Archive for October, 2007

3:15 (or, 31.5 weeks)

Had my dr.’s appointment on Wednesday, where I was greeted by the entire nursing staff giving me the hairy eyeball (a term that, apparently, my husband has never heard once in his 41.9 years).  I didn’t know what the issue was until the nurse who was just about to take my blood pressure told me, coldly, that I was 45 minutes late.

Now, if you know me, you know that this is as absurd a statement as they come.  I am nothing if not my father’s daughter, and my father is – to put it very kindly – a stickler for time.  Precise, if you will.  If he says “4:00” he means “4:00” and not, say, “4:01.”  Seriously.  The first time I brought M. to meet my parents, I spent the entire time in a complete state of borderline hysteria, all because I was trying to merge my dad’s time-sticklerness with M.’s utter blitheness about time as a concept (if he says he’ll be another 30 minutes at work, you can pretty much count on it being at least another hour.  This is how he works and it drives me craaaaaaaaaaazy).

So, you know, I’m not late.  Ever.  IF I think I might be late, I call the place I’m going to let them know.  It’s my way.

So, I took this as a clear case of my integrity being impugned, and I proceeded to overreact.  Which, unfortunately for the nurse, included shooting my blood pressure waaaaay up high (I told her, splotchy-faced and visibly upset, that this was going to spike my BP; she said, “No, it won’t,” but then left quickly to go check the protein (or lack thereof) in my urine sample when the numbers kept climbing higher and higher.  I topped out at 188/95, and after that she did a nice about-face into stroking-my-arm-and-reassuring-me land.  I asked if I could go to my car and get the card that the receptionist had given me, which clearly states “3:15” and not their “2:30,” but she told me she believed me.  She didn’t, of course, but I was starting to feel very absurd myself and decided to let it go.  At least, let it go out loud.  As M. said that evening, I clearly hadn’t let it go because I was still talking about it at 10:30 that night.  And still talking about it today – because I was right, dammit).

(The being “right” thing is also a legacy from my dad.  Bless his heart.)

Whatever she really thought of me at this point, I think she figured out that I was upset enough about being told I was wrong to back down, and my BP came back down to human levels quickly enough.  I even managed to tell her I was sorry for overreacting, and I didn’t go get the card from the car (but I showed it to M. on the way home from the station about 30 times, until he agreed that, yes, it actually said 3:15, and could I please move on now?).

And the appointment itself went fine.  Still measuring a little big, but not in a bad way.  2.0 was his usual busy self (probably the result of suddenly having to fight for blood flow), and I go back in two weeks.

So, at almost 31.5 weeks, I’m fine (if typically emotionally volatile, but that’s not unusual for me, obviously), kid’s fine, but I feel like the freaking side of a house.  A beached whale.  Pick your image – that’s me.  I waddle, I ache, and I agree with anyone who’s ever thought that 9 months (it’s really 10, isn’t it?) is 2 months too many.


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The Cross-Cultural Thang

OTR Girl has a great post up about her marriage to Jrex, a Korean-American guy, and her experiences of cross-cultural marriage thus far. It got me to thinking about M. and our marriage, which is – obviously – also cross-cultural (although I guess you could argue that it’s all kind of muddled; but, then, we’re all complex creatures).

When I first met M., we were both living in Tokyo – he was working for Humongous European Technology Firm, and I was a lowly grad student living on the dime of the Ministry of Education, etc. Maybe it was just the contrast between M., the American, and the average Japanese people we saw and interacted with every day, but when I first met him I thought M. was American to a fault. He was very talkative (turned out to be nervousness; his natural state is fairly taciturn), toothy (as in, he smiled a lot – again, nervousness), and he wore this LOUD shirt that fairly screamed AMERICAN (I still hate the shirt. It’s not as loud as I remember it – in fact, it’s fairly monochromatic – but it’s got all these pictures and stuff on it, and it really, really does not suit him).

