June 30, 2006

Econ 101

I should preface this entry by saying that I'm not an economist. I entered college thinking, for some strange reason, that I might want to major in econ. I took one semester of Microecon, and during my semester of Macroecon, I figured out that economics is just math with pictures. Don't get me wrong -- I like the idea of math. But I'm terrible at executing it. I feel like P.J. O'Rourke (and this has to be the first time I've felt like a Republican) when he said something along these lines in his book Eat the Rich (I don't have the book in front of me, so I'm paraphrasing): "I'm not great at math. I can barely take a bar tab that totals less than $10, add up the drinks in it and come up with the same total twice. Of course, I rarely have bar tabs that total less than $10. And that may be part of the problem."

Caveats aside, I was intrigued by this exchange on Slate.com about whether Wal-Mart's low wages are bad for workers. I really don't profess to know enough about profit margins, supply chains and the like to get to the bottom of this, but the New Orleans economy post-Katrina has been instructive. One of the big arguments that always seems to fly around during these debates is whether large companies can afford to increase workers' wages. Our economy would indicate that they can. Fast food places like Burger King are offering starting salaries of $10/hour, often in addition to bonuses, just to lure workers. Not only does it seem to be working, but I note that none of these businesses have gone bankrupt in the process. Granted, the companies aren't offering these salaries nationwide, and were they to do so, that would certainly affect their profit margins differently. However, if offering these higher wages in one community resulted in the type of losses which would bankrupt the company if felt on a national scale, I would expect most of these companies to close their New Orleans stores altogether. So far, I don't see any who have done so.

Posted by Kitty at 12:09 PM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2006

T Minus 100 and Counting

We officially have less than 100 days until the due date. Things are definitely falling into place -- we have a shower scheduled, we've registered for way too much stuff, we got some wonderful hand-me-down clothes from a family member, I continue to eat like crazy and best of all, we found child care!

Honestly, my impending motherhood doesn't scare me too much, nor do all of the usual concerns that go with it (how to get the baby to sleep through the night, what to pack in my hospital bag, which pediatrician to select, etc.) I figure those things will work themselves out. Childcare was different. I was seriously stressed about what we would do when I need to return to work post labor. Normally I wouldn't be quite so concerned, but Katrina made a serious dent in the childcare industry around here and I don't see many signs of that improving any time soon.

Happily, I was eating lunch at my desk recently and started looking up names of providers and calling them, expecting the usual response: "Our waiting list is full. Call back in October to see if we have any cancellations." I found the website of a place I hadn't seen before, so I gave them a call, certain that it would lead me to the same dead-end. When I spoke to the director who was not only nice, but also incredibly informative AND told me they had spots available in their baby room in December, I was practically speechless. I called Archi-Sapper and got him out of a meeting (which I never do) and spat out the story so fast I sounded like an overactive five year old who couldn't contain her excitement about a new type of candy she'd just discovered.

Archi-Sapper and I both went over there the next chance we had and loved the place, so we're sold! Now all I have to do is find some sure-fire way to lose all of this baby weight come October and I'll be set.

Posted by Kitty at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2006

Prenatal Languages

After six months of pregnancy the only skills I've mastered are: (1) peeing on command, (2) giving blood just as often, (3) sleeping on my side and not my back and (4) spitting out terms that make no sense to the non-pregnant. I wasn't always good at peeing on command, especially as a kid (though, to be fair, I wouldn't do much on command as a kid). Now? I've evolved. I can empty my bladder, drink absolutely nothing, think about the desert and still manage to come up with a usable sample. It's too bad I can't market this by doing something useful like selling my samples to those in need. Although I'm not sure I want to meet the folks who are in the market for a urine sample.

Surprisingly, I was much better at giving blood as a child. Early on I learned to look the other way when they insert the needle and to talk about something else. It usually happens so fast, by the time I turn around they're done. Giving blood has always been a flattering experience for me, as well. I inevitably have a nurse telling me what great veins I have, as if this were a feature everyone wants, like washboard abs.

The sleeping on my side thing is something I tend to do fairly often, anyway, so that isn't a big transition for me. I've never been able to sleep on my stomach, so the prohibition on that isn't a big problem, either.

I think the biggest of the pregnancy related changes in my life (besides my expanding waistline and the increasing frequency of the kicks in my stomach) is the feeling that I'm one big lab experiment. Have you ever had an O'Sullivan test before? Are you familiar with Braxton Hicks? Do you go to your doctor once a month, every month and read books and articles on the internet about your body? If not, you've never been pregnant. All of this sneaking off to take strange tests, using words I'd never heard before and constantly "monitoring the situation" makes me feel vaguely like Archi-Sapper with his military duties. When he has his reserve duty, he goes off once a month to do some variation of the same thing each time, usually has something put in his file (or chart) based on what he did there and speaks in code about whatever it is he was doing. That sounds about right.

