So I'm back in my own home in California, after galavanting around New York and Pennsylvania for two weeks. No cow-tipping this trip. Though I did play tourist on the Empire State Building. But I'm not getting too comfy here because in another week we're off to London and Iceland. I'm finally going to the land of our Viking forefathers, which now publishes the highest number of books per capita of any country in the world, and gave us Bjork. It's been a long time coming.
Iceland has held an appeal for me for over a decade now. When I lived in the UK I knew a guy who would take groups on tours to Iceland. I almost went with his group once, but, seeing as how I was perpetually broke, that kind of fell through.
But it triggered something in me, and I've always wanted to see Iceland. You know how you see those maps on the screen when you're flying across the ocean, and it shows the little plane, and how much further you have to go, tailwinds, headwinds, etc? I always see Greenland and Iceland, and think about how it would be so cool if the plane was like a bus and I could just stop off and check out an igloo for a little bit, and then be on my way.
And what's more ironic is that a bunch of people I know have been to Iceland, some of whom heard about it from me. And I've never got my ass in gear enough to make the 3 hour flight from London.
In fairness to me, Scandinavia did leave a bad taste in my mouth after a really horrible trip to Norway in 2004. So I think I avoided going anywhere potentially linked with Vikings after barely surviving the worst heat wave in Oslo's recorded history in a non-air-conditioned Best Western with no bathtub that made me feel like I was trapped in an Ikea catalog. I wasn't big on Iceland for a few years after that.
Then the economy fell apart, and Iceland nearly went geothermal belly up. They're still considering getting rid of their currency because it's so worthless. Note to self: it doesn't really work when an entire country of fishermen decides that they all want to become hedge fund managers.
The one upside to the failing Icelandic economy is that it's relatively cheap to go there now. I say relatively, because everything in Iceland is bloody expensive. We'll be staying in a youth hostel, sharing showers with smelly students from Estonia, I'm sure.
But we'll all be in Iceland, paying $15 for a non-value-meal at McDonald's, and we'll be happy about it :)
In case you've somehow missed the 50 Shades...erm...overexposure...it's an erotic trilogy written by a British writer who used to write Twilight Fan Fiction (had I known that before buying the book, I never would have. I spent almost all of Twilight wanting to strangle Bella. Such a terrible example for girls. Don't get me started.). A college student meets a 26 year old self-made billionaire who's working to cure world hunger and has unusual erotic tastes. She starts a relationship with him, he ties her up, there are loads of other bondage scenes, she spends a lot of time chewing her lips and blushing, and this has somehow become a bestseller.
I bought the first book because I had to see what the hype was all about, and I read it for about half an hour. I skipped ahead to some of the steamier scenes to see if they lived up to my expectations; they were terrible, and I deleted it from my kindle without giving it a second thought.
Then a week ago I saw this blog post on a friend's facebook page where a woman was outlining the reasons she wasn't going to read 50 Shades. Her reasons centered on the conservative view that porn is evil, lust is wrong, and indulging in a bit of erotica is going to destroy your neuropathways and stop you from ever enjoying sex again. The comments were all in the line of, "yes, ladies, the Evil One is destroying marriages through this book."
Even if I believed in the devil, which I don't, (yes, I'm going to Seminary, and I don't believe in the devil) I would still think that the Evil One would have cleverer ways of destroying marriages than a book written on an 8th grade reading level about a girl who does a lot of blushing and climaxes on a horse.
Ok, look, here's the quote that conservatives throw around all the time: Jesus said that if you even so much as look at another woman with lust, it's the same as sleeping with her. Weeeellll, one interpretation of that quote (mine) could be that it's a condemnation of hypocrisy: you can't just sit around all smug and holier than thou because you aren't sleeping with lots of women when you are singlehandedly keeping the strip clubs in business. Just be honest about it, and quit being a smug hypocrite. I look at other people. J looks at other people. When we got married we didn't all of a sudden lose all interest in other people. That would be weird. So how's that whole "lust is wrong" thing working out for them? Conservative Christians have the highest divorce rates.
