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November 19, 2011
The tater tots are here!
Mood:  celebratory
Left: Thomas Abbott (formerly known as "Yukon"), born 11/14 at 2:03 pm.  6 lbs. 9 oz., 22"
Right: Evan David (formerly known as "Russet"), born 11/14 at 2:05 pm.  6 lbs. 15 oz., 22"

Now, before you all start raising your eyebrows at Evan's middle name, no, he is NOT named after David Wenham.  (That would probably qualify me for lifetime platinum membership in the Scary Stalker Club).  Evan is named after my dear cousin David, who was killed by a drunk driver in January 2002.  David was like a brother to me growing up, and losing him was like losing a limb.  Right after the accident, I promised myself that if I ever had a son, I would pay tribute to my cousin by giving him David's name as a middle name.  I want Evan to know about his smart, funny cousin who loved politics and spent part of his childhood in Sydney and how cousin David and Mom used to spend hours and hours writing stories together and illustrating them and cracking each other up with outrageous plots and characters.  I still have some of those stories in a box in the basement.  And if it reminds Evan to never get behind the wheel after drinking, so much the better.

He's also sort-of named for his Uncle Dave, who has been very involved and excited about their arrival.  We have mostly girls for grandchildren, and Uncle Dave's been longing for some boys to teach about football, carpentry, and other manly pursuits.  He's already got Evan pegged as a strong safety and Tom as a wide receiver.

So, the birth story (don't worry, I'll skip the graphic details)....  We had a c-section scheduled for noon on Monday, due to Evan's being breech.  Tom was head down and all ready to go, but my obstetrician said chances were good that even if I tried for a natural birth, we'd end up having to do a c section anyway.

As it turned out, my doctor got hung up in surgery, so we had to wait for the other OB on call to arrive.  When you're nine months pregnant and haven't eaten or drunk anything for 14 hours, every minute seems like an eternity.  There was endless paperwork, and they outfitted me with an IV and a lovely hospital johnny with inappropriate gaps, and a parade of nurses, anesthesiologists, and med students stopping by to introduce themselves.  Then suddenly it was time and we were walking down the hall to the OR.

The OR was huge and brightly lit, and it looked like there were about 500 people in there.  I was starting to wish I had sold tickets.  I guess each twin had their own separate team of nurses, neonatologists, residents, etc. on standby.  They got the spinal hooked up, and it didn't hurt at all (some people had warned me that the local hurt like bee stings).  The most uncomfortable part was the anesthesiologist squeezing along my hips to find the ischial thingamabobs (as I believe the medical terminology has it).  As soon as the spinal went in, my feet started feeling warm and tingly, then my legs went floppy, and then there was a lot of arranging of limbs and raising of drapes, and then the room went quiet while the doctor solemnly announced that the procedure we were about to begin was a c-section on twins.  I was amused; it had sort of a ritualistic "play ball!" feel to it, and half expected someone to come out and sing the national anthem.

At first everything felt fine, relaxed and floppy, and I was almost enjoying it.  But then I started feeling weird and dizzy, and the anesthesiologists keep leaning over to ask alarming questions, like "Does your heart often do that?"  Apparently my heart rate shot way up from the spinal, so they gave me something to bring it back down, but then that made my blood pressure plummet, so they had to give me yet another medication to stabilize it, and then I had a really bad reaction to the Pitocin (trying to throw up with paralyzed stomach muscles is NOT recommended).  In the meantime, there was a sudden flurry down at my southern end, and I heard a loud squall, and some oohing and ahing from the nurses.  Then the drape was lowered briefly and I saw Thomas for the first time.

I didn't get to see Evan when he arrived two minutes later, because he was whisked off to the NICU for observation.  Apparently he had swallowed some fluid and they wanted to make sure he was breathing on his own OK.  They kept him there for an hour, and then he joined his brother in the recovery suite with Mom and 2500 other hospital staff members.

I honestly don't remember much about the rest of that day - it's kind of a blur of narcotics and elation and a general sense of "WTF just happened?"  I vaguely recall the boys being brought over for skin-to-skin time, and that it took about 4 hours for the spinal to wear off.  I felt like Wesley in The Princess Bride, when he's lying on the bed trying to convince Prince Humperdinck that he's not too paralyzed to move.  Eventually I was able to twitch my feet, and then bend my legs, at which point they moved all of us to Mother-Baby Care on the 4th floor, accompanied by 37,000 of our new friends on the hospital staff.

The first night was pretty rough, because not only were the babies needing to be feed every 2 - 3 hours, but there was a steady stream of RNs, CNAs, lactation consultants, resident OBs, visitors, etc.  Every ten minutes there was a knock on the door and someone else would come in to take vital signs, add meds to the IV, check my belly, latch the boys on, give me paperwork, and so on.  I just wanted to be left alone to sleep.  Eventually the stream of people eased up after the second day.  I was pretty loopy with painkillers, plus they didn't tell me you're supposed to take oxycodone with food in order to avoid throwing up moments after meeting your new pediatrician.  It's nasty stuff.  How people get addicted to it is beyond me.

My first diaper change was a catastrophe.  I managed to sully an 80 square foot area of bassinette, blanket, floor, wall, baby, and self, while frantically fumbling for supplies and trying to quiet a squalling baby (how can a two-day old possibly produce that much poo?!?)  Hopefully the twins won't mind having a clumsy oaf for a mom.

