Sunday, May 28, 2006

Photo Friday: Grace

This photo is the view I see each day when I leave my building. I live in a city -- a very urban city -- and I crave the urban, I resonate to the urban, I panic when I am too far from all-night diners and bodegas. Even so, I appreciate this: my park across the street, trees waving gently each morning, a moment of green grace and peace each morning before I tumble into the frantic pace of a teaching day.

The grace in this photo is, again, the my city, few people have back yards and front yards, so we all soak up our Memorial Day sun together. Barbecues and bike-riding and dogs wading in the lake, baseball games and couples cuddling and a man practicing the most graceful of martial arts moves while a little girl rides her pink bike past and three toddlers throw a football at each other. Our grace is each other, and these willow trees overseeing it all.

P.S. This week's participation in Photo well as a more multimedia blog...brought to you by our new digital camera!!!! Yes, it finally happened!! A Canon PowerShot has joined the FamilyO.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Guest Star KD

So, now I'm back to the plans for OUR family, instead of reacting hysterically to the dysfunctional one I came from...

We have decided to use my cousin as a KD. The catch, as I explained earlier, is that he lives not on the North American continent, but on the African continent. (In the novel [Lifetime movie?] that is my life, it makes perfect sense that there would be a perfect KD, and he would live that far away. I'm a reader and a writer, so I tend to think in narrative, and this is a great plot twist. EXCEPT NOT IN REAL LIFE, DAMN IT.)

However, he will be in the country for a month or more later this summer. Which means we get one (maybe two) tries, and if it doesn't work, we get back on the phone with the Sperm Bank of California. We're going to register with them and have our consultation soon. Of course we are hopeful that we can get our one "shot" to work, but we are both way too pessimistic/realistic, in general, to count on it. We'll have the frozen treats lined up.

We are going to surround that ovulation with so much baby juice, Co's poor little eggie won't know what hit it. Any advice for maximizing this opportunity is welcome. (Such as, it is considered best to inseminate every day or every other day? Do you need to give it a day to, well, build back up?)

Co is already getting excited about peeing on sticks. My, how the blog world has inspired us.

It also seems like Cousin KD comes back to the States/Canada more than I would have thought, so there might be some other opportunities? We're definitely going to have to play this by ear...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Competitive Childbearing, Again

So, I have found out that my sister is planning to name her child for the same relative that we are planning to name for. (This is somewhat dependent on the gender of Co's and my children, whether we end up really doing it.)

It is okay, in Jewish families, for more than one child to be named for an ancestor. It happens.

In this case, my sister wasn't sure if she even wanted to name for this relative (you know, if someone had a lot of faults, do you want to name for them? stuff like that). Last we spoke about naming for relatives, she said she wouldn't do it.

Co and I innocently expressed our opinion that it is okay to name for this relative, and why we feel that way.

And now, apparently she has changed her mind.

I know I can do it too. But she will have done it first. This was something I wanted to do for my Daddy. But now I can't, and it's my own fault for being honest and telling her our thoughts.

Is my rage/desire to curl up in a ball and disappear completely unreasonable??

I really don't know.

Friday, May 19, 2006

In Praise of Nurses

At least two of the women on my "blogroll" are nurses. So, I thought I would share info about a book about nurses written by my Aunt Bernice. (She is not really my aunt in the biological sense. She is, in fact, not technically biologically related to me. But we here in Queer Family Blogland know how that is.)

The book is called From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public.

(I haven't read all of it yet, I admit, but I do own a copy!)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Lo's Interview Q's, plus Interview Take 2

Okay, three people have agreed to be interviewed by my cutting-edge, biting, journalistic mind. So Charlotte, Deana, and Eryn, here are your questions. I'm looking forward to reading your answers!

1) I/we all know you're a mom, and a chef. What other hobbies/pasttimes are dear to your heart?
2) What would you say is the best part of being a mom for you? The hardest?
3) Of your various ethnicities, is there one you identify with more than another?
4) What drew you to being a therapist?
5) Do you love where you live? If you could live anywhere else in the world, would you? (And where would it be?)

