Posts Tagged ‘WoW Skins’

I’m interrupting the ‘Deus Ex Machina’ series, which explains my current work situation, to bubble enthusiastically about a recent ‘mommy’ experience.  Tammy, another research assistant at ThatchTower, has two boys, Dean and Mikey, who are complete handfuls.  Mikey recently turned six and Tammy threw him a pool party at the local rec center.  She invited several kids from Mikey’s class at school and their parents, but didn’t get much reply, so she also invited the other Thatchtower moms.  I was going to decline.  As the newest research assistant, I don’t really know Tammy that well yet and Mikey hardly at all.  As the newest mom, I wasn’t all that keen on bringing Piper to the party either.  One of the few things I know about Mikey is that he loves babies.  When he’s in the nursery at Thatchtower, he wants to help and to hold Piper or Brooklyn (the other baby in the nursery, about nine months old, not as cute as my baby, however!).  Given that Mikey doesn’t seem to understand that babies are fragile and doesn’t listen well, however, his ‘help’ must always be very closely monitored.  Plus, Piper isn’t even six months old, and doesn’t walk or crawl yet.  She definitely doesn’t swim.  She wiggles and rolls well enough to get herself into trouble, she just doesn’t have enough mobility to give someone else time to get there and rescue her.  So I foresaw a pool party as spending an afternoon on high alert doing over-protective mom-watch of my baby, something neither relaxing nor fun.

Fun and relaxation: what pre-Piper pool parties were like… Jewelry: Graffiti Bangles (Grumble, Grumble); Black Choker (source unknown)

Fun and relaxation: what pre-Piper pool parties were like…
Jewelry: Graffiti Bangles (Grumble, Grumble); Black Choker (source unknown)

It was Tori, Brooklyn’s mom, who persuaded me to come.  Like me, she’s a single mom who doesn’t get out much.  She also has a warmer heart than I do, I think.  I figured Mikey doesn’t know Piper and I well enough for us to add much to his party, that inviting us was probably a polite gesture on Tammy’s part or less likely a “more guests = more presents” calculation.  Tori pointed out that people’s motivations are rarely one-dimensional, so either or both of those might go into the mix, but that Tammy’s biggest motivation was to make Mikey feel special and loved, to be a ‘winner’ at his party.  Ideally, more of his school friends would have been coming, but for Piper to be there was still an indication that other kids and small people wanted to be around Mikey to help celebrate his special day.  In many ways a bad party- one where Mikey didn’t have anyone with whom to play and share his new six-hood- would be more tragic and painful than no party, and Tori and I could help make sure Mikey had a better party by giving him the chance to share his birthday with Brooklyn and Piper.  Put that way, how could we not go?

The party was at the local rec center that Saturday.  Tammy had signed out a room from three to five so everyone had a place to eat cake and watch Mikey open presents.  The indoor pool would actually be open until eight, although Tammy said she and the boys would probably only stay until about six.  I worked a quiet lunch shift at Giovanni’s, getting out around two thirty, scrambled to get Piper and myself ready, and tried to slink quietly in about quarter ’til four.

Skin: something (somebody) Tattoo: Bad Girl (somebody) Swimsuit: Green Mini Bikini (Grumble, Grumble)

Skin: Britney (WoW Skins)
Tattoo: Bad Girl (UtopiaH)
Swimsuit: Green Mini Bikini (Grumble, Grumble)

‘Tried’ is the operative word.  Mikey had started opening his presents, so everyone was watching him.  Which meant every one saw Mikey yell, “Baby Piper came!  Look, Mommy, baby Piper came!” and put down the present he was in the middle of unwrapping, grab up a Nerf ball sitting next to him, and come rushing to where I was struggling through the door with Piper’s carrier and a gift bag, asking, “can I show baby Piper the ball Uncle Conner got me?”.  So much for a discreet entrance.

The high point of the party for me, however, was definitely taking Piper swimming for the first time.  Well, really, holding her while I waded into the pool.  I was hoping to see her love the pool, splashing and kicking while she jabbered her cheerful, happy noises.  I wasn’t going to be surprised if she instead hated the pool, going zero to tizzy and crying and fussing.  Although Piper is generally a happy baby, she isn’t at all slow to let you know when something does displease her.

Hair: Britney- chocolate (from Freebie Fever) Shoes: Aloha Pink Scarf Sandals (Grumble, Grumble) Shape: Gigi Teen (Kids5B)

Hair: Britney- chocolate (from Freebie Fever)
Shoes: Aloha Pink Scarf Sandals (Grumble, Grumble)
Shape: Gigi Teen (Kids5B)

Instead as I lowered her into the water, she got very quiet.  Her eyes got super wide, two huge circles in her little tiny face.  She looked at the pool, then looked up at my face.  She looked again at the pool, and then looked at me again.  As a mother, I constantly talk to Piper, and often put words in her mouth, making up what I think she would say.  Her facial expression clearly announced, “WTF?!?  This is the biggest kitchen sink I have ever seen…”

…Info about tagged vendors is in my closet

After my shift at Giovanni’s ended, I picked up Piper from my neighbor’s apartment and went home.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do that evening.  I nestled Piper on the couch in her Boppy pillow- she’s a bottle baby, but she loves using the nursing pillow as a miniature lounge seat- and flipped on some cartoons because the bright primary colors seem to soothe her.  As I sat next to her and sorted out my apron contents, I rediscovered the card with Cao Richard’s private number.  ‘Sooner rather than later,’ she had said.  I think I sat and stared at the card for fifteen  minutes or so.  Long enough anyhow for the cartoon I wasn’t watching to be replaced by a puppet show I still wasn’t watching.