Even after we’d been dating for awhile in Japan, I still saw him as being pretty American. I think it comes from a few things; while he was in Japan, M. did a lot to recreate the comforts of his American upbringing: keeping a full supply of American-made Coke on hand; ordering bagels, muffins, toiletries, etc., from the Costco out in Saitama; dining at foreign-owned restaurants (Good Honest Grub in Ebisu, among others) – that kind of thing. He had a subscription to the English-language satellite channels (which I’d never seen before I met him), which meant a steady stream of CNN International, BBC World, AXN, FOX (entertainment, not news!), you name it. Put simply, he had the single most American household I’d ever experienced in Japan. Ever.

Oh, sure, there were hints of his Asian-Americanness. The fact that no meal is complete without rice on the side (inclusive of things like Hamburger Helper, which comes with its own starch). The fact that one of his perfect meals (it all comes back to food) involves Japanese sweet egg, seasoned seaweed, and shoyu. His never-ending search for the perfect bulgogi (there was a place up the road from his apartment, until it closed, that did a pretty mean one). But it all seemed, at the time, like stuff he might have picked up in Japan; I mean, I had some pretty Japanese quirks at the nine-year point, myself.

And the newness of our relationship translated into a kind of carefulness that masked other aspects of his Asian Americanness. He was very “romantic” (I, for the record, am not), and lavished affection and presents on me (he also was pretty liberal with his money at this point*). We seldom argued, and I felt like he was fairly complimentary of me, in general.

Fast forward a few years, one wedding, and 1.5 kids later. Turns out he’s MUCH more Asian American than I ever thought when we were living in Japan, and it’s taken some getting used to (for the record, I’m pretty sure I come with a pretty steep learning curve as well, but I think mine is less “whiteness” than stuff having to do with my sometimes nearly debilitating lack of self-confidence). His parents, actually, were the least of it; I pretty much expected them to be relatively traditional (they are), and since I’d been through de facto Asian daughter (in-law) training since I was 10, by virtue of all my Chinese aunties and uncles and Japanese mothers and fathers teaching me how “proper” women behaved, I’ve (so far) been able to pretty much glide through our visits. Mainly, I keep pretty quiet, make sure M. and MM are attended to (which is what I’m doing here at home too, only there I do it without bitching about it the whole time), surreptitiously clean when I get the chance, and do a lot of casino driving. Sure, they weren’t happy about me in the beginning – well, once they got over the shock of M. having a girlfriend in the first place – but they love MM, and that’s good enough for all of us.

The biggest challenges have been with M. himself. As OTR Girl wrote, compliments simply do not happen around here, unless I’ve been campaigning for them to the extent that M. remembers to throw one my way. As far as he’s concerned, they sound false and weird. Or, as he says, “the compliment is implied.” Since he attributes his oh-so-positive outlook on the world to his Koreanness, I’ll blame that for his constant nihilism, which gets old fast if you’re living with it all the time (case in point: this morning he tells me that we’re running short of money this month. I panic, since when I checked yesterday things looked fine. I go and look online at our bank account, and we’re still fine. If, for example, something says $689 (it didn’t – this is just an example), HE sees $500; I see $11 dollars short of $700). I don’t think I’ll ever break him of this, but I’d just as soon he didn’t pass it along, you know?

And then there’s the disability/eldest (“intellectual”) son equation. M. likes to have things done for him – never mind we live in a one-floor house, specially rented for his mobility needs (well, that and it’s nice not to have to deal with stairs with a toddler in the house). For the longest time, I was sure that it was more related to his disability, and it is to a certain extent. But I’ve noticed, on our visits to his parents’ place, that he sits around even more there – becomes immobile, if you will. Helping out around the house is pretty much unheard of – at least, from what I’ve seen. I’m just hypothesizing here, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he was pretty much groomed to succeed in school – again, not sure if it’s because he’s the oldest son or because he’s disabled, or both. Of course, he tells stories of manual labor in childhood, so I can only go by what I see. Personally, I think it’s at least partly cultural. And it bumps right smack up against my own Protestant Work Ethic upbringing (not that I’m not lazy as sin – I am, believe me – but my parents value nothing so much as sweat and hard labor. I think my Dad, in particular, had an early hard time with seeing M. sit around, but this has been substantially diminished by seeing him, more recently, work his butt off in the office and for school; M. works hard, but it’s largely intellectual labor).

