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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Air Guitar is a Thing of the Past, and the Loss of Pepper

When I was fourteen years old, I saw this really cool-looking guitar in a music store in Edmonton. I was living with my mother and step-father, which was sort of odd for me since I'd lived most of my life with my (very abusive) grandparents. (Don't let the semi-positive change fool you--they weren't the greatest people to be raised by either.) We spent a fair bit of time in this mall for the couple of years I actually spent living with them, and every trip found us visiting the music store. My step-father played guitar, though not particularly well, and we always ended up getting new instruments like a banjo, a harmonica, I'm pretty sure there was a tambourine in there somewhere, and then we got a really nice electronic piano. It was one of the first that were touch-sensitive like a real piano, and it played really nicely. Full set of keys, you name it. I had spent much of my younger years, from the age of four and up, taking piano lessons, and I had competed and performed in a wide variety of places, so pianos were nothing new to me. A guitar, though...that was what all the cool kids played.

Somehow I knew, when I saw that guitar hanging from the hooks, that my mother and step-father would be getting that for me for my fifteenth birthday. I saw my step-father ask to see it, and then he played around on it a little bit. Maybe it was the fact that it was a copy of a B.C. Rich Warlock, which has a very distinctive shape, that assured me he couldn't possibly be looking at it for his own collection. Case in point:
B.C. Rich Warlock
As you can see, it's not exactly the kind of guitar that would appeal to conservative step-fathers. Mind you, the one he was looking at was a copy, with a very odd brand name, called Series A. It looked almost identical to the above image, except mine had a whammy bar...or tremolo bridge, if you want to use the technical name.

And so, along comes my fifteenth birthday, and surprise surprise, I got the guitar as a gift. Now, it had been $200 in the store, so part of me was surprised they would spend that much money, and yet I still somehow knew that guitar was coming my way. I was ecstatic. I could finally feel like one of the cool kids. (I had been very unpopular in the small town I grew up in, but when I moved to Edmonton I was actually very popular, except the scars from being bullied could never allow me to believe I really was cool.)

Now, as wonderful as the moment of receiving the guitar was, it could not overcome the disappointment I felt when I couldn't play the damn thing well. I had played my step-father's electric guitar and done fairly well with it, but with this guitar I could do nothing about the horrendous rattle I got from pretty much every chord. I mean, I already have short fingers and small hands, so playing guitar is more challenging for me at the best of times. On the plus side, I've got pretty strong hands from playing piano and typing my whole life (I started writing on an electric typewriter when I was twelve, rather than four like when I started playing piano, but that's still a lot of my life). Having a guitar that rattled the way it did completely ruined any enjoyment I had when I learned all the notes for the melody guitar of Breaking the Law by Judas Priest (I had the official book, but that was really the only song I wanted to play, despite them being my favourite band).

I thought things would get better when I bought myself a small Peavey amp, since less of the rattle would come through the amp. It helped a little, except that I always played at night, when I was awake, which meant keeping the volume down. No matter how much quieter an electric is when it's not plugged in, when you're parents are across the hall from you it's still too loud, so even listening on headphones wouldn't have worked for me.

Eventually I just gave up on the whole thing and sold the guitar, not picking up another one for a few years. A friend of mine had a limited edition Gibson of some sort, however. After some time spent searching online, I think it might have been an M III, because that's the only body shape I've found that makes sense. More than twenty years ago that guitar was worth at least two grand, which tells you what it might cost today. The point is, I picked up her guitar and found out I actually had a little bit of skill. It was a huge shock to me. I sounded like I was playing real music. Damn!

Not being able to afford several thousand dollars for a guitar, however, meant I just let the whole thing go for a couple of decades. Every once in a while someone would have a guitar and I would play on it a little bit, but I never quite got the enthusiasm back. Until a few weeks ago.

My fiancé has at least five guitars, and ever since he moved in they've just been sitting there when he wasn't playing them. He handed me one of the acoustics one time, and I fiddled for an hour or so, but my nails were too long, and my fingertips got sore right away. Again I put it down and didn't touch another guitar for months. Finally I tried his Fender Strat, which wasn't bad at all, and then he had me try his Japanese-made SG (one of the ones with the thicker neck join so they don't break, among other improvements to the original SG). That's when I knew I could really pick it up again. Despite the fact that I preferred the body style and aesthetic of the Fender, I liked the action on the SG much more, and that's what really counts when you're trying really, really hard to play barre chords.