I spent the last two days wanting to steal everything that wasn't nailed down, including the nurses, who were incredibly kind, competent, and helpful.  Part of me wanted to stay in the hospital until the twins turn 18, but the staff firmly pushed us out yesterday, and so now we're home, bleary-eyed and happy, trying to get settled into a routine and keep the diaper contents confined to a smaller, more washable radius.

Nothing in my previous life has compared to the joy of hanging out with Evan and Tom.  They are so beautiful, like moonlight.   I could watch them all day.

Both of them have opposite personalities.  Evan is the more fiery and vocal of the two.  He loves his chow, and he's got the most expressive little face.  When he's nursing, he gets the most ferocious scowl, as if he's suspicious that someone else is going to horn in on his food.  When he's falling asleep, he cycles through random facial expressions.  One second he's smiling, then he looks puzzled, then he looks like he just ate a lemon.  I think he's going to be one of those kids who wears his heart on his face.  His upper lip juts out cutely, like a baby bird, and he seems to have inherited my ears.  His hair is sandy blonde and his eyes are a deep indigo.

Tom, by contrast, is mellow and wise and dignified beyond his years.  He reminds me of some sort of Old Testament baby judge.  When you hold him, he looks quietly around the room, taking things in.  He's got incredibly long legs.  I was startled the first time he unfurled them.  He has very fair eyelashes and platinum blonde hair that sticks up like a baby chick's.  He certainly didn't get his coloring from me.

I hear stirrings from the crib.  More later...

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 10:25 AM EST
Updated: November 19, 2011 11:59 AM EST
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November 8, 2011
And you'll know at a glance by the two pair of pants
Mood:  spacey

The 300 references.  They will not stop.  Witness this snippet of dialogue:

My brother: I'm taking the truck over to Portland Glass to get that crack repaired.

Me: Come back with your windshield....or on it.

(OK, that one was my fault.)


In the meantime, on top of Oranges and Sunshine and Killing Time, we're being treated to a luxurious, dizzying spate of new projects:  A Cautionary Tail, Measuring Up, On Borrowed Time, Dipped in Chocolate, Enjoy the Ride, and now Top of the Lake.  Doesn't it make you all fizzy with vigorously shaken up, carbonated anticipation?  Measuring Up is especially wonderful - it's a beautifully constructed (and narrated) short film, and a terrific cause.  I love the young actor who played Tom.  When you get kids from all walks of life together, with all different experiences, some amazing stories can result.  There's a certain amount of courage in putting your innermost words and pictures down on paper, and sharing them with others.  But it's also very liberating.

I also loved Enjoy the Ride, which has an inspiring message that applies even when you're not driving. (David's narration made me want to run outside and gaze peacefully at whales, except that it's dark and cold and all the boat charters are closed for the season and the whales have all gone to Bermuda anyway.  Fooey.)  Of course, it's not just speed, but obliviousness in general that robs you of awareness of the here and now.  Cars, MP3s, cell phones, portable DVDs, and texting all cut you off from awareness of what's happening outside your little cocoon.  Wake up and smell the other drivers!!


Election Day today.  No statewide offices at stake, but we have three hotly contested ballot initiatives:

Question 1 - motion to overturn a law passed by our right-wing legislature and idiot Tea Party governor (and funded by the Koch Brothers) which would ban same-day voter registration in Maine.

The law was passed under the sanctimonious guise of "preventing voter fraud", but its real intent is to prevent working people, the elderly, college students, and immigrants from voting.  In other words, people who skew heavily Democratic.  In other other words, it's a voter suppression initiative.  That's just fundamentally (pardon the pun) undemocratic.  I would vote HECK NO against this law even if it went the other way, and worked to stifle Republican turnout.  Everybody deserves a voice.  And a nifty sticker that says "I Voted Today!"

Question 2 - Let's have casinos!

Question 3 - And more casinos!

I don't understand the fixation this state has with casinos.  Every November there's at least one question on the ballot proposing to install slot machines, or harness racing, or roulette tables, in some sleepy rural community 5 hours' drive from anywhere.  In fact, we already have 2 casinos,  as well as the Scarborough Downs racetrack, but it's not like they've proven to be huge tourist draws.  People come to Maine for the beaches, the mountains, the forests, the quaint seaside villages.  They come to ski and hike and sail and camp and laze on the beach and eat clams dripping with melted butter and go whale watching and ice fishing and moose spotting.  They do not come to Maine to sit inside a dark, smoke-filled slot parlor feeding in quarters from a bucket.  That's what Foxwoods and Monhegan Sun are for.  No amount of slot machines is going to transform the state into a glitzy neon destination for high rollers.  Las Vegas we're not. 

Maybe some of these casino developers should watch Enjoy The Ride.


The countdown is on: 6 days to twins.  Collectively, they weigh somewhere around 14 pounds now.  The clothes rotation is down to two pairs of maternity pants and one pair of shoes that I don't have to bend over to put on.  (I'm planning an elaborate Viking funeral for them when this is all over.)  Oliver the cat is busy dispensing quantities of fur all over the cribs and changing pads and stroller and Pack 'n' Play (which, after I assembled it sans the instruction manual, had two metal support rods left over.  Hopefully they're not load-bearing rods).  My navel, once a deeply cavernous innie, has slammed shut into a tight-lipped nothingness.  I hope I didn't leave anything important in there, like car keys.  Wee little outfits are laundered and at the ready.  Diaper cases are stacked to the ceiling (roughly a half hour's supply, by my calculations).

