Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Tale of Manhattan and Friday The 13th

I’ve never subscribed to the notion of superstition, especially not numerical superstitions, but this last Friday the 13th was remarkable in its reinforcement. More than a week before, I'd taken a pregnancy test at the top of Rockefeller Center in New York and considered the result.

I looked at the two solid blue lines. I’d forgotten to bring the box or instructional diagram with me, tucking the test into my luggage on my way out the door just in case. Standing under the art deco facade, I made an executive ruling: I must have the kind of test that shows a cross-and-line when positive instead of the two-line positive. Two lines; it's surely negative. The Hackworths and I shared an “Ah, well” moment and moved closer to the glass that separated us from the rest of New York.

The Chrysler building gleamed in the morning sun and the city fell away from our feet. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge punctuated the haze like a final signal before the Atlantic swallowed the rest of the sky. I turned from the hole in the sky in Lower Manhattan and slid the test into the garbage.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I was wrong.

I read Gina’s blog and saw a picture of her positive test. I sat for a moment. “Wait,” I thought, “That’s what my test looked like.” I drove to Target and walked quickly to the rows of pregnancy test in sterile white boxes. Two solid blue lines means you’re knocked up, honey.

And how did I not know?
1. I was exhausted, kept falling asleep, even during conversations (remember the Colbert Report?)
2. I was grumpy
3. I wanted lots of drinks with ice
4. Stuff hurt
5. Everything made me cry
6. That Halal cart was really, really good
7. I was hungry but didn’t want to eat anything.

Adding insult to stupidity, not two weeks previously I’d derided a TV commercial for asserting that 1 in 5 women can misread a pregnancy test. Who could those sad, illiterate people be? I laughed at the pathetic women who can’t read a diagram, what, did they tank their SATs/ACTs?


I am that sad and illiterate people.

Immediately I fell into the tumble of early pregnancy. I couldn’t stay awake, couldn’t hold my temper, couldn't hold a thought, and my clothes felt tighter. We were thrilled. Everything was right in the world. Well, everything except that Jeanne’s no longer in it.

I put on my best new black and flowered dress on the morning of Friday the 13th to go to Jeanne’s funeral. She lived her life, I’ll tell you. Modeling, singing all over the world, from the gondolas of the Venetian to command performances, playing her violin, making naughty jokes. She was a light. You would have loved her. She was 33.

Stupid cancer.

I walked into the chapel as a string ensemble played Barbar’s Adagio for Strings--which could make grown men sob. (Reminder: when I die, and I surely will, one Ravel’s Pavanne for a Dead Princess, OK? Deal?) Before the service started I went to powder my nose and realized that I was bleeding, and bleeding a lot.



I couldn’t think of what else to do, so I went back to sit down for Jeanne’s funeral. The giggles were simmering under the surface. Honestly, how much more drama could be packed into a single morning? It was Friday the 13th. I was at a funeral. I was miscarrying a baby. I almost felt like Jeanne would be giggling with me, impressed with The Meaning of It All. And then I cried.

Taking the grief out of death is like taking love out of the world, said one eulogizer.


I like that.

If you leave a comment telling me you’re sorry I’ll delete it. You’re only allowed to leave a comment with something funny, inappropriate, or interesting to say.


Andrea R said...

I'm so happy for you. Ever since we decided that we were done having kids, every time someone gets pregnant, I think, "Why would you want to do that?"

L. said...

Funny, inappropriate, or interesting....okay, how about a TMI story?

I had an early (7 weeks) miscarriage many years ago, which I didn't particularly mourn, since I wasn't happy to be pregnant at the time. I called the doctor on a Friday and she said she couldn't see me until Monday -- this was in Tokyo, national health care, blah blah blah...

Anyway (here comes the TMI part), I believe I found the actual embryo, and I did what felt like the natural thing to do, which was to dispose of it in the toilet.

My Japanese husband, who can't even flush pet goldfish down the toilet, was appalled, and thus ensued the most surreal argument ever.

Okay, now that I read it, that comment was really gross, and definitely inappropriate, and probably didn't make you feel any better. But we had three kids after that miscarriage, and while it was icky and tense at the time, it is now only a very unpleasant memory.