As a side note, barre is spelled three different ways, and they're all correct when referring to guitar chords. Go figure. Bar, barr, and barre. Yet we wonder why people can't freakin' spell! Same word, same meaning, same pronunciation, but three different spellings. English is stupid.

Anyhoo. Suddenly I was practicing for hours every single day for weeks. My fingers were damn near bleeding, and hitting something with my fingertips was pretty painful for a while. They're actually still sensitive, despite the rather impressive calluses I have now. The funny thing is, I still have a lot of surface numbness from my accident last summer on half of my left hand, so I'm not sure what made me decide to make my fingertips numb, too, but suddenly I could not stop playing the damn guitar.

One of the first things I did was print off the sheet music for a David Bowie song that makes my guy emotional, because he thinks of me when he hears it. It's Wild is the Wind, and believe me, even after weeks of practicing it I still suck at it. The weird chords in that song are a serious pain in the ass for someone with small hands. From a C to a Cmaj9, and from an Am to an Am/G, are the two most vivid difficulties I've had with it. Every time my fiancé was out of the house, I was practicing that song. I have printed dozens of other songs, but I hid that one, hoping one day to surprise him.

You see, I had decided I was going to record that song for him for our anniversary present, which is exactly what I did. I laid down a track for the so-called drums by using a program called Stagelight. Now, I can actually play the drums, but I don't happen to have any so I was stuck using fake ones. I just used a closed hat for a nice ticking sound in the background, so that I could keep time properly. Then I laid down a rhythm guitar track with just chord strums. I finally laid down a melody track with a fairly intense bit of picking throughout the song, but based strictly on the chord shapes. The last track was the vocals, and let me tell you, that was a serious pain in the ass. How the hell is someone supposed to sound good while singing off-key? Never mind the weird off-timing of the singing, and then the long stretches without any vocals at all, right in the middle of the verses and the chorus.

Long story short, I finished the recording the afternoon of our anniversary, after finally having to kick my fiancé out of the house to get it done (such nice behaviour for our anniversary, I know). I wasn't even with him when he heard it the first time, because I sent it to him through Facebook as a PM. He did, however, react rather emotionally to it, so it was a gift that came off well. I played it for him later on my headphones so he could get the full gist of it, and again he was quite emotional about it. I guess you could say he liked it.

Just in case, however, I had already made plans to take him out for dinner. I'm hopeful, not stupid. We had a really good time for our anniversary. What did he do for me, aside from simply being the most wonderful man I've ever known throughout our entire relationship? Well, he got us tickets for a fundraiser dinner that we thought was going to be on our anniversary, but turned out to be on another date. It's for a cafe we go to where you can buy buttons that people can use to pay for food if they can't afford a meal, or even just for coffee to keep warm in the winter. We used to go there together a lot when it was warmer and I wasn't in hibernation mode, and he goes there quite a bit on his own. As soon as I saw the event, I thought it would be a great thing for our anniversary. He bought the tickets on the spot. So, basically we'll have taken each other out for dinner two consecutive weekends. For me, especially in winter, leaving the house two weekends in a row is pretty much unheard of, but my guy is worth it.

I haven't stopped playing guitar, even though one of my biggest incentives was learning to play well enough to record that song. I do take a day or two off now and then, but I keep printing off new songs to learn, which keeps my interest level high. There's no shortage of music I like, so I look forward to learning a lot of songs.

My ADD really shows itself when I practice, though. I'll play a few licks of Metallica's One, veer off to Blink 182's Adam's Song (which, if you know both songs, you'll realize they are enough alike to be confusing when you're learning both at the same time, even though I don't drop the tuning for Adam's Song), play Dan Seals' Everything that Glitters for a bit, add Iron Maiden's Wasted Years, and then bounce back to my old stand-by, Judas Priest's Breaking the Law. There's some Dwight Yoakam in there, with his version of Suspicious Minds, a whole bunch of Martina McBride, etc. I have a collection of 59 songs that I like so far. Most of which I can play at least some of the fingering parts, if not all, and I can generally play all of the chords now. Barre chords still give me trouble, especially getting my fingers in the position to start, but I'm improving.

