF last month, but I cancelled at the last minute.  I just wasn’t ready.  BR was disappointed but I told him that I need a bit more time to recover.  I think he understands.  Or at the very least he hasn’t been pressuring me.  And now I’m looking forward to another winter in Florida with the dogs and lots of visits with family and friends.  I can walk the beach, get some sun, do some yoga and finally feel like myself again.  I can allow myself to feel happy and fortunate for all of the things we do have.

Until the next cycle.  But I’ll worry and blog about that later.

New Car

Last year in Florida BR decided he would buy me my very own car.  One that I could actually drive (without crying or hyperventilating which is usually what happens when I’m forced to drive one of his fancy sports cars).  How sweet of him!  So I told him I would like something small and cute and – most importantly – easy.  

I also didn’t want anything too flashy or fancy because I really don’t like to draw unnecessary attention to myself when I drive.  My driving gets enough attention.

So BR surprised me one afternoon by taking me to a Mini dealership.  Perfect!  We would look around and BR would let me pick out my very own small, cute, easy-to-operate car.

BR: Now Blondie, this is going to be your car.  Probably for the next 30 years.  So I want you to get something you really like.

Me: Ok.  Well I like the off-white one over there.

BR: No.  That’s a stupid colour.  How about the silver one.  Do you like it in silver?

Me: Well no, not really… I like it in that off-white colour.

BR: Alright Blondie.  I will consider the white one.  But you’ll probably end up getting it in silver.  So I would suggest that you start liking silver.

BR began walking towards the car.

Me: No, not that one – the one over here.  With the extended back.

BR: No Blondie, I disagree.  I think you like the smaller one.

Me: But I can’t fit the dogs in the smaller one!  Don’t you think this one’s more practical?

BR: Now Blondie, I’ve already told you – this is your car.  I want you to love it.  But the smaller one is definitely cooler.  In silver.  Don’t you like it better than the bigger one?  I think you do.

It was becoming painfully obvious that BR was having a “difficult” time letting me pick out my own car.

BR: Oooh Blondie, look over here!  This one has a Union Jack on the roof!  You’re getting that.

Me: I don’t really want that.  Besides, neither one of us is British.

BR: Blondie, the car is British.  That’s why it’s cool.

Me: No, the car is German now.  And you don’t really like Germans.

BR: No, I don’t like Nazis.

Me: Right.  And because of the war, you’ve banned all German cars.  So I’m actually surprised we’re even looking at these, because you’ve repeatedly said that you don’t want either of us driving a “Nazi sleigh.”

BR: That’s true, I don’t want either of us driving a Nazi sleigh.  Which is all the more reason that your car should have a Union Jack on it.

Me: I really don’t want the Union Jack.

BR: Blondie!  It’s not optional!

And that’s how it went for the next hour or so.  I would pick out something I liked and BR would swiftly stomp all over my dreams.  This was going nowhere fast.  And if I did end up getting a car that day – which was starting to seem highly unlikely – I would probably end up running him over with it.

Finally I suggested that maybe we should look at a few other brands.  My heart wasn’t necessarily set on a Mini… with a Union Jack on the roof… and checkered racing stripes… in silver.  So BR took me to look at some Fiat 500’s.

Me: BR, these are super cute, but they’re even smaller than the Mini’s.  I’m definitely not going to be able to fit two standard poodles in here.

BR:  Blondie, the dogs will fit if you squish them in the back together.

Me: I’m not squishing our dogs.

BR: Blondie, don’t be ridiculous.  Just squish them together and they’ll be fine.  Besides, don’t you remember how much fun we had driving one of these around Italy?

Me: No, you had fun.  I almost barfed.

BR: Blondie, it’s not my fault that the Italians make their roads really windy.  Now do you want a Fiat or are you going to keep acting like a selfish, Nazi-loving Christian?

Me: (blinking and staring)

BR: Perhaps you would like me to buy you a great big Mercedes with a licence plate that says Heil Hitler on it.  Maybe a nice swastika bumper sticker!  Is that what you want?!

So we left the dealership.  BR was acting a bit nuts and I was frustrated.  I just wanted to go home.  But then we drove past a Volvo dealership.

Me: Pull in there.

BR: Where?  Volvo?  Are you kidding me?

So we pulled in.  And pulled up right beside a very cute, very practical little hatchback.

Me: I want that one.

BR: Blondie!  Come on!  Volvo’s are for old people and soccer moms!

Me: I don’t care.  They’re very safe and very easy to drive.  I want that one.

BR: Blondie, be reasonable.  You’ve obviously gone bonkers.

Me:  I am being reasonable.  I’ve picked out a reasonably priced car that won’t make me cry and that I can probably parallel park and won’t smash to pieces… probably.

BR:  You’re killing me.

Me: And look, the seats fold down!  I can totally fit our fluffy children in here.

BR: How about a Porsche.  Would you like me to buy you a Porsche?

Me: No, I don’t want a Porsche.  I want a Volvo.

BR: Who doesn’t want a Porsche!  I WILL BUY YOU A FUCKING PORSCHE!

Me: I don’t want a fucking Porsche!  Where am I going to drive it?  I only drive to Target and the grocery store and the FUCKING DOG GROOMERS!

BR: Fine.  I’ll get you a Maserati.  Would you like a Maserati?

Me: I can’t drive a Maserati!  What is wrong with you?  Why won’t you let me have a Volvo?

BR: Because… if I’m going to spend money on a car for you, then I would at least like it to be something cool.  Now do you want a Maserati or not.

Me: BR, we’re in Florida.  Everyone here owns a gun.  I get lost all the time and some neighbourhoods are sketchy.

BR: So?  What does that mean?

Me: It means I don’t want to get a car-jacking on my way to Target!  I just want a normal car!

BR: Fine.  I’ll just get you a bicycle then.

Me: You know I can barely ride a bicycle.

BR: Ok, fine.  A unicycle.  And then all of our neighbours can point and go, oh look there’s Blondie riding her unicycle again.  She must be going to TARGET!

Me: I don’t understand, I thought you’d be happy that I’m picking a Volvo over a Maserati.  I’m saving you like a hundred grand!

BR: No Blondie, you’re costing me a hundred grand.  Because now I have to go out and buy another sports car to compensate for THIS GEEZER-MOBILE YOU’RE MAKING ME BUY!

BR and I were clearly not seeing eye to eye.  In retrospect I shouldn’t have been all that surprised that he wasn’t letting me pick out what I wanted.  He has a difficult time “giving up the reins” so to speak.  Which is a nice way of saying he’s a bossy control-freak.

But after a week or so, he began to change to his mind.

BR: Ok Blondie, I’ve thought about it.  I’ve weighed all the options.  And I’ve concluded that you might be better off with a Volvo instead of a sports car.  I think it will be easier for you to drive, and you can fit the dogs in the back.

Me: Those are excellent points BR.  You’re so smart.

BR: I know.

