Thursday, August 31, 2006

Still waiting...

As you may recall, we posted about two weeks ago about how we had just done our first attempt at artificial insemination. It's been an interesting two weeks. There is definitely a sense of hope and yet there is also definitely a sense of "if it's meant to be" this time, it will be. If not, it won't. We should know in a few days whether or not Su is pregnant, but I'm pretty much at peace with the idea that this was not the time. (In my defense I am my mother's child and absorbed at an early age that pessimism is the best defense against disappointment.) I digress. Anyway, we had a really interesting conversation with some of our already pregnant friends recently about the utility and value of telling the whole world anyway that you're indeed pregnant so very early on.

Interestingly many women who are not particulary paying attention to their bodies actually get pregnant but never know it. Conception occured, but it didn't stick. So they just get their periods as expected and they are none the wiser. So logically if and when we do find out we are pregnant you'd think we'd hold off in telling anyone until much later. Right?

Like when we could hear the heartbeat or something. Hmmm...we could be---mysterious. That's one thing I've never been accused of before!

Have a great long weekend y'all. We'll keep you posted. (Or will we ;-) -Monica

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ah yes, insomnia…

Well perhaps my title in a little misleading. Neither Su nor I have insomnia. But last night while Su was snuffling, sneezing and blowing her nose far away from our air-conditioned (read really dry) room, I awoke unable to sleep. Maybe it was because I was missing the comforting presence of my sweetie. Maybe thoughts of stressful work related things were racing through my mind? (I know, I know, I should know better than to let my thoughts race).

Anyway, at around 2:00 am I turned on the TV to----INFOMERCIALS! Oh gosh, I wish I could remember all their names. Something about the food chopper bullet. And then there were the real estate tycoon ones. And of course all the love songs from (choose one: the 50s, 60s, soft rock, country and Shaka Kahn (or maybe it was Elton John?) Fortunately they made me drift off. And even more fortunately Susanne is feeling better today and television at 2:00 am is now a thing of the past! -Mo

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hmmm....we're not paranoid....

So yesterday on NPR there was a story about how the Department of Homeland Security is now profiling certain travelers. Apparently they cross reference credit card info with airline reservations and hotel reservations. If unrelated people book international flights together using the same credit card AND stay in the same hotel, there is suspicion that, you know, they might be--shush terrorists.

Either that, or could it be that they are gay couples who can’t be legally married so are considered to be unrelated?

Honey, I sure hope they enjoyed our trip to Peru. Do you think anyone else got altitude sickness besides me? I hope they got some really nice photos of Machu Picchu too. -Monica

Sunday, August 27, 2006

To blog or not to blog...

We've had a good weekend so far. Working on the basement (our fireplace is really coming along) and seeing some fun friends at a little strawberry shortcake extravaganza yesterday. It was DELICIOUS I might add.

So after our sweet treat, we went to a fun get together with friends I've had for years. We all served in the Peace Corps together, and in fact last night we were starting to plan our 20th reunion. Anyway somehow the mention of the word blog came up and one friend asked everyone "who has time to read blogs?" Another one asked "what's a blog again?" Then basically for a few minutes everyone sort of ragged on bloggers, blog readers and concept of blogging in general.

I didn't really say too much, but I was interested because I personally do like to read a few blogs. I always prefer the ones of people I know because I like feeling connected. But I read a blog written by a gay guy in NY that is wonderful. I think he is a great writer and comes up with really interesting things to blog about just about every day. I read one called Dooce that is written by a woman named Heather. It's a bit about the minutia of everyday life raising her kid, but she's funny (I can't believe some of the stuff she comes up with.) Our neighbor down the street has a blog and sometimes I actually learn about stuff happening in our neighborhood by just reading his blog. Another friend had let me know that her college friend was diagnosed with cancer in the spring. So I follow her friend's blog where she writes about her treatment and her feelings. I imagine writing the blog is therapeutic for her, and I know that reading her blog inspires me and helps me continue to send positive thoughts her way. Again, I think blogs are about connection (even if you don't know the person.)