I still need a lot of improvement, but I've become damn stubborn about it. Okay, I'm always stubborn, but I wasn't specifically stubborn about learning to play guitar, as evidence by my quitting all those years ago. Now I put in an unbelievably amount of time practicing.

How's the book coming along, you ask? Uh, okay, that's kind of another story. Book three is on its third iteration, but it's not too bad. At least it's way better than it was, plot-wise, and for the third draft I stopped repeating myself and pontificating...I think. Part of the reason I'm writing this blog post, actually, is to get myself back in the habit of typing something out. Believe me, you really can regain momentum if you just start writing something...anything.

I did have one major issue that was making it hard for me to write, understandably. One of my ferrets died very unexpectedly, and honestly it's still killing me. Not only am I grieving for him, despite it being nearly five months after his death, but I modeled one of the ferrets in my books after him. It was Pepper that we lost, on December 8th, and Pickle is his counterpart in the book. Having to write a scene with Pickle/Pepper in it was killing me. And there's the stuff I wrote while he was dying. I knew he was sick, and was waiting for the vet to be able to see him. I was trying to keep busy. That part will probably not make it into the book, because I started writing a new version entirely, but I can't bear to delete it. Normally I have no problem ridding myself of writing that I've rejected as being crap, but in this case I'm keeping it. Just like I'm keeping the small Pepsi bottle Pepper last chewed on as a fantastically noisy chew toy. I don't care if that makes me weird. I'm okay with being weird.

It's been tough getting back into it, despite the book itself being pretty damned exciting. I'm enthusiastic about it, but I'm a horrible procrastinator. Especially when something is painful for me to do. This book is now inextricably tied with the death of my much-loved ferret, and every moment of writing is something I kind of have to grit my teeth through, so I've been avoiding it. I'm about a quarter of the way done the final book in the trilogy. There will most likely be other books that will tie in to this series, but they will be separate trilogies on their own if I choose to go ahead with them. After all, a trilogy is meant to tell the full story arc. Tacking more books onto the end wouldn't work very well, since there shouldn't be any more loose ends to tie up after this one is done.

Shortly after Pepper died, I also got very sick. I was down for about a month if I remember correctly. I spent days in a blurry state of mind, with almost no voice, a horribly sore throat, dizziness, etc. Not a lot of fun. I stayed away from my future step-son because I didn't want him getting sick. I would try to carry on a conversation with my fiancé or daughter, and it wouldn't last long before my voice gave out again. Sometimes uttering a single sentence was too much for me. I'm pretty sure it was strep throat, though I didn't bother going to the doctor for it. A lot of people I knew got really sick, too, and they sure as hell didn't catch it from me. Hard to catch something from someone in another country, and nearly all my friends are people I know on Facebook. I'm not the most social of people when it comes to the in-person thing. It's actually kind of a miracle I met my fiancé, but then we did meet on Facebook.

I'm not sure if I mentioned my accident in any of my blog posts either, though I know there haven't been many of them. When I mentioned not having much feeling in my left hand, there's a good reason. The reason? I'm a freaking klutz. I made a couple of over-easy eggs for my fiancé because he was hungry and he doesn't react well to the lowered blood sugar (he gets really absent-minded and confused, plus frustrated and irritated). I didn't want to send him off to the kitchen to cook something for himself in that state of mind, so I decided to make breakfast. The problem is, I was hungry, too, which means my hypoglycemia can decide to kick in rather fiercely and I start to freak out a bit. I was carrying the eggs back to our bedroom when my toe caught on a box. I am completely incapable of regaining my balance these days, and so I fell right into his plate of eggs. Scared the shit out of my daughter, who was also in the living room at the time, and my fiancé came tearing out of the bedroom to see what happened.