I entered the digits into my cell, and stared at them a little bit longer.  Taking a deep breath, I pressed ‘send.’  And immediately thought, oh, shit, oh, shit.  I should have figured out what I’m going to say so I don’t sound like a stammering, dithering idiot if I have to leave a voice mail.  I should hang up now before it goes to voice-

My plus-one and I Dress: Cherie by Augusta Creations

Dress: Cherie by Augusta Creations
Jewelry: necklace by JStyle; rings/bangles by Loka Designs

“Oh, goodie, Emily, I’m so glad you called.”  Ms. Richard’s voice was warm and welcoming as she answered on the second ring.

“You did say ‘sooner rather than later’.” I replied.  “Can’t get much sooner than now.”  Inwardly I cringed at the banality of that particular conversational gambit.

“And in fact your timing is excellent, although I need to be brief because I still have three more calls to make.  So here are the important points: I interviewed a dozen candidates for the research assistant job.  My ideal candidate for the research portion of the job would be mentally flexible, good at multitasking, be willing to work in a team setting, and show initiative in anticipating Carlton and I’s needs.  For the gallery portion of the job, my ideal candidate would be pretty enough to distract potential buyers, good at soothing tempers or stroking egos when needed, and service customers based on long-term satisfaction rather then short term interests.”

I interrupted with a snort, “So far, you’re describing any half-way decent waitress.”

Hair: 'Saskia' in Black from EdelStore Flower: 'Gardenia Flower 1.2' (source unknown)

Hair: ‘Saskia’ in Black from EdelStore
Flower: ‘Gardenia Flower 1.2’ (source unknown)

“Exactly,” purred Cao.  “Which is why you were my first choice for the position.  Carlton favored Conner, however, because Conner has already developed contacts and associates within the social circles where we buy and sell.  Carlton thinks that networking is the most important trait in a candidate, because it both indicates existing aptitude for the job and serves as a multiplier, allowing them to leverage the talent they have more effectively.”

“I’m not plugged into anyone’s network. So why..”

Cao cleared her throat, interrupting my interruption. “I already know better than that, Emily.  Conner told us about your family and Elyssa told us some more.  In addition, Conner is keeping his other job, some kind of security consulting thing, so he negotiated to be on straight commission- not even a draw- rather than hourly.  Which means Carlton is open to paying someone else the hourly wages that would have been Conner’s if he is sufficiently impressed.  Carlton leaves tomorrow afternoon to try to purchase some bones that were recently dug up near Cairo, and I’ve been ordered to arrange interviews with you and two other candidates when he returns. You’re still my first choice, however, so I’m trying to stack the deck a little bit.  If I connect you with Carlton tonight, and schedule the others when he gets back, I’m hoping he’ll make you an immediate offer rather than wait.  Do you have any plans you can’t break tonight?”

Shape: Gigi Teen from Kids5B Skin: Lany by WoW Skins Jewelry: necklace from JStyle; rings/bangles from Loka Designs

Shape: Gigi Teen from Kids5B
Skin: Lany by WoW Skins

“No plans, but also no sitter.  How will Carlton react if I bring my plus-one with me to an interview?”

…Still to be continued…

…Info about tagged vendors is in my closet

“If you give your employer two dollars worth of work for every dollar he pays you, you will always be too valuable an employee to fire.”  Mr. H., my high school soccer coach, used to say that, and it seemed to work for him.  He occasionally skirted the lines of propriety and took gleeful pleasure in tweaking the administrators’ noses, but no one could deny he poured his heart and his soul into teaching and coaching, so he was generally allowed to get away with it.

I need a chocolate milkshake to drown my sorrows… better make it a double!

I need a chocolate milkshake to drown my sorrows… better make it a double!

I’ve busted my ass for Giovanni’s, and it doesn’t seem to have earned me any protection.  In my post last week, I mentioned I ended up with a Step I disciplinary action through no fault of my own.  Yesterday I ended up with a Step II.  Technically, this one is my fault.  Piper caught a stomach bug somewhere, so she woke me at one-thirty in the morning throwing up contents of her stomach all over herself, her blanket, and her boppie.  Needless to say, I didn’t go to sleep that night, between panicking, cleaning her up, calling the pediatrician’s panic-line, calling my dad to send one of his patrol officers to the apartment with some Pedialyte, and tending to my sick little baby.  Even after Piper’s stomach was empty, she continued to throw up, projectile spitting her stomach acids.  I don’t think I will ever hear any sound quite as heart-wrenching as the gurgling in Piper’s stomach that warned she was about to heave again.  She didn’t even cry, just mewed pitifully with her discomfort as she tried to sleep.  Around eight she was finally able to keep down a tablespoon of Pedialyte.  I was babbling as I tended to her, partly trying to reassure her that everything would be all right, partly trying to talk myself down from my frazzled panic, partly making blind offers of whatever God wanted if he would only help my little girl feel better.  And Piper, as sick and pitiful as she was feeling, gave me a big brave smile, like she knew I needed someone to believe in me and wanted me to know she was my someone.

In a musical dream sequence, I could dance my sorrows away.  Sadly, this is not a musical dream sequence...

