New blog

It's been a while. I've started a lot of entries but have yet to finish any of them. I think I'm just in one of those periods where I don't have much to say.

Except about books! I always have something to say about books. Especially when I've had two drinks. So I started a blog where I get drunk and talk about what I'm reading. It all began (like so many great adventures) with my hatred of Jonathan Franzen. Come on over!



Bridal shop of horrors

About a year ago, one of my best friends from Indianapolis asked me to be maid of honor in her upcoming wedding. You could've knocked me over with a feather. Part of the issue was her lead-in: she took a deep breath, sighed it out, and then said, "Look, I have to ask you something, and I know how you're going to feel about it, but will you be my maid of honor?" And she was right. I didn't want to be asked -- not because I don't love her, not because I'm not incredibly honored and thrilled, but because seriously, I am the last person any sane individual would choose for such a distinction. Not only am I apathetic and uninformed when it comes to the event preparation aspect of weddings, I also look awkward in formal wear, don't speak well in front of large groups of people and live 2,000 miles away in California. "Jesus, are you sure?" I kept saying even as she kept saying, "I know, I know, I know." But even as we were protesting to each other, we were both bawling like babies. And so the deal was done.

So far, being her maid of honor has been a textbook case of deadbeat bride meets deadbeat bridesmaid: she hasn't asked me to do a thing, and I, dutifully, have responded by doing nothing. This is my second go-round on the bridesmaid beat, and both times have been remarkably low-key, characterized by cool-ass women who put the bridezilla myth to bed with every shrug of their awesome shoulders. Whenever I ask my friend what I can do to help, she just responds, "You can stand next to me during my wedding." Commence feeling jealous NOW.

However, one duty is unavoidable, and that's the bridesmaids' dress. I thought I had it bad with my cousin's wedding a couple of years back. She selected her bridesmaids' dresses at a small boutique in Detroit, which meant that over here in LA I had to go to a bridal warehouse solely for the purpose of being measured. In case you're curious, walking in and announcing that you're just there to get your measurements taken is not the best way to elicit friendliness from salespeople. After enduring that experience, I had to call in my measurements to the Detroit boutique, which occasioned this lovely exchange:

Cat: So I'm a BLAH BLAH in the hips, a BLAH BLAH in the waist and a BLAH BLAH in the bust.
Salesgirl: Wait, read those to me again.
Salesgirl: Can you hold, please?

[twenty minutes later]

Manager: Hi, this is the manager. I understand there's a problem with your measurements?
Cat: Oh, is there? They're just BLAH BLAH, BLAH BLAH and BLAH BLAH.
Manager: I see. Do you have measuring tape handy?
Cat: Yeah . . .
Manager: Let's redo them.

[pause while I strip down to my underwear to wrap measuring tape around myself]

Cat: They're still BLAH and BLAH and BLAH.
Manager: That can't be right. According to those, you're a 2 up top and a 10 down below.

So, let's review: according to this woman, my tits are somehow eight sizes smaller than my ass. Now, I'm not saying I'm Heidi Klum, but when I look in the mirror I see a vague hourglass shape, not a big fat triangle. It'd be one thing if she said, "Oh, according to these sizes, you're a 10." I'd be like, "That's not my usual size, but I guess bridalwear runs small." But a 2 on top and a 10 on the bottom? Lady, were you sent to this earth from the planet Golrog 7 with no other mission than to make innocent girls feel like circus freaks?

She went on to try and talk me into ordering a size 10 dress, adding that I would of course have to have the bust taken in because my body is so weird. I informed her that I had never in my life worn a size 10 and that I was sure an 8 would do the job, considering that at most stores I wear a motherfucking 4 and have passed up plenty of nachos in order to do so THANK YOU VERY MUCH, and she acquiesced with the kind of resigned sigh that seemed to say, "Okay, you vain bitch from hell, but don't come crying to me when you can't get this thing over your head." A couple of months later the dress showed up and it fit perfectly, so I'm still not clear on what all the fuss was about, unless it was just God's way of saying, "Not only are you not the one getting married, but you're also fat, you fucking loser!"