Sorry for your losses.

kadusey said...

I think you must have followed a black cat under a ladder after spilling the salt when an owl flew through your window, landing on the shards of glass from the mirror that broke when you opened your umbrella inside after getting up on the wrong side of the bed.

Next time I recommend taking one of the more traditional routes down the rabbit hole or through the looking glass. They won't pop you out in Wonderland's graveyard. Not that the rest of Wonderland makes any more sense or is any more fair. Plus you probably don't want babies turning into pigs so perhaps it would be best to avoid Wonderland all together.

Likely said...

cancer IS stupid. My Dad has the stupid stuff too and I hate it.

miscarraiges are also very stupid.

Jane of Seagull Fountain said...

Miscarriages ARE stupid.

I woke up with contractions this morning (5 days overdue), and hope, hope, hope today is the day. And then I realized (somehow I hadn't been thinking about it because today is also the first day of school) that it was exactly a year ago (August 25th) that I started my second miscarriage.

So, for inappropriate -- at least you won't have Vienna Sausages for twos in nine months?

Jane of Seagull Fountain said...

Or for toes -- or pregnancy brain, for that matter...

Megling said...

here's the thing, I have been reading your blog for about 3 months now and never commented and was feeling like sort of an a$$ for it. And then you have to go AND MAKE US ALL UNCOMFORTABLE WITH YOUR CANCER FRIEND AND YOUR MISCARRIAGE AND YOUR BLATANT DISREGARD FOR CONVENTIONAL SOCIAL RESPONSE.

And it's possible that I love you and your blog 30 times as much. Brutal yo. Brutal.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I loved the phrasing in Jeanne's lovely obituary especially this line, "Jeanne is now prepared to serve upon her early graduation to share her many talents with many she will meet even before we all join her." That is the perfect phrase- early graduation from this mortal test.

Hugs, my dear.

Kalli Ko said...


let's go eat donuts

The Atomic Mom said...

I always thought that those "misreading" pregnancy test commercials were fake. Guess not now, but then again, I've always had to read, reread and then reread to figure out the results of a pg test. I'm too cheep to just buy the one that says in words what your status is. I won't say S****, but I will say, I was a bit sad to hear of it.

ali said...

as someone who has had two miscarriages, I can appreciate the dark humor that goes along with it and death. I love that last quote, what a lovely sentiment.

Naomi said...

Do you know how to wake up Lady Gaga?

Poke her face.

TheOneTrueSue said...

Well DAMMIT TO HELL. I was going to post something today about how much my life sucks right now but then you went and done stole my thunder, you fiend from the underworld. THE NERVE.

I love you. Let's eat gelato or something.

rookie cookie said...

When I had a miscarriage between Jack and Van, my husband said, "Way to drop the ball." I suppose it was his way of trying to insert humor into something.

Vern said...

Misunderstanding a pregnancy test is almost as bad as misunderstanding someone's intentions. Like the time my sister was on a date with this guy she REALLY liked - at the end of their date she was stoked because he leaned in, so she leaned in too, they shared a warm embrace and then when he pulled back he said, "Uh...I was just trying to grab my coat."


Vern said...

P.S. OneTrueSue - we'd still like to hear about your life sucking. Strength in numbers!

noelle said...

I don't know how you're going to beat the Chrysler Building for taking a pregnancy test, and I don't know how you're going to beat a funeral for having a miscarriage. Carina FTW 2x!

sara said...

One positive thing to come out of having a miscarriage, I learned, is that it helps you empathize with other people. I, for one, have always sucked at empathizing, so I was glad when my bff miscarried that I already had, so I could be a better friend to her then.

Not funny, not inappropriate, so perhaps interesting? I love your blog and you are a fantastic writer.

Susan said...

damn + just when i ordered your uterus cake. what am i going to do with a uterus cake?

Cardine said...

I've decided that part of that law that was irrevocably decreed was that: if you wonder who would be so stupid as to do whatever activity, you will figure out that it is you who is that stupid. The same thing happened to me when I wondered who ever locked their keys in their car. I am now a repeat offender.