In a musical dream sequence, I could dance my sorrows away. Sadly, this is not a musical dream sequence…

Well, I was in no shape to handle a lunch shift at Giovanni’s, and I couldn’t leave Piper when she was sick.  At nine o’clock, I called Taylor, and mercilessly used her guilt over her role in my Step I to shame her into covering my shift.  I then nestled Piper in my bed beside me and crashed restlessly, waking every so often to give her more Pedialyte.  My Step II is because of what that process didn’t involve, or more specifically who I didn’t involve in the process.  Managers, just because they run the restaurant, feel like they should be involved in solving staffing problems.  Go figure.  (I’m more than a little bitter.  If it was a problem involving a customer, such as their steak was miscooked or there was a hair in their lasagna, most of Giovanni’s managers would say, “I’m busy.  Can’t you deal with it?”  So who knew they would be so territorial about their prerogatives once those annoying customer people weren’t a factor?)  Step II means I lose another shift, to ensure the penalty hits me in the pocketbook; I lose certain responsibilities, like checking coworker outs and processing discounts on the computer, until I’ve “re-earned management’s trust”; I have to schedule a sit-down meeting with Stephano and Jonas to discuss why I’m in disciplinary Steps, whether I still value my job, and where I go from here.  Worst of all, since I’m in Step II, any other violation can, at management discretion, place me in Step III, more colloquially known as ‘Don’t let the front door hit you where the Good Lord split you’ or ‘getting shit-canned’.

I'm pretty sure 're-earning management's trust' will involve more than baked goods...

I’m pretty sure ‘re-earning management’s trust’ will involve more than baked goods…

The threat of firing is bad enough at any time, but I’m still hemorrhaging debt from my maternity leave and I get insurance, both mine and Piper’s through work.  Right now I feel like I cannot afford to work, but I can afford to not work even less.  And the whole gallery thing has proven to me that Piper is a liability on job interviews.  I thought, all things considered, that my gallery interview went well.  I really thought I had a genuine shot at the job, both from the initial interview and from things Ms. Richards said when I served her just before Valentine’s Day.  But she also said that Mr. Thatcher would make his decision Monday the 16th, so there would be two weeks to give notice before March 3rd when the position officially opens.  That was over a week ago, and I’ve heard nothing.  I’ve called multiple times to follow-up, and I keep getting either no answer or voice mail, and no return call for the messages I leave.  Most damning, on Thursday, Ms. Richards came in around five like she was going to get supper, saw me busy in my section, and scurried off to the carryout area.  Maybe I’m being paranoid, but I feel like she ducked me because she didn’t want to answer my questions, which is an answer in and of itself.

Sometimes there is a poster that says it all...

Sometimes there is a poster that says it all…

I’m used to being a little arrogant at work: I’m damned good at what I do, and when it was just me, I was certain I could land on my feet, because if I ever got fired, or lost my temper and quit, I  could find another serving job at the drop of a hat.  But now I have Piper depending on me, and I’m terrified of letting her down.  I don’t have any safety margin if something happens at Giovanni’s.  The lack of sleep and the stress of parenting are wearing me down, so my game is slipping at work.  With Step-III-You’re-Out! hanging over my head, I cannot just trust my instincts and attitudes to carry me through, so my game is slipping further.  I think I’m slightly a control freak, and right now there is nothing in my life that I actually get to control.  I really want to hide under my blanket with a bottle of Patron Citronge until the world goes away and finds someone else to pick on.  I won’t, of course, partly because guilt and affection will keep me in the game for Piper, mostly because I know the world will just wait patiently, picking up ever-heavier blunt objects to smack me with, until I emerge.  God help me, however, because the impulse is so there. I think when I’m done with this post, I’m calling my dad and asking if I can keep my booze over at his house until I feel little better about my life…

Oh, and very little credit to assign for today’s fashion look, as I was digging in the deep, back, dusty part of my closet, and picked a short reddish minidress and accessory kit that I cannot remember where it came from.  Probably a freebie/gift, as it is titled in German and I only shop in English.  (Call me crazy, but I don’t like to buy if I don’t actually understand what I’m buying…)  Still, there are a few very familiar brands in some of the details: Sophia Tan skin from WoW Skins, Updated Jeannie Small B-cup shape from Alady Island, Beatrice hair from Tameless Hair.  Likewise, I’ve worn and posted before about the hearts a flutter headband from {le fil casse} and the ‘pure garbage’ piercings from Ellabella.

Let me start off by hoping everyone reading this had a better Christmas than I did.  You probably did; I set the bar much lower than I would have liked.  When I was a little girl, my mom was really into Christmas and the rest of us were dragged along in the wake of her enthusiasm.  After she walked away and vanished without a trace shortly before Christmas ’99, the Marik family pretty much declared ourselves to be over Christmas.  Norm sent Dad and I generic ‘wish you were here’ postcards from the base where he’s stationed.  The words ‘Christmas’ or ‘holiday’ made no appearance on the front or back of the cards; only the cards’ December 19th postmarks gives away that these are Norm’s Christmas cards.  Dad volunteers to work a double every Christmas so that one or two ‘rookies too green to know what a bitch life is’ can have their Christmas.  Most years I lurk in the background at a friend or coworker’s family gathering, trying to hide my feelings about Christmas with either a fake smile or a genuine buzz.  Not really an option this year; it’s hard to hide in the background with an adorable, but also colicky and fussy, newborn.

Meet Piper Jo, my new plus-one for any event...