But the battle wasn’t over yet.  BR had to do his “research” and find the cheapest Volvo on the planet that also had all of the things I wanted.  As it happened, my exact little dream car was sitting at a dealership about 20 minutes away.  So a couple of weeks went by and once BR was convinced that he probably couldn’t find that exact car anywhere else for less, he began his ruthless process of negotiation.

Another week passed.  Apparently this particular car salesman wasn’t as cooperative as BR would have liked.  Then another week passed… still no car.

Me: Um, BR?  How’s my car coming along?  Did you and the salesman agree on a price yet?

BR: Not exactly.

Me: What does that mean?

BR: It means I gave him my final offer and he’s not returning my calls.

Me: Are you kidding me?  How much more does he want?

BR: Never mind.

Me: What do you mean, “never mind.”  You must have really low-balled him.  What does he want, a couple thousand?

BR: Not exactly.

Me: How much are you fighting over.

BR: Blondie…

Me: How much.

BR: Six-hundred dollars.

Me: Six-hundred dollars?!   It’s taken you five years to finally get me a car and finally we agree on one that I like and you’ve lost it over SIX-HUNDRED DOLLARS??  I would have given you six-hundred dollars!  I can’t go through this whole demented process with you again, IT’S EXHAUSTING!

BR: Blondie, that’s not the point.  It’s not the money, it’s the principle.  And that salesman is being a real douchebag.  And I refuse to buy a car from him.

Me: (blinking and staring)

BR:  Apparently he’s also refusing to sell me one.

Now, I know BR has very frugal tendencies.  I know he’s a control-freak.  And I also know it takes him an abnormally long time to pull the trigger on anything – practical that is.  But the thought of having to go car shopping with him all over again was about as appealing as gouging out my own eyeballs with a rusty spoon.

So I started to cry.  Not out of disappointment, but out of sheer psychological frustration.

Another couple of weeks passed and I was starting to accept the fact that a new little car would likely not appear anywhere in the near future.  Then one night BR told me to get dressed to go for dinner.  So I did.  We got in the car and drove for an unusually long time.

Me: Where are we going for dinner?  Miami?

BR: Blondie, do you have any sense of direction?  No.  We are not going to Miami.  Oh look, there’s a Volvo dealership up ahead.  Let’s just pull in and see what they have.

Me: What?  No.  No no no.

BR: Come on Blondie.

Me: BR, please.  I’m starving and I really don’t have the energy to battle it out with you in another dealership right now.  Let’s just go to dinner, we can look at cars another time.

So we pulled in.  We walked inside and a nice salesman approached us.  He told us he may have something I might like.

Well duh, of course he’ll have something I’ll like – I’m not the one who needs convincing.

So we followed him around the corner and there in the middle of the room, wrapped in a giant red bow was… my new car! 

Me: Holy shit!  You actually bought this for me?  In secret?  It’s exactly what I wanted!

BR: Yes Blondie.  Happy birthday.

Me: Awwww, thanks BR!

I jumped up and down a little and then threw my arms around him.

Me: Um, not to ruin the moment or anything, but you know my birthday was like 3 months ago.

BR: What’s your point.

I was so thrilled I couldn’t even be mad at him for having no idea when my birthday was.  He bought me Volvo!

Me: Do I get to drive it home?

BR: Yes.  After we make a quick stop at Best Buy and get you a GPS.  You need one.  You think we’re in Miami.  We’re nowhere close to Miami.

So we went for dinner, picked up a GPS, and I followed him home in my super cute, brand new car just for me.  I was beaming.  I was also singing along loudly – with feeling I might add – to George Jones for most of the drive when I realized I had left my interior lights on.  Embarrassing, but oh well… I’m in a Volvo bitches!

When we got home BR immediately got into bed and grabbed his Ipad.  After a couple of hours I finally asked him what he was doing.

BR: I’m looking at freightliners Blondie.  That’s what I’ll be buying next.

Me: Oh.  Can I ask why?  I mean, where are you going to drive it?

BR: Anywhere and over anything.  That’s the point.  You and your little Volvo better watch out.

Did I roll my eyes or make any comments about him having Napoleon Syndrome?  I did not.  Did I point out the fact that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for us to own a freightliner?  Nope.  I just let him browse freightliners until he got really sleepy because I knew how hard it was for him to pull the trigger on a car he didn’t like… a car that wasn’t even for him.

Me: Well if that’s what you want then you should totally get a freightliner.

BR: I will get one.  I’ll show you.  I’ll show everyone…

And then he fell asleep.

Nighty-night BR.  Thanks for the Volvo.

Polo

They say polo is the sport of Kings.  I disagree with this statement.  In my experience, It seems more like the sport of very rich men with big egos, who are willing to spend a fortune to chase a ball around on horseback for an hour.

And I’ve tried – oh, how I’ve tried – but for the life of me, I just don’t get it.

BR: Blondie, did you see how many goals I scored today?

Me: Umm… two?

BR: No.

Me: Three?

BR: Blondie!  Were you even watching my game?

Me: Oh yes, I was watching.  I was totally watching.

I wasn’t watching.  I was taking a nap in the car, reading a trashy gossip magazine, playing Word Warp on my phone… all to try and pass the time because somehow I got suckered into watching yet another of BR’s polo matches.

Now please understand, I have tried to like polo.  I’ve been to a countless number of BR’s matches, fancy professional tournaments with world-class players, polo parties, polo functions, polo fundraisers… but I just don’t like it.

BR even talked me into taking horseback riding lessons for a while, in the hopes that I would gain a little appreciation for his favourite past-time.  Unfortunately I didn’t learn anything about polo, but I did learn that I am definitely afraid of horses.  And you know what?  Horses can sense that.  And then they screw with you.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret about polo:  you don’t actually have to be any good at it to win tournaments and trophies.  In fact, you could be slumped over the saddle, dragging your mallet through the perfectly manicured grass while your horse is running around in circles the entire game – and you could still win.  How is this possible, you ask?  Because polo isn’t so much a game of skill for the super rich – it’s a game of wealth.  In other words, the more money you’re able to spend on well-bred horses and professional players from Argentina who make up the rest of your team, the more you’ll win.

Therefore winning a big tournament isn’t necessarily a show of your athletic prowess – it’s a show of how much your wallet is able to crush your opponents.

And because of this, you are guaranteed to meet some very “interesting characters” who are dedicated to the sport.

I remember the first year BR played polo in Florida – I came out to watch a few of his games.  Nobody knew who we were, which was fine with me.  One day after the game, an older gentleman approached me on horseback and introduced himself.  He asked me where I was from.  So I told him.

Polo player:  Oh really.  Where’s that, exactly.

It’s not like BR and I are from the boonies.  We’re from a well-known, very cosmopolitan city.  So I couldn’t tell if he was joking or being slightly rude.

Me:  Oh, I’m not really sure, haha.  Where are you from?

Polo player:  Isn’t is obvious?  I’m from New York.  More specifically, DUMBO.

Me: Oh… where’s that?