1) What is your favorite thing about your recent move to N.Y.C.? (You can list a few if necessary. :-)
2) What's the best thing about your new job? What's the worst thing about your new job?
3) What would be your dream job?
4) How would you describe the role of religion in your life?
5) What's your favorite book & why?

1) Have you always known you wanted to have a child(ren)? Explain...
2) Cape Cod & Western & contrast.
3) What's your favorite candy?
4) How did you and Amy meet?
5) What do you enjoy about working with college students? (or, what do you find frustrating about it. Or both.)

Being the interview slut that I am, I agreed to be interviewed by Sarah. Here are my responses to her questions.

1) If you could live in any another country (other than your own), where would you live and why?

Canada. Because I am fluent in English and adore French (though I wouldn't say I'm fluent); because Stephen Harper notwithstanding it's to some degree a socialist country and that's more my speed; because when I'm there, I feel like I'm in one country among many (as opposed to the USA hubris of being The Only Country That Matters). And, I admit it, Coffee Crunch. I would repatriate over Coffee Crunch.

2) What would your dream job be? Why?
My dream job would be to teach middle school in a K--8 setting to a sincerely diverse (in terms of race, ethnicity, class, ability) group of children. And where I have the opportunity to design my own curriculum. That is more or less what I do now. However, this is all pending the feelings & actions of New Boss. We'll see. I may need to find a new dream job.

3) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Please Explain.
I am way, way, way , way too emotional. I would turn it off.

4) What would you ultimate vacation be? Why?
Hmmm. The beach would be involved. I *love* the ocean -- getting right into the waves. I also love being with Co and Maggie, at the ocean. And I love cooking fresh local food. So, I guess renting a house near a beach. I have other ambitions, like going to Europe...but to be honest, the ocean and my family is really what I dream about.

5) If you could travel back in time to see any event in real life, what would it be and why?
That is a tough question. I have often wished I was alive during the American civil rights movement in the late '50s -- '60s. I would have wanted to be a part of that. I'm not exactly sure what I would have done but I wish I had been around to do something.

Thanks Sarah!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Interview with Lo

So, this is a meme from Art-Sweet (who credits HD).

The meme works like this:
* Leave me a comment saying “interview me.” The first five commenters will be the participants.
* I will respond by asking you five questions.
* You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
* You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
* When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

And now, my questions, as posed by Art-Sweet herself:

1. If you could ask George Bush one question, which he would be required to answer honestly, what would it be?
In exactly which ways are your policies (particularly educational ones) hypocritical and self-serving?

2. How did you meet Co? Was it love at first sight?
I met Co at a cafe. It's a cafe in the city where we live that has books of personal ads....sort of like Internet dating but not quite!!! I went to the cafe with my friend W. and we both made pages for the books, and looked through the ads. I "requested" a number of people, including Co. The people at the cafe called me back a few days later to say that Co had agreed to meet me. Of course, the cafe arranges for you to have a date at the cafe. So we did. And it turned out that her best friend J. from college was my best friend from graduate school. Weird.
I wouldn't say "love at first sight," I would say "deep interest" at first sight.

3. If you could relive one year of your life, what year would it be - and why?
I think it might be seventh grade. That was a very hard year for some reasons....but a wonderful year for others. I really felt like I was a part of my school community, my home life wasn't too terrible. I could feel my little wings starting to spread. I remember that fondly.

4. Do you also hope to bio-mom at some point?
Yes, I do. Our plan (the best-laid plans of mice and men....) is for Co to have Baby 1.0 and me to have Baby 2.0. And the brilliant logic behind this plan? She's 1 year older. I think that's a fine enough reason.

5. What do you like about seventh graders?
I like in them what I liked in myself in 7th grade...all that potential. All that becoming. The experimenting with identity, the wondering, the soul-searching, and the glimmering beginnings of abstract thought. I find it a very exciting age to enage intellectually because it's really the beginning of kids being able to engage intellectually!
And, also, they're funny. I have a pretty 7th grade sense of humor. Not all the time, but enough so that we amuse each other.

So if you'd like to be interviewed, comment on this post and I will oblige with five questions for the first five people.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Family Drama (Lo's Lifetime Movie)

**Please scroll down to read about sperm! I really want any and all input about our options.

I need to pick out a Mother's Day gift this weekend, and that's not so easy.