Meet Piper Jo, my new plus-one for any event…

Plus there is the weather to consider.  I didn’t have a white Christmas this year.  Instead, it was a dreary and drizzly day, with bitter gusts of wind that occasionally slashed like a serial killer’s straight razor.  I don’t have a car, and although the doctor has reluctantly admitted that I’ve recovered enough from my Cesarian to drive my motorcycle and I’ve found a government-approved baby carrier for my bike, I wasn’t willing to subject Piper to that sort of chill.  So I spent Christmas day alone with my baby in my severely under furnished apartment.  No tree, no decorations, no presents.  There were a couple of gift cards for Grumble, Grumble, one from my dad and one from Allie Munro.  There was the small stocking I put together for Piper- a bottle, a couple pacifiers, some bibs, and a couple wrist-rattles.  We ‘opened it’ when we woke up in the morning, but since Piper is still too young to get, or even notice, her presents, opening her stocking was just the same person who put stuff into the stocking- me- pulling it back out and pretending to be surprised.  Yay.

I'd tell you to feel the excitement in the air, but there was none...

I’d tell you to feel the excitement in the air, but there was none…

The rest of the day was spent wasting time online in First Life.  My avatar had a better Christmas than I did.  He and Mrs. Firsty had a big, multi-day affair with more family than I can keep straight, lots of people excited about Firsty, Jr, and huge piles of swag both given and received.  Finally, around six I took Piper over to one of our neighbors, who watched her long enough that I could slog a couple blocks through the cold and gray to get some Chinese take out.  I managed to find a present some dog left on the sidewalk on my way home, which made my Christmas crappy in both the figurative and literal senses of the word.  As I was swearing and wiping my boots in the grass, I swore that I am done being done with Christmas.  Regardless of how I feel about Christmas and how it has treated me over the years, Piper Jo Marik deserves better Christmases, and I resolve that next year, Christmas will be Merry.

"…And may all your Christmases be white."

“…And may all your Christmases be white.”

Which begs the question.  It’s almost New Year’s.  It’s the time when we make promises about how we will behave during the new year.  (Although the cynical among us claim they are only promises for the first two or three weeks of January…)  So I took time and took stock and did some thinking.  These are my resolutions for 2015:

  1. Piper Jonasine Marik’s second Christmas will be much merrier than her first.
  2. I will figure out a way to make work and single motherhood fit together so that I can give PJ the opportunities she deserves.
  3. I will write more copy for Grumble, Grumble.  They’ve been a great sponsor, and Allie deserves a great blogger.
  4. I will be quicker to express gratitude and slower to whine about the events that occur in my life.
  5. I will be choosier about where and with whom I hold romantic interludes.

Oh, and a few fashion notes about today’s post: My hair today is Jace by Tameless Hair.  My skin is from WoW Skins.  The gorgeous Creme Brule sweater I’m wearing came from PRISM.  The dark green Capri pants were a group gift for Ms. Canning.  The boots are from Bad Karma Designs.  The overall effect is terribly cute…

I never thought I would be the individual to speak out against the cult of the breast.  I’ve generally been pro-breast.  My personal pair may be small- I prefer the term ‘fun-sized’- but I like wearing low necklines and tight clothing to accentuate what I do have.  When I’m cattily deciding if another woman is attractive, the first things I judge are her skin and her hair, but I also look for a fit physique with soft and tempting curves.  And while saving the graphic play-by-play for your imagination, I will note thorough attention to breasts leads to much more satisfying romantic encounters.

Admittedly, until very recently, if someone used the phrase ‘cult of the breast’ around me, my mental picture would have been of sweaty-palmed men, crouching behind locked doors as they perused pictures or videos that featured women with maximal endowments and minimal clothing.  There is a time honored traditional linkage between big full bosoms and fertility/earth-mother goddesses, but when I used the phrase cult of breast, I envisioned people focusing on the sexual aspect of a fertility goddess, generally focusing in a prurient, pornographic way.  Men who call themselves ‘boob-men’, who collect magazines like ‘XL Girls’ and ‘D-Cup’, who find an otherwise average or overweight girl with a large rack more attractive than a fun-sized but otherwise gorgeous bloggeress, er, model…  O.K. I do get jealous, but that is neither here nor there.  But I have recently discovered there is a second, more feminine but also more insidious cult of the breast…

Suitable idols for the cult of breasts to worship...

Suitable idols for the ‘cult of the breast’ to worship…

I’m talking about the way some women seem to feel that breast-feeding is practically a commandment, that using a bottle of formula is somehow  heresy or anathema, on par with worshipping a graven image or murdering small cats in the microwave.  Yes, I get that breast feeding is the ‘natural’ choice, due to the fact that for most of human history it was also the only choice.  I’ve heard the cult’s doctrine, that breast feeding is both good for me and good for Piper.  For Piper, breast milk is supposed to carry all sorts of my immunities, as well as being chock full of nutrients and vitamins.  Breast-fed babies even have cleaner poohs that do not stink.  For me, the act of Piper feeding cues various internal biological processes, triggering changes that are supposed to help get my emotional-state hormones back to ‘normal’, my pelvic bones back into place, and even tighten my belly back to pre-Piper tautness.  As an added bonus, I was told breast feeding is oh-so convenient.  No worries about making or warming a bottle, mixing in gas drops, limited shelf life once mixed, etc.  Just grab a towel or cloak to stay decent if there’s an audience present, and shove my boob in Piper’s mouth.  Supposedly the only complication was to make sure I alternated boobs, so I wouldn’t risk becoming lop-sided.