I remember once reading that most people read Dear Abby not to hear how she answers questions, but because everyone loves learning that others have the same issues/problems that they do. Knowing that one is not alone is very powerful.

And, no matter what job I had, I think if I worked with a computer with internet access I'd always find a few minutes each day to read blogs. How long does it take to read a blog entry? An average of 1 minute perhaps? I remember reading a book once called "Orbiting the Giant Hairball". The guy who wrote it says that we all need time to take stuff in, rather than just producing all the time. We lose our creativity so easily when we must produce, produce, produce. Cows will actually produce more milk for you if you'll just let them take a little time to chew on grass and relax rather than trying to milk them 24/7. I can identify with that. My work style is such that I can have 5 different projects open on my desk at the same time, and if I can step away from one of them for a bit, I come back to it refreshed and much more able to improve it.

So I look at blogging, reading blogs ways to help me use all sides of my brain and keep my creative juices flowing. But blogging takes time too. And when I don't blog very often I sort of feel guilty. I like the nourishment I feel from reading other people's words and I hope that I can do the same for them.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on blogging. I'm off now to partake in another delight--I'm going to read the Sunday paper with my sweetie, cover to cover! -Ciao. -Monica

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Wonderful news from two friends who we met in our “Maybe Baby” class last winter. They just had their first attempt at artificial insemination and found out the other day that they are indeed with child! This is very exciting news and they are now the second of our friends to try artificial insemination (AI) and come up pregnant the first time. Yup-- Kikki and Melly are following in Lydia's footsteps and will soon be dealing with hormones and other fun and natural sensations, moods and feelings! Anyway, congrats to all three mama’s to be! Of course Susanne and I are still in the waiting phase, so when we first heard of Kikki and Melly’s great fortune in getting pregnant right away as Lydia had, we couldn’t help but wonder if this somehow reduced our chances of also getting happy news later this month. BUT, since these are all separate events, our odds are no better or worse than they were before.

Still…if we get good news we may have to name the little one “Jackpot” right? ;-) (Kidding honey! I meant "Yatzee!" ;-)

As I mentioned we are in our waiting phase and I was just thinking about the verb wait. In Spanish, the verb is “esperar”. In addition to meaning "to wait" it also means "to hope"—and also to "expect". In fact when a woman is pregnant, in Spanish she is said to be “esperando”. I guess it means she is “expecting” like we’d say in English, but I think “hoping” and “waiting” are mixed in there too. I worked as a health volunteer in Peace Corps in Guatemala and also with some pregnant women who were Cuban migrants in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba (in the 1990s.) Anyway, I always thought it was really neat how they described giving birth to a child as to “dar la luz” which means to “give the light”. I like that. Give the light. Have a great day y’all! -Monica

Working from home

Well, here I am "working from home" this morning waiting for the exterminator to come and massacre our ants again. They sure are feisty little buggers, those ants. The exterminator is quite effective when he comes for them, but every eight weeks or so they’re back! So here is my chance to post on our blog during the workday. In case you haven’t noticed, my job doesn’t really lend itself to spending much time on the blog or personal email during the work day. Actually, it is more that when I am at work I am usually completely engaged in whatever I am doing and trying to get it done (although many projects I work on seem to never quite get done). That is really a great thing about my job. It isn’t slow. It isn’t boring. It is one crazy challenge after another. Crazy challenge in that bureaucratic nightmare kind of way, that is.