And so we wait.  The world feels like a held breath right now.

See you on the other side...

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 5:19 PM EST
Updated: November 8, 2011 8:04 PM EST
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October 27, 2011
Brass Warfare
Mood:  on fire

Cable TV is just about the greatest invention ever.  Last weekend, Mr. DC and I caught part of the National High School Percussion Championships on late-night cable.  There was this one drum ensemble that was doing a gladiator theme, all dressed up in Roman costumes and marching around a set done up to look like an ancient combat arena.  Except, they were carrying genuine "300" shields (you know, the brass ones with the chevron design on the front) and using them very effectively as props.  The judges should have awarded them a thousand points for coolness.  After deducting a few hundred for historical inaccuracy, of course.

Then, a few days later, I was a little startled to overhear someone at work bellowing "Then we will fight them in the shade!!!"  I wish I knew what the context was.  Electronic payment processing software isn't THAT life-or-death.  Maybe I'm in the wrong department.  We never get sun-darkening volleys of arrows unleashed at us (except, maybe, metaphorically).  It's strange, to say the least, that I keep encountering allusions to 300 in the most unexpected places, years after the movie came outDo any of you run into the same thing?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to make a protest sign:






Twin update:  At 35 weeks along, I have the unnerving sensation that gravity has been turned way up.  Mainly because I'm carting around approximately 12 pounds of baby, not to mention several metric tons of fluid, placentas, anvils, grand pianos, blue whales, aircraft carriers, and God knows what else they've got stashed in there.  Every time I think I can't possibly expand another millimeter, the twins find another internal organ to squash.  At least they haven't gotten to my thorax.  Yet.

Yukon is still head down, but Russet remains stubbornly breech (in fact he's sitting on Yukon's head), so a twinectomy...uh, c-section has been scheduled for November 14th.  That's only 18 days away.  But who's counting?  Not me!  Hey, another ten seconds ticked off the clock just now!  Super!

What trumps the discomfort and the slow passage of time, though, is my excitement and eagerness to meet the boys after all these months.  You remember from biology class the whole ontology-recapitulates phylogeny theory, how fetal development closely parallels billions of years of evolution.  How the embryo divides and develops gills and looks first like a tadpole, then a fish.  Then a backbone and a tail emerge and then the tail recedes to form the coccyx, and towards the end a complex brain structure appears, and finally the cerebrum develops.

And then, at last, the baby is born, fully human, fully itself.  And the clock resets from 3.5 billion to zero.

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 7:28 PM EDT
Updated: October 27, 2011 8:38 PM EDT
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October 1, 2011
Twin Peeks
Mood:  lazy

Mysteries of the occult....

1)  Who is responsible for adding this book to our camp library?


(please excuse the bad photo quality.  I was trying to get a surreptitious snapshot during the .00047 seconds that the living room was unoccupied)

I suspect my aunt-who-used-to-live-in-Australia, but as usual nothing can be proved.  It certainly wasn't me.  My copy has David on the cover and DOES NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE.

2) What are the odds of flipping on the television to the local cable access station, which usually shows washtub polka bands, spelling bees, and school board meetings, and finding Brett Kirk being interviewed?

If you live in New England, the odds are pretty good.  I had to think for a minute about where I'd seen Brett Kirk before:

He's the retired captain of the Sydney Swans and is now an Australian Footy ambassador, travelling the world to bring the sport to other countries.   He and his family have been to places like Iceland, Catalonia, South Africa, and Papua New Guinea to help establish and promote Aussie Rules football.  A couple of weeks ago he stopped off in Boston to provide color commentary for a game between the Boston Demons and Florida Redbacks, who play in the American AFL league.  For the first time, I got to watch an entire game, not just a few confusing 15-second snippets of hurtling bodies.  Brett Kirk cleared up some of the mysteries of the game (like why the ball is sometimes red and sometimes yellow, why a "mark" is a good thing, and what all those sticks at the end of the field are for).  It was mesmerizing.  I hated to rip myself away to go get the oil changed in the car.  However, the games are shown every Saturday on that same local cable access station, so I'll definitely be tuning in.  Keep an eye out in case he travels your way!


In the twin realm, Russet and Yukon are coming along just fine.  They each weigh close to 4 pounds now, which is about the equivalent of one full-term baby (and there's still 6 more weeks to go).  I believe the law requires a maximum weight/occupancy sticker to be prominently posted inside my uterus, sort of like an elevator, but you wouldn't know it from the way they keep jumping up and down.  Yukon has been head-down the whole time, while Russet keeps flipping back and forth into weird and exotic new positions (he was "transverse footling breech" at the last checkup, which I think means he's trying to spell out all four letters of Y-M-C-A simultaneously).

I'm not used to having a belly sticking way out in front of me.  When I sleep, it lies next to me like a puppy.  I keep bonking it into things, inadvertently soaking up crescent-shaped puddles off the edge of restroom sinks, and getting stuck in spaces that I used to be able to squeeze through freely (like, between the shopping cart and the gum rack in the checkout lane at the supermarket).  I guess it's not really that huge for an 8 month belly - I've gained a whopping 15 pounds so far - but it seems enormous.  It certainly would not pass the 300 six-pack test (at this point, it's more like a keg).  It's as if I've got a heavy watermelon strapped around my stomach.  A heavy watermelon containing two small, ferocious, wrestling ferrets.  Yukon gets hiccups constantly, which drives Russet insane.  After awhile Russet starts flailing at his brother, then Yukon starts kicking, and pretty soon there's a cage match going on.  I look down at all the heaving and lurching, and try not to think of Alien.