Yeah, well, F&*% you, breast cultists!  As a brand new mother, everyone keeps asking me if I’m breast feeding.  The question itself doesn’t bother me- as I’ve mentioned, I think breasts are neat things, both to have and to hold, and this is one of the few circumstances where breasts are a socially acceptable topic for public conversation.  What bothers me is the way the askers imply that the correct answer is yes and that if I answer no it means I’m a horrible mommy who doesn’t want my baby to have nutrition, a healthy immune system, or non-stinky poohs.

Dammit, little girl, what are we doing wrong?

Dammit, little girl, what are we doing wrong?

I want to be a good mommy, I do.  I want Piper to have every advantage I can possibly give her in life, so I made the decision to breast feed way back in the second trimester.  My body and my baby were the ones to undermine me.  My very first night in the hospital, I was tired, stressed, hurting, and still semi-paralyzed from the spinal block, so I allowed the nurses to take Piper back to the nursery to watch overnight.  The next morning, I was still somewhat out of it, but I held my little angel, and I loved her, and when she cried that she was hungry, I lowered the hospital gown and, and failed.  Epic fail.  I placed Piper against my chest, and she tried once to suck me, and slid off, and slid off again, and started crying more intensely and flailing her head and arms, and I felt like I was about three inches tall.  This precious little girl is depending on me.  She’s hungry.  I’m trying to hold her still and force my boob into her mouth, and Piper moves from her ‘I’m hungry’ cry, the ‘neh, neh’ cry that is actually kind of soft and endearing, to her other cry, which is screaming at the top of her lungs like I’m attempting to dismember her with a dull spoon.  Remember readers, I’ve told you before that I’m not just proud, but borderline-arrogant.  I expect to succeed at anything I do, and take it poorly if I don’t.  And yet here I am, trying to breast feed, trying to do something that billions of mothers have done before me, without any need of a manual, and I can’t seem to get it to work.  The nurses try to help.  They even call another nurse who is a lactation expert to try to help me–

— And that’s another reason all you damn breast cultists can just F&*% off.  If breast feeding is so f&*%ing simple and convenient, why does a hospital need to have multiple lactation ‘expert’s on staff?–

Trust me, there are few experiences quite as humiliating and degrading as having a stranger trying to push your boob into the mouth of a screaming child.  She said my boobs, particularly just after the birth, still need some priming and pumping to get the milk flowing.  Think of trying to drink a really thick milkshake through a thin straw.  She said Piper had been spoiled by how easy and immediate the milk flowed from the bottles at the nursery, so we tried ‘fooling’ her, dripping some formula onto my breasts so Piper would think she was getting something out of them.  So now I’m not only screwing up something so simple it’s supposed to be instinctual, some thing that even animals have no problems with, but I’m already lying to my daughter before she is even forty-eight hours old.  Oh, and not only am I a horrible mother because I can’t even get something as simple as stick-my-boob-in-my-daughter’s-mouth right, but I’m also a horrible mother because I didn’t fight the nurses to keep Piper with me that first night when I felt like something the neighbor’s dog left in my yard and I allowed her get spoiled by the bottle, thereby condemning her to a life of poor nutrition, infectious disease, and stinky pooh.  Because nothing goes better with feelings of inadequacy and incompetence than a big heaping pile of guilt.

Maybe it's shallow on my part, but I don't want to be a guilty mother...

Maybe it’s shallow on my part, but I don’t want to be a guilty mother…

The expert also told me that it can take three to five days after the birth for my breasts to really fill up with milk, but that letting Piper try or, failing that, using a pump, for ten or twenty minutes at a time, would encourage the process.  And that once my milk came in I needed to continue letting Piper or the pump ‘suckle’ for an hour or two a day to keep my breasts from drying up.  So I thought if I was having trouble getting Piper to feed from me instead of a bottle, maybe I could pump me into a bottle, and in the process encourage my breasts to become better breasts.  (Curse, swear, mutter… all those women who naturally look to babies like all-you-can-eat buffets, and I’ve got the damn Jenny Craig line of breasts.  I’d really like to say I’m not jealous, but I’m so totally jealous.)  Let’s not even talk about breast pumps.  All those gears and tubes and vacuums busy hissing and clunking away, the damn thing just needs a few arching electrical sparks to become some deranged steam-punker’s wet dream, and nothing comes out.  Fifteen, twenty minutes each time, and I’m not even sure why I’m bothering to rinse out the catch bottles between attempts, since they have seen less use than a condom at the Duggers’ house.  On the day after I get home from the hospital, I finally have a ‘successful’ pumping.  For comparison sake, let me point out that Piper, who is a little piggy, is generally taking two and sometimes three ounces of formula at a feeding.  I produced one ounce- that’s total, both breasts combined- of a pale liquid that looked like it was more water then milk.  When I tried to give it to Piper, she flailed away from the bottle and wouldn’t drink it.  Moreover, while I had fretted at the hospital about whether I was pumping and trying hard enough, some nurses told me, don’t worry, my milk will come in regardless, the issue is how long can I keep it in.  Well, I never got the hardness or the swelling, never got any sign that I have any milk.  I would complain that my breasts fire blanks, except, honestly, I don’t think they fire at all.

Believe it or not, this is an enlarged and simplified representation of my f&*%-ing breast pump...

Believe it or not, this is an enlarged and simplified representation of my f&*%-ing breast pump...