My mother and my sister are not speaking to me right now. (So for immediate family, that leaves my dad, who is divorced from my mom, and is speaking to me. But he is very New England male [not to stereotype, some New England males are very warm, but it's a type], a distant character.)

My mother and sister both say I am manipulative and abusive and they can't take my negativity any more. I have discussed with my therapist, of course. I will be as honest here as I was with her. Here's what I have done: after initially expressing joy that my sister was pregnant, I shared my concerns with my mother and with my father (they both share my concerns, which are largely financial, and were not upset with me for expressing them). I did not tell my sister how I felt. I finally told her (I think twice) that it's hard for me when she goes on and on about her pregnancy and her anxieties about circumcision, because Co and I are in a place where we can't even *try* to get pregnant right now (since we're in the midst of looking for a donor/saving the $ for popsicles/going to doctors).

One of the times I asked her to be a little more respectful, a) we had just (the day before maybe?) found out that our original PKD was a no-go, and b) she was buggine me about my opinions on circumcision. Male circumcision is a hot button issue for me, as some people who read this blog know, and something I really, really, really, really don't like to talk about. I am not circumcised. I do not have any brothers. My father, since we are a Jewish family, is (I have been told) circumcised. And that is all I will say on the matter.

My sister and my mother both feel that my telling my sister my honest feelings was (as stated above) hostile, manipulative, and abusive. So right now they have chosen to distance themselves from my painful presence. I've been told this verbally as well as through email.

I do not WANT to be ANY of the adjectives listed above, and have done a lot of thinking about whether I did something that was, in fact, unfair and hurtful. I guess I don't think I have, so it's painful to me that my honesty has both of them so upset (I did try to express my feelings kindly and gently, I really don't want to hurt anyone; I can be a passionate person, no doubt about it, but I have not yelled at my sister; I admit that I yell at my mom sometimes, but mostly I just cry around her).

I've been clearly warned by both mother and sister that if I do not choose to "behave" myself (I don't know what that would mean, I put it in quotes because it's a word they both use), I may not get to have a relationship with my niece or nephew.

OF COURSE I want a relationship with my niece/nephew. OF COURSE this freaks me out. However, one thing my mom and sister don't understand is that as a lesbian with an alternative definition of family, there are already children in the world who I fully consider my nieces and nephews. So while it is certainly momentous to become a biological aunt, this is not the first time I have eagerly anticipated the arrival of a child to whom I will feel that kind of connection. I will not list names here....but Z. and N. and E. and R. and D. and A. are all my nieces & nephews in my heart. I don't mean to discount the importance of my sister's child, I really don't, but I'm hoping people in the community I'm writing for will understand what I mean.

So this weekend I need to pick something to send for Mother's Day, because it really would be hostile not to send her something (as I always have) just because she is kind of ignoring me right now. And that's not going to be an enjoyable task. I also have to pick a birthday present for my brother-in-law (sister's husband) for the same reason. And I am going to enjoy that task even less. Oh, the joy.

Plus I'm sick (no it's not allergies, though here in the Northeast the pollen is laying waste to much of the population), which is not improving my outlook on anything right now.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sperm Options

Quick disclaimer on the photo: I'm no fan of Woody Allen. However, this post just needed a photo of him in a sperm costume as illustration. It's from the movie "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex...but Were Afraid to Ask." I often feel like my life should be sub-titled, "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Lesbian Conception..." get the idea.

I've been wanting to write about this latest update in our sperm-venture for some time. My job has been sucking the life out of me (and everyone else who dares work there) but here it is 9pm and I'm actually at home!! Wheeee!

"Option" #1:
This one's not a real option (yet, anyway). A friend "put a bug in the ear"* of someone she knows about the concept of donation. (That's different from directly asking.) She promised she'll tell me if she hears anything on that front. I don't know who she asked and I'm certain it's no one I know (she's an elementary/high school friend and we don't live in the same state); I only know that he fits our requirements. [Our requirements are that he has sperm and does not live in our neighborhood (and of course HIV testing and no Tay Sachs or CF carriers, though even that last part could go if Co turns up clean on that front).] Well, and obviously that he does not want to be a parent in any sense of the word. I am trying to be patient and act like I don't care and it doesn't matter to me that she opened that can of worms, and for the most part that's true...but also, I'm pretty sperm-obsessed right now.