And it's posts like this (ouch) that really make me happy I'm single/celibate and that my life is generally uninteresting. So much heartache is avoided by not having a heart (like me).

Tzipporah said...

Bad Cohen's constant comment when I was pregnant with our one-and-only child was, "well no wonder people used to think all women were crazy, they were PREGNANT ALL THE TIME."

For the record, I think I only punched him twice.

Rynell said...

A long time ago, I was hospitalized for a stupidly complicated pregnancy. I was watching some dramatic/emotional movie. I started sobbing about the movie. Some ladies from a support group came in and wanted to chat, be supportive and give me cross stitch projects to sew.

I may have said (with chocolate on my face), "Leave me alone with my movie and my chocolate." And then I threw the cross stitch thing in the trash.

Fig said...

They don't call you the Jet Set for nothing! From now on I am only taking pregnancy tests in crazy awesome/exotic locales. I see your Rockefeller Center and raise you a Space Needle, or Eiffel Tower, or something.

Thanks for being my favorite.

TheFeministBreeder said...

So, for about a week I thought I was so completely awesome because *I* was the one who told you you were knocked up - indirectly and accidentally, but still, *I* got the credit. What an awesome story that made. And I thought maybe God liked me.

But then when the second part of the story happened, I felt terrible. If I'd never posted my stupid blog or the stupid picture with the two stupid lines, you'd never have known, and you'd simply have thought that you got your period, and wouldn't have to mourn the Could Have Been. No longer an awesome story, and maybe God hates me.

Blech. What a shitty way for that to turn out.

Kate said...

That was a very awful Friday for you, I'm apologetic. I thought my first miscarriage (of three, still trying) was bad - day before my wedding. Now I think of it as the universe telling me that I really shouldn't have married the guy.

Inappropriate thing. After my last one (where I had to go and have a D&C) they gave me the most enormous sanitary towel to wear. I loved it. It was HUGE! I still want to go and buy a pack of the things for normal use.

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

*stifling my urge to offer comfort and empahty, but going with the inappropriate*

When I was a kid, we sang an old gospel song at church camp. One of the lyrics was "I've got a river of life flowin' out of me . . . "

And that ran through my head every time I had a miscarriage.

At least you weren't one of those people who got to labor and didn't know they were pregnant. Now THOSE people are dumb.

Holly said...

Aren't you a bit of a foodie? That would explain why you ate the food at P.F. Chang's on your way to NYC.

P.S. I'm sad I missed Jeanne's funeral.

Amelia Merritt said...

I don't care if you do delete this, it's not for others sakes anyway. I'm so, so sorry. I love you. If I have to name what I wish for you, it's that I hope you can understand now why all this is going on all at once, for peace, instead of some point down the road. Someone smart said that life doesn't make sense until it's over. If that's true, I guess it explains why we all need faith, doesn't it? You can delete this sappy crap now.

Tiffany said...

Congrats on making me laugh and try to swallow a lump in my throat at the same time.

I adore you.

Mrs. Organic said...

The day my grandpa died from cancer I miscarried. The next day my sister got married. Life is just crazy with its drama-packing crap.

Also, I'm sorry.

The redhead said...

I AM superstitious. You just reaffirmed why.

And I always laugh/giggle during stressful, sad, and/or inappropriate moments. Prayer, friends revealing their dramas, grandma falling down on her hip...

the emily said...

Dude, my s-i-l had a miscarriage at her son's birthday party in the park. But this totally tops it. And I'm yrros. Go ahead and delete it, I dare you.

Azúcar said...

Redhead -- you might have something.

Do you know Rachael, TodaysMama?

Her husband was in a terrible accident on Friday the 13th. It was an all around weird day.

Maybe those Templars were right...

Julie said...

I was so glad to see you Monday. And I loved your shoes.

soybeanlover said...

I just keep thinking of the pregnant test Apu and Manjula took on the Simpsons "baby, baby, baby, pirate!". How'd that be for confusing.

Oddly enough, if this were five months ago I'd have been jealous of your miscarriage. We weren't planning our baby number three for another year, and I was NOT ready to get huge again. I'm singing a different tune now, but not then.

kami @ said...

I hate Friday the 13th! ...and I really like you.