Let me provide an example… we are trying to become rep payee for a particular client so that we will receive her Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and use it to pay her rent at the Community Residence Facility (CRF) where she lives – stick with me here, those are the only three acronyms I will use, I promise. Let’s call her Ms. X. Ms. X used to live in one CRF and the CRF operator was her payee. The CRF went out of business and Ms. X moved to a new CRF. That’s when we were asked to become the payee. When we first went to the Social Security Administration to apply to become payee, we did not have any documentation that proved that the old CRF closed and that they were not able or willing to continue as payee. Our application was put on hold. Eventually, the old CRF confirmed for Social Security that they would no longer be payee for Ms. X – however, some how this got translated in the Social Security computer system into “Ms. X is dead”. Once Social Security saw this, they returned our payee application to us—dead folks don’t need payees. If Social Security thinks you are dead (or half dead—oddly enough, it is only her SSI record that says she is dead, not her SSDI record), you must go to a Social Security Office with two forms of ID to prove that you are still alive. (I wonder if they take your pulse or something?) Ms. X has done this. Twice. However, she could go to Social Security ten times with five forms of ID and until someone actually changes the record in the computer she will continue to be dead. And as long as she is dead, we can’t become her payee. Meanwhile, Ms. X is being evicted from her new CRF because she cannot pay the rent. This means that she now needs to move for the second time in three months and there will be a third CRF operator clamoring for money. Let’s just hope that processing a second address change doesn’t crash the whole Social Security system or have some equally dire consequence.

So now you see exactly the type of exciting work that keeps me from blogging on a work day. Amazing, no? Guess you have to be me to really appreciate it. Can you appreciate this graphic?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A tale of weekend construction

Greetings. It's lunchtime Tuesday and I'm just about ready to head over to my normal lunch spot to get myself some nutritious food. I ended up having quite the bad diet weekend and am still paying for it. I think I read somewhere that it's important to forgive ones self when one falls off of the "diet" wagon. Easier said than done.

Susanne is feeling pretty much the same as she always does, so we do not have any magical nor mystical signs that the insemination might have worked. We'll still have to wait another 10 days or so to learn more and that's okay. We've both been diving back into books we purchased a while ago on conception etc...which is pretty understandable.

Su's dad came by this weekend to help us with our basement remodeling. Lots of scraping, measuring, hammering etc... By the end of the weekend my back was killing me. Of course ironically my back was killing me not because of the afore-mentioned activities which were mainly done by Su and her dad--my injury was most likely caused by slouching in a camping chair that we have set up in the basement while our couch is packed away elsewhere. You see, my role was to jump up and get the real workers whatever they needed--tools, beverages, safety goggles--you get the picture. The rest of the time I was engrossed in TLC and the Discovery Channel in a rather supine pronated position (don't ask--we have really cheap camping chairs). I will however, take credit for the new little hinged door that now covers our water shut off valve. After I found the wood and (with help) measured it properly, and (with help) sawed it perfectly, and (with help) identified the proper screws that wouldn't go too deep, voila--the door was done!

So my back is still hurting me and I sort of walk like Frankenstein. It's not really a good look for me. The basement is really coming along though which is very exciting. We'll post some pictures of it soon. Alrighty then. I'm off to have a lunch that won't stick to my ribs (or abdomen). Wish me luck! -Monica

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Too cute!

Gosh, I just had to post this adorable picture from last month's wedding which featured my adorable niece Niki and her new husband Marcus. That's what web logs (blogs) are for right? Sharing thoughts, ideas and pics that inspire and delight?

And the best part is that next summer Niki's sister Melissa will tie the knot with her sweetheart David. We may have to have an "adorable picture" competition! Have a great weekend everybody! -Monica (and Susanne)

Friday, August 18, 2006

The clock starts ticking----now!

Well what unexpected fun we had this morning! We'd been wondering when the magical day would arrive this month (you know, when the moon would be in the 7th house and Jupiter would align with Mars etc...). Anyway, today turned out to be our day!

So to make a long story short, there is a small window of opportunity each month when a woman is really at her peak fertility point. If some "little swimmer" can just get where it is supposed to be, then PRESTO -- 9 months later--well, you get the picture. For those of us who happen to be in sperm-free situations (yes, as lesbians, we are in that category) the next best option is to identify and acquire some sperm. (Does that sound like governmenteze?) So we arranged a few months ago to buy and store the sperm of a donor who met our requirements (oh dear, that definitely sounds like governmenteze) and have just been in a bit of a holding pattern until now.

Anyway, although we thought we had a few more days to wait, our technology told us otherwise. So at 9:45 this morning, Susanne and I chatted for a few minutes with our fertility doctor while he introduced the sperm we'd "adopted" from a sperm bank to Susanne's hopefully receptive self.