*I once really did have a bug fly into my ear. It was horrible and traumatic and I have friends who still tease me about the intensity of my reaction, but really, Gentle Reader, think about how it would feel to have wings flapping in your ear. ;-)

Option #2: The second idea is realer. I have a cousin who I've thought of more than once. He's a 2nd cousin, for those who keep track of such things; that means we have the same great-grandparents and not the same grandparents, not that we ever met those shared great-grandparents. I only have one first cousin, and she's, well, a she. This PKD Cousin is the same gentleman my mom once suggested as a donor for both of us. She repeated this suggestion at our Passover visit, pointing out once again that he is only my second cousin. Little did she know I had already sent out an anxious email query, which after some consideration he and his wife answered with a "sure, we would do that for you if we could."

(NO, not as a donor for both of us, we would only use him for Co. On my father's side of the family, second cousins are considered dateable, but there have been (in my humble and scientifically informed opinion) some negative consequences. Diversity is healthy in every. single. way.

The serious catch is that he does not live in the United States. He does not live in Canada, either; I mean a serious plane ride away. However, he has plans to be in the States in both August and September. We could, essentially, try twice and see what happens. (Do I know if those dates coincide with an ovulation? No, I don't right now, but if we were going to try this, we'd just have to try it. With fresh sperm, it IS possible to get pregnant when you're not ovulating. Just ask those rhythm method people.)

The other serious catch is that I don't think it would be a great idea for the rest of our relatives to know (at first, that is) that the child was biologically related to him. That's the reason it took me so long to bring this up with him, more than his distance. He has parents and two grandmothers to have, well, feelings. However, they really wouldn't need to know in the beginning. We want to be honest with the child, of course. But by the time a theoretical child would be old enough to be talk/understand, either my cousin or his younger brother would have produced an heir, and that would change the family dynamic. (I'm having serious tense trouble here. If English has a proper subjunctive, I was never taught it well.)

My family is very spread out, so this child would exist only in photos for my cousin's close relatives (his parents and one grandma live in Canada, and not a part that is close to us, and the other grandma lives in Florida). If the kid turned out to look a bit like him, well, people say he and I look alike. (Because we are named for our shared great-grandparents, he for the great-grandfather and I for the great-grandmother, there has always been a desire to suggest that we have a connection. And, well, we do.)

So the input I'm seeking from the blogosphere is this: does that sound like a crazy and unhealthy idea? Does the idea of not disclosing the child's donor to the rest of the family (including, say, my mom) at first sound very unhealthy? My cousin said he is okay with it either way, so long as the child would know (which of course is a must for Co and myself as well).

We can also just buy the "popsicles" from Sperm Bank of California and we really are okay with that. But I will openly admit that I *like* the idea of having this cousin as a donor. I think he would be a really good Super Uncle. Also....Charlotte has written about the idea of donor as "surrogate self." I can't get Co pregnant, and while I am not heavily invested in picking someone like myself from the lists of sperm bank donors, I can't deny the attraction of this cousin who is somewhat like myself. He's a professional writer...deeply political...very musical....while we do not look alike, really, we were both little blond, blue-eyed kids with Semitic features and that made people say we looked alike. He's only six months younger than I am (though a grade behind in school as a result) and we had a pretty intense bond for parts of our childhood. The most charming example I can think of is playing Simon & Garfunkel duets (he on guitar, me on flute) when we were 10 or 11. I do not NEED to have my genetics represented in this child (and this isn't my brother by a long-shot; I don't have a brother or any male first cousins) but yes, there is something I like about having someone connected to me be number 3 in this project. He even fits my somewhat bratty self-hating requirement of not being 100% Ashkenazi Jew. (His mother converted before she met his father, and he was raised as Jewishly as I was, but that doesn't change the genetics. I do want to intentionally mix up the world, damn it.)

This is too long, I think, but I do want to share it all. So if you've read this far, thank you for your patience, and I politely request your commentary. (And if you know me in that foggy place we call "real life," please do not publish anything that would reveal PKD Cousin's identity. He's not world famous but I bet he'd like to stay that way.)