I had a much better experience this weekend at the David's Bridal near the Burbank airport (and I challenge you to find a single individual who's ever uttered THOSE particular words before). Some people have an attitude about David's Bridal, but let's be real: whether you acquire your bridesmaid's dress at an elegant boutique where you sip champagne from a glass flute while ten women dressed in black react to your every gesture or pick it up at a discount store where everyone ignores you in favor of bickering about whose turn it is to go on break, you're still NEVER GOING TO WEAR IT AGAIN, so who really cares. At least David's Bridal doesn't measure you before you even put on a dress. They ask what size you normally wear, add a billion to it and hand you a garment that looks about right except for the twelve-digit number printed on the tag. I'm dying to know whether wedding dresses are equally sized down. I mean, here you are, trying to decide what you're going to wear on your big day, wanting to look more beautiful and radiant than you've ever looked in your life, and you've got some woman in a polyester pantsuit telling you you're twelve sizes larger than you were yesterday? Come on.

The brides in the fitting room area of David's Bridal seemed to be having a lovely time, which is nice, but back at the register things were not going so well: a bride-to-be was having shoe color selection issues. While I was waiting for the saleslady to get a manager to void the transaction in which she accidentally charged me for three gold dresses with silver lace overlay instead of one -- a very bizarre mistake, since I am not and have never been a triplet -- the shoe bride asked my opinion. "I don't know," I said. "I think you should just get whatever color you want. No one's going to see them anyway." She frowned and said, "Are you a bridesmaid?"

And THAT, right there, is the problem with acquiring a bridesmaids' dress -- the second-class-citizenship of it all. The bride is the queen of the bridal store -- not because she is the one getting married, but because she is the one who, on top of buying a $500+ dress, is going to sucker a bunch of innocent bridesmaids into buying a $150+ dress from the same store. It's economic incentivism out the yang. I'm not going to be making any costly secondary purchases from David's Bridal, and everyone knows it. I'm not the one getting married; I'm the one holding up the train of the $500+ dress so it won't get dirty -- you know, in case the bride decides to wear it again, for all those formal funerals she goes to in South Korea.

So here's my latest get-rich-quick scheme, and I am pretty sure this one is a winner: I'm going to open a chain of stores JUST FOR BRIDESMAIDS. In my stores, the bridesmaid will be queen. She will be waited on hand and foot, plied with cocktails and brownies, and her dresses will be sized up to the point that she'll think vodka tonics have acquired magical weight reduction properties overnight. "I never realized I was a size negative 22 until I visited Cat's Second-Wave Feminist Bridesmaid Paradise!" will be what my patrons say. My dress-buying watchword will be, "Could someone feasibly reuse this as an outfit for her company Christmas party?" I'll have flat-screen TVs playing helpful instructional videos with titles like "How to let everyone know that you're not doing the whole catch-the-bouquet thing because you're cool, not because you're a sad cat lady" and "Pinpointing the exact moment during the reception when it is permissible to exchange your high heels for flip-flops." I'll have divorce statistics painted all over the walls. And if anyone starts to cry, I'll play a recording of a screaming baby until they perk right up.


I did this instead of getting drunk

Our apartment is technically a duplex, although I never refer to it that way. I'm pretty sure that out of all the words used to classify domiciles -- studio, apartment, townhouse, bungalow, and so on and so on up the income scale -- "duplex" is the only one that sounds like a skin disease. Also, here in LA I think it's douchey to ever call your residence anything but "apartment," unless it's an actual house, in which case you can call it your house but then are required to add a clause immediately explaining how it is that you came to have a house -- i.e., "We could always go to my house, but it is in Watts," or "I'd invite you guys over to my house, but my mom hates unexpected visitors." Otherwise you're just putting on airs. Whether you realize it or not, you're subtly letting other people know that your place has some expensive characteristic that distinguishes it from theirs, such as stairs. That's no small faux pas to make in a city where some people are living in studio apartments so small they're forced to keep their toilet paper in the kitchen, not that this has happened to me.

So I never call me and Henry's place a duplex, though that's what it is. It's a house that's been divided into two apartments, one upstairs and one downstairs, with two front doors opening onto a shared stoop and two back doors opening onto a lawn that is supposed to be shared, but that our downstairs neighbors are pretending is all theirs because they're parents, so they're allowed to do whatever they want and we have to take it. It's really quite ironic how put-out they are about having two unmarried, late-hours-keeping, noise-making yupsters upstairs, because if we were just like them, they'd have no leverage in their incessant struggle for power. Sometimes I think I'd like to have a baby just to piss them off. I get lost in a revenge fantasy where their excuse for everything shitty and self-involved that they do -- "It's not about us, it's about the kids" -- has been completely invalidated. If I had a baby right now, I'd wake it up in the middle of the night just so I could stand directly over their bedroom holding it while it screamed. Try ringing my doorbell to complain about that, parents! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA SUCK IT.