I didn't think it was that bad, though the plate had broken. Of course, I hadn't seen the blood yet, and the numbness in my hand seemed a normal reaction to a falling injury. It wouldn't be the first time a body part had gone temporarily numb on me like that. So, my fiancé helped me to the bedroom and got his first aid kit. After seeing the wound on my wrist, I felt more than a little sick. I knew then that there was nerve damage. We went to a clinic, I got some stitches, and then I was sent home after being told I'd be contacted by the plastic surgeon, who may or may not do surgery on me. About a month later I was getting surgery. Apparently the nerve was trying to regrow through a neuroma (a tumour caused by trauma in my case), which explained why I was getting an electrical zapping/zinging sensation whenever the injured area was touched. I had a partial cast on it for a couple of weeks. I was supposed to be able to type, though I really couldn't because it was covering the palm of my hand.

I know, I know...all these excuses! It does seem like this book has been jinxed right from the beginning. Admittedly, I took quite a bit of time off when my fiancé and I started dating, and then moved in together. I figured, after putting out three books in less than a year (one being the anthology I edited and wrote short stories for), that I deserved a bit of a break. Apparently life thought I needed a much longer one. Life is really starting to piss me off. Now I'm obsessive about playing the guitar, and have gone back to playing a lot of computer games, and my sleep schedule is way out of whack.

I also have to adjust for the fact that I'm sharing my bedroom/work space with someone (yes, that someone is my fiancé). I'm just not used to that. I was single for eight years. Happily single. I was not expecting to find someone so amazingly perfect for me. Yet, he basically works freelance as a paralegal, and he was driving for Uber (which wasn't really worth it financially), so he's around almost all the time. Wonderful for us as a couple, but not so great for my self-discipline when it comes to my writing. He would happily give me all the time in the world to write, but I miss him too damn much when he's gone. I mean, yesterday he was only gone while I was sleeping, and I still missed him! We're truly sickeningly sweet and affectionate with one another.

However, the other day I finally started cracking a bit. As much as I love my time with him, I'm very much an isolationist. Even when I don't notice it, that need to be alone starts to build up. When I need my space, I really need my space. I turn into a bitch, where I have to protect him from me. What I need is actual, inviolable work space, where I absolutely cannot be bothered while I'm in that space. The moment someone walks in the bedroom, I'm distracted from what I'm doing. Or if I'm lying on the bed, just plotting out things for the book, he may not realize I'm actually working, and so he starts saying something to me. Believe me, he isn't the kind of guy who would knowingly do that, so he feels horrible about it, but without a sign attached to me that says, "I'm working," there's no way for him to know that's what I'm doing.

We'll figure it out. After all, writers are pretty creative, so if there's a solution out there, I'm sure I'll find it. I just need to think of it like I do in my books. A problem to be solved. Of course, holding up a sign while I'm doing that might be a good idea.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A Glowing Bride - Scottish Steampunk with an Avatar Twist

The more that happens in my life worth writing about, the less time I have to write about it. I know I've been totally quiet on all the political stuff, lately, and frankly it's because I'm disgusted with the whole thing. Instead I focused on personal stuff, which has kind of been necessary. You see, aside from getting involved with a new man last spring, we've got huge plans for ourselves and our relationship. Nothing other people aren't doing, but enough that it keeps us really busy. I've already talked about the fertility thing, and how we're going to a clinic. (Which, by the way, is going to cost us a fortune. Around $10,000 to $15,000 to harvest my eggs in a single batch. So, that's on hold until we have that kind of money. Apparently it's at least as expensive to do it in Canada, as it is in the US, if not more so.)

So, just to be different, my then-boyfriend-now-fiancé and I proposed to one another. We both got engagement rings, too. His is so big he'll have to put it on his right hand when we get to the 'I do' part, and I may have to do the same since I've got short fingers. Two rings on the same finger looks weird on me. Still I love my ring so much. It was supposed to be my wedding ring, but it got here before the one that's supposed to be my engagement ring, so we said to hell with it. We each have amethyst and silver in one of our rings, and rose gold and emerald in the other. I happen to be allergic to nickel, so I can't wear white or yellow gold, but I'm fine with rose gold and pure metals. The emeralds have to do with the fact that we happened to be only a few blocks apart, down Emerald Street in Hamilton, when we met. Yet we had no idea we were even in the same country when we really started talking. Of course, it turned out we'd spoken long before then, because we're part of the same political groups on Facebook.