Also, I can feel myself getting dumber and dumber as the pregnancy goes along.  I read somewhere that you lose 10 IQ points with every month of pregnancy.  You'd better believe it.  The other day, in the shower, I tried to wash myself with a candle.  Then I put away the cereal inside the refrigerator, and the milk in the cabinet.  Then I got to work and discovered my shirt was on backwards and inside out.  Pretty soon I'm going to end up like Elaine on Seinfeld, watching the tires go round and round at the gas station and clapping my hands.

Me will try write blog posts while still can operate laptop.  Spluh.

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 2:27 PM EDT
Updated: October 1, 2011 3:42 PM EDT
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September 4, 2011
Earthquakes and hurricanes, birds and snakes and aeroplanes....
Mood:  accident prone
Now Playing: It's The End Of The World As We Know It

So a couple of weeks ago, at 1:54 PM on an innocent Tuesday afternoon, I was checking out infant bouncy seats at, when suddenly my chair started vigorously swaying and rocking.  It felt like someone was standing behind the chair, pushing it back and forth the way you would if you were trying to rock a baby to sleep.

My first thought was "Huh, they're really making the Internet realistic these days".

My next thought was "Are the twins doing some kind of synchronized swimming routine?"

My third thought was "EARTHQUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!!!!!"  Which turned out to be the correct one.  It was the shock wave from the 5.9 Virginia earthquake, rolling up through Maine on its way to the Canadian maritime provinces.  (Yes, yes, Californians, I know you use 5.9 earthquakes to stir your coffee, but we get excited about these things here on the East Coast.  Indulge us.)  The vibrations went on and on, lasting for about a minute.  My co-workers were all atwitter: "Did you feel that? Did YOU?  Wow!  That was weird!  What was that?"  There was no immediate damage from the quake, except a dry-erase marker fell off one of the whiteboard rails in the conference room.

Then a few days later, when the excitement from the tremor had calmed down, we got hit by Hurricane Irene, which churned its way up the eastern US and caused a ton of flooding and power outages.  Vermont and Connecticut look awful - so many roads washed out, huge trees down, major coastal inundation, people still without power.  Portland was on the east side of the storm, which had weakened considerably by the time it arrived, so we got mostly wind and very little rain.  Even so, I sustained $5.00 worth of property damage when a bathroom window got left open by mistake and the wind blew a bottle of contact lens solution into the toilet.



The local Greek restaurant is now offering something called a "King Leonidas Calzone".  It has 5 kinds of meat, 4 kinds of cheese,  weighs close to 2 pounds, and sounds like it should be conveyed to your table on a lubricated sledge pulled by a dozen Helots.  "If you finish our King Leonidas," says the menu, "you will be worthy to call yourself a Spartan, and the calzone is free!"  (Or you could, y'know, not order it, and also not pay anything.  Plus, avoid a lengthy hospital stay).

Oh, what would Dilios do?  I guess he'd snarf it down and sneer at its puniness, but there would be a grave risk to those 6-pack abs.  Better to opt for the wussy, degenerate Athenian salad buffet, and live to fight another day.


The twins are active and growing and kicking up a storm.  It feels like I've got an aquarium full of tarpon in my belly.  Or a lava lamp.  Just about 10 weeks to go until life changes forever - it will be an earthquake of a different kind.  Mr. DC assembled the cribs last weekend, so now they'll have someplace to sleep other than a bureau drawer.  Then we took the ancient 20th century TV over to Best Buy to recycle it.  I was oddly emotional when it came time to say goodbye.  That TV and I have been through many ups and downs together over the years.  Monica Lewinsky.  O.J. Simpson. The Gulf War. September 11th.  Lord of the RingsSeachangeGettin' Square.  Eight years of George W. Bush Tourette's Syndrome.  The lifting of the Curse of the Bambino, as the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years.  Van Helsing.  *sniffle*

"Would you like a moment?" the clerk asked.

"No," I quavered, holding back tears.  "It's all right.  It's time to let go." I gave the old girl one last pat and left it on the counter, looking forlorn and outdated.

Speaking of tears, I seem to be crying at anything and everything these days.  I'm sure it's just pregnancy hormones, but even pet food and insurance commercials are making me choke up.  I made the mistake of watching Up the other night.  You'd have to have a heart of stone not to cry at the opening montage of Carl and Ellie's married life, but I was just a melted, teary, blubbery wreck.  Damn you, Pixar!  They always ambush the audience with a tearjerking montage at some point in their films.  How many of you nearly imploded during Sarah McLachlan's rendition of "When Somebody Loved Me" during Toy Story 2?  (And how many of you hear that playing in your heads as you heartlessly abandon your old televison set to the dustbin of history?  Okay, just me.  Never mind.)


The woman in line in front of me at the post office yesterday was mailing an automobile tire.  Not packaged up or anything, just a single naked automobile tire, with an address label and $27 worth of stamps slapped on it.  I would love to know the story behind that.  Is it a family heirloom?   Did her mother-in-law visit and accidentally leave the tire behind in the guest bedroom?  Is there a college student somewhere with a flat tire, waiting impatiently next to a mailbox?

