Rhonda’s back! She’s wearing sweatpants and some crazy shirt with a sunset and palm trees on it, brimming with stories about the many men she met on her skater vacation, none of whom could believe she skates. It must be all that blond hair, and also her vagina!
We meet up at Café Deeply Appreciative to get bowl of tossed healthy things for dinner. My bowl is called I Am Okay With It and Rhonda’s bowl is called I Am Not Totally Damaged. When the waitress brings us our bowls of kale and quinoa and seaweed she christens us with the names of our entrees: "You Are Okay With It," she slides my bowl under my nose. "And, You Are Not Totally Damaged,” she places Rhonda’s bowl on the table with a smile and wipes her hand on her apron.
"Do you want to answer the question of the day?" she asks.
Sure, I say, with a twinge of resentment. It is ridiculous to feel resentment at Café Deeply Appreciative because you know exactly what you are getting into when you go there. You know there is a sort of board game you are encouraged to play at your table, and the point of the game is that you create your own reality with your thoughts. Art and phrases from the game are all over the walls of the restaurant, murals of happy, one-armed boys tire-swinging over a river.
"What are you creating?" she asks us.
Rhonda and I look at each other. "A baby!" we burst in unison and crack up.
My bowl comes with nori, which is good fertility food, and I get a drink called I Feel Better Now that has a shot of wheatgrass in it, which someone somewhere told me is good for fertility--– I can’t remember who, because every day someone gives me a new bit of helpful information to toss into my mental pile.
I wash a mucus-thinning Mucinex down with my I Feel Better Now and think about all the ice cream I will eat later. Every thing I put or don’t put in my body is for the sake of fertility. Tonight is the last insemination.
Earlier, on the phone, my sister praised me for doing such a good job "covering the spread."
"You really covered the spread," she said, and will continue to say for the next week or so -- "You did a good job covering the spread."
Earlier it was, "You gotta cover the spread." Sometimes I think of my sister as a sports commentator on my conception efforts, up in her skybox, looking down, expert and opinionated.
"Yes . . . there she goes . . . that’s her fourth insemination on day 14 of her cycle, I’d say she’s doing a great job covering the spread, what do you say, Chuck?"
"Well, I’d say it’s true, you gotta cover the spread, and that’s what your sister is doing down there, she is covering that spread. Now for a word from out sponsor, First Response!"
I ask my sister if I have to keep eating in this horrible, gluttonish manner once I’m actually pregnant. I’ll do what I gotta do, and I think that the shifting of my body will feel much more worthwhile once I have a baby in it, but still -- having to chow down this level of full-fat dairy and red meat and pastries is sort of bumming me out.
"Once you’re pregnant you can just eat a healthy diet," she assures me. ‘You’ll just eat whatever you can handle eating, really. You’ll follow your cravings."
That sounds awesome, like how I normally eat -- maybe I’ll need to devour a whole individual watermelon plus a mango with lime and salt, and then a little while later I’ll be starving for an English Muffin with peanut butter and honey. Or some pickled beets or a bowl of salad greens with vinegar. Or three bowl of cereal in row, or cheese grits. On the night of the last insemination I bust open a bottle of sparkling cider and we all toast like it’s champagne.
Quentin is leaving for his Mexico City adventure. He cabbed over in the midst of packing and I insist he take $40 for cab fare, still haunted by Tali’s insistence that I buy him a bus pass. I lay with my feet in the air for a half hour, slap on a pad and go to sleep.
I promise myself that I won’t start with the pee sticks until like the DAY I am due for my period. I don’t want to get on that obsessive, spendy train again. I just go about my life. A lot of my life is spent sleeping at Dashiell’s, snuggling all night like cats and then waking up to her hovering over me like a lovercraft, smiling and handing me coffee. I tell her all my dreams and then I walk her to the subway and we make out for a minute before she goes underground. When I walk to my bus stop I always catch her shuffling down the stairs and I wave at her and blow her a kiss. It’s so sweet to have little habits together.
One morning I go out for breakfast with my friend Devin who always says awesome, slightly non-sequitor things, like, "Pump Up The Jam. That was a groovy tune." Or, "When I think of women being witchy and reading tarot cards I always think of that song Barracuda."