Well, now the big stuff to deal with is a wedding day, hopefully on our anniversary, but the sad fact remains that we both have other entanglements to get out of, and my fiancé happens to be embroiled in something pretty nasty. I won't discuss that publicly, since it wouldn't be respectful of other people's privacy, but suffice it to say it prevents us setting a firm date.

However, we do have plans. Big plans. We already think we know where we're doing it. They're heritage buildings that they rent out for arts and culture events. It's really inexpensive to rent the place for almost two weeks, so we're going to have something like an art festival in the days surrounding the wedding. I was originally thinking of doing a writing seminar only, but then I realized we could really make the whole thing a lot of fun for everyone. I mean, if people come in from the US and different parts of Canada, I wanted it to be worth it for them. When my fiancé said we should have a ceremony, he was mostly thinking of us writing our own vows, and didn't realize that for me to have people at the wedding, they would have to be people from way out of town. I know very few local people. Four maybe, and that's including my ex and his girlfriend.

From the possibility of a writing seminar, it expanded into various crafts and such. I was thinking a Victorian photo shoot would go along well with a portion of the theme of our wedding, since Steampunk is very much of the Victorian flavour. I also thought it would be good to do proper photo shoots for authors, who will need good headshots for their writing careers. I'll probably hire a make-up artist and hair-stylist to make it all look great. I'll have to have discussions with the various professionals to find out what they'll charge for a day, or for individuals, especially since it will be a group deal, and then any member of the public can pay for either the seminar by itself, or the seminar with the photo shoot. I thought a mug-painting day would be good, too, where wedding guests can do two mugs - one for us as their wedding gift (instead of them trying to figure out what to give us, which is silly at our ages), and one for themselves. A painting class, flower arranging perhaps, where guests can do two arrangements if they like (one for the wedding, and one for themselves).

My dress is going to be very unique, though. I'll say that much. I'm planning to have parts of it glow. My fiancé and I were/are planning to make our own top hats, but I'm debating on an elven circlet or something. At the moment I don't have the time to deal with any of it, but I'm letting the ideas simmer. We'll have LED lights and electroluminescent stuff. An arbour will likely be present, because who doesn't want to get married under an archway??

We're going to have a blast, whatever we do, and so I'll be posting all about it here as we do it. You'll get pictures, of course. And speaking of which, here's our engagement ring shot!
Our Engagement
You can also partially see the lovely lightning bolt-shaped scar I have from my attempt to imitate Harry Potter. Okay, so I tripped and fell into a plate of eggs, the plate broke and severed a nerve, and then I had to have surgery on it to repair the nerve - yay me! Do I do good work or what?

I'm definitely happy to be having all this fun with wedding stuff, despite being too busy dealing with a dead laptop (a story for another time involving juice, that I'm just not ready to talk about yet), and trying to get a book written, while trying to get the podcast show back on track. The thing is, what really makes me happy is being so thoroughly loved, and being with someone I love just as thoroughly. We complement one another in so many ways. I'm ridiculously, madly, head-over-heels in love with him, and I have no doubt he feels exactly the same. It took until we hit our mid-life to find one another, but we finally did. None of this other stuff would matter without that, and I'm not at all stressed about dealing with that stuff either. It's not stressful when you know it's just something you'll have a blast with.

So many people go through life looking for the wrong things. They want someone to rescue them, or someone who has money. In truth, what we need is to be with someone where it wouldn't matter if we were living on the street. I know very well that I could sit snuggled up next to him on a sidewalk, and wouldn't even care. I don't have to have money or a house. I don't need cars. I didn't have to have fancy jewelry, though it's nice we were able to give one other rings that we both liked and picked out for ourselves. I just needed to know I was accepted for exactly who I am, and that we could sit down and talk to one another for hours on end. The chemistry doesn't hurt either! I'm just so blissfully content, and I have a hard time explaining how very right everything feels now.