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 10:44 AM EDT
Updated: September 4, 2011 12:01 PM EDT
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July 3, 2011
The Kids Are Alright
Mood:  accident prone

Dear Nickelodeon Cinemas,

I am so very, very sorry about your Harry Potter poster.

Wait, let's back up.  I'll explain in a minute.

So far so good: the twins are coming along fine.  They've been dubbed the Tater Tots, due to an overwhelming lust for mashed potatoes, potato chips, french fries, and all things tuberous over the past few weeks.  Whatever vitamin or mineral is in potatoes, the twins seem to be craving it nonstop.  We've been referring to them individually as Russet and Yukon Gold.  (I jest now, but those names may end up sticking).

We learned last week that the Taters are both boys, and fraternal.  (If they'd been girl-girl twins, would they be sororital?).  Yukon was quite the little flasher, so his boyness was immediately obvious, but Russet was a little more modest and had to be coaxed into revealing himself.  I can't even describe how joyful it felt, the enormity of finally learning their sexes, of being able to put a shape to the daydreams.

Though I love the thought of baby girls and cute dresses and doll tea parties, part of me was secretly relieved at the prospect of dodging the pernicious pink clutches of the Disney Princess Conglomerate, which seems to seize hold of every little girl between the ages of 3 and 6, and provides a convenient legal loophole for not eating lima beans and brushing teeth (because Real Princesses like Ariel have other people do that stuff for them).  Although that's not to say Russet and Yukon won't also have the right to be into tiaras and Destiny Ballads.  However, if they insist on being royalty, I'll try to steer them towards off-brand fairy dust, and make sure they hang up their jackets just like the commoners do.

More likely, I'll have to start sprucing up on dinosaurs, superheroes, and construction equipment, of which I know very little.  There's the....uh.....big stompy dinosaur, and the little rat-faced one.  And Tyrannosaurus Rex, who doesn't have to take a bath if it doesn't feel like it.  (Uh oh....we're right back to the Princess Problem.  I guess it's just unavoidable.)

So, getting back to the previous apology to Nickelodeon Cinemas:  we went to see Tree of Life on Friday night.  This film is A Very Bad Idea if you're feeling at all remotely queasy.  It's chock full of vertigo-inducing camera angles: shots that peer up the trunks of tall trees, open-cockpit biplane rides, disorienting underwater ocean waves, nebulae undulating like lava lamps, acrophobic views from the top floor of skyscrapers.  There were also a lot of jumpy quick cuts through which the unhappy, tense characters moved, giving each other portentious glares.   I tried closing my eyes and breathing deeply, but that didn't really help.  About halfway through, the little alarm bell in my head finally went off ("Get out of there.  NOW.")   I hustled up the aisle, opened the door, and was immediately bowled over by a thick wall of artificial butter/popcorn lobby reek, which caused me to panic and bolt for the fresh air of the outdoors, instead of for the restroom as I should have done.

As luck would have it, it happened to be First Friday, when all the downtown art galleries stay open late and serve wine and hors-d'oeuvres, and the art museum lets everyone in for free.  The brick plaza in front of the theater was thronged with hundreds of arts lovers milling around, lounging on benches, and enjoying the soft summer air.  Murray Whelan and Salina Fleet wouldn't have looked out of place there.  I stared around wild-eyed, searching for a trash can, an ashtray, a sewer grate, a planter, anything.  There were none to be had.  Finally, out of desperation, I slumped against a discreet out-of-the-way nook in the theater facade, closed my eyes, and thought of England.

Unfortunately, after I was done, I noticed I had defiled the wall beneath "Harry Potter and the Deathly Awkward Silence".  I couldn't even make eye contact with the bystanders, just slunk back into the theater.  The best I can hope for is that they all thought it was a strange piece of performance art.

All things considered, I guess it wasn't as awkward as discovering the dead body of an artist floating in the moat of the National Gallery.


Dear Weather Gods,

Thank you for sending a short-lived but vigorous rain shower 45 minutes later.  I owe you one.

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 1:23 PM EDT
Updated: July 3, 2011 3:21 PM EDT
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May 28, 2011
Deer, meet headlights
Mood:  incredulous

Of all the phrases I ever expected to hear a doctor utter, "It's twins" ranks somewhere below "Gee, I've never seen a case of jake leg that far advanced" and "If the aliens probe you again, I'll order some X rays."

So you may imagine my reaction a few weeks ago when we saw two sacs on the ultrasound, and two little heartbeats.  The room suddenly got very, very quiet as everyone absorbed this news.  It's a big readjustment to go from expecting one to two.  Suddenly you're speaking in plurals.  Suddenly you're trying to imagine the logistics of nursing and bathing and changing and comforting two newborns at once.  Suddenly the expenses you'd carefully budgeted for balloon: double strollers, double outfits, double day care, double $$.  The two-bedroom place and the Honda Civic start to look cramped and inadequate.  Then there's all the risks associated with carrying multiples - preterm labor, NICU, placenta previa, higher risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, the probable need for a Caesarian, etc.

On the other hand, twins are pretty darn cute and exciting, and they can mercilessly bug  entertain each other when they get older. (Already, in the womb, there appear to be territorial issues.  Baby B's sac is curving around to encroach on Baby A's turf.  I'm thinking about putting a dividing line of masking tape down the middle so everyone stays on their side.  If I hear any more bickering, we're turning this uterus right around and going home.) 