Marianne & Clayton said...

You can adopt the mantra that got us through our miscarriages. "Who wants a quitter anyways?"

We think it's funny and it definitely qualifies as inappropriate. Interesting? Eh.

Monica said...

Babies are cute.
12 year olds are not.

You've been saved from a smart-mouthed, eye rolling, tongue sticky-outing, door slamming 12 year old.

I know.
I want more babies; but, this thought squelches the call of my aching uterus.

craftyashley said...

Three kids is... a lot. I am just now finding this out. Two kids is nice.

And besides- sure you misread a pregnancy test. But at least you weren't completely unaware you were pregnant and thus having a child in a nasty Wal Mart bathroom.

There's always a silver lining.

b. said...

I wrote but then deleted it. But you should was really inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

My mom had 14 babies and 2 miscarriages. Every time she announced another pregnancy, her mother would call her and lecture her about birth control. Every. Single. Time.

That woman never gives up. :)

Keri Beth Mason said...

You know what? I was doing really good - laughing, haha, blah blah blah.

And then I clicked the link and listened to the damn Adiago for Strings.

And then I lost it.

In my office.

At work.

Thanks for that.

Michelle said...

um, ouch. You know I'm no good at inappropriate.

Grief is like keeping a pack of wild dogs in the basement. Throw them some fresh meat every day and they'll stay down. But if you ignore them they come out and get you.

But I'll meet you at the top of the stairs when they do.

annily said...

BOOBS! that's the only inappropriate thing i can come up with because i'm laughing at the lady gaga joke. wait, i thought of something...i'll talk about my period on the internet! maybe i'll even say menstruation because that's an awkward word. mine's late. but i'm not pregnant (i even checked the instructions on the box again). that's just cruel, body...just cruel.

Ash said...

I once stuck a chili pepper up my butt.

I was five. We had to go to the emergency room so they could find it.

kerri ann said...

Yesterday I sent a report out to the company that said, "department is behind, running two shits." It reminded me of when we were working at Ah-ha and instead of forwarding and email to you I responded to the guy that sent it to me and it said, "isn't he so cute?" How embarrassing.

I'm sorry for your hard times.

Michelle said...

Friday the 13th was our 5th anniversary. I hope my marriage isn't fucked.

Seriously, what did you get on your ACT?

La Yen said...

Way to not have paid your tithing...

Hailey said...

I had a miscarriage in the bathroom of a Hollywood Video once. I had heard that I was maybe supposed to keep it to take in to the doctor, but wasn't quite sure how to achieve that without making a teenage employee extremely uncomfortable. So, I walked out. I guess some people might think that's an inappropriate story, but it happened, and I was ok with it all, and sometimes I think it would help if we all talked about it more to take away some of the stigma. So, thanks for talking about it.

Beeswax said...

Hey, I was just out to dinner with hailey!

This whole motherhood thing is a rough business.
Really, this whole living thing can get pretty hairy.

Jill said...

I had to schedule my D&C around my husband's work schedule. Apparently when I called him (bawling mind you) from the doctor's office, he told me that he just couldn't "fit it in" the next day. I had to wait an extra 3.

Guess what I couldn't "fit in" for quite awhile after that.

Tamsin said...

How about I tell you that it makes me happy whenever I see that there is a new blogpost over here on the Jetset, because I love your writing, I love your style, and just maybe, in a completely non-creepy way, I kind of love you.

Ryan and Susie said...

Babies are so overrated :) Anyway, you know you're a night owl and pregnancy will just cramp your style.

Cancer's lame. Enough said.

Lisa said...

I had a miscarriage once and my sister in-law came over to say she was really, really very sorry was there anything she could do for us, and Topher told her, "Well, we named her Mindy and buried her in the backyard."


Anne-Marie said...

I just keep re-reading the part about ignoring 2 lines on the top of the Chrysler building! You must not be a POASaholic like me. (pee on a stick-aholic)

Laughing and crying at the same time is one of life's greatest mysteries. Word to your Mutha.

Vanessa said...

Ok I have nothing clever to say but will not say sorry or I will get in trouble. Just know that I have done this too. WHo knew it really was that hard?!

