Ova Irae: Blazing Birch Birthdays and DINKS Becoming DITKS (or something like that)

Previously on A&A's Adventures in Cohabitation:  A runny mess presented itself as two selves battled inside our heroin's ambivalent husk of a huff. Girls were goners and plots unfolded slapadash with malevolent monotony. Pilates plans imperiled by credit card by administrative ructions and concerted confusion. Solace was only a rock or two away, as our couples fled the home and hearth into the land of sculpture and serenity. And autumnal interventions contemplated anew, but once more forestalled.  

Coming Up: Adella awaits a long absent euphemo-relative promising to bring in her packs upheavals untold. As camels cross epees with barracudas, the DINKS plunge unfathomed territories of terror and tremulation: endocrinology becomes fertility. Insured becomes oh-crap. Free schedules become "on perpetual reserve." Pills become pokes. And longterm goals upgrade from possible-potential-options to absolute-actuality in the face of perpetual uncertainty. Will trying yield progenitative progress or merely ravaged schedules and barren wallets? Will love persist in the face of tortuous trails and nebulous time-and-space charts? In the midst of the October ookiness, a banner day splattered in red (gold, blue, and birch). ART set aside for art. A birthday feted with uptown oils and autumnal afflatus. Will Adella recover from her wild night of carousing? Will Molly's tree ever dry? And a clop-clop of heels tarrangoes in the tangos. Will Mr. Ed's true identity ere be discovered? Will a tango high ameliorate endorphin DTs? Will anything ever quite return to normal if such a thing ever conceivably existed, or will belly dancing flappers jingle their jangles with the witches to ook-and-spook this month of mayhem to a frothing smolder?? 

Sign your waivers, don your aprons, and be prepared to delve the depths and depravity of TMI land as DINKS dabble in the next realm. 

Zombie Camels Crunching Candy-Corn TGI Humpday, baby!

I will write the meeting minutes I was supposed to write yesterday. I will write them. I will. Well, I shall. I don't know how much active will or wit shall be involved. But they needs must be done... eventually. They're my sweet ticket to Whew-it's-Wednesday Whimsical Whoopies (TM, Umbrella Corporation), after all. 

But first, a mighty fine hallooo to the world wide interwebs! With a boil, but nary a toil nor a trouble, let's get this mid-week up to a bubble. 

Those of you tagging along in TMI (no such thing) land with yours-occasionally-truly, oh there are developments on the cocktail quagmire! If you are just dipping in a toe to the oceans of info (drum roll please...), I upgraded from a specialist to a mega-specialist endocrinologist to deal with my body's enduring resistance towards certain feminine activities that necessitate flowing white pants and riding horses on beaches (or at least the sanitary napkins that go with them). 

After several eons of low dose HRT (oooooh barracuda!), some weight gain, and several "huh, this should work... let's give it more time," I've amped it up a bit this fall. Have been on high doses of hormones and thyroid medications in far more targeted ways and with more monitoring medical tests in the interim. 

Which leads us to the next step. Should I choose to accept it... and by that I really mean, if my body is so kind as to respond to all those hormones and do the thing it's supposed to do when I discontinue these hormones by going a bit Carrie for Halloween, and giving me occasion for several more uncomfortable euphemisms to alienate the squeamish with potentially themed parties involving jelly donuts, cherry pie and so on! It might not. In which case, we begin the cycle-starting-cycle again. 

But if it does, a threshold shall be crossed into what could very well be considered straight-out fertility treatment. And I've got a complicated google sheets protocol to prove it.

If I make it to this next step, there will be ultrasounds on days 2-3. There will be self-administered shots on days 3-5 (and/or 1-3 of "stimulation day"). Bloodwork on day 6/4. After that, it's all touch and go (and poke and prick), subject to daily instructions based on regular lab tests; but expect more of the same. Hell, I'm in Munchausen's paradise. And yes, having a spreadsheet to play with does make this all way more fun than it really ought to be. Aside from the sheer overstimulation - (hopefully not the follicular kind, har har) - anyways. Hey, trying to work a full time job was so not my thing anyways. 

I'm excited and nervous. Nervous that the hormones won't work. Nervous that they will. Skeptical enough about my baseline responsiveness not to be too freaked out by the requisite waiver that Andrew and I must sign with a notary indicating that we are aware that this all amps up the rate of twinnage and beyond (gulp). But whatever else, the faint reek of progress and maybe-movement in a stagnating absence is hopefully not raising my hopes too  much. Just enough. Just enough and no more. 