Twins are also double the morning sickness, which is the reason I haven't updated DC since March.   As Robert Frost might have said, had he written poetry during the first trimester, "I have been one acquainted with the toilet".  In between, I've been horizontal on the couch and avoiding the kitchen like the plague.  One develops a complicated relationship with food.  For a few weeks, I wasn't able to keep anything down but those nutrition shakes from the drugstore, the kind they give to cancer patients and people recuperating from surgery.  At my 12-week checkup, I had lost 7 pounds.

Things are starting to improve a little bit.  I still have "yuck" periods, and weird cravings, but the sickness is no longer 24/7.  I always thought pickle cravings were a pregnancy cliche, but it turns out there's some truth to it.  For some reason, you seek out things that are cold and sour.  Pickles are straingely alluring and delicious right now.  And normally I hate pickles.  They squick me out, with their green bumpy frog skin and their strutting, egotistical way of taking over a sandwich, crowding out the more retiring lettuce and mayonnaise flavors.  Now I furtively steal dill spears from leftover catered lunches at work, like a desparate cigarette junkie swiping butts from the sidewalk.  Can't get enough of that vinegar putsch!

The bloodhound sense of smell is a little weird, too.  Recently I was able to smell a pile of mulch 25 yards away in the parking lot, from inside a sealed office building.  I can tell if someone chewing grape bubble gum has walked past in the last few minutes.  Coffee is like a sledgehammer assault to the senses.  I can smell fear, success, a rat, napalm in the morning. I smell satellites passing overhead.  Did the upstairs closet always smell like bacon?

It's still a little early to tell the sexes, but I am eager to find out.  There are all sorts of old wives' tales and methods for predicting your baby's sex, from peeing in Drano to dangling a wedding ring over your belly and watching which direction it swings in.  The most accurate method, and the one I've heard works the best, involves placing a "transponder" on the "belly" and scanning the "ultrasound picture" for "genitals".  This is assuming they cooperate, of course.  Baby A was feeling mischievous at the last screening and wouldn't hold still for the nuchal fold measurement.  It was flipping, rolling, waving, squirming, and wriggling to beat the band.  Just my luck, I had an impatient Teutonic technician that wouldn't stand for such nonsense.  She kept barking orders at them..."NO!  Hold still! Don't roll over.  STOP THAT.  Behave!  GET BACK HERE," plunging the wand up and down on my belly to try to chivvy Baby A back into position.  In between "Oooofs", I asked if Baby B was sucking its thumb (it had its hand up to its mouth).  The technician barked severely "NO!  It is NOT sucking its thumb.  It's WAVING AT YOU.  Can't you see?"

As I stopped at the desk on my way out, the receptionist beamed: "Good news!  We were able to book all your remaining appointments with the same ultrasound technician!"

I smiled wanly and murmured "Isn't that lucky!"

Off topic...or rather on topic, since this is supposed to be (nominally) a blog that occasionally discusses That Which Is David...the other day at work, one of the systems engineers came over to talk to me about some work-related thing, and the subject gradually swung around to 300.  I'm not exactly sure what the sequence of topics was, but I swear he brought it up, not me.  He commented something about the Spartans marching off to battle wearing shin guards and helmets, like that was going to provide much protection against spears and arrows.  I said "Don't forget the leather speedos, that provides at least 5% more coverage".  Instantly twenty heads prairie-dogged up from twenty neighboring cubicles and started contributing their two cents on Spartan armor (or lack thereof).  What was up with the bathing suits?  And the abdominal makeup?  Were those real muscles or CGI?  (At the risk of appearing to be a 300 know-it-all, I firmly set them straight on that's only fair the actors should get full credit for all the tractor tires, chin ups, wind sprints, and cottage cheese).  Before you could say "Spin me a yarn, Dilios," a lively discussion was under way.

Or it was until one of the QA analysts came over to ask if the direct marketing environment could be upgraded to the latest web services build.  All jocular talk of leather bathing suits and Spartan training methods ceased, we crashed back to earth, and work was reluctantly resumed.  "Thanks, Debbie Downer," said the systems engineer to the analyst.

Our Transaction Services group takes ancient Greek costuming very, very seriously.

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 4:39 PM EDT
Updated: May 28, 2011 6:19 PM EDT
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March 6, 2011
I got a nautical-themed pashmina afghan
Mood:  accident prone

Last Saturday I drove down to Portsmouth and took the New Hampshire state boat license exam.  A word of advice: if ever you need to take this test, the answer to 90% of the questions is either "150 feet" or "A Type III personal flotation device."   It also doesn't hurt to brush up on your red spar buoys vs. your black spar buoys, because the state is rather keen that you know the difference.  On paper the correct answers are "pass to the south or west" and "pass to the north or east" respectively.  In practice, when you're driving a boat the correct answer is really: "pass on the side of the buoy that is opposite from the large rock pile/island/shore/mooring field/other solid obstacle". 

I missed two questions, both of which concerned what to do when you're underway on the ocean in fog.  (Answer: sound your horn one time every two minutes.  Or is it two times every one minute?  I don't think it really matters.  If I ever find myself drifting out to sea in the fog, I'm going to be sounding the airhorn 50 times a second until someone comes and rescues me.)

Aside from that, the rest of the exam went fine.  I am now licensed to pilot my caviar-powered yacht anywhere it will go.