He scoffed a little.

Polo player:  What, you’ve never heard of it?  Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

Me:  Oh… that’s nice.  Do you like it?

Polo player:  Like it?  Sweetheart, I developed it!

And then he literally turned around and rode away.  Towards… well nothing really.  Towards the end of the field.  And I was left standing there, dumbfounded (no pun intended).

Later that afternoon we were invited to watch one of the professional tournaments at the fancy International Polo Club of Palm Beach.  BR and I are not members of said club (BR refuses to join anything) but a few of our friends are.  It was my first time going to one of these tournaments, so I was a little nervous to say the least.  Because let me be blunt: it’s not just a game.  It’s a scene.

Now these professional tournaments can be somewhat entertaining – or at the very least they’re a good excuse to get drunk during the day – but they’re part of a pretty bizarre world.  They’re basically very glitzy, booze-fuelled events where wealth and drunken debauchery and an abnormal number of straight men sporting pink pants collide.

Side note: If you’re interested, Laurence Leamer’s book, “Madness Under the Royal Palms”  is all about Palm Beach society and he gives a very accurate description of what the polo scene is really like.  I highly recommend it.

Anyway, that day, this particular friend (we’ll call him “Fred”) gave us tickets to sit in his box.  He wouldn’t be there, but he told us to go ahead and have a good time.  So we arrived a few minutes late (in our inappropriately casual jeans and t-shirts) and guess who was in the box?  The gentleman from DUMBO and his wife, as well as a few of their friends.  Mr. DUMBO gave a slight nod in our direction, but didn’t acknowledge that we’d previously met, or that he had just played a match against BR a few hours earlier.  His wife, on the other hand, looked at us like we were a couple of interlopers who had somehow managed sneak into the game.  She was frowning.

We sat directly behind them.  His wife turned around not once, not twice, but a few times and – still frowning – very blatantly looked us up and down.  Finally she spoke.

Mrs. DUMBO: Um, excuse me, but are you friends of Fred’s?

BR: Yes.

Mrs. DUMBO: Oh.  Oh, I see.

She was still frowning when she turned around and very loudly said to her friends, “I don’t know who these people are and I don’t know what they’re doing here.”

So that was awkward.  Not only because we were sitting directly behind her and could hear everything she said, but also because all her friends turned around and disapprovingly looked us up and down as well.  And did her husband care to mention that he had met us earlier and that BR was a fellow polo player?  No.  He did not.

Ugh.  I wanted to crawl into a hole.  But then I thought, seriously lady?  I know your husband’s a “big deal” and everything, but do you have to be so mean?  This isn’t even your box.

Needless to say I drank my way though the rest of that game.

We’ve been back to the International Polo Club several times since then, and over the years it’s become a little more enjoyable.  I’m still not even remotely interested in the actual polo, but I do enjoy all the vodka that’s being passed around.  And the people watching.  That never gets boring.

BR and I have also been to our share of polo functions.  The last one we attended was a black tie affair, where a friend of ours – a genuinely lovely man – was getting inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame.  Now it’s no secret that I find these events more stressful than enjoyable, but I really like “Tom” and his wife, and was happy to attend.

Lance (BR’s business partner and BFF) and his lovely wife Charlotte were also going be there and I was glad they were sitting at our table.

So I made an immediate b-line for the open bar and I have to admit, the party was pretty fun.  Eventually we were all seated for dinner.  Shortly after, the speeches began.  Now I was a little “tipsy” at this point so I don’t quite remember all the details, but one gentleman got up and began to give a speech about… um… polo.  I think his family had been playing for a few generations… or something. This went on for a while (I wasn’t really listening) and then he began talking about a beloved family horse.  Who was dead.  The next thing I knew, everyone was standing up and applauding this horse.  I thought this was a little weird but, you know, when in Rome…

So we all stood up and then Charlotte, who had maybe one-too-many glasses of chardonnay blurted out, “I can’t believe we’re giving a standing ovation to a horse!  A dead horse!”  Then Lance glanced around the room and very loudly announced, “wow, not a lot of Jews here!  Not a lot of Jews.”

But they were right.  There were not a lot of Jews there.  I think I counted maybe five.  And why were we giving a standing ovation to a dead horse.  Did the horse find a cure for cancer?  No.  It was a horse.

But that’s polo.  And try as I might, I still don’t get it.  Even though BR has invested years of his life, not to mention a small fortune on horses, horse trailers, grooms, pros, a farm and his own private practice field… as well as a few disastrous riding lessons for me.  It’s a huge commitment and his polo schedule literally dictates our lives.

But I’m just not that interested.

BR, however, loves it and I’m glad he has an activity that keeps him so busy.  Otherwise he’d just be at home torturing me.

And I would never have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. DUMBO.

A Parisian Screwing: Part 3

Ahh Paris.  It really is a lovely city.  I fell in love with it immediately.  But it was becoming painfully obvious that I was enchanted with Paris much more than Paris was enchanted with me (refer to A Parisian Screwing: Parts 1 and 2).

So BR and I decided it might be nice to venture outside the city and spend a few days in the countryside.  We would take in the scenery and visit a few local vineyards.  We drove out to the region of Champagne and BR surprised me with a few nights in an absolutely breathtaking chateau.  I mean this place was stunning.  It was a beautiful castle surrounded by manicured gardens like I had never seen.  I almost cried when we pulled up.

We arrived just in time for dinner.  We were shown to our lovely suite and decided to freshen up and change before heading down to the fancy restaurant.

But just as we were heading out the door BR got a business call.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally he told me to go ahead without him so we wouldn’t miss the last seating.  I was reluctant to go by myself but I went anyway.

Now, I don’t usually enjoy sitting in restaurants alone.  Especially very fancy, Michelin-starred restaurants in a castle.  I get a nervous and start to feel a bit self conscious.  Then I start to think about all the embarrassing things I’ve done in restaurants: I’ve tripped in my heels, fallen into waiters, fallen down stairs, accidentally set my sleeve on fire with the candle, choked on my drink, knocked multiple drinks over, accidentally gotten a straw stuck up my nose because I somehow missed my mouth… the list goes on.

But it’s always easier to endure these social mishaps when you have someone else with you.  At least they can laugh with you afterwards.  When you’re alone, it’s mortifying.

So I went down to the fancy restaurant sans BR.  I waited for a couple of minutes until a waiter approached me and said something to me in French.

I stared at him blankly.

He cleared his throat, repeated himself, and then clasped his hands behind his back as he waited for me to respond.

Me: Ummm… pour deux?

He smirked a little.

Waiter: I see.  Right zhis way please.

He took me to my table which was set far more elaborately than I was used to and asked me if I would care for a glass of champagne.

Now ordinarily I would have said yes – since we were in the region of Champagne and I assumed it was proper etiquette to consume the local beverage – but there was no price list.  This place was super fancy and I didn’t feel comfortable ordering without BR.  So instead I said something which I would soon regret.

Me: Actually, can I please see a wine list?