Oh, and the Scottish part of all this? My baby wears a kilt in his family tartan...and he wears it very well! ;)

Saturday, 23 July 2016

An Even Bigger Change of Life - Time to Confess

I've been plotting and scheming lately, and it's time to fess up to what I'm doing. Partly because I'm bursting to talk about it, but also because I think it might be helpful to someone if I document this journey I've decided to undertake. I should really say that it's a journey we've decided to undertake, because it involves my boyfriend, too.

The plotting and scheming I refer to has nothing to do with writing, though I still do that of course. After all, I have a trilogy to finish. This is far more personal, however, and I'm sure many will judge me for my decision. Yet, everyone close to me has been cheering us on.

My boyfriend and I have decided to attempt to have a child - well, at least one, possibly two, depending on how things work out. Having a child at our ages (I'm 45 and he's 51) becomes complicated just by itself. On my end there's an additional hiccup. I've had my tubes tied since my early twenties. That combined with the age of my eggs makes things difficult, to say the least. There's little point in getting my tubes untied and trying to conceive by the usual means. We certainly have no problem practicing the maneuvers, but the odds of conception are practically nil. It would be a waste of time and money, most likely, and surgery is always a risk.

This leaves us with IVF, or in vitro fertilization. My eggs will need to be harvested, fertilized, and then implanted at the appropriate moment. From my understanding, this will cost us quite a few thousands of dollars. Are we still going to go through with it? Hell, yeah! For that matter, we're already spending a fair chunk of change just getting ready for it, and we haven't even had our first fertility appointment yet.

Let me explain.

The older eggs get, the less healthy they are. However, until recently doctors believed that we were stuck with the eggs we were born with, and there was nothing we could do to improve on them. Or, if we allowed our egg health to decline there wasn't anything we could do to get it back. Now it's looking like there's a lot we can do to make things better, which includes certain vitamins and nutrients, as well as switching to a fully organic diet. Our food bill skyrocketed this month, and it's probably going to cost me a couple hundred dollars a month for vitamins and such, in addition to buying a water cooler so I can drink spring water rather than tap water with all that chlorine and fluoride in it. I've cut out caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, too. Plus I'm getting out and walking a fair bit.

You're probably wondering if all these changes are making me crazy, and they're really not. I guess it's true what they say. If you want something badly enough, you'll do what you have to do to get it. I used to think of myself as a person who couldn't achieve my goals, and most of that had to do with my writing (and the fact that I'd never published a book). Now I realize I'm perfectly capable of attaining my dreams, seeing as I've got two books published and I know there are more on the way.

How does my boyfriend feel about all of this? Actually, he's even looking forward to potentially crazy mood swings when I have to start injecting myself all the damn time. I was warning him about what I'd heard of the process, and he said he couldn't wait. I thought he was being sarcastic, but apparently he was serious and couldn't wait for the whole thing to happen. Huh. Well, colour me surprised. Honestly I've never known a man who was so into the idea of having kids - with me at any rate.

So far we've gone to my family doctor, and she's referred us to her favourite fertility clinic. They called a few days ago and booked us in for the end of August. It's good timing, seeing as I only started trying to improve my egg health around the end of June, and apparently your egg cycle needs at least 90 days of healthy living, though the full egg-production cycle is 150 days, I believe. By the time we've both been tested for our potential fertility, and they can get me started on the constant injections, it should be a good 90 days of proper nutrition and supplementation.

I haven't yet started the prenatal vitamins, which they recommend as part of the preconception process now, but I'll start that later this week. I just want to keep my folic acid down a bit. They've been doing studies that indicate too much folic acid may be part of what causes autism (through Johns-Hopkins, so I trust the source, though it's not yet peer-reviewed). I'm going to take only half the prenatal vitamins they recommend, and also choose the lowest level of folic acid I can find. I'll still be supplementing with it, in order to prevent spina bifida and other issues, but I don't want to overdo it.

One issue I currently have is the pain medication I'm on for my hips. I've cut back, partly because I had a shot of something called Visco put directly into my left hip joint. I still have to have the other hip done, but my pain has been lowered enough that I can cut back on Gabapentin and Tylenol 3s. The opiates are the worst thing, because they can kill your ovulation, so I'm down to 1.5 to 2 pills a day of those. Gabapentin is mostly an issue once you're pregnant, to the best of my knowledge, though I'm going to do more research on that. I was taking 4 Tylenol 3s a day, so I've cut it to just under a half (on average).