As we debouch from TMI Land, I boomerang from home to work for a stopover at the every exciting EI(EEEEIIIIIIOOOO). Andrew had his very own minion for about a week and a half. This minion seemed like an ok guy... at first... but then he started disappearing for long swaths of time. If asked, he'd say things like he'd been "in the bathroom" (for an hour plus). The situation escalated, and a short check of his "work" on the project revealed a clunky and meager showing that should not have taken even the time he was present. Of course, he was not present for any kind of review of this.

On Friday, Andrew's  project manager spoke with "the brass," who revealed that this fellow had already been written up once on a previous project. They were planning to speak with him on Monday, but the kid didn't show up. No notice. No answers on his phones. No anything but an antiquated comment on his call-list that he was "travelling in the UK."

 On Tuesday the project manager got a mid-morning email from ex-minion saying he'd found black mold in his apartment and would be in when he was done bleaching. He did, in fact, come in. He was even apparently surprised when he was escorted to a private corner with the muckety-mucks, and informed of his termination. 

Let it never be said that there's no structure at EI. Apparently the hours may be flexible, but people do start noticing if you're blatantly blowing off your single project. 

And a return to the home-front, Andrew and I had an early date night last night. That's because tonight I've got a date night with my bestie for a post-birthday art-extravaganza (ok, painting and drinking). I'm excited and preemptively exhausted all at once! Both being run ragged by those ravaging Tuesday work-days, we played it low-key. Ate some slightly more formal Chinese (not even take out), browsed through a Gaiam catalog (yes, we too can have an entire YOGA LIFESTYLE) and snuggled on the couch. This is good preparation for the mad Maenad ART anomie I'll be slinging this evening. 

Which just leaves a work day to plonk through with fingers akimbo and brain a-bleary. Minutes, hours, minutes. I shall do the damned minutes! Maybe. After I color code my pretty new chart. 

Birthday Brewhahahas and the Baying of the Birch Wild nights in (W)rightlandia

Hrggnghh! I rolled out of bed this morning with a groggy grumble and that instinctive sense of panic one gets rousing from a restive parasomnia in all too short a spell. Paint flecks shrouded my epiderm. I stumbled to the bathroom, shaking my head in hopes of shaking off the veil of evisceration from a late and madcap night. 

COLOR! Glowing through the crepuscular crannies of an uncharted "downstairs." A memento of the evening before. Oh yes, it did happen. No delirium dreamt up in a febrile paroxysm.

Like some reckless rabble-rouser out for a gallivant, I had a girl's night out. And it actually included being out! At night!

Yeah, ok, maybe I did get home at eleven. Maybe no spirits were imbibed (though spirits were certainly high). No sleazy clubs or car chases ensued. But eleven on a weeknight?? At a paint and sip studio? What depths of depravity did I plunge when clasping hands and dreams with my oldest bestie (by time of position, not by the chronological age, despite the recent birthday) to take the leap into the oils??  

So, Uptown Art: it's kind of a fun playground for grown-ups to mix with their friends in an informal environment. Each session chooses a different painting. All of the supplies are provided and instructions for filling up one's palette come with one complimentary glass of wine. Additional vino is extra at the "canvas cafe," which is actually just a fridge behind the main registration desk with two sandwiches and a few bottle of wine. The instructor walks participants through the process, from color mixing, to building layers to hair drying each lovely layer. The final painting is free. A fancy schmancy wood frame is extra.

In the interim: Paint flies. Medium is mushed into any available crevice. Wine is spilled. Every one hates her piece. And somehow, these paintings get finished and all come together.

It's fun, but holy crap did it take every hour they predicted and then another forty-five minutes! To paint this particular painting, we worked in layers - doing the entire sky first, then the morass of autumnal colors. And finally the birch tree itself. Each step took about an hour. Finishing touches went from there.

Usually, there's a copy of the finished painting on display. But last night, the instructor was recreating in real time without much of a reference point. Which made it a little harder to see how things would come together and paint accordingly. But, as yesterday most certainly confirmed, I am so not a perfectionist. I took the absence of template as license to just do whatever. Did I mention I'm not a perfectionist?

Especially by the end, I was just kind of globbing paint on and then blow-drying a section several minutes before the instructor informed the more persnickety members of the group (Molly, for instance, was feverishly working with a cell phone photo of the painting with a brow so knit, one could make baby booties from it) that it was time to dry a layer and move on.  