Prior to the test, we had to sit through a mandatory all-day class taught by a no-nonsense Marine Patrol guy with a snappy mustache and brush cut.  He screened several "Don't Do This" videos depicting boaters gadding about at night without lights, unsafe passage violations, gangs of jetskiers terrorizing an innocent couple having a quiet glass of Chardonnay on the dock, sailors tangling their mast in power lines, and drunken hunters plowing into a bridge.  At the end of the class,  he asked if there were any questions.  A forest of hands went up:

"Can I drink while my boat is anchored?"

"Can I drink if my boat is tied up to a public dock?"

"Can I drink if I set my throttle on idle and take my hands off the wheel?"

"Can my ten year old drive while I drink?"

"If I'm drinking on a jetski, does that count as a BWI?"

"If, hypothetically, you saw someone cruising along holding an open can of Budweiser, would you have probable cause to pull them over?"

"If my boat is on a lake straddling the Maine/New Hampshire border, and I'm drinking in the bow, which is in New Hampshire, and the marine patrol pulls up, can they still arrest me if I cross over to the stern, which is in Maine?"

As the questions went on, the marine patrol officer began to look more and more despairing, his clipboard lost its jaunty angle, and his mustache began to droop.  It reminded me of the time my brother had to attend traffic school in Florida for a minor moving violation.  He was forced to spend a whole Saturday in a classroom with a bunch of hardened vehicular felons.  At the beginning of the class, everyone had to go around the room and state why they were there:

Guy #1: "Uhhh....yeah, so I wasn't wearing any clothes, and I was full of prescription drugs, and I crashed through some palm trees and did $15,000 worth of property damage."

Woman #1: "I was doing 45 in a 15 mph school zone.  I wasn't really watching the road because I was, um, 'servicing' my ex-husband who was in the passenger seat.  Afterwards I dated the cop for awhile."

Guy #2: "The cop pulled up behind me, and I was afraid I was going to get jacked, so I took off.  He chased me for five miles before I skidded off the road and took out a Girl Scout cookie stand."

My brother:  "Ummmm...I made an illegal right turn on red."

But anyway, back to boating.  If the thought of drunken lunatics zooming around the waterways with Everclear sluicing through their veins makes you want to take a permanent vow of landlubbercy, consider this: there used to be no licensing requirements at all in New Hampshire.  Anyone over the age of 12 could operate a motorboat.  It was the Wild West out there.  By the time I turned 13 I was driving the Boston Whaler into town by myself to get the day's groceries.  We did the most incredibly stupid things as kids, like having pitched sailboat naval battles out in the cove and slingshotting each other into the rocks on waterskis and free-diving over old boat wrecks that were 20 - 30 feet down.  My sister and I once got trapped out in the Whaler in a terrible lightning storm at night and had to grope our way home along the shore.  I can't even believe our parents sat calmly on the porch reading the newspaper while we did these things.  That was another world.

I was going somewhere with this lengthy preamble - something to do with Diver Dan, or something.  I'm not sure.   Sometimes I start off these blog entries with a conclusion in mind, and veer wildly off course, and find myself in an uncharted area marked "HERE THERE BE MONSTERS".

I'll leave you with one final nautical tidbit from the class: Red Right Returning.  This mnemonic stands for two things:

1. If returning to harbor from the sea, keep the red channel buoys on your right.

2.  If there is a David movie on television, keep the red-haired boy on the channel.

There will be an exam on #2, so pay attention.

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 6:31 PM EST
Updated: March 6, 2011 10:43 PM EST
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February 22, 2011
Ubi sunt?
Mood:  spacey

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
And has anyone seen where I put my car keys?
                                            -- Theoden, King of Rohan

Sigh.  Remember?  Remember those long-ago days, when you first discovered David?

Where are they now, those fellow fans you met in chat rooms and Live Journal and Tolkien boards?  The friends you made?  Those early films that you just couldn't wait to get your hands on?  Remember how new and exciting it all was?  Van Helsing was still on the horizon, 300 was just a gleam in Zach Snyder's eye, and you'd never heard of burrowing owls.  East Timor's violent beginnings were unknown to you, as were female popes and orphaned children in Japanese-occupied China.

Every couple of months, there'd be a giddy burst of premiere pictures and interviews, and you'd feast on the spoils.  You watched Basilisk Stare over and over, until it imprinted a permanent ghost image onto your television set (to say nothing of your retinas).  You thrilled to Father Damien's quiet nobility and Josh's brash animal imitations.  You swapped hard-to-find video tapes and old interviews with nice friends from inside the computer.

We were all so young and innocent then, weren't we?

But let's not wallow in sentiment.  What's done is done.  The past is past.  We've got other important business to attend to.  Namely, predicting the future.  Since the present is rather, well, quiescent. 

Unfortunately, I don't have a magic 8 ball handy.  Instead, I've got a better idea.  I'm going to take my iPod, set it to "shuffle", ask it some pertinent questions about David's future career, and interpret the answer from whatever song title appears.  It'll be like a high-tech Oracle of Delphi (sans the CGI goo, the rippling white linen, and the getting licked by creepy priests). 

The iPod is sitting here next to me fully charged, plugged into the future, and waiting for our questions.  So, without further ado, let's light this candle. 