I've lost weight since my boyfriend and I got together, which helps with my hip pain, of course, and allows me to be even more active. Eating nothing but healthy food is helping me lose additional weight. Being overweight affects ovulation as well, and since the plan is for hyper-ovulation so they can extract a bunch of eggs at once, I really need to make sure I'm ovulating.

I'm also avoiding things called xenoestrogens. They're in damn near everything, including hand lotion, nail polish, shampoo, body wash, lipstick, etc. And the kicker is that you absorb 100% of what goes on your skin, as opposed to only about 10% of any xenoestrogens you might ingest by mouth. Your organs actually filter out 80% to 90% of what you might get orally, but they can't do anything to filter out what your skin absorbs.

What do they do that's so bad? Well, they act like estrogen, and too much estrogen makes you infertile. It can cause things like micropenis in boys - I'm assuming it's when women are exposed to it during pregnancy, since the penis is already formed when the baby comes out, but it could also impact the eggs in a way that causes it. I'm not certain of my facts there, but I'd just as soon avoid having to deal with that issue with my potential son. Then you get things like breast growth in men (who use products that have xenoestrogens in them), and lowered testosterone.

In order for women to be fertile, and for proper implantation to occur as well, it's progesterone that they need. Too much estrogen is pretty bad. I'm actually taking hormone supplements to regulate estrogen levels, and that's correcting any issues I've had with my periods, too. I never really noticed it because my periods were never that bad, but I have less cramping and other symptoms usually synonymous with PMS. Thankfully I've never been particularly moody with PMS either, though I certainly get plenty moody when some guy asks me if I'm PMS-ing just because he's done something to piss me off.

Speaking of periods, though, I've switched to organic cotton tampons, seeing as the other ones are made with cotton that's been sprayed with oodles of pesticides. It never even occurred to me before that it would be an issue, but apparently cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and it's not a good idea to have that stuff anywhere near your nethers. Those tissues are highly absorbent, and pesticides can also act as xenoestrogens. Yippee.

One thing I haven't done is switch my wardrobe to safe fabrics. I figure any cotton stuff I buy to wear will, or has been, washed umpteen zillion times. Nylons and polyesters aren't good in general, though, so I think I'll work on at least using natural fabrics where anything bad can be washed out. I tried hunting down the organic cotton underwear, but there was a sizing chart issue and so I had no idea what size to order. Plus my weight loss has changed my underwear size.

Thankfully I didn't have a lot of bad habits that needed to be broken. I don't smoke and I don't take illicit drugs - not even pot for pain simply because it doesn't work for me, and it apparently has an effect on fertility, particularly in women. I drank a bit of alcohol once every couple of years until pretty recently. When my boyfriend and I got together we would have a beer or two when we went out, which was pretty frequent at first, but I started to go back to my old habit of not drinking even before I started on this fertility kick.

My diet was the worst thing. Too much sugar and too many preservatives. Granted, I wasn't going for fast food at all. The worst I had there was Subway. Now everything has changed. I drink black, decaf, organic coffee. I drink lots more water, and I also drink herbal tea sweetened with organic honey (or whatever the pure, unpasteurized stuff is called). I'm rather shocked at how well I'm doing. I'm taking Maca Root capsules, which are supposed to be amazing for fertility, but I still have to add a few other supplements, like CoQ10, the aforementioned prenatal vitamins, and Royal Jelly.

I probably sound like a nut with all this, but I'm looking at very bleak odds here. I have to produce not only a high number of eggs, but ones that are as healthy as possible. I also have to make sure my uterus is healthy. Good times. Luckily I'm not the type that gets stressed out easily, because that can be a huge factor in fertility issues. My boyfriend and I have both procreated before, so if we're infertile it'll be a recent development rather than a lifelong issue, so making healthy choices could make all the difference.