I keep to my two-cup coffee limit, eat some bacon, some fertilicious scrambled eggs, some pie. I join Devin in a big glass of milk. On the way home, climbing the slight incline back to my apartment, I start to feel super weird. Weak and shaky, kind of dizzy. Like I need to lay down right away. As someone whose food and coffee intake is occasionally dysfunctional, I have gotten dizzy or shaky from a caffeine overdose or protein underdose, but I’m full of food and light on the coffee. I say goodbye to Devin, heave myself up to my apartment, collapse on my bed and call my sister.
There is one of two things wrong with me -- I’m either pregnant, or I’m having Celexa withdrawal because all this sleeping at Dashiell’s house has knocked me off my private bedtime ritual. What is my private bedtime ritual? Read my tarot cards. Pumice my feet and put on foot cream and socks. Check in on my New Moon wishes. Read Elle Magazine -- oh E. Jean! I love you! -- maybe do some 12-step journaling if I’m "working a good program," and then taking my Celexa, pre-natal vitamin, DHEA, Coenzyme Q-10 and a couple Valerian.
At Dashiell’s I don’t even take off my makeup, just hop into bed and read Weetzie Bat out loud until she falls asleep. So maybe I have forgotten to take my psych meds for, oh, like four days.
"Oh sister, that’s really not good!" my sister chides me.
"I know, sister," I say. "It wasn’t on purpose. I just kept forgetting." I can feel the dark storm clouds of free-floating doom and anxiety edging in on my wonderful life. Bummer! I explain my symptoms.
"Do you think I’m pregnant?"
"You could be," my sister says. "But you could be coming off Celexa! Just spend the rest of the day in bed, can you do that?"
I spend the rest of the day in bed, reading Elle magazine and text messaging. Then I go to sleep with the cats. Cats love it when you’re sick. If they could slip germs in to your food all day and keep you bedridden for them to lie upon, they would.
By that night I’m feeling normal again, which makes me think it was just the Celexa. And now I really need to know, as does my sister, so I start with the pregnancy tests again. I’m not psyched to take the pregnancy tests. I just know I’m not pregnant, and I dread telling everyone, "I’m Not Pregnant," for reasons already articulated in this very blog. Feelings and whatnot.
When Dashiell gets up to walk her little dog Rodney, a fluffy white thing with button eyes and a great personality, I slip into the bathroom and pee on a stick, go back to bed. Later, when she wakes me with the coffee, I tell her I’m not pregnant. I tell her like it’s this little detail, not a significant piece of information, an aside.
Like, "Oh, Rodney left his green hammer in the bed. Oh, and by the way I’m not pregnant."
"Will you do your tests when I’m here?" Dashiell asks. "Will you let me know you’re taking them, so I know right when it’s happening?"
I’m embarrassed at what a cowboy I am. It didn’t even occur to me that Dashiell would want to BE THERE with me and SHARE THE EXPERIENCE with me, because she LOVES ME. I already know I have the tendency to take self-sufficiency to absurd, dysfunctional heights. It’s nice to get called down from it.
So the next morning I tell her, "I’m going to go pee on a stick." I pee on the stick and get a single, lonely line.
"Not pregnant!" I yell from the toilet. I feel less vulnerable delivering the information thusly. I crawl back into bed and cuddle. In another day I get my period. We go out for brunch and hit the witch store on the way back and buy a pack of herbal cigarettes that actually heal you as you smoke them! I swear they do, it says so on the packaging! Native Americans smoked them!
I haven’t had a cigarette since I started getting knocked up four months ago, and Dashiell hasn’t had one since she was a young person who went by the name Stiv and smoked cigarettes on her break from selling shoes on Haight Street. We bum a light off some hooligans and sit on someone else’s stoop, smoking.
First it feels fun like we are being very bad and transgressive, and everyone who passes us thinks we’re smoking weed and gives us the peace sign. But soon it proves to be a grotesque little cigarette and we throw them in the gutter and go back to Dashiell’s house to lie around and make out.
NEXT WEEK: Calling Dr. Love! Or whatever the fertility doctor’s name was.