But I digress. My point is that I now have a front door opening directly onto the street, which I haven't had since I was still living in my parents' house. Also, this happens to be an area of LA where houses actually outnumber apartment buildings, which would make me feel quite grown-up and accomplished if it weren't so generally annoying. Between the bazillion-year-old hyper-religious crank next door who complains to our landlord that we have lights on at night -- the horror! -- and the awful blond mom across the street who screams at her nanny in the front yard and loses at least one of her eighty-nine massive hounds every single night, LA neighborhood life has turned out to have little in common with neighborhood life where I grew up.

But there is -- or was -- one thing to look forward to, and that was Halloween. For the first time in a decade, I was living in a place where I could reasonably expect trick-or-treaters, and I was stoked. I had my big bag of candy all ready, and as the sun went down last night, I waited eagerly for the doorbell to ring. Standing in the kitchen, I could see kids in costume walking by on the sidewalk, giggling and having an awesome time. YET NONE OF THEM RANG.

I went out the front door and observed that the downstairs neighbors had extinguished all of their lights, suggesting that they weren't home. However, from the street this made it look as if no one was home, and isn't that just so typical of them? Because they have better things to do than hand out candy on Halloween, they think nothing of ruining it for me. YES, THEY WERE PROBABLY JUST BEING GOOD ECO-MINDED ANGELENOS AND CONSERVING ENERGY. I don't care. Everything they do sucks.

Having figured out why the doorbell wasn't ringing, I grabbed a book and my sack of candy and sat on the front step for about an hour. During this time, I saw almost as many groups of children go walking by as I did girls in slutty costumes, which is saying a lot. YET NONE OF THEM APPROACHED ME FOR CANDY. Not one. Many even ran across the busy street in front of my house to hit up the blond mom's place, while I just sat there feeling like the last one to get picked in gym class. Eventually I got discouraged, not to mention cold, and went inside. Now I have this giant bag of candy, which two months from now I'll affectionately know as "extra five pounds I cannot seem to burn off no matter how much I work out."

How could blond mom, with her verbal abuse and raging hounds and general suckiness, attract trick-or-treaters while I didn't? It took me a few minutes of observation, but finally I figured it out: theatrics. She'd festooned her gate with fake spiderwebs, put a cut-out pumpkin on the door and hung purple and orange lights. Meanwhile, I was sitting on an ill-lit stoop with a book, looking at best as if I was enjoying the night air and at worst like a probable child molester. Oh, LA, even your simple childhood traditions are competitive. Next year I'm going to have this place so Halloweened out that it looks like the Addams Family mansion. In the meantime, I'm going to go overdose on Sweet Tarts.


Jet lag

10 p.m. Saturday:

Brain: I know you've been awake for 24 hours at this point, including a 12-hour fight during which you could not be persuaded to take a nap because you are a stubborn bitch from hell, but let's try and stay awake to the end of this three-page article in the New Yorker, okay?
Body: Why should I?
Brain: Because I haven't read anything in English for a week, that's why. Because no matter the circumstances, it feels lame to go to bed at 10 on a Saturday, that's why. Because LOOK AT ALL THESE BIG WORDS, IN ENGLISH, THAT I CAN READ AND UNDERSTAND. JUST LOOK AT THEM. Aren't you proud of me?
Body: I'll tell you what I'm proud of. I'm proud that I carried your lazy ass around on foot for six hours a day for the past week, in spite of the fact that you have not exercised me that much in years and insisted on encasing me in fashionable instead of comfortable shoes because you are neurotic about people thinking you're American. That's what I accomplished this week. Now shut up and pass out sitting up with all the lights on.
Brain: No! Must fight fatigue. Must . . . fight . . . fa . . .

12 a.m. Sunday:

Body: And . . . ACTIVATE!
Brain: WHERE AM I?
Body: I know, but I'm not telling.
Brain: OH MY GOD. I'm in some kind of monument, and I fell asleep in it, and now I'm embarrassed!
Body: Tee hee hee.
Brain: I'm in the catacombs and there are bones next to me! I'm in my friend's apartment and she left in the middle of the night and I can't call her because my phone doesn't work here!
Body: You are tripping your BALLS off!
Brain: I lost my passport! I lost my credit card! I lost my phone! I'll never be able to get home!
Body: Remember last week, when you insisted on feeding me at least four glasses of red wine every night and then only gave me five hours at a time to sleep them off? TASTE MY SWEET REVENGE.