When I serve, I’m in my comfort zone.  I don’t really care how other servers do their thing, I trust my instincts, and I always have fun.  I adapt how I serve to the customer, because every table is different.  I know there are multiple ways to do almost anything, and as long as you have the right customer focus, things generally work out.  Motherhood shouldn’t be that different, but I have no instincts to trust yet.  I know I have to figure out what is right for me and for Piper, because every baby and every mom is different, but all I can do, until I know enough to find my zone, is try to mimic what I see in others, and what the experts tell me.  And I’ve never fit well in someone else’s pigeonholes or been good at being someone other than me in my life, so I’m getting it wrong, and I’m feeling like a screw-up and this isn’t some table of customers that will walk back out of my life and my restaurant; this is my daughter who will succeed or fail in life based on the start I give her and I can’t even handle something as simple as sticking my boob in her mouth and I’m starting to hyperventilate and I need to breathe and….

Inhale.  Hold-two-three.  Exhale.  And this is why I’m not just irritated by the cult of the breast.  I don’t just dislike the cultists.  I truly loathe them and hope those breasts they so adore get covered with inflamed sores and itchy bug bites.  There is absolutely no reason to take a young single mom, alone and scared, me or anyone else, and pile all that pressure and guilt and self-doubt upon her.  I’ll even give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that they sincerely want to help.  It doesn’t matter; they aren’t helping.  There is a time to share your opinions and a time to keep your mouth shut.  This is the latter.

Oh, and one post script.  Until I get a chance to get my fashion link page up and running, I still need to cue y’all in on what I’m wearing.  The collage photo that started my post featured the ‘Egyptian Queen’ avatar from G & S team.  The ‘new mother’ outfit in the other pics was more of a mix and match: Shape: Nina, postpartum 1, from Baby Bumps; Skin: ‘Genuary(sic) 2013 Group Gift’ from WoW skins; Hair: source unknown freebie; Top: Off the shoulder nursing outfit from Sexy Mamas; Pants: Black Leather Punk Pants from Bailey’s Bare Essentials; Shoes: Wicked Boots from [Phunk].

Giovanni’s is located in a place that gives it a demographically diverse traffic flow.  We’re close enough to the richest suburb in the area to get high end executives, but we are in a region of the city where retired factory workers are gradually succumbing to death and nursing homes and being replaced by a younger, urban crowd.  We get college students from University of Dayton.  We get employees from Miami Valley hospital, from nurse’s aides barely making ends meet to hot-shot trauma surgeons.  We get white collar and blue collar; folks with graduate degrees and folks with no degrees; the young, the old.  Heck, I’m sure somewhere we have the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.  Come to think of it, as long as Piper is pushing up against my lungs, I’m all three of those myself.

What?  Not a practical shopping outfit?

What? Not a practical shopping outfit?

One of our favorite regulars is Dr. Bob, who works night shift in the emergency room.  Every Thursday, when we offer Italian Wedding soup, he comes in by himself on his lunch break, shortly before we close for the night, and sits at the bar rail for a bowl of Italian Wedding, an order of breadsticks and marinara, and a Diet Mountain Dew.  He’s in late enough that most of the servers have been cut, and he always chats cheerfully with whatever servers are sitting at the bar, either waiting for a manager to take their money and close them out for the day, or already off the clock and waiting for the bartender to take some more money and serve them cocktails.  He’s very good looking in a Denis Leary/Mel Gibson sort of way, which is a little awkward since he has a daughter who is older than I am.  Even though he always comes in towards the end of the night, because he has to get back to work, he’s never that customer who just lingers and chats while managers flip on the cleaning lights and tired cooks lean on mops staring, trying to will the customer to realize that cooks can’t go home until they do the dining room floor, and they can’t do the dining room floor while customers are still using it.  He’s a really great guy, and I felt that way even before I learned how generously he usually tips.

So the other day, when two of my tables were shoved together to accommodate a nine-top, I was very happy to see that one of them was Dr. Bob.  You never know for sure how a party is going to treat you, so seeing a face that is already ‘on your side’ improves the odds that you are going to get along with the party and get tipped well by the party.  Dr. Bob was the lone single ‘spare wheel’ accompanying four couples, so it was five checks.  And just to make things interesting, the couples weren’t necessarily sitting together.  While I was taking the drink orders, they rattled off who was with whom, but the information didn’t take since it was extraneous to my focus at that moment.

What do you mean I have to wait 37 more days?!?

What do you mean I have to wait 37 more days?!?

Side tangent: I’m not sure where the slang of referring to a table with n people as an n-top originated.  A little googling turned up a reference from Way with Words that suggested it referred to so many place-settings on the top of a table, as opposed to the number of chairs the table fits, and as opposed to being at the bar rail.  It makes sense to me, particularly since I’ve also seen tables referred to as ‘high-tops’ in several restaurants and they are always taller, more elevated tables.  It would therefore follow that a waitress with no tables is ‘topless’ but I haven’t been able to get anyone else to use that lingo.

So everything went well with the party.  I was able to field my other three tables around the nine-top’s needs, so nobody ever felt neglected.  I had good banter and rapport with the party.  The food order came out timely and correct, and service bar was quick enough no one was kept waiting for their alcohol.  Come time to split the check, I knew I had all nine individuals correct, I just wasn’t sure I had the couples paired properly.  So I split and printed the five checks and went to the table.  I gave Dr. Bob his check first, since I knew that one was right, and then lightly said, “All right, here’s the tricky part.  Just to double check myself, you, sir, were with the lady next to you?”  Yep, got that check right also.  “And you sir were with…”

Before I could complete my second question, the second husband points to a different wife than I had paired him with.  I reply, “well, I got that one wrong, so I’m going to have at least one more wrong as well.  Let me finish seeing who’s with whom, and I’ll recombine and re-split the checks.”