Several of our friends have gone through this same process so we sort of knew what to expect, but like most things, you don't really know what it's like until you experience it for yourselves! I guess I just can't explain it well except to say that it is really very special and powerful to make a plan and then take the steps you need to do to bring a child into the world. We can't control what the future holds, but today we got to experience something really sweet and exciting that I know we'll never forget. I was thinking today about how earlier this year we got to see the Southern Cross while visiting Peru. It was a crystal clear night in Aguas Caliente, and Susanne looked up and in the millions of stars saw what I couldn't understand at first. A local gentleman confirmed her hunch. We were seeing the Southern Cross! When she showed me I was so happy! I was thinking about this today for some reason. Susanne always sees the things I can't grasp. She's amazing that way.

Anyway, back to this morning. Susanne had read in the "News of the Weird" (and posted last month) about some study that showed that women were more likely to conceive if a clown humored them immediately after insemination. (The key word above is weird!") Nevertheless, I did try my best to make my sweetie laugh. Susanne (intelligent woman she is!) quickly vetoed my first attempt to use my favorite old standby "why did the cookie go to the hospital? -- it felt crummy!" joke (that was always my niece's favorite!) So I came up with my own. "Why did the pastry wash itself with dandruff shampoo? -- it felt flaky!" I'm not sure if she'll admit it, but Susanne did laugh. Of course she laughs at almost all of my nutty attempts at humor! She's the best!

Well, wish us luck. I'll try not to be anxious or nervous or anything (wait, I can hear her laughing at me from all the way across town!) We'll know if this works out in a couple of weeks. I wish that clock would tick faster!!! All for now. -Monica

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A word is worth how many pictures?

So I’m wondering…is blogging a gift? Some people just seem to naturally come up with interesting things to write all the time, while other just seem so, so, what is the word? Uninspired? I think I’m that way. There is tons going on, but when I think about writing about it all I just feel sort of overwhelmed. For example, I could write all about our ongoing neighborhood protest against the new coffee shop trying to get a liquor license that would let them be open til 2 or 3 am every night. We (about 8 neighbors) even trooped downtown to DC Alcohol and Beverage Regulatory Agency yesterday to voice our protest at a local “roll call” hearing. It was fascinating, but do I want to write a bunch about it? Not really (although we’ve now been directed to work out a voluntary agreement which is what we were doing anyway.)

Hmmm… I was just thinking about the word “uninspired” that I used in the first paragraph. There must be something in that word that has to do with spirit or breath. Don’t you just love words? Like evangelize. I don’t like the thought of evangelizing, but I like that the word “angel” is in the middle of it. I sometimes think of a song I know about “angels unaware.” It’s basically reminding us that we should always see the holy in those we meet because “whatsoever you do to the least of my brother you do unto me.” I’ve always liked that concept. I just think that maybe we should switch it around and try to be “angels aware” to those who we love. Just try to be a blessing to at least one person every day. I like to think I do this, but I don’t always succeed. But then I just try again, so I guess my intention is the important thing here. I like it when people pray for me or bless me and I definitely like to do the same for others. Amen, end of sermon! ;-)

Anyway, what is my favorite word? I guess it would have to be “murmur”. It’s just sort of perfect right? So now since I have to finish up some work I’m going to murmur a soft goodbye…. goodbye…. -Monica

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The daily grind...

Greetings! My lovely wife Susanne set up a free web tracking tool this weekend for this site, and gosh have we been having fun! For example, we can log in and see that my oldest sister, and our friends Andres and Erin have all checked out our blog recently. It's very fun. Of course, sometimes the "path" that websites take make it hard to figure out who has visited. Our friend Mikki told us Saturday that she'd read our blog and we then figured out that her internet service routes her through a midwestern city. Very interesting. And then of course whenever one posts to your website gets added to a running list that anyone out in cyberspace could click on. So our first two hits once we set this up were from Norway and San Diego. Very interesting!

Let's see? What else is new? Work is busy for both of us. Our neighbor who works for CARE and who has been in Lebanon the past 3 weeks is due to return tomorrow which is fantastic news. We really hope and pray that this war (and all wars) stop and stay stopped.