So the sin argument doesn't win for me. The reason for not reading this book isn't because it's sinful (it's not sinful - except maybe the editing). The reason for not reading this book is because it's an awful book, and the worst thing that could happen to erotic fiction is for this to become the standard of erotica.
Look, I just have to say this, as a public service announcement. You want some good erotica? Anais Nin was married to Hugh and was totally in love with him. Then she also fell in love with Henry Miller, and Henry's wife June. And she somehow managed to have steamy affairs with all of them, all the time. And she wrote about it - lots about it - in her diaries. Yes, Anais was crazy too - she also had affairs with her therapist and her father as well as her male and female cousins - but damn, her writing is beautiful...
Seriously, if you want a literary alternative to that hot mess that's out there right now, pick up Henry and June. It's amazing. And not the rambling fantasies of a teenager.
Just please, quit giving money to this 50 Shades nonsense. I beg you. Quit encouraging it.
A few weeks ago I had a Little Fertility Breakdown. Let me explain. Once you're 35, you're supposed to go get checked out if you have been trying to get pregnant for 6 months, and haven't yet. It has something to do with the quality of your eggs decreasing every 6 months, but really, it's designed to frighten you into the fertility specialist's office. Am I bitter? A little.
So there I sit, in the Loma Linda Center for Fertility and IVF, filling out paperwork, looking at all the other women around me, who also seem to be having trouble getting pregnant, or carrying a pregnancy. Weird, how normal they look. I always imagined people who couldn't conceive would have a sign on their forehead or something, but nope, these women look perfectly nice and healthy.
I get a check up, an ultrasound, and then the doctor orders a bunch of tests to check for things like the follicle stimulating hormone, my ovarian reserves, and other things that make no sense to me. But here's the thing: my insurance doesn't cover anything fertility-related. So I go to get the blood work, and find out that it's going to cost nearly $1500, just for blood tests. My gut was telling me to leave and figure it out later, but the thing is, you're supposed to go on certain days of your cycle, and if you miss it, then you've got to wait for the next cycle, and I was afraid to leave, overcome with the sense of urgency that was instilled in me.
But my gut won, and we left. It was all a bit traumatic, because I was at the same hospital where I delivered Baby T, and the whole thing was just overly emotional. I don't want to have to take blood tests to have a baby. I just want a freaking baby. Why am I doing all of this, I wondered? Why are we putting ourselves through all these tests? There are babies in the world who need parents...why are we putting ourselves through all this mess when we could adopt one of them? So we decided, after a lot of crying and deep breathing, to chill out about the whole thing. We'll keep trying, but we'll also check out adoption, and try to just chill about it all.
A few weeks later and the doctors call me telling me that my OB/GYN can order most of the tests, and it will be covered by insurance because they can do it under a recurrent miscarriage workup (never thought I'd be happy for having had recurrent miscarriages). So on Day 3 of my cycle I go back and get about 8 vials of blood drawn, and the results are starting to trickle in now.
The best news is that I found out that my ovarian reserves are very good (yay!). I think this means that I still have a lot of eggs. So I don't have to freak out about my biological clock so much, and we can continue on the Path of Chillaxation. That makes me so happy. I had this feeling that we had to get pregnant like yesterday, or else it wasn't going to happen. And the feeling would go up into my chest and before you knew it, I'd be hyperventilating in full Panic Attack mode. So knowing that I still have good eggs left is a serious relief, and will go a long way towards helping me relax about the whole thing.
In fact, maybe we'll even skip trying for a couple of cycles so that I can get rip-roaring drunk in London in a few weeks. I'm jonesing for a night out at Heaven, the gay bar under Charing Cross station, dancing on tables, losing every one of my inhibitions, and pretending that I'm 24 again. Ahh, to be throwing up in the alley outside of a club again, house music swirling around inside my brains, peeing my pants and then falling asleep on the ground waiting for a cab.....those were the days....