Oh mighty all knowing iPod, spin the Wheel of Destiny and make a selection from the Cosmic Playlist. What will David's next movie be about?

iPod: "She's a Mystery To Me" (Roy Orbison)

Oh, COME ON.  Next.

iPod: "I've Got You Under My Skin" (Frank Sinatra)

That's more like it.  So, this sounds like a film about dermatology.  Or junkies.  Or one of those things where scientists shrink themselves down and travel through someone's bloodstream.

Now, mystical iPod, tell us: what shall be the nature of David's role in this next film?

iPod: "Badge" (Cream)

Ah, yes.  The symbol of the badge portends a sheriff, or a policeman: an authority figure in conflict with the dermatologists. Possibly the name of the group also has significance here.  I see David milking a cow.  If the cream is inside a carton, there will be tea.

O wise and sagacious iPod, where will this movie be filmed?

iPod: "Scotch and Soda" (Kingston Trio)

Scotch...Scotch...yes, yes, that obviously signifies Scotland.  I see evil dermatologists wearing kilts and prowling the moors.  I'm getting a strong aura of Gerard Butler.

Please tell us, small-but-capacious music player: will David's character have a love interest?

iPod: "Haitian Divorce" (Steely Dan).

Mmm-kay.  I guess that would be "no".  Hey, I thought this movie was set in Scotland?  What's this about Haiti?

iPod: "Don't Worry Baby" (Beach Boys)

We'll try not to.  We just need some geographic continuity, is all.

This character of David's, does he die in the movie?

iPod: "Partita in D minor for solo violin" (Bach)

Uh oh.  That sounds sad.  How does he die?

iPod: "Peace Frog" (The Doors)

Death by frogs?  What?

iPod: "I Started A Joke" (Bee Gees)

Oh.  You were kidding? Does that mean he doesn't die?

iPod: "Candy Man" (Sammy Davis Jr.)

MUST you pick the most embarrassing songs?

iPod: "You Have Terrible Taste In Music"

Very funny.

iPod:  "And You Also Have A Mustard Stain On Your Shirt"

That's it.  I'm filling your hard drive with Yanni.

So to sum up:  David's dairy-farming, lovelorn cop feuds with a clan of Highland dermatologists, then splits up with his wife in Port-au-Prince.  Quaker frogs kill him, but (psych!) he isn't really dead, and everyone has a hearty laugh.  Gerard Butler, in a cameo appearance, offers him some candy.  All of this is a mystery to Roy Orbison.

Coming soon to a theater near you!

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 1:30 AM EST
Updated: February 22, 2011 3:52 AM EST
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January 25, 2011
You can't have your kayak and heat it too
Mood:  cool
Now Playing: "Learn Inuit In 30 Days!" (Berlitz)

The tundra is beautiful this time of year.  Two days ago, Mother Nature brought us eight inches of taqqilikkiquik (fluffy dry snow) on top of a foot of hard-packed kiqqitaqasikkiniq (granular pellet snow).  Near the seal hunting grounds, it's melted into likkinukkiqalikk (snow that squeaks when you walk on it) with a light coating of ninivuqatikkit (snows of yesteryear).

Tomorrow night we're expecting 8 - 10" of pinqanunavikkinik (sideways blowing snow that gets driven into the hubcaps of your car at 719 mph, necessitating a $29.95 front-end alignment at V.I.P. Auto).  We've laid in a supply of blubber and are building up the sleeping platforms.

I bring this up because, just as the Eskimos are famed for having dozens of words to describe snow, it occurs to me that we denizens of Daisy Nation must have a similarly nuanced vocabulary to describe David.  He is, after all, an actor of many disguises and moods, changeable as the snowfall.  No two performances are alike: sparkling like diamonds in the moonlight one minute, tying up traffic on the turnpike the next.  And always, always, blanketing the familiar world with a smooth layer of awesome.

Whenever two David fans get together, you'll often hear specialized words that have evolved to describe his ever-shifting personas.  For example:

heroikka - noble, long-haired, medieval type of David (e.g., Faramir, Gerold)

heroikkendammp - noble, long-haired, medieval, bathing-in-a-lake type of David

owweebooboo - wounded type of David

starkkers - character who does not trouble himself with clothes (e.g. Josh, Dilios)

blekkh - morally rancid character

phlecchblekkh - morally rancid character named Fletcher

phlecchblekkhlecch - morally rancid character named Fletcher who also makes passes at the ladies

hootenkyoot - feathered/winged type of David

sydekikk - variety of David who isn't the main character, but steals the show anyway

nikkipikki - character in a troubled marriage (e.g. After the Deluge)

muckabuck - character that wallows in the bizarre and tawdry (eg Audrey, Jerry Springer)

blamalammarama - character who mostly lets his gun do the talking

marysoo - character who inspires fan fiction

larrystu - character who inspires hot Gondor-on-Rohan slash fiction

gerrydrew - character who inspires hot Frankish Knight-on-Possibly Pseudonymous-Deadliest-Warrior-Narrator slash fiction

jerrywhooo - character who inspires hot Talk-Show-Host-on-Burrowing Owl slash fiction

I would go on, but I need to find a spear and enlarge the ventilation hole in the igloo roof before it gets too stuffy in here.  If you don't hear from me in four weeks, send a sled team with emergency rations of manlymanlymensch (strong, principled, world-saving David characters).

Posted by dessicatedcoconut at 10:32 PM EST
Updated: January 26, 2011 12:09 AM EST
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