He smirked again.

Waiter: Huh-huh-huh… but of course.  Un moment s’il vous plait.

He returned not with a wine list but rather a wine encyclopedia.  It was an enormous book.  It probably listed – oh, I don’t know – a million wines.  And it was surprisingly heavy.  So heavy, in fact, that when he placed it in my hands I immediately dropped it onto a side plate and some cutlery which made a big clank and in my nervous rush to pick it up I knocked over a wine glass and a bunch of other cutlery onto the floor.

The restaurant was small, so that little episode caught the attention of all the other patrons, most of whom happened to be elegant Frenchmen in perfectly tailored suits.  They were frowning.  Awesome.  But I couldn’t just give the wine list back after requesting it. No, no, I had to somehow carefully place it back onto the table and then actually attempt to look through it with the self assurance of a seasoned connoisseur.

The waiter raised his eyebrow, smirked again, and very condescendingly said, “take your time.”

OMG, where the F was BR.

So I sheepishly went through the motions of pretending to peruse all one million wines until the waiter eventually came back.

Waiter: Madame, have you made a decision?

Me: Ummm… actually I think I’ll have that glass of champagne after all.

Waiter: Huh-huh-huh… of course you will.

I wanted to chug that glass of champagne.  Actually, I wanted to chug the whole bottle.

Finally BR came and sat down with me.  But before I had a chance to tell him what happened the waiter returned and presented us with a couple of fancy menus.

Now, with the exception of bread, cheese, wine and pastries… and fries… I am not a huge fan of French food.  My unsophisticated North American palate, not to mention my ultra-sensitive GI tract can’t really handle it.  It’s a bit too fussy.  So I was searching the menu for something that I could, A) swallow without gagging, and B) digest.

BR: What are you going to have?

Me: I think I’ll start with scallops and then I’ll have the lobster.

BR: Are you sure you don’t want the chicken?  That looks good.

Me: No, it’s too fussy and full of garlic.  The lobster looks pretty safe, I’ll just have that.

BR: I really think you should have the chicken.

Me: But I don’t want the chicken.  I want the lobster.

BR: Blondie, just order the chicken.

Me: What’s wrong with you.  Why are you being so bossy?

BR: Why are you being such a Diva!

Me: What are you talking about?  I don’t want the chicken because it’s full of garlic and I’m going to get cramps!

BR: So you decide to choose the two most expensive things on the menu?  What, do you think just because you’re in a castle you can order scallops and lobster all willy-nilly?  Ooooh, look at me, I’m in a castle!  Lobsters for everyone!

Me: What do you mean “most expensive?”

BR: What do you mean “what do I mean?”  I’m looking right here on the menu!

Me: Where?  I don’t see any prices!

BR grabbed my menu.  At first he looked a bit confused.  Then he looked irritated.

I guess at super fancy restaurants it’s customary to give the gentleman the menu with prices and the lady the menu without.  Hence the misunderstanding.

Me: Look, I would gladly order the chicken, but the lobster is the only thing on this menu that’s not going to rip my stomach to shreds.  Is it really that expensive?

BR: If it’s a diamond-encrusted lobster then no, it’s not expensive.  Just tell the waiter you want the chicken without the garlic.

Me: I can’t tell him that!  I already embarrassed myself with the stupid wine list and I knocked a bunch of stuff off the table!  He already hates me!

BR let out a long, agonizing sigh.

Me: And besides, I didn’t Know the lobster was more expensive because I don’t have any prices.  I just figured it was all-inclusive or something.

BR: All-inclusive?  All-inclusive?  Where do you think we are, fucking Mexico?!   No.  We’re in a castle.  In France.  In a Michelin-starred restaurant!

Me: Oh.  Right.

BR let out another long, agonizing sigh.

BR: Alright Blondie, you win.  Order the lobster.  But you will not be eating again for the rest of this vacation.

So the waiter came back and I ordered the scallops, then the lobster.  And another martini for BR so he wouldn’t be so cranky.  BR ordered the chicken.

Then my scallops came but there was a slight problem.

Me: Oh no.  I don’t think I can eat these.  They’re raw.

BR: Blondie, I don’t care if those scallops are crying out on the plate and pleading for their lives.  You’re eating them.

Me:  I can’t, I’ll gag!  Please don’t make me eat them.

BR: Blondie!  Those scallops cost more than your mortgage payment!  You’re eating them.  I don’t care if you barf them back up, but you are putting them in your mouth and swallowing them.

Me: BR, please!  I’m begging you, I can’t eat a plate of raw scallops.  Why don’t you eat them, you like sushi!

BR:  Blondie, I’m a Jew.  I don’t eat shellfish because it’s not kosher.  I’m not a selfish Christian like you.  You are eating them.  Now chop-chop.  Down the hatch.

So I took a big swig of champagne and reluctantly put one in my mouth.  I reluctantly began to chew.  Oh my god, oh my god, oh my godsooo grosssooo slimyoh my god I’m gagging…

My eyes were watering and I began chewing as fast as I could while trying not to breath.  I was also grimacing which I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to do in a Michelin-starred restaurant.  It’s kind of like sticking your tongue out at a Picasso.  But finally I swallowed it.  Thank god.  Only several more to go.

And the rest of the dinner went pretty much like that.  What was supposed to be a romantic dinner in the French countryside very quickly turned into the dinner from Hell.  BR was drinking heavily to try and numb the pain of spending a small fortune on a meal that I could barely eat.  I was drinking heavily to try and keep myself from barfing up a plate of raw scallops.  The waiter hated us.  And I’m pretty sure every other patron in the restaurant did as well.

And although we did truly enjoy our trip to Pairs, nearly three weeks there proved to be a bit much for us.  By the end we were exhausted.  We got into one of our first big fights.  I honestly don’t remember what the fight was about, but I do remember that for a good year afterwards BR would refer to Paris as “the city of hate.”

I’m still trying to convince him to take me back there again.

Oh well.  C’est la vie.

A Parisian Screwing: Part 2

Now don’t get me wrong – I adore Paris.  It’s absolutely beautiful.  But our first trip together there was proving to be a bit… challenging.  We had already been laughed out of Hermes (refer to a Parisian Screwing: Part 1) and the jet lag was starting to catch up with us.  So we decided to go to an absynthe bar around the corner from our fancy hotel.

That was our next mistake.

Since I don’t remember much about the actual bar, let’s just fast-forward a few hours… to utter delirium.

Now when BR gets really drunk, two things happen: he gets really hungry and he likes to wrestle.  I don’t like to wrestle, so the only way to keep him at bay is to stand several feet away and throw pizza or beef jerky at him.  Since I didn’t have either of those things, I immediately called room service when we got back to our room and ordered him up a club sandwich.

We wrestled for a bit until the sandwich came.  BR scarfed down half of it before passing out cold on the bed.  I undressed and climbed into bed beside him but the smell of the half-eaten sandwich was bothering me.  So I threw on a towel and decided to put the tray outside the door.