And Husband Two jokes, “Oh just hand the checks out the way you have them, and we’ll all see which wives we get to take home with us tonight.”

“Oh-ho!,” I reply, “Nobody told me we were that sort of party.”  And everyone’s been bantering and joking all night, so we all laugh, and I step back to the computer and fix the checks.  And as I’ve just resorted and reprinted the checks and logged off, Dr. Bob pauses next to me and says “Just go ahead and put it all on this,” and gives me his credit card on his way to the bathroom.  So I log back onto the computer and recombine what I just I re-split, and then run the credit card.  As I return to the table, I hold up the single check tray.  “Dr. Bob took mercy on me at the computer, so we have a new plan.  Apparently everybody is going home with Dr. Bob tonight.”

Sauna Vabeech!

Sauna Vabeech!

Style Card: Here’s what I’m going home with tonight

  • Shape: Penny, month 8, from Baby Bumps;
  • Skin: Viola, milk, from WoW Skins;
  • Tattoos: Pregnancy Stretch Marks from Freaky Geeky; Nature’s Kiss Eyeshadow & Liner from Body Bazaar; Pretty Girl Rock tattoo (part of outfit);
  • Hair: Tammy in Almond from London Core;
  • Outfit: Pretty Girl Rock from [A&k] designs; includes gloves, pants, shirt, suspenders, and tattoo.
  • Accessories: Pink Ankle Boots from London Core; Lisee Stockings from Alloro; Graffiti Bangles from Grumble, Grumble; source unknown black choker; source unknown ‘Fairy Hydrangea Wings’;

Matt the Firsty, back to hopefully finish my ‘State of the Blogger Address’.  Back in Part I, I was primarily talking about what’s going on in my life: still working two jobs, just became a home owner for the first time, about to become a father for the first time.  Time management was already the five-hundred-pound gorilla beating up on me; now I’m going to have up my game to deal with his eight-hundred-pound rabid older brother.  Lucky me.  (Brief Musical Interlude: My Luck is So Bad.)  In Part II, I want to talk about what’s going on in Emily’s life.

"Since Firsty's giving me a day off, I'm gonna shop 'til the baby drops!"

“Since Firsty’s giving me a day off, I’m gonna shop ’til the baby drops!”

I suppose first I should talk about the obligatory style card.  After all, Emily’s quirky style sense is one of her defining characteristics.  Today is a casual day:

  • Shape: Nina, month 8 from Baby Bumps;
  • Skin: Jada (april group gift) from WoW Skins;
  • Tattoos: Bad Girl from -UtopiaH-; Starship Lipstick (Blue Purple) from Pink Acid; Pregnancy Stretch Marks from Freaky Geeky;
  • Hair: Jenny, Jet-Black/Red-Tips (Designer unknown, but a freebie from Free Dove);
  • Outfit: Peace Patch Jeans from Alady Island; the shirt is actually the corset and under corset out of the ‘Miss Tick’ halloween costume from Petit Chat.
  • Boots: Red Leather Kicks from Prozak.  (The first thought was Fetish Doll ankle boots, but stiletto heels and swollen pregnancy ankles just don’t mix well…)
  • Accessories: Jackie-O Black Sunglasses, Razorwire Bangles both from Grumble, Grumble; Old Padlock Necklace from Bite & Claw; source unknown Silver Hoop Earrings;

Comfy, relaxed, and still sexy even with a due date that is less than a month away.  Plus she looks like she could still kick somebody’s ass if she needed to…

Second, I’m going to confess straight up that time management is going to continue to be Emily’s bugaboo as well as mine.  If the world ran according to my wishes- and believe me, it doesn’t- this blog would feature a post almost every day.  Instead, I suspect I’ll probably continue along at the current clip of one or two posts every week, suffer a certain amount of chronic guilt that Emily and I aren’t posting more frequently, and occasionally have a brief spasm of productivity when the stars align and I can make the daily posts I insist on thinking of as ‘normal productivity’.

" 'A nice long vacation'?  That sounds like a lovely idea…"

” ‘A nice long vacation’? That sounds like a lovely idea…

If I decide to be not just honest but brutally honest, there are actually good reasons why I should send Emily on a nice long vacation.  A.) The frantic hectic-ness (hecticity?) of my schedule means I have a to-do list that builds faster than I can check things off.  Even as I feel guilt that Emily & I aren’t posting as often as we should, I simultaneously feel guilt for all the things I should be doing instead of sitting down for fun-time.  I spent from 11:00 to 3:30 today raking leaves out of my new yard for two and half hours.  (Yes, it takes me four and half hours to rake leaves for two and a half hours.  Welcome to my ADD world; this is why time management is a gorilla beating up on me.)  I had a chore I needed to finish today- leaf pick up is early the day after tomorrow and tomorrow is a long day where I open one restaurant and close the other- and only completed three-quarters.  I have to confess blogging was the reason I didn’t finish: I was up too late last night finishing last post, so I didn’t get out to start raking as early as I wanted to, and some of that disappearing two hours was spent starting this post.  Even as I write this, I also have a list of other things I could and probably should be doing.