No matter how much time passes, although I get more used to having a baby inside of me, I still haven't gotten used to all of the tests and terminology. I'm starting to feel like my life is an episode of ER. And I don't care what anyone says. I still think Braxton Hicks is a law firm.

Posted by Kitty at 12:18 PM | Comments (1)

June 09, 2006

Cat Reality Show

I don't know how you get a spot in the "Meow Mix House", but I'll bet those cats are a lot more intelligent than the cast of the Real World.

Posted by Kitty at 11:54 AM | Comments (2)

June 06, 2006

The Female Condition

I've lived in the South all my life (unless you count that summer in college that I spent in D.C.) and I thought I had heard and was immune to all Southern phrases. But no. The latest new one (for me, anyway) is to refer to pregnancy as, "the female condition". Not only do some of the men at my office refer to my pregnancy in that way, there are other pregnant women here who refer to their "condition".

This cracks me up because it makes it sound as though pregnancy is just one more stage women go through when they've contracted Epstein Barr or something similar. However, there are days in which calling this growing baby inside of me a "condition" doesn't sound too far off the mark.

Take Sunday, for instance. I had had a perfectly pleasant weekend sleeping late, eating a lot, watching movies on Netflix (Good Night and Good Luck was good, but slow) and even got to catch up with a fellow blogger. When I woke up Sunday I should've just stayed in bed. The baby decided, for reasons that are still a mystery, that he should use my internal organs as furniture. My liver must make a great ottoman and my bladder is an excellent sofa, no doubt.

I went into this pregnancy blind, with no information and no real clue what to expect. Although I was excited (and still am), I think I spent the first two months wondering if it was real. Once I convinced myself that yes Virginia, that nausea is a sign of more than just indigestion, I did what all of the expectant moms do and bought the books. They came in the mail from Amazon.com and sat in our apartment. And sat. And sat.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I love to read. So it was unusual that I would buy not one but two books and just let them sit. I mean, these weren't books on advanced calculus, so there was nothing to be afraid of. But still, I avoided them. In retrospect, I think the biggest problem with reading was the nausea. Seriously. Reading didn't make me any more nauseous, it was more like the problem faced by people who have suddenly found themselves deeply and inescapably in debt: the last thing they want to do is read financial help books that will just remind them of how depressed they are to be in this predicament in the first place. I avoided the books initially because I was so nauseous and tired that I really didn't want to read anything that would serve as a reminder of how nauseous and tired I was.

Fast forward and now we're nearing the end of the second trimester. Life is much better. So much better, in fact, that I often feel like I'm not pregnant -- and for someone with "the condition", that's as good as you're ever going to feel, trust me. I think I was lulled into a false sense of calm and well being by going for over a month without waves of nausea and without falling asleep every time I sat still for more than 10 consecutive minutes. And, of course, that's when the pain kicked in.

To be fair, I don't know if I would call it pain so much as discomfort. If I start calling this pain, I'm going to get a flood of e-mails from moms worldwide (beginning with my own), saying something along the lines of, "Oh, you don't know from pain until you've been in labor for 85 hours in the summer with no air conditioning while....." And they're right. I haven't been there (yet). All I can say is what I'm feeling now which is, um, interesting. I can't say that I ever feel like there's a baby inside of my body (until I see the ultrasounds, which are very cool). It mostly feels like everything is fine and then I'll get a pinched nerve on one side of my abdomen which causes me to pitch forward and hobble around like an 80 year old. I'm told that this is just the baby sitting in an awkward position (awkward for me, not him). And sometimes I can massage my stomach and convince him to move. But not always.

This is also the only "condition" I know of that requires a completely new wardrobe. So far, the initial nausea has turned out to be sort of a lucky break, because I actually lost weight during my first trimester. Having done that, I've now only gained 8 pounds total, and my third trimester starts next week (by now, most books state that the average expectant mom has gained 12-17 pounds). So I can still fit in most of my regular clothes. I haven't bought any maternity clothes yet, and of course I'm resisting that. I recently picked up some drawstring capri pants for summer, figuring the drawstring waist would expand as I do. The biggest problems I've had clothing-wise are: (1) staying away from shoes with a heel and (2) finding decent business wear that will grow with me.

Posted by Kitty at 08:26 AM | Comments (2)