Now I’m not exactly sure how this happened – oh wait, I was drunk – but as I was clumsily trying to slide the tray outside the door with one hand, while holding a towel around myself with the other, I heard a “click”… and turned around to find that the door had shut behind me.  I was locked out.  In a towel.  At three in the morning.  In a fancy hotel.  Drunk on absynthe.

Plus my hair was really messy from the wrestling and my makeup was smudged all over my face.  I looked like a cross between a cheap hooker and a scary clown.

SHIT!

So I knocked on the door.

Nothing.

I knocked louder.

Still nothing.

Me: BR!  (knock knock knock)  BR!!  Open the door!  I’m locked out!

BR was obviously out cold and wasn’t waking up.  So I started to pound on the door.

Me: BR!  BR!!!

BR still didn’t wake up but a very angry Frenchman across the hall did.  He swung his door open and glared at me.

Angry Frenchman:  HEY!  SHUT UUUUUUPPP!!!

Me: Oh, sorry.  I’m locked out of my room.

Angry Frenchman: Stupide woman!  (SLAM!)

So that was a bit harsh.  Not wanting to get a another severe scolding, I realized I had no choice but to go down to the front desk.  Unfortunately the hotel was really old and the lobby was waaaaaay at the other side of the building.   So I took the elevator downstairs, staggered past the bar, then the restaurant, then down a couple of very long hallways, past a few perplexed guests, in a towel… until I finally got to the front desk.

Now some things get lost in translation, but other things do not.  Like the look on the young man’s face that said, “who the hell is this hot mess staggering through my lobby.”

I explained that I had been locked out of my room and asked if he could please give me a new key.

Maybe it was because I couldn’t remember my room number, or because I was slurring, or because I wasn’t wearing any clothes, or because I looked like a scary hooker-clown, but I could tell that he didn’t “believe” I was an actual guest.  Finally he agreed to help me.

But this was an old hotel and they didn’t have any spare keys.  Or so he said.  He would have to escort me back up to my room and let me in himself.  Excellent.

My head was pounding.  All I wanted to do was go to bed.  I looked like a hot mess in a towel.  And I had no choice but to do the unbelievably long walk of shame back to my room with a strange young man who seemed somewhat amused, but mostly appalled.

The walk itself was awkward enough – but then we had to somehow get into the absurdly tiny elevator together.  It was one of those really old European elevators, about the size of a small refrigerator.  There wasn’t even enough room for us to stand side-by-side, so we had to turn and face each other.  Awesome.

Could I look him in the eyes?  I could not.  Was he laughing at me?  I think so.  Was it the longest elevator ride of my life?  It was.

Finally we got to the room.  He opened the door, stuck his head in and did a very slow, deliberate scan of the room – probably to make sure it wasn’t littered with bags of cocaine and dead hookers.  Fair enough.

I crawled into bed and tried to wake up BR to tell him what happened.  But he was in no condition to comprehend what I was saying.  He just kept slurring, “shhhh… isss ok.”  He was trying to pat me on the head but he ended up knocking me over and shoving my face into the pillow.

Me: BR, you’re suffocating me.

BR: Shhhhh… isss ok.

Me: It’s not really ok… I can’t breath!

BR: Shhhhhhh… isss oh-khaay.

In the morning we felt terrible, but we had a good laugh about everything.  We figured it might be best to check out and spend a few days in the country.

Because what could possibly go wrong in the country…

A Parisian Screwing: Part 1

I won’t lie… I love shopping.  I am a girl after all.  But before meeting BR, I had never experienced high-end shopping.  I just did what every other middle class girl did – I shopped at the mall in places that I could afford.

But much to my surprise there was a whole other world of retail out there.  A fancy world.  An expensive world.  A world where if you look even remotely out of place, you likely won’t be helped.  Do you remember that scene in Pretty Woman where those awful women in the fancy clothing store refused to serve Julia Roberts?  Trust me, that’s nothing.

When you go to these fancy establishments, you almost always get what I like to refer to as the “three-point check.”  They check your shoes, they check your bag, and they check your jewelry.

If you have three out of three – designer shoes, a designer bag and a giant rock on your hand, you can expect excellent service.  Wave a black card around and they will literally bend over and kiss your ass. Two out of three and you’ll get good service.  One out of three and you’ll get a polite smile and possibly a hello.  Zero out of three and you’ll get a sneer or be totally, blatantly ignored.  Or worse.

Me: Oh, excuse me, I was wondering if you could help me?

Snarky Sales Clerk: Are you lost?

Now I’ve gone into such establishments with anywhere from zero to three of the things mentioned above, so I can usually predict the level of service I’m going to get.  And as much as I sometimes resent having to dress up to go shopping, I’m also not super jazzed about the likelihood of getting treated like crap by some snarky sales clerk.  So I usually dress up a little.

But if you let your ego get in the way, you can really screw yourself over.  When a sales clerk gives you the brush-off, your initial reaction is to think, “oh really asshole?  I’ll show you how poor I’m not!”  And then you end up spending a jillion dollars on a bunch of crap you don’t need, just to prove a point.

It’s a brilliant sales tactic.

Like the time Lance (BR’s business partner and longtime BFF) spent a small fortune on the giant 3-storey display dragon in FAO Schwarz, because it “wasn’t for sale.”  Oh yes it was.  But then he was stuck with an absurdly enormous stuffed dragon.  And he had to figure out where to put it.

It was so big, in fact, that it took a team of people to figure out how to ship it to his house in Palm Beach.  Unfortunately they realized the only way to get it into the house was to remove the roof and lower it in by crane.  This was not ideal, so he decided to have it shipped to his summer house instead, which was in the process of being built.  They ended up having to ship it by sea in it’s own special crate – costing Lance yet another small fortune.  He hadn’t anticipated having a giant stuffed dragon in that house either, and was very disappointed to find out that it wouldn’t fit into any of the rooms.  Not wanting to add an extension onto the house for the sole purpose of housing a 3-storey stuffed dragon perched on a rock, he decided to donate it to a museum… and have it shipped half-way across the United States for the second time.  However, he ended up taking it back from the museum (and shipping it across the US to his summer house once again) when he realized it would fit in his indoor tennis court which has a 37-foot ceiling.  It is now living there happily ever after.  Apparently it’s getting quite good at tennis.

Seriously people, you can’t make this stuff up.  Lance said that even the shipping guy was overheard saying, “this guy obviously has more money than brains.”  For the record, Lance has lots of brains.  But this is what can happen when you let your ego do the shopping.

BR, however, doesn’t fall for that.  If you’re rude he’ll just walk out and vow to never come back.  And he doesn’t.

So about three years ago BR took me to Paris.  I had never been and I was very excited.  But before we left, an acquaintance of ours asked us if we could do her a “small” favour.  She had lost the hang-tag off her very expensive Birkin bag and Hermes wouldn’t send her a new one.  They said she would have to go to Paris to get a replacement.

That should have been our first hint.