My boyfriend is also pretty familiar with this whole thing, seeing as he was a sperm donor before his son was born. He was extremely fertile in that respect, so I've got very high hopes that this will work out. So long as there is a batch of healthy eggs (or embryos) to be used, a woman can carry a successful pregnancy well after menopause. According to my doctor at my last physical, I'm nowhere near menopause. I guess the average age in Canada is around 51 or 52, and I've shown no signs of perimenopause. Everything is as regular as can be.

You might wonder, if I wanted more children, why I had my tubes tied - and especially at such a young age (I had just turned 22). Well, there are a few reasons. First, my doctor at the time recommended it. I couldn't take the pill, and an IUD made me bleed for two and a half months. The only other options for birth control back then were extremely inconvenient for anyone in a monogamous relationship. I'd had a total of three miscarriages by then (one before my daughter was born and two after), and I didn't want to keep going through that. It turned out to have something to do with the boyfriend I had at the time, rather than my own physiology, so I wasn't happy that I'd 'sterilized' myself for no good reason. In retrospect I think the doctor was tired of seeing the plethora of young women getting knocked up so they could go on welfare or 'trap' some young man into taking care of them. I could be wrong, but it's the impression I have.

Strangely, the people I thought who would be so against us doing this, have been very supportive and encouraging. We've been told that we're exactly the kind of people who should be having children, so I feel pretty good about that. Even my adult daughter seems pretty happy and excited about it. We were out shopping one day, and she suggested we go look at baby stuff. Apparently any children my boyfriend and I have now will be spoiled rotten, because my daughter was looking at all these outfits and saying she was going to buy this, that, or the other thing for 'the kid.'

I'm no better in my level of excitement or prematurity. I've already looked at cribs and stuff. We've discussed names we like, and pretty much all the decisions parents have to make when a baby is born, like breast feeding, circumcision, religion, vaccinations, you name it. We got all the deal-breakers out of the way (or non-starters as my boyfriend calls them), seeing as there wasn't much point spending thousands of dollars to do this if we couldn't agree on some of the more important issues. We've also discussed what to do if there are congenital issues. In one way it's lucky we're going through IVF, because they can actually check if an embryo is healthy before implantation. That doesn't rule out all issues, of course, so we may be faced with tough choices later, but the fact is he's already told me he would never interfere in my right to choose. Of course, I can't imagine being with a man who would.

I did tell him any kids we have would have his last name. I have no interest in carrying on my own last name, with the exception of continuing to use it myself because it's who I am now (and my name has been changed far too many times - something I wrote about in a previous post). He thinks kids should have their father's last name, but not for the reasons you would think. He believes it engenders a deeper sense of responsibility in the father, if his children carry his last name - and some men need that reminder. He doesn't. I already know what kind of father he is, even under less than ideal circumstances, so I have no fears there. If I did I wouldn't have even considered this.

How much is this going to cost? No idea at this point. In the US an egg harvesting cycle would cost about $10,000, and I'm okay with that. Canada's a bit different, however. At least some portions of it will be covered by our healthcare, such as our initial appointment. In fact, Ontario Healthcare actually covers fertility treatments now, but there's a 3-year waiting list and we can't afford to wait that long at our age, so we'll be paying for anything that isn't generally covered by our regular insurance. As we go through all this I'll keep track of it and talk about it more when I know what's covered and what's not.

What will we do if my eggs (or his sperm) don't work out? Well, nothing. Call me selfish or picky, but the whole point to this is for us to have our own child - together. There are donor eggs and donor sperm out there, but neither of us is interested in that at this point, and I doubt we will be. There's always the possibility of adoption if this doesn't work out, but we haven't discussed that yet. I don't even know if they allow people our age to adopt.

Yes, we know how old we'll be when our child(ren) reaches adulthood. And, yes, we're both looking after our health to make sure we're alive as our kids grow. The fact is, no one knows whether or not they're going to survive to see their children grow, and we'll both be well under the average ages when men and women in Canada die. We're not dealing with alcoholism, drug addiction, or other risky behaviours that will shorten our lifespans.

The fact is, I've been waiting my whole life to meet the man I wanted to have more children with. The one where I could imagine him being a full partner and truly sharing the whole experience, as well as the responsibilities. Now I have, and I'm not letting even a small chance of experiencing that slip from my grasp.