Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Evacuation Vacation

We are finally back from our surprise evacuation vacation. We hit some traffic on the way out (though not as bad as most people) and on the way back, but all in all, it turned out to be a nice little excuse to visit the family in Arkansas. After all, I don't usually get three days of free vacation. We returned to find our house completely intact except for a few branches in the backyard. So Rita turned out to be all bark and no bite.

In other news, I am FINALLY starting to feel better. The nausea is now only coming occasionally rather than daily and I feel like I just ran a 10K rather than a marathon. So hopefully, this will mean that I can once again gather together some intelligent thoughts to post on this site.

This weekend (at only 8 weeks) I was forced to buy my first pair of maternity pants as NOTHING in my closet fits me anymore. They have an elastic waist band.....yuck.

Will post a gratuitous big belly shot soon...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Karma......what Karma?

So......after Houstonians selflessly opened up our city to the evacuees of Hurricane Katrina.......after we volunteered and gave as much as we could...........it seems that we are finally being rewarded.........with a hurricane of our own. So much for Karma.

Hurricane Rita is now headed directly for the Texas coastline. Our local forecasters are predicting that power could be out for as long as a week or two. Schools have already closed, and my office will definitely be closed on Friday if not sooner. Yay.

So....seeing as how I am pregnant and feeling miserable 99% of the time (which is why I haven't been posting more frequently) we will probably be heading north in the next couple of days.

Wish us luck....

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sexual Chocolate

On the way to work this morning I passed an interesting billboard. It was black and white and had one word written on it in large, somber letters—DIGNITY. It was for a funeral home.

I began to ponder the concept of dignity. “Dignity” is a word that has been thrown around a lot lately. News reporters have blathered on about the dead in New Orleans being “robbed of their dignity” by the failure of the guard to collect the bodies. During the Terry Schiavo fiasco, pundits around the country screamed about the right to “die with dignity.”

We all know that dignity is something we deserve as human beings, but what does dignity actually mean? It’s a difficult word to define.

My mother was a very modest, well-mannered woman. Throughout her entire life, I never once saw her fart in front of my father. She always said that it was out of respect for her husband. “If you respect and love someone,” she said, “you don’t subject them to that.” At the end of my mother’s life, she lamented to me that the thing she hated the most was the loss of dignity that comes with chronic terminal illness. In the end she vomited a lot. She had problems with her digestive system and often had accidents. She ended up moving into the other bedroom so that my father wouldn’t see her that way. To the very end, no matter how sick she became, she always went to great lengths to preserve the few shreds of her modesty that remained. She felt that being unable to control her bodily functions robbed her of her dignity.

I think this is what I am most afraid of with this pregnancy. Already, I can’t control the nausea. And I know that during the birth, some VERY gross things are going to happen. I know that I will be basically naked throughout the whole thing. I’ll be sweating. I might vomit. There’s a chance I’ll have a catheter. Needless to say, I won’t exactly look my best. There’s a pretty good chance I’ll poop on the birthing table. Most women do. The entire experience is one that, in theory, is NOT DIGNIFIED. I will be at my most animalistic. It might sound silly, but this is what I am most terrified of. I’m not afraid of actually giving birth, but I’m terrified of other people seeing me like that. I’m scared of the embarrassment.

But is that really what dignity is? Is dignity merely the ability to be modest and control one’s bodily functions? Or is there more to it then that? My dictionary gave two different definitions of dignity. The first is, “the quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect.” The second is, “stateliness and formality in manner and appearance.”

I’m trying really hard to adopt the first definition, even though I was raised by the second. After all---I know that no matter how supposedly “undignified” my mother’s condition was, she was still worthy of esteem and respect. And I know that no matter what gross thing I do during delivery, no one’s opinion of me, especially my husband’s, will change.

I guess maybe Whitney Houston was right.

“No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity.”
---Whitney Houston

Sexual Chocolate, ladies and gentlemen, sexual chocolate....

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Sound of One Heart Beating

My online pregnancy calendar says that my baby's heart starts beating today.

I'm guessing this is why I had my first full blown attack of morning sickness today. I feel like I've been up all night doing tequila shots.

Pregnancy: all of the hangover, none of the booze.

Monday, September 05, 2005

City Within a City

On Saturday I went to the Astrodome to volunteer. After tossing and turning all week, I figured it was the least I could do. Driving up to the dome, I was immediately shocked by the sheer number of people I saw. They were everywhere. There were many pants less children being pushed around in shopping carts by their parents and others walking around with signs looking for relatives.

After being processed I was assigned to the Reliant Arena shelter--the smaller of the shelters. I was happy to have been given an assignment in the actual shelter instead of loading supplies in some warehouse.

When I walked in, my senses were overwhelmed. The odor of the arena was very familiar--almost nostalgic. After a few minutes, I figured out what it was--wet clothes. The smell in the arena reminded me of summer camp--of swimsuits hanging to dry inside musty cabins. The red cross leader led us through the shelter. The cots were basically right on top of one another. Some people tried to sleep, but I don't know how they managed it with the noise and bright lights.

After seeing the news coverage, I kind of expected to see a tough crowd, but that's not at all what I encountered. I didn't see thugs or looters. What I saw were families--families and lots and lots of children. There seemed to be as many children as there were adults. And everyone was incredibly grateful.

My first task was to serve lunch. Chick-fil-a dropped off a few thousand sandwiches, so we handed them out. After we ran out we served dry ham sandwiches. It wasn't the most nutritious meal, but the people were very grateful to have it. I wished we had juice for the kids, but they had to settle for soda or water.

Many people were without shoes. I guess they got lost along the way. And many children were without multiple articles of clothing. I spent a solid hour searching through piles of clothing to find a shirt for an 18 month old baby. Never did find one. I did, however, find multiple sweaters (very helpful in the 100 degree weather) and torn swimsuits.

After lunch I walked through the shelter and let people use my phone to try to call relatives. People cried on my shoulder. One man told me about how he held onto a tree for fourteen hours until being rescued.

This was the play area that was set up for the children. There weren't many toys, but kids tend to find a way to play no matter what. Even a hurricane can't destroy the imagination.

These gentlemen were waiting outside of the shelter because their dogs weren't allowed inside. They were sitting on the hot concrete until the SPCA people could come by and check in their pets. Supposedly, they were going to be able to get the dogs back when they left. I hope they do.....

Although it was a terribly depressing day, I couldn't help but leave with a sense of hope. A lot of these people's lives weren't so great in New Orleans. And as much as I rag on Houston, it's a pretty great city. There are plenty of jobs and plenty of diversity. If you want to succeed in Houston, you can. I think that many of the people stranded here will end up staying, and it might just end up being one of the best things that ever happened to them.