Now for those of you who are unfamiliar, the Birkin is a ridiculously expensive purse made by Hermes that retails for several thousand dollars.  The hang-tag is just a small leather tag that hangs off the handle.  But according to Hermes it is a signature part of the bag, one that they won’t just ship out all “willy-nilly” to some random person who “claims” to own a Birkin.  So this acquaintance had to send them the bag’s serial number, a copy of the receipt, photo ID, and probably her finger prints along with a sample of her DNA, in order for them to send her a letter that said she could come to Paris to pick up a replacement tag.

If Hermes doesn’t excel in making exquisite leather goods, they certainly excel in excellent customer service.

So she gave us a copy of the letter, and asked if we wouldn’t mind stopping by Hermes to pick up her hang-tag.  Of course we could do that.  What could possibly go wrong?

At this point BR and I had only been living together for about a year, so I was still adjusting to this new lifestyle.  I wasn’t really aware of the “three-point check” because we hadn’t been to too many fancy stores, and I felt generally out of place in them anyway.  So after a day of strolling through Pairs we decided to stop by Hermes to pick up the infamous hang-tag.

And as usual, I looked like a relatively poor tourist.  Actually, we both did.  BR was wearing jeans, sneakers and a baseball cap and I had zero out of three on the “three-point check.”

As we approached the store, two tall, slim sales associates wearing slim-fitting Euro-suits and matching Hermes ties opened the doors for us.  We said thank you and they looked us up and down for what seamed like a painfully long time.  The store was enormous, stunningly beautiful, and very, very busy.  So BR asked them where we should go to pick up the hang-tag.

They smirked.  Then in their snarkiest of French accents, they responded.

Clerk 1: I’m sorry, I do not know what you are talking about.  Do you know what he is talking about?

Clerk 2: No.  I also do not know what he is talking about.  Sir, what are you talking about.

So BR briefly explained the situation.

They smirked again.

Clerk 1: Sir, I believe you have to pick zhat up in zhe lezher department.

BR: The leather department?

Clerk 1: Yes.  Zhe lezher department.

BR: Where is that exactly?

Clerk 1: I do not know.  Perhaps you can ask someone else.

Oh.  Well that’s a bit weird… but ok.  So we set off to find someone else who could tell us where, in this enormous, glittering store packed full of super-rich tourists, we could find the leather department.

We were blatantly ignored by the first three women we approached.  They knew we were there.  We stood at three different counters, said excuse me multiple times (very politely by the way), and none of them would address us.  One lady just stood there cleaning a bag.  Eventually she rolled her eyes, turned around to face the wall, and just kept cleaning it until we sheepishly walked away.

This was proving to be far more difficult than we expected.  We just wanted to pick up a stupid hang-tag and we had now been trying to get someone’s attention for 30 minutes.  I don’t do well in crowds and I was starting to get hot.  And frustrated.  Finally we cornered a woman on the floor and asked her where the leather department was.  She looked annoyed, dismissed us with a wave of her hand, and said it was probably upstairs on the second floor.

So up we went.  When we were finally able to get someone’s attention, BR once again asked where we could find the leather department.  The sales clerk started laughing.

Clerk 3: Zhe what?

BR: The leather department.  We need to pick up a hang-tag for a Birkin and we were told to go to the leather department.

Clerk 3: HAHAHAHA!  Zhere is no lezher department here!  HAHAHAHA!

Umm… pardonne moi?  And as we turned to one another, obviously confused, we noticed those two snarky little sales clerks who opened the doors for us, standing in the corner, snickering and pointing.  Those little douchebags in their stupid matching ties were screwing with us.  They had watched the whole thing.

HOW EMBARRASSING.

I was mortified.  BR was mad.  But we had made a promise and he was determined not to leave without this stupid fucking hang-tag.  So back downstairs we went.  We found another counter with yet a another sales clerk standing behind it, so we walked up.  This time politeness was not on BR’s priority list.  He got straight to the point.

BR: We’re here to pick up a hang-tag for a Birkin.

Clerk 4: Excuse me?

BR:  A HANG-TAG.  FOR A BIRKIN.

She looked us up and down.

Clerk 4: Is it for you?

BR: No.  It’s for a friend of ours.  Here’s a copy of the letter she received.

Clerk 4:  Well, uh Sir, I cannot just accept zhis copy of zhis letter and just give you zhe tag.

BR:  Why not?  It says right here that we can come to Paris to pick up the tag.

Clerk 4:  Hah-hah-hah… NO.  It says zhat she can come to Paris to pick up zhe tag.  Not you.

BR:  Are you kidding me?

Clerk 4:  No, I am not kidding wizh you.  Zhis piece of paper means nozhing wizhout some type of identification.  Do you have a copy of her passport?

BR: Uh no, I have a copy of the letter.

Clerk 4: Well, zhen zhere is nozhing I can do for you.

And she abruptly walked away.

At this point I think it would have been easier to purchase a handgun.  In Canada.  We had been jerked around for almost an hour and it was painfully obvious that they were not going to give us this small piece of leather that retails for a mere 50 Euros.  So we basically had two choices: buy ten Birkins to “teach them a lesson” or hang our heads in defeat and do the slow walk of shame out of the store.  We chose the latter.

And who was there waiting to open the doors for us?  The same two little jerks who initiated this Parisian screwing-of-a-lifetime in the first place.

Clerk 1:  Au revior!

Clerk 2:  Have a good evening!  HAHAHAHAHA!

I was so mortified I thought I was going to barf on the sidewalk.  BR was furious.  But being a man who is true to his word, he actually felt bad about not getting the tag.

BR: Do you think we should ask her to send us a copy of her passport?  Then maybe we’ll still be able to get the tag for her.

Me: Are you kidding me?  NO!  I’m never going back in there again, that was horrible!

BR: You’re right.  What a bunch of assholes!  From now on I am boycotting this store!  I AM NEVER SHOPPING HERE AGAIN!  I’ll show those douchebags what they can do with their Birkins!  Now at least I don’t ever have to get you one of those stupid bags!

Me:  BR, those bags are thousands of dollars.  I’m pretty sure you would never get me one anyway.

But I didn’t care.  In fact I totally agreed with him.  And to this day I will never wear or purchase anything from Hermes.  In fact whenever I see a Birkin I have a mild urge to grab it and fling it across the room.  And stomp on it.  And then set it on fire.

But the sad part is, Hermes probably doesn’t care.  In fact they’re probably still laughing at us.  But at least we didn’t end up with ten Birkins.  Or a 3-storey dragon.

The Grinchstein Who Stole Christmas

It’s that time of year again.  Christmas is approaching and the hap-hap-happiest season of all is in full swing.  Lights are lit, trees are trimmed, shops are bustling, and the oh-so-familiar Christmas music is pleasantly and joyously echoing throughout the city.

Except at our house.  Because Christmas is dead.

Now that I’m a Jew, Christmas is a very bitter-sweet – melancholy even – time of year.  It was one of the hardest things to give up.  Actually, it was the hardest thing to give up.