3 a.m. Sunday:

Body: Three, two, one . . .
Body: It's noon. Clearly.
Brain: Then why is it dark out?
Body: Don't worry about the facts right now.
Brain: OMG I've slept through half the day! I spent all this money to come here and I have just wasted a huge chunk of my extremely limited time! FUCK!
Body: This is the most fun I've had in years.
Brain: Wait a minute. This is my bed. I'm at home, and it's three a.m. I'll just go back to sleep.
Body: Not so fast . . .
Brain: But what about work? I have so much to do on Monday!
Body: THERE it is.

5 a.m. Sunday:

Body: I see that you are finally sleeping peacefully. Little do you know that I've still got one more trick up my sleeve. And . . . go!
Brain: WHERE AM I? WHAT TIME IS IT? Oh, right, we've been through this. I'm at home and it's the middle of the night. Guess I'll go back to sleep.
Body: Wait for it . . .


30% imaginary e-mail exchange with the people downstairs

Cat and Henry,

You're probably wondering who rang your doorbell in the middle of the night last night, prompting you to sleep with all the lights on in case an armed and dangerous psychopath was hanging out on the front porch. Well, don't worry--it was just me! See, you probably weren't aware of this, and it's a totally understandable mistake, but I'm pretty sure you forgot to lock your cat in a closet last night before going to bed. That's the only explanation I can think of for the horror we endured, because I know you guys wouldn't intentionally try to ruin our lives and those of our children by allowing the cat to walk around at night -- you know we have the auditory capabilities of jungle predators!

I don't want to sound unreasonable or anything, but going forward we'd really appreciate it if you could restrict the cat from roaming the apartment anytime the sun is down. We'd feel a lot better, and our kids would probably have a much greater chance of getting into Harvard one day. You guys have been great neighbors so far, and have done a really terrific job accommodating all of our insane demands, so we know you'll take care of this promptly. Give us a call sometime today to confirm that you've received this directive or next time there will be an armed and dangerous psychopath on your porch--me!

Just kidding. I'm obviously not insane.

Downstairs Dad

Dear Downstairs Dad,

Sorry for the delay responding! I had a hard time reading your e-mail because my eyes keep shutting from exhaustion. I'd take a nap, but your three-year-old has been screaming at the top of her lungs for the past ninety minutes. It's amazing to me that she's still breathing! What a trooper.

Anyway, I'm really sorry about the cat disturbing your sleep last night. I did the math, and since he weighs about ten pounds and your seven-year-old weighs about fifty, you endured approximately one-fifth of the hell we go through when your son runs back and forth from one end of your apartment to the other for no apparent reason. And even one-fifth of that noise is a lot! So in the future, we'd be happy to crate our cat at night as long as you're willing to crate your children during the day. Sound good?

P.S. About a month ago, our landlord told me you're supposed to be sharing the yard with us, which you're obviously not. I wasn't going to say anything, but now I think I'd like to have a party in it. With music. And youths. And marijuana.

Thanks for the free birth control,


Super freak

I recently watched the entire first season of Hoarders. I don't have cable, so my television viewing selections are spotty and bizarre -- I will watch things that appear on Netflix Instant Access even if they're terrible or depressing, or, in the case of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, make me want to set fire to myself for being a liberal. Why I don't just get cable if I'm going to spend so much time streaming terrible television on the internet is complex. When I first moved to LA I could barely afford food, so I made the Difficult Grown-Up Decision to skip cable. After my first year in the city I was doing a little better financially, but by then I had discovered how much other stuff I could get done if I didn't have the temptation of zoning out in front of the TV for hours, so I decided to see if I could go without cable just a while longer. And now here I am, five years later, the kind of pain-in-the-ass pseudo-intellectual snot who constantly says things like "Oh, I've never seen The Real Housewives of Dubai, but last night I did read The Age of Innocence for the sixteenth time."

Not having TV is kind of like being a vegan: the only real pleasure you can derive from it is the joy of being a smug, condescending jerk. I think I hate it most when everyone but me discusses Top Chef at a social occasion or when I don't have anything to put on while cooking a complex dinner or painting my toenails. Time-Warner sends me these increasingly desperate mailers all the time offering me discounts and free equipment and bundled rate packages and black market kidneys, but they're missing the point. All it would take would be one flier that read, "You could be watching the Food Network while folding your laundry TOMORROW," and I'd break down sobbing and begging for their forgiveness.