Funnily enough, I actually like the tree part that I daubed haphazardly the best. I hate the final touches of sky (blue blobs) that I benightedly attempted to add. I think without them, there's kind of a nice abstract look of a barren birch-tree silhouetted by an enormous comet crashing down to earth. Which I rather like. The blue just undermines that for me. Like, what, is the comet wearing hydrangea boutonniere's? 

It was fascinating to see the drastic differences between paintings. No two looked remotely alike, though several of them were very cool and each had some resemblance to the initial painting. I think. I only saw the original a few times.

Molly, as I mentioned, was far more serious about this effort than I was. Being a visually artistic person  without much of a present outlet, she was in full on catharsis mode. Which was a little like panic mode at times! She started with "too much blue," going back to the paint pumps several times and then ruing the sheer blueness of the effort. When we covered that up with "leaves" she was cast into dire despair at the flaming voodoo doll that she had created. Once she mentioned it, I could totally see the face. It was a little fire demon. I actually kind of loved it. Then of course, the tree. After falling several steps behind getting the trunk of the tree, she tumbled further down the rabbit hole on the branches (cell phone photo of the original out) and painted through the "drying period" for the black outline. 
But it all came together. 

When I left, she was avidly yawning and painting the outer corners. I know she made it out of there from Facebook, but it wasn't certain last night! 

I absolutely love hers. And, hey, the last time I touched paints was in elementary school (and most of them ended up on my face), so I'm happy enough with my "Comet Crashing into Birch." You know, it's a real comment on like um global warming? Or um, the elements of earth, water, and fire coming together through air in an endless cycle of life and death and more life. Yeah. Anyways, I painted the damn thing, so I guess for a while it'll stay in our living room. Until somebody I know has a birthday. 

Anyone having a birthday soon?? Wedding? Housewarming?? 

And so it begins October got a whole lot scarier

Today is the first day of the rest of my ongoing life-changing terrifying ascension into potential adulthood. And/or, the precipice of the next level of medical mummery. I have two more days to finish out on my current white-pants-on-beaches protocol. If that pans out, a longstanding visit from Aunt Euphemism-and-or-oh-god-am-I-related-to-that-lady-from-the-Progessive-commercials. In theory. Sometime. Aaaaand if that happens, which it "probably will" all hungry hungry Hippocratic hell breaks loose (to paraphrase a far more detailed excel spreadsheet). 

About this time, insurance will be petering out. Or - as it did with the medication I will have to order within a day of said euphemistic visit - the "copay" may exceed the out of pocket payment by $800! Not a billion percent mark-up, but actually it does nearly double the cost. 

And of course, this is where we revisit our insurance plan and realize that it ain't gonna cover much. And so, I expect as I teeter from this edge of endocrinology to something more, we are both perilously close to entering the TTC (trying to conceive) category as far as the world comes.

If... big if... 

Given the expense (in all regards of the word), I feel it's time take everything more seriously than I may have been before. I have made the minimum adjustments, maybe mixed things up a little more earnestly after starting my thyroid medications. But I have still been holding out just a little. Still making excuses for being on-the-thin-side-of-not-quite-healthy, and still justifying my "moderate" exercise habits with a fantasia of overblown relativity. We shall not talk of stress management. 

I've confirmed with my doctor that I should avoid most any exercise that I'd categorize as even mild. Andrew and I have such a distorted sense of exertion and intensity when it comes to exercise. I think it's left us both dazed to realize what the doctors really mean by "moderate" (wait, no flaming searing burning sensation or doped out endorphins high??) Walking is a-ok, thank goodness. But anything that boosts the heart rate to what I'd consider an aerobic zone... not so much. And anything that could potentially jiggle and jaggle my overgrown internal flora is out. No skipping rope or bouncy castles for me. Gaining weight, yet again, is on the agenda. And enough of my excuses. 

Andrew has to be dragged into the process a little bit more. This is kind of "our" thing now, instead of "my" thing. And that scares me as much as it scares him, I think. 

Terrifying. Because (1) kids are terrifying. I have nephews. I've been left alone with them. I survived, but with a healthy respect for my sister's supernatural momness. Why would I even consider intentionally allowing one to happen to me, let alone go to great cost and effort to attempt one; (2) it will completely upend some of our (more so, my) lifestyle preferences for some time, and drain off all excess income. All with the possibility that it will lead nowhere but disappointment. And if it leads somewhere, that's an even larger upheaval. 

But, as Andrew said, all things worth doing are a little scary. And upheaval is the only constant in life. Things will change no matter what we choose. Perhaps it's only scary because we're affixing a marker of conscious choice to it all instead of mere passive experience. 