And this year I’m particularly bummed, now that “ugly Christmas sweaters” are all the rage.  I could totally rock one of those.  You know, like with a side ponytail and candy-cane earrings.

BR: Blondie, what are you doing?

Me: Oh, just baking cookies.  You know, for Hanukkah.

BR: Really.  Well that’s interesting, because they oddly resemble Christmas cookies.

Me: No, they’re Hanukkah cookies.  See?

BR: Blondie, there’s no such thing as Hanukkah cookies.  And just because you’ve cut them in the shape of a Star of David and decorated them with blue icing and sprinkles, doesn’t mean you’re not secretly making Christmas cookies and trying to disguise them as something Jewish.

Me: No, they’re very Jewish.  Just try one.

BR: Ok… wow, these are delicious.  I will let this slide.  This time.  But I need to make sure that I’ve successfully wiped the Christmas right out of you. So let’s have a little test, shall we?

Me: (blinking and staring)

BR: As a Jew, what do you want to do when you see a Christmas tree?

Me: Umm… I don’t know.  Quietly admire it from afar?

BR: Blondie!  That is incorrect!  You should want to roundhouse that Christmas tree and kick it over!

Me: What?

BR: Now I’m going to ask you again.  When you see a Christmas tree, do you have the urge to give it a solid roundhouse-ing and kick it over?

Me: Uh, no BR.  I do not have the urge to “roundhouse” a Christmas tree and “kick it over.”  What is wrong with you.

BR: Well you should.  Otherwise I’m going to take you back to the Rabbi so he can dunk you in the Mikvah and drown the Christian right out of you!  Is that what you want?  A good Christian drowning?!

So needless to say, BR is not a fan of Christmas.  He’s more like the Grinchstein who stole Christmas.  Or the Grinchstein who came into your house and kicked over your Christmas tree.

Now I’m sure many of you are wondering, why can’t you celebrate both holidays?  After all, Christmas isn’t necessarily religious.  Why can’t you have Christmas and Hanukkah?  Or “Chrismukkah?”

Well the simple answer is… you just can’t.  Jews don’t work like that.  At least not the ones I’ve shacked up with.  And it took me a little while, but I eventually came to understand that after thousands of years of enduring religious persecution and antisemitism, Christmas doesn’t necessarily give Jews the “warm and fuzzies.”  In fact it often serves as an annual reminder of segregation and persecution.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m still not mourning it.  Every.  Single.  Year.

I loved, loved, loved Christmas.  I loved every single thing about it.  I loved decorating the tree.  I loved our Santa collection.  I loved shopping for presents and wrapping them with glittery paper and bows.  I loved stuffing stockings.  I loved playing Christmas music all month long.  I loved Christmas parties.  I loved playing my favourite Christmas CD in the car and driving around the neighbourhood looking at Christmas lights with my family, while sipping hot chocolate from Starbucks.  I loved watching Christmas Vacation every year with my dad – that was our special little tradition.  I loved turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie… and everything else we ate at our dysfunctional family gatherings.  I even loved our dysfunctional family gatherings.  And my Grammie, who I miss dearly.  I had 31 Christmases at her house.

So when you give up Christmas you’re not just giving up one day a year.  You’re giving up an entire lifetime of happy memories, celebrations and traditions.  You’re giving up much loved, very special moments with your family.  Forever.

(Sigh) It’s not easy being a Jew.

So the best way for me to deal with giving up Christmas is to basically cut it off like a limb.  Just hack it off like a dead lump of coal.  This may sound harsh, but you have to understand – it’s very hard to be around Christmas and not want to participate.  You can’t just dip your toe in, get a little sprinkling of Christmas glitter on it, and then walk away like nothing happened.  Or at least I can’t.

So every year BR and I have had the same strategy: we travel.  Because if I’m not home for Christmas, then I won’t have the uncontrollable urge to hang Christmas balls on all the plants and put Santa hats on the dogs.  And for any of you newly-minted Jews are out there – quietly sobbing into your old Christmas stockings that you’ve kept hidden in the closet while shoving bricks of fruitcake into your mouths – I highly recommend this strategy.  Actually, I highly recommend Vegas.  It’s easy to forget about Christmas when there’s all sorts of drinking, gambling, prostitution and general debauchery going on around you 24-7.  Unless, of course, that’s how you like to celebrate Christmas.  Then you better go somewhere else.

But this year is different.  This year we’re home.

Holy Christmas, pass the rum balls.  Blondie’s riding in on a one-horse open sleigh full of glitter with a carton of eggnog in one hand and a bottle of spiced rum in the other.  Ho ho ho, lookout bitches.

And last night I had the ultimate test.  BR is away, and I was invited to my parents house for my sister’s annual gingerbread house party.  Did I go?  Hell yes.  And it was awesome.

I brought along the lady who cooks for us and the dogs.  My cousins were there and my Aunt, and a few close family friends.  My parents go all-out for Christmas.  Their house is so… festive.  As soon as I walked in I was bombarded by all the familiar sights, smells and sounds.  The lights were twinkling, the tree was beaming, stockings were hanging from the fireplace and Christmas music was playing in the background.  As usual they had lots of food and wine out, candles lit, lights dimmed, and an explosion of Christmas decorations everywhere.  I almost cried.  I was so happy to see everyone.

So we mingled for a while and then my sister threw some blankets down and got us all seated on the living room floor.  Then she passed each one of us a gingerbread house kit.  I was so excited.  I wanted to bedazzle the crap out of mine, in a pent-up frenzy of icing and sprinkles and forbidden cookie dough.  I almost started to hyperventilate.

And then I remembered my conversion.  I remembered the commitment I made to BR and to his family.  And to Judaism.  Suddenly the visions of sugarplums dancing in my head were replaced with frowning Rabbis.  And BR’s grandmother scolding me and shouting, “I knew this would happen!”

Ah, good old Jewish guilt.  That’s how you know you’re really a Jew.  So I took a deep breath, unwrapped my kit, and decided to make a gingerbread synagogue.  Or a ginger-gogue.  I put a Star of David on one side and a menorah on the other.  And I put a little yarmulke on the gingerbread man.

There.  See?  I could handle being around Christmas and not be pulled back over to the dark side.  I could sniff some glitter and not become addicted.  I could drink the eggnog and not join the cult.

And just as everyone was taking a step back to admire their gingerbread houses which were spread out around the living room floor, BR’s beloved black poodle came stomping in like Godzilla, and tried to trample and eat every house in her path.  Everyone started screaming.  Christmas was ambushed.

Was this a coincidence?  Maybe.  But I can’t help thinking that somewhere far off in Austria, tucked away in a remote ski village, BR was sipping scotch and slowly rubbing his hands together, laughing that evil laugh of his.  When I texted him what happened, his response was, “Yay. I hope she stomped your ginger-gogue.”

You win again BR.  Happy Hanukkah.