But I was originally talking about Hoarders--really, go back and check!--because after watching the first season of the show, I think I might be one. Sort of. I'm a compulsively neat person, which I blame on my father, who systematically instilled his OCD in me over the years to the point that I literally cannot focus on work if there is a single stray item on my desk. I feel mentally disordered when things are disordered. If I want to spend the evening relaxing, I will spend the afternoon cleaning, because how can I truly relax when there are stains on the white kitchen floor OMG. A couple of weeks ago Henry went out of town, and the first thing I did was clean the whole apartment. That evening a friend came over and asked, "Is your place usually this clean?" "No," I said, then crowed triumphantly, "But it will be for the next four days!" See, cohabitation has taught me that you cannot control everything and that nagging your boyfriend about such egregious sins as leaving a receipt on the counter for more than twelve seconds will not improve your relationship, so now I wait until I have the apartment to myself to get my ya-yas out. So NORMAL, right? SO WELL ADJUSTED.

My neatness has a single caveat: it only extends to what I can see. This is where the hoarding part comes into play. Under the bed, behind the closet doors, inside the kitchen cabinets: these are all places where I am a complete and utter mess, because they are invisible. I will only clean and organize them when they literally cannot fit a single additional item, and even then I'll only be doing it in the service of the real objective, which is keeping things off the visible surfaces in the apartment. I recognize that you are not truly a neat freak if you have to don a pith helmet and a spelunker's light in order to exhume your winter coat. And I had to come face-to-face with my own hoarding the other night, when I returned home from the grocery store to discover that the cabinet where I store my food was packed to the gills. I knew things were getting bad in there, but I couldn't do anything about the six-month-old bags of chips with nothing but pulverized crumbs in the bottom, the half-consumed cans of pistachios and almonds, the six almost-drained bottles of white wine vinegar and all the rest of it because--here comes the crazy Hoarders part--it was all covered in honey.

I really did not set out to have a kitchen cabinet stocked with old food covered in honey. What happened is one of those bear-shaped containers of honey, the ones where the lid never seems to close quite tightly enough, got knocked over on the top shelf, but because I can't see the top shelf, I didn't realize this had happened for some length of time. My first clue came when the honey eventually spilled down onto the middle and bottom shelves, from whence it quickly got all over everything. Anything that touched the honey became contaminated, and if I rearranged things, which I had to do quite often in order to cram one more half-used bag of coconut flakes in there, the contaminated items would touch other items, making them sticky and disgusting as well. This is the point that I, as a closet hoarder, think of as PEAK FAILOVER. Something gross has happened in a space, and because I did not take care of it right away, it has spread to the point of being impossible to deal with in a short period of time. SO I JUST KEEP IGNORING IT.

In finally ridding my kitchen cabinet of honey-coated garbage on Sunday, I came face to face with a side of myself I'd rather not acknowledge. The side that keeps every single piece of mail from the bank in a file for years on end, but cannot be bothered to actually open the envelopes. The side that once dealt with an audible brake malfunction for three months by turning up the radio until she couldn't hear it anymore. The side that apparently cannot remember that she has purchased flour at any point in her lifetime, and thus buys bag after bag after bag of Gold Medal, using one cup of each before shoving them in a cabinet, where they spill onto the existing honey spill to create a super-spill that could survive a nuclear holocaust.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a photo of Cabinet Zen:

If you look on the top shelf, you can actually see the bottle of honey with the ill-fitting lid that started this whole thing. There's about an inch of honey left in it, so I washed it off and put it back, standing upright this time. Why? If you've made it through this whole entry, I shouldn't even have to answer that question, but I will anyway: BECAUSE I AM JUST THAT CRAZY.


The curse

One of the amazing things about the birth control pill is how it allows you to predict the arrival of your period down to the nanosecond. One of the shitty things about the birth control pill is also how it allows you to predict the arrival of your period down to the nanosecond. When you know it always shows up between 11 a.m. and noon on Wednesdays--I'm not joking, it's that precise--you can avoid the kinds of routine humiliations alluded to in every tampon commercial since the dawn of time. On the other hand, if it's even an hour late, you get to play a super-fun mental game of Am I Having a Baby? If you're of the male persuasion, you are probably thinking this is stupid. You are probably thinking you would wait for a calm, rational 48 hours before flying into a panic over this sort of thing. To better help you understand the situation, I will now chart for you the awesome interior monologue I experienced yesterday while waiting for my period to show up:

12 PM: I realize it's noon and fly to the bathroom in a panic, fully expecting to have ruined a perfectly decent pair of underpants as a result of losing track of time. But it's all good. I make a mental note to check back in a couple of hours.