What else...I've been having some success with my first ever attempt at Weight Watchers. I've gone from one hundred and something to one hundred and something less! About 8 pounds off in 5 weeks which I'm very happy about.

Not much else to report right now. Our cats still love our new furniture (particularly the arms of our recliner) and so we've been practicing nicely squirting them with a small water bottle when they start their claw-extended stretching. Alrighty then. Back to the old grind. I wonder if you start a new job if you get to call it the "new grind" for a period of time? Have a great day everyone (where every you're logging in from!) -Monica

Saturday, August 12, 2006

More Pictures from Niki's Wedding

As promised, here are some more pictures from Niki's Wedding. Clicking on the picture will take you to a Shutterfly slide show of the best shots we got. Unlike some of the other photo sharing websites, you don't need to log in or become a member to see the slide show. Just click on the "view pictures" button and you're off! Enoy!

I Live With a Lesbian!

The secret is out! One of my last closet doors has apparently been opened!

My paternal grandparents (Omi & Opa) are in their 80s and have never been a particularly cheerful couple. Throughout my childhood they were never quite as welcoming or as cuddly as my mother's parents, whom I adored. When I was a toddler Omi started experimenting in the kitchen and then complained when I wouldn't eat her spicy and creative dishes. Building forts -- aka moving a throw pillow from the sofa to the rug in the living room -- was strictly prohibited. And only in my late teens could appreciate being sent to sleep in the deep, dark basement guestroom. (Of course, if the complete lack of natural lighting let you sleep too late, the dreaded doorbell would buzzzzzzzzzzz to get you up in time for breakfast.) In 1995 I spent a semester studying in Germany and was able to spend several weekends with my grandparents -- we gently butted heads on political issues as I told them about my classes on German social inequality and the world refugee situation.

My grandparents may well be the most pessimistic people I know. Each visit is a mirror of the last with the same litany of woes about getting old; how isolated they are living in a small suburb--a bedroom community without stores, banks, or even a post office; how hard it is to drive to the store when construction keeps changing the traffic patterns; etc. etc. The modern world is clearly a shocking and difficult place for them. Poor health on both their parts has not made life easier -- my grandfather has struggled with heart disease and my grandmother has been fighting bone cancer for a couple of years now. Yet they fiercely cling to their independence—insisting on staying in their home, no matter how extra-large and inconveniently located it is and largely refusing any help from either my father or my uncle and the rest of our families.

So coming out to my grandparents after I met Monica was not high on my list of things to do. Once my grandmother became ill in the spring of 2005 everyone decided that it was a good idea not to rock the boat with any shocking news. This decision was further reinforced when I went to visit and was told that their neighbor's daughter (my childhood friend) had - gasp!- married a Turk! and was pregnant! The horrors! To pessimistic add judgmental.

Of course, no matter how much you want to protect the people you love, shocking news has its ways of worming its way out, doesn't it? It has come to this point where pretty much their entire family has assaulted all propriety and may as well be driving a knife into my grandfather's back and twisting it around. They seem to have come to terms with, but are certainly still pained by, my uncle's divorce (some ten years ago now)—although my grandfather notes that they might have expected this of him, a liberal, always going against the grain from the days of his youth. My father's trespasses against my mother, on the other hand, are fresh news and shocking to the core—he was the golden boy, the first-born son—how could he do this to them! So at this point I was definitely not going to pull out "by the way, last year I married a woman!"

No need, apparently. As the story goes, a week or so ago my uncle was visiting his parents and in their devastation over the recent revelation that my father is seeking to divorce my mother after 37 years of marriage, my grandfather said something along the lines of "well, now Patrick is our only hope!" (Never mind that my cousin, Patrick, is but 17 and just starting down the road of difficult himself.) Apparently surprised at this statement, my uncle asked what their disappointment in me was. "Well, she is living with that Lesbian!"