At the end of the day, the challenges are worth it (at least, for me; I’m not sure the challenges of living with me are worth it – especially these days, when I kind of float through the world on a cloud of seething hormones, seeking out husbands to henpeck). But there definitely have been challenges – more than I ever would have thought. I sometimes wonder, if he’d married some white chick who was completely clueless about things Asian, would she have had an easier (ignorance is bliss) or harder time? Conversely, I can definitely say that M. is infinitely – incalculably – better for me than the guy who asked me, once, if Japan was a part of China.

*Liberal with it – as opposed to now, where he’s constantly convinced we’re on the brink of financial ruin – because he was single, this might be his only relationship ever, and he was determined to get the most out of it before it inevitably ended.  And we’re all just going to die anyway.  It seemed romantic at the time; now that I know the thinking that went on behind the scenes, so to speak, it’s kind of weird.  Still have the presents, though; I’m not stupid. 😉

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What the hell

I went ahead and popped her an email.  Confidence is high that it’s the same woman I went to HS with, since her email on the alumni website is the same university that this woman is associated with, and even though we didn’t really know each other, I can’t help but feel a little bit of kinship over the ABD thing.

And the picture I found of her when I Googled her name (M. calls this “stalking” – I call it curiosity, and it was linked to a newspaper article in the Japan Times, which says “not trying to hide” to me) looked very pleasant, and was accompanied by the slightly surprising, but very lovely, news that she’s got a lesbian partner and a sweet baby boy.

So, if I’m a stalker, so be it.

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Good things

It’s not all doom-and-gloom at Casa del M. here.  To wit:

1. 28 week appointment went well.  The BP was up a bit from previous appointments, but home BP is still reading well, and my not-easily-ruffled Ob/gyn was satisfied with that.  No protein so far, so that’s good, too.  Found out how we go about scheduling a C-section (I am very much NOT VBAC material), and we have a hospital tour scheduled for Monday.  With bonus baby sleepover for MM at grandparents’ house!!!  I also have to swing by the hospital tomorrow to get my second Rhogam shot, and I’m waiting to hear on the glucose test results.  Keep your fingers crossed – I love my carbohydrates.

2. Heard back from my advisor – a quickie email, but enough to reassure me that she doesn’t, in fact, loathe me.  Not that she’s the loathing type, but being all isolated out here and everything sometimes pushes me in that direction of thinking.

3. Found a home for MM’s old baby clothes (the ones that weren’t donated to us by my sister-in-law, who’s been a wonderful fountain of never-ending clothing).  M.’s got a co-worker who will be adopting a baby girl with his partner around December, and he was willing to give our clothes a good home.  I’m sending some to M.’s sister, but since she’s in California and he’s here, he’s getting the bulk.

4. We’ll be getting fallish weather next week.  Autumn is my very favorite season, and I’m ready for a little cooler weather.

5. Still no actual writing on the dissertation, but I’m starting to feel like I could do it.  It helps that I accidentally discovered that a girl I went to high school with is also ABD and doing research in Japan right now.  Made me feel all not-so-old and just a little competitive (as in, if she can do it, why can’t I???).  I have half a mind to email her out of the blue and just say that I heard what she’s working on, and it sounds cool…but we weren’t really friends (although we were neighbors and I always liked her mom, a teacher at our school), so I’m not sure if I’ll do this or not.

6. My aunt is coming to visit next week.  She’s a raving conservative lately of Midland (Home of Laura and adopted home of Dubya), so we have to keep waaaaay the hell away from political conversation (or, at least, I have to hold my tongue), but other than that she’s a sweetheart.  You hear the same things about Dubya, actually – great guy, except for that scary Republican stuff.  It’s a Texan thang, I think.

So, you know, not too bad.  The as-yet unnamed 2.0 seems to be a little bit ahead of the size curve, which is good when HBP is in the picture (even if it might mean GD).  MM’s well – it’s talk talk talk talk talk talk talk (sleep) talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk (blissful, blissful sleep) all the freaking time, but I’ll take it.  The talk is pretty funny, after all.

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