Jennifer B. said...

Well, if you're going to do something, do it in style. Top of the Rockefeller Center? Barbar's Adagio for Strings? That is sooo classy.

La Yen said...

And Lisa is the winner. The end.

lbfries said...

Okay, here is an inappropriate story.

In college, I lived about 4 hours away from home, and I received a phone call one afternoon that my parents were coming for a visit the next day. I panicked, trying to think of what I had done wrong.

I decided to make my parents a great country breakfast while they were here, and proceeded to head to the grocery store.

At the store, I picked up biscuits, and some items needed during that monthly event that most women have, pads and Midol.

As I was checking out at the register, I could sense the store security guard staring at me. I was trying to act like I didn't notice, but it really started to bother me.

All at once the security guard walked up to me and said, "I know what the other two things are for, but what do you do with the biscuits?" I quickly smiled, leaned in, and in barely a whisper I said, "I eat them."

The security guard walked quickly away and I smiled the rest of the day! True story.

Have a wonderful day!


lbfries said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary said...

A few months ago I had a very emotional, very sad fake miscarriage. I misread my two line pregnancy test... Two lines was a negative on this one... I thought two lines was positive. Nay. So when I started to cramp and bleed two weeks later, I cried myself to sleep, my MIL came and cleaned my entire house. Then my midwife said, "Yo. You ain't pregnant, Stupid. You're having your period."

It was embarrassing. said...

How did I miss this post originally?!? And here I am joking around with you and foosing like everything is normal. Sheesh. Sorry for the tough times lately.

Azúcar said...

C-bo, because it's better to be foosing around, seriously.

Heather O. said...

I miscarried while singing John Rutter's "Magnificat". Stupid ass classical music. Who needs it?

Here's an inappropriate joke:

How many black people does it take to change a lightbulb?

Just one, you RACIST.

I still like the story about the chili pepper best.

And I am sorry about your miscarriage, even if it's taboo to say. But seriously, what ARE you supposed to do when you start to miscarry during an event? In my case, I let the blood pool in my shoes, ground the blood that dripped onto the risers with the sole of my heels, and then sat on my folder on the bus ride home so I wouldn't stain the seat. I mean, what else is a tall soprano to do?

Also, just so you know, I've made a fool out of myself before and after my D&Cs, ranging from telling an anesthesiologist that I used to be CRAAAAZY about his colleague to explaining, in detail, why I wear garments to a nurse who was helping me get dressed. I also threw up after I came to, and honestly thought, 'Wow. Look at all the pretty colors'.

What can I say, anesthesia's a bitch.

Love you.

Geo said...

Few weeks ago we went to visit one of my cousins We parked on the street and as I got out of the car I spotted an abandoned duck egg in the grass beneath a street sign. Dumb thing #1: I started crying. Dumb thing #2: That night, I had a dream that I shoved that duck egg way up inside me (with the intent to hatch it, maybe?) and kept it there until I realized it was probably rotten inside and would make me really sick, so I had to fish the thing out again.

Cheers to you, you wonderful woman, and to Jeanne, who is also a beautiful soul (and sag for my family once over supper), and to all backyard Mindys and rotten eggs everywhere.

I love you!

Geo said...

Jeanne SANG, that is.

Deanne said...

1) Jeanne's funeral was amazing.
2) I CANNOT believe you were in the process of miscarrying when I saw you. I wish I could go back and replay our brief encounter with this knowledge. I'm not sure what I would have changed, but something. (By the way, you get the "Looking the most fabulous during a miscarriage" award)
3) I can't believe it took me this long to find your blog. I am in love with it.
4) I once dreamed that I gave birth to an adult Alan Alda. (and I don't think I was even pregnant at the time)

Petit Elefant said...

That was beautiful babe.

And honestly, if you don't come to my funeral because you're having a personal *crisis*, I'll haunt you.

Erin O. said...

Between you and Rachael, I'm done with Friday the 13th. That day can just eff right off.

The redhead said...

I have cause to borrow your idea on vetoing sorry in exchange for something, funny, inappropriate or interesting.

Hope you don't mind if I use it on my post today. I'll be sure to offer you the credit.