B.) Brutal logic also dictates that Emily isn’t just getting in the way of non-writing activities, but that she is also blocking me from more serious and/or lucrative writing projects.  I would love to break into the fiction market somewhere and try to leverage and bootstrap that break until I could cut back on one or both serving jobs and lean on writing as an income source.  It’s pretty much my fantasy-dream job, even with all I know about how unpredictable and undependable an income source writing is.  If all the busy-ness and guilt I mentioned in point A only allows me time to write 12,000 words a week (and twelve thousand is just an arbitrary number picked for the sake of example; the real number is probably less, not more) than all the words I write towards Emily and her unpaid, small-readership blog subtract from my allowance of words to use for chasing my life’s dream.  They probably subtract at more than a one to one ratio, for that matter, since I also have to invest time into picking Emily’s outfits, taking and editing her photos, and documenting the style cards which are generally tangent to my purposes even if not to Emily’s.

"Wait a minute, I thought a tangent was a man who got a lot of sun…"

“Wait a minute, I thought a tangent was a man who got a lot of sun…”

C.)  Possibly the most damning argument against Emily is that my wife doesn’t like her.  Some aspects of Emily, and of Second Life in general, just confuse my wife.  Others down right disturb her.  And sadly, open-mindedness is not one of my wife’s strong points.  If something confuses her or disturbs her, she doesn’t want to talk about it and find understanding, she just wants it to go away.  Nor does it help that I’m a little hazy myself about what Emily is to me.  Depending on my mood, what I’ve been doing, and my mental state for the day, I may variously describe Emily as a role I play, as an aspect of my personality, as a fictional alter ego, or in the third person.  Because it is simpler to humor her than to make a big deal, I try to be fairly furtive with my Second Life time, going online primarily when my wife is out of the house or asleep.  That plan has yielded mixed results, since I haven’t waved my Second Life in her face, but I think I’ve also allowed her to conclude Second Life is some sort of interactive virtual porn game.  And she has decided that Emily is some kind of trashy slut.  My wife came into the room while I was taking the pictures for Part I of this address, looked at Emily posing and said rather nastily, “She’s got a tattoo now?  What’s next, getting her pregnant?”  Awkward, since Emily has generally been as pregnant as she has for the last four months.  Also awkward because once upon a time my wife wanted a tattoo, and reminding her would not have ended well for me…

So why do I continue to post to Time Well Wasted?  The biggest reason is that this space has become part of my emotional processing.  Many people who only know me superficially dismiss me as cold or calloused.  I’m neither, but if you measure my personality type, with Meier Briggs or a similar instruments, my preference for analytical thought scores off the chart.  I very quickly process words and numbers, but in emotional matters, I’m counting on my fingers and moving my lips while I read.  In general, I push emotional stuff off to one side to deal with later when I have more time to think it out.  If the issue gets forced, or if too many emotional strands build up, my mind squirrels out and I can’t do anything but look for a way out.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve used this space to push and probe a troublesome thought until I had it pinned down with words and it no longer dragged at me, or used this space to rehash an event that bothered me so that I knew just how it got under my skin.

Plus, while this little ‘unpaid, small-readership blog’ may not help me reach my dream of being a for-real, money-making, genuine writer, it is a safe place.  I’m honing my skills.  I have visible progress, because I can see how many entries I’ve posted, how many words for each, etc. and each post is small enough that it is within my time constraints (albeit barely).  My dream of being a writer is still a fragile thing, too tender for me to invest a month into a short story or a longer time into a novel, and risk giving up because I get stuck, or get rejected, or get bored.  I’ve had other dreams that didn’t make it, so I’m afraid to really risk this dream by putting it to the test.

"Well, that's just un-BEAR-ably cute…"

“Well, that’s just un-BEAR-ably cute…”

Ironically, my wife’s blanket disapproval and incomprehension of how I feel about writing also helps protect Emily.  Her feelings are understandable- my wife and I have an ex-brother-in-law who dreamed of being a musician.  He earned the ‘ex’ in large part because he neglected his children and failed to be a financial provider so that he could daydream about being a musician.  He didn’t pursue gigs, practice his instruments, or make an earnest attempt to sell the songs he wrote, but he told people he was a musician, he made family gatherings awkward by bringing his guitar everywhere, and bought all the apps that he thought would help him.  Our sister saw more in him than we did, she would have made the sacrifices to help him put his dream to the test if he had followed through, but he didn’t.  I know my wife cringes at my artistic dream because she sees the specter of him, saying all the right words but hiding behind his dream instead of pursuing it.  The irony is that I’m always at my best when she believes in me, because its easier to be brave when she’s got my back.  Whether she intends it or not, the message I receive from her disinterest in my writing and her willingness to distract me from it is that she doesn’t believe in me for this particular area.  That is a confession that it really hurts to make, and I feel unfaithful complaining about someone who means so much to me in so many other ways, but this is probably the one place in my life where I need her most and she isn’t here.  If she was, there would be a lot less need to cling to a emotionally safe place in my writing.  The calculus of finite time holds true either way: I don’t have time for both other, emotionally-riskier writing and also for my small safe blog.

"Actually, Firsty, I have some ideas on how to help your dreams come true.  Talk to me before you get to part III…"

“Actually, Firsty, I have some ideas on how to help your dreams come true. Talk to me before you get to part III…”

Once again, a single aspect of what I wanted to say mushroomed into a longer passage than I intended… apparently Emily is going to get one more night off as I’m going to require a Part III…

P.S.: Spoiler Alert: Oh, and it turns out I have less time than I thought to figure out fitting my writing time around ‘Firsty, Jr’ (due to my privacy policies, that’s the nickname I’m sticking with.)  Earlier this week my wife went to the doctor for a routine “that due date is getting closer” check-up and instead got an unplanned emergency C-section.  Both mother and child are doing well, and I am ecstatically happy.  My luck is definitely not so bad, so here’s a different musical interlude