Regardless, a perfect thing to ponder in Halloween Month, both the month of terror and whimsy!

Hempy Hobgoblins and Devilish Di Sarli's A very spooky tango tanda or two

Peradventure some benighted souls consider the 19th of October (two weeks before All Hallow's Eve) a premature time for madcap masquerading. They probably are the sorts who misspent their childhoods playing IRS compliance accounting officer with three kids and a mortgage instead of Supehero soccer on Mars versus the Orks! 

But we try to serve all sorts. And maybe sometimes, tangueros are so caught up in their dancer's domino and melodic maquillage to venture beyond the costumery of TANGO DANCER. But then again, in sheer tango hipness, if you can dress up as a tango dancer dressed up as something else... well that's like twenty hipster tango bonus points. Belly dancer is a particularly good one, and certainly one used to good effect last night. Tango chic tends towards these styles already: drop crotch-harem pants, exposed bellies, little tingles and accents. 

Witch is honest: I want to still look pretty, but am willing to don a costume hat off the dance floor, and yep the makeup will get a little tweaking

Horse, however, is a less popular hipster tango costume option. So, the dude (and I still have no idea who this was) who came in full hoof and mouth gets a simultaneous kudos and unease (it is not easy to dance with a rubber horse maw pressed into your face). He was quite in character all evening - refusing to speak and only communicating by stamp and gesture. 

This was a first run for my costume, so I'm not revealing it yet. The big Halloween day is actually the one I just spend at the office on Halloween. No excellent explanation of why this is, but there you go. I was pleased with it. It didn't scream tango, but it didn't interfere either. 

Although Andrew and I subsequently decided that we really should just dress up as each other. I'd wear his Carhartts and EI t-shirt (maybe pencil in some stubble and get some glasses). And he'd borrow my yoga pants and aqua workout top (with built in shelf bra!). Sure it'd mostly be entertaining to each other, but the further into interior a little joke burrows, the better. Clearly we'll need to find a party to attend after all. Although not on Halloween. That's when I hand out candy to rugrats. 

To continue our "very scary Halloween month," Andrew and I did a little more comprehensive of a "what it means if (still big if) Adella starts the first part of her (feminine, not bikes) cycling, and graduates to the fertility side of treatment. I walked him through as much as I know of the process. What I need to do. What he can do to help. 

And he and I worked through the financial part of things (to HSA or not to HSA... apparently to HSA and quickly at that, because there are limits in dribs and drabs on what can be contributed when and all). 

Having been on the front lines for some time, I'm not sure the transition in thought was as dramatic for me, but it was definitely a - oh I'm gonna say it and then get an icky rash from the very thought of having uttered the words - paradigm shift for the (W)rights. 

Oddly enough these talks are exhausting. And adrenaline boosting. Which I'm supposed to manage these days. Andrew got to burn his off on some kind of self-destructive death plunge through Galbraith. Since I'm specifically supposed to cut back exercise - one of my major coping tools - I'm re-assessing my stress management techniques. I have others, but I'll want to expand my repertoire. 

I've got a guided meditation app on my phone. It's short, but I need a gradual transition to anything meditation-wise. I can work into the skill, but it takes me a little while. I've got reading (out of the house - there's always things to be done in the house). I've got the once a month Taize service, which I wish were more often. I've got walking. I've got my hurts-so-good massages.

Then there are baths. I used to live in the bathtub as a child. Really. I ate breakfast in bath. I spent hours either playing with bath toys or - eventually - reading. At a certain point I guess I outgrew (literally) the common household bathtub. It's now challenging to get comfortable or fairly well immersed. Our current bathtub isn't the most amenable, either. it's weirdly flat and shallow, and ergonomically challenging even with a nice bath pillow (to say nothing of its general state of mire from the bike-and-chain's post-bike ablutions).

 But even with those limitations, I'm thinking I could make it work. Yesterday I plopped myself down with a kindle, a glass of water, a songza playlist (Meditative Classical) and some bath salts (not the kind that make you eat other people's faces). And it wasn't 100% comfortable, but it was restful. Not to mention it also allowed me to soak my feet and scrub down some of the callouses a bit. 

So, that's a miniature win for the day: New stress management/self-care method achieved. 

We'll see how often it can be worked into the repertoire. 

Another opportunity today, as I've got a massage. And I might be getting a nap if i'm really lucky. But long before this, it's time to rouse the loris and lounge with some dark as the devil Halloween goodies. 
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