Ok, so maybe the closet door isn't ALL the way open. Perhaps I'll have to send them some wedding photos.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Is my Susanne wonderful or what? (See previous post!) And if you think that the sunflower art that she did was pretty cool, you should have seen the amazing card she made for me. Sometimes I just can't believe how multi-talented my wife is. I'll admit it. When she gave it to me I started to cry (well she did too!) For a woman of many fewer words than me, Susanne sure knows how to use them well. I love you sweetie pie!

We had a very fun anniversary day--brunch with our good friends Rachel and Jeff and then shopping along 14th Street for the big "dog days of summer" sale. Then we went to Hechts and in search of the perfect rug and found it! Even better, it was on sale for 75% off because Hechts was bought out by Macy's and they are clearing their inventory. The rug captured all of the colors of our art and furniture and we couldn't be more pleased.

Then we went for a romantic dinner at a place called Indigo Landing along the GW Parkway near National Airport. It's on the Potomac and I wanted to surprise Susanne with a clever restaurant choice. It was nice except for that our server was HORRIBLE! He sort of came by once, took our order and let's just say we still don't know where that guy is (even now 4 days later)! Honestly the guy was no where to be found! I was already done eating my crabcake (delicious) when he finally showed up again, and although he eventually comped our wine, it was really not a great experience. But it's certainly one anniversary we'll remember. As always, Susanne was the most beautiful woman in the room. She's very consistent that way ;-) -Monica

Saturday, August 05, 2006

She is my sunshine!

This is my sunflower art. Probably not exactly what Monica had in mind when she wrote that we'd be posting pictures of our sunflowers... Every once in a while I like to to try to get a little creative, I guess.

Tomorrow is our first wedding anniversary, and it has been a fabulous year! Actually, it has been three fabulous years -- it is also our third hug-a-versary which is immediately followed by our third kiss-a-versary (and no, that doesn't mean that we've kissed 3 times!). Fabulous is quite an understatement really, but, as you may know, I like to leave most of the words to Monica.

Ok, let me try... imagine you are standing in the middle of an enormously large field of sunflowers (and the temperature is perfect and there isn't a single bug to bother you) and instead of all of the sunflowers facing the same direction towards the sun they are all facing towards you in the middle of the field and all you can see is the giant, bright sunny faces of a billion sunflowers against the deep blue, cloudless sky and each and every super yellow sunflower you see fills you to the very brim with happiness simultaneously. That is how wonderful it is to be with Monica!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Summer fun!

Wow, what a busy two weeks this has been! We live on a very cute little one block long street in DC and it seems like we've become "accidental advocates" as of late. We learned this spring that a huge company called Douglas Development intends to build a 90 foot tall apartment building adjacent to our houses. (Our houses which sit well below the site in question would be DWARFED) . That and the fact that the whole community is up in arms about how stealthily this is being done. It's not a part of the city's plan for developing the area (which is near a metro stop) and anyway, we've spent lots of time in ANC and community meetings regarding this. They can't build unless they get a zoning variance and that's where we are now.

Another interesting thing going on locally is that a very nearby space that housed a video store is being leased to turn it into a coffee house. Hmmm...the liquor license application says "tavern", and the new owners could theoretically be open until the wee hours 7 days a week (and serving not just coffee!). The space is on the end of our block and there is a great deal of concern about noise, parking and general rowdy behavior. We as a block have moved to contest the application and met last week with the new owners to go over our concerns. We are drafting a voluntary agreement that we hope can be signed before the hearing on August 16th. We'll be advocating for "last call" coming at a reasonable time--not 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning! It also has the name "Cardinal's Nest". Hmmmm... the mascot for Catholic University which is about 4 blocks away is Cardinal's. Students, drinking, nah....Hmmmm...

This weekend we went camping with the friends we met in our Maybe Baby class and it was wonderful. Then tonight we are going to a Washington Mystics game, so we sure do keep busy. Our happiest news of the week however was when we got the call from our mechanic that our air-conditioning in the car was finally FIXED. Don't ask. Let's just say it was a long, hot drive down to Point Lookout for the camping trip. It was supposed to be fixed prior of course, but you know, one part that wasn't quite right made that impossible.

Alrighty then. We'll post more soon. Maybe a picture of our outstanding sunflowers! Yeah! Have a great day. -Monica