2 PM: Still nothing.

4 PM: This is the first occasion for mild alarm. I try to remember the last time my period was five hours late and recall that it was a couple of years ago, immediately following a week-long business trip to Chicago during which I had been taking my pills at all kinds of weird hours because I was constantly in the company of co-workers. I have not been on any such business trips in the past month. I have taken each pill at 6:30 p.m. sharp, when the alarm on my cell phone told me to. SO WHERE IS MY FUCKING PERIOD?

4:45 PM: Now I am locked into a deadly standoff. It could show up at any time, making exercise a dicey proposition; or it could not show up, meaning I have bigger problems. I decide the best approach is to eschew working out in favor of getting worked up, and proceed to mentally compose an angry letter to the manufacturers of my obviously completely useless pills. I try to remember what the effectiveness rate is supposed to be for the pill -- is it 98%? So does that mean that if you have sex 100 times, you'll get pregnant twice? This strikes me as shocking and irresponsible. I will sue everyone who did not explicitly point this out to me, including my gynecologist and my boyfriend.

6 PM: OH HOLY JESUS, I AM HAVING A BABY. I dimly recall browsing the baby shower registry of a pregnant friend and seeing something on there called "nipple guards." I don't want to know what those are! I'm too young and cool for nipple guards! WHY, WHY, WHY WAS I SO STUPID AND CAVALIER WITH MY FUCKING FERTILITY? I should've been using six kinds of birth control at once. Better yet, I never should've had sex in the first place. All the right-wing nutjobs were right. Abstinence is the way to go. Oh, god, I am going to have to buy nipple guards, and breast pumps, and move back to Indiana so I have somewhere to put my illegitimate love child other than the bathtub. WHAT HAVE I DONE?

7:30 PM: I return from the welcome respite of a quick dinner with Jess congratulating myself on staying calm throughout the meal. By now my period will have shown up, and I will see how silly I was being. OH MY FUCKING GOD, YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. EIGHT AND A HALF HOURS LATE. In birth control time, that's like TWO WEEKS. I briefly debate putting my fears to rest with a quick trip to Rite-Aid for a pregnancy test, but then a mixture of deeply confused logic and misplaced snobbiness takes over: what if the hormones from my birth control somehow screw up the test? And also, why isn't there somewhere that isn't Rite-Aid to buy pregnancy tests--like a nice, clean boutique with wood floors and track-lighting, where sympathetic female employees in their twenties offer you herbal tea and reassure you that it's probably all in your head? I can't face buying a pregnancy test at Rite-Aid. I'd rather die.

8 PM: What I'd really like right now is a nice, soothing glass of wine, but that seems kind of irresponsible. What will I say to my deformed child, irreparably damaged by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome -- "Mommy was so panicked over the possibility of your existence that she had no choice but to drink"? Then I recall the many drinks I consumed over the weekend, back in what I now realize were the last carefree days of my life. Oh GOD, not only am I having a baby, but I am having a messed-up baby. The doctors will all shake their heads in disbelief at my irresponsibility. Other children will make fun of it, and dogs will slink away in fear at the sight of its tragically malformed face.

9 PM: At this point the catastrophizing has reached a peak level where I am conflating all disastrous scenarios into one: I will live in a sad, kind of scary apartment building in my hometown, and when people see me and my freakish alcohol baby scuttling between the front door and the car they will cluck. "What a shame," they'll say, "but then, this is what comes of thinking you can have it all."

10 PM: Having cycled through all the worst-case scenarios, I try to think practically. It's worse.

11 PM: Oh. There it is. Twelve hours late? Really? I mean, better late than never, but come on. At this point I mentally resolve to write down this experience so that I remember it for next time, sparing myself another unpleasant day of panic.

11:01 PM: ALL NIGHTLY ACTIVITIES ARE SUFFUSED WITH JOY. I am not brushing pregnant teeth! I am not washing a pregnant face! I am not applying under-eye cream to pregnant fine lines and wrinkles! All my cute, overpriced clothes will fit indefinitely, and the scale says I have actually lost weight! It will be years and years and YEARS before I have to find out what exactly nipple guards are guarding against! Hallelujah!