Cellulite, anyone?

So I’m trying to find a bathing suit for our Israel trip, but nothing seems to fit because my ass has exploded.  This is depressing.  I’ve been very tiny my whole life but after two years of being on a wide variety of oh-so-fun fertility hormones, things have changed.  I feel like an animal.

BR: Blondie, why do you keep dressing like a schoolmarm?

Me: Because my ass has exploded and I feel like an animal.

BR: Why don’t you wear those sexy black pants tonight?

Me: Haha, I would love to, but my ass has exploded and I feel like an animal!

You try to explain this to friends and they say, “really?  But you look great!”  Which, by the way, is the CORRECT response.

But then you explain that they don’t have the “misfortune” of having to see you naked.  You disclose that the hormones have made you gain 20 pounds, have given you stretch marks, and have left a permanent explosion of cellulite on your ass and thighs that never used to be there.

And then they say, “well that’s nothing – just wait until you have a baby!”

HA HA HA!  Really person??  That’s so funny because I wish I could!

And that’s when the sad irony hits you.  Your body’s in a perpetual state of growing and shrinking and feeling out of sorts.  You endure big boobs, small boobs, bigger boobs, a swollen abdomen, nausea, a big ass, a bigger ass, big hips, fat pants, fatigue, anxiety, cramps, a muffin top, cellulite… and yet there’s no baby!  Isn’t that funny?

But it’s not their fault.  People who haven’t been through infertility really don’t know what to say.  And usually they say the wrong thing.  It can be hurtful at times, but you just have to remember that they really are trying to be helpful.

Some people (BR included) give you all sorts of unsolicited advice.  They’ll tell you that you should “distract” yourself and take up a class or join a gym or something.  Or be more social.  Or try a different clinic.  Or don’t think about it so much.  Or try and “relax” and think “positive” thoughts.  Or have you considered adoption?  Or stop drinking coffee.  Or stop drinking wine.  The list goes on.

Unfortunately this “advice” is rarely helpful.  In fact, it’s the opposite of helpful.  It reinforces the idea that you’re probably doing something wrong, and that’s why you’re not getting pregnant.  You’re already a bad mother and you’re not even pregnant yet.

And you learn very quickly that you have no control over fertility treatment – it controls you.  Your ovaries are literally holding you hostage.  You’re at the mercy of your cycle, the hormones, the doctor, the clinic, and a medically induced, totally unnatural schedule.  You can’t make plans because you don’t know if you’ll be in the middle of a cycle, possibly pregnant, possibly devastated or drowning in hormonal hell.

So I find the most helpful thing that friends and family can say is actually very simple:  “I’m very sorry you’re going through this, is there anything that I can do for you?”  Or, “can I make you some chicken soup?”

That’s it.  I don’t need “strategies” and “distractions” and “micromanagement” and “medical” advice from the internet, and “organic” cookbooks and all that crap.  Just give me a little bit of sympathy and a hug, and some god-damned soup already.

I wish I could distract myself more though, especially when I’m in the throes of a cycle.  But unfortunately when I’m eyeballs-deep in hormones, I can barely even commit to having dinner with someone.  I end up cancelling a lot.  And it’s not just because I feel like crap and have to use all my brain power to try and form a sentence – it’s also because I don’t want to unleash my hormonal wrath onto innocent members of society.  I just figure it’s “safer” for everyone if I stay home and hide under the covers.

I’ve made the mistake of trying to go out in public a couple of times, but the hormones make me extremely self-conscious.  It doesn’t go very well.

Friend: Oh my God, it’s so great to see you!  How are you?  Wow, everything looks so delicious on this menu, I can’t decide what I want.  Actually I think I’ll have the pasta.  What are you going to have?

Me: I… having… burger.

Followed by: What exactly does the waiter mean, do I want water.

Followed by: No, I will not take off my sunglasses because I can’t look anyone in the eye.

Followed by: How googly are my eyes right now.

Followed by: I… should have (sniff)… ordered (sniff)… the pi-zaa-aaah-aaaaah (sob).

Followed by: No, I don’t know how to get to my house Mr. Cab driver, isn’t that your job?  Asshole??

Now unfortunately, as I mentioned in my last post, our last IVF cycle was a bust.  It was our second attempt at IVF.  Unfortunately the first time was also a bust, and since we only got one little not-quite-developed-embryo out of it, we had to do the egg retrieval all over again.

And since I’m considered a “low responder” to the medication, it was a miracle that we got 6 embryos this time.  We were very optimistic.  We also opted for genetic testing, just as a back-up.

So the day of the embryo transfer came.  We went to the clinic.  I was ushered into the special little waiting room.  I changed into my gown and that stupid-looking blue hairnet, and was anxiously awaiting my turn while trying to ignore my very full bladder.  BR was back there with me.  We were too nervous to speak, but we both had our fingers crossed.

But then the Doctor came in and told us we had a problem.  All of our embryos came back genetically abnormal.  He said he was very sorry, but he couldn’t do the transfer.

I’m sorry, what?  What was that again?  No transfer?  No transfer??  But I’m here and I’m all ready to go!  I’m in my gown and this stupid-looking hat and I’m about to pee my pants and what do you mean abnormal?!

He couldn’t give us an explanation right then, but he assured us that it was nothing that either of us had done.  He just said we should get dressed and go home.  So we did.  We were in shock.

That’s when I told BR that I needed to get away ASAP.  So we went to Chicago.  While we were there we had a phone call with our fertility doctor.  We found out that we have an egg problem.  My spindles – those little things in eggs that zip together pairs of chromosomes from egg and sperm – are, for lack of a better word, wonky.  So instead of “pairs” of chromosomes, in some cases our embryos had 3 or 1 or none – a mistake which kept repeating itself.

And then the big crusher:  Our doctor told us that he would only try IVF with us one more time and if it didn’t work, we’d have to get an egg donor.

what??  But I’m only 35!  And a late bloomer!  And I’m very immature!

Needless to say, I was not happy with that answer.  Neither of us were.

Now theoretically speaking, I believe that you could love any child – I really do.  But when someone actually tells you that you probably won’t be able to have your own baby, it’s pretty crushing.  This baby needs my DNA!  It needs my DNA so it can balance out BR’s crazy robot DNA!  What if the donor egg comes from someone who’s also a techie/evil genius/robot?  What then??  And if it’s not my egg, will the baby even be Jewish?

SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.  I cried the entire day.  Literally.  I literally cried all freaking day.

Which is why we’re now heading to Israel.  For peace of mind I’ve decided not to google anything on the internet, but the technology is supposed to be very advanced over there.  Apparently they can “repair” DNA.

So after a long, horrible day in a Chicago hotel room, full of tears and snotty kleenex and deep-dish pizza crumbs everywhere, BR rubbed my back and said something to try and make me feel better:

BR: Don’t worry Blondie.  If this doesn’t work out I have a plan-B.

Me: (sniff) You do?  What is it?

BR: Two words Blondie: Clone Army.