Thursday, August 31, 2006


To quote a Staples manager I interviewed with recently, it's fair to say I have NOT begun - as he ludicrously claimed he and his family did - to "bleed Wal-Mart blue". Indeed, it has succeeded mainly in reawakening my latent distaste for the consumer society, and the focus of my disgust has plopped neatly on the shoulders of soup. Honestly, if you need a stark reminder of the gross excess of consumerism, then it is in the soup aisle (aisle 6) of Wal-Mart in Pekin, Il - as well as many other aisles in many other supermarkets in many other places in the world I'm sure. Seriously, and I'll put this simply, NOBODY NEEDS, HAS EVER NEEDED, OR WILL EVER NEED THAT MUCH SOUP. Even a man woken from a two-hundred-year cryogenic freeze would shake his head when faced with such a monstrous selection. As a quick example, within eight feet of shelf-space we stock the following of ONE BRAND ("Campbell's", and I hope they are ashamed) of ONE TYPE OF SOUP. Ready?

'Vegetable Soup'
'Old Fashioned Vegetable Soup'
'Vegetable Soup made with Beef Stock'
'Vegetable Beef Soup'
'Beef and Hearty Vegetable Soup'
'Chunky Vegetable Soup'
'Chunky Vegetable Beef Soup'
'Microwaveable Vegetable Soup Bowl'
'Low Sodium Vegetable Soup'
'98% Fat-Free Vegetable Soup'
'Healthy Request Vegetable Soup'
'Kids Vegetable Soup'
... and best of all ...
'Vegetarian Vegetable Soup'

- that's MORE vegetable than vegetable, folks. Made only with the most commited peas and carrots Campbell's could pick (at the peak of freshness.) That's not choice, that's just offensive! I am just waiting for someone to come in and complain because there's nothing chunky for her vegetarian kid. And at that I will explode in a melee of SMALL CHUNKS OF BIGGER FOODS, FLOUR, FLAVORINGS, AND WATER. BECAUSE THAT'S ALL SOUP IS. There is actually a soup called "Chunky Italian Style Wedding" - that's totally weird and stupid and nonsensical!!! There is "Cream of Mushroom Soup", and then there is "Creamy Mushroom Soup". The differences in soup are becoming semantic! That's just folly!! Clearly soup is out of control, and we are at the wheel. And before anyone says "But I like soup, though, Jim" - of course you do! There's nothing wrong with a bit of soup. But, as cute as people look while eating it, the whole idea of soup has surely boiled over dangerously. After all, water keeps us alive but floods kill. And on that point, I refer you to the words of the great T.S. Eliot:

"This is the way the world ends,
This is the way the world ends,
This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang but in an enormous tidal wave of soup."

I can't help wondering if Wal-Mart are picking up my vibes - last Monday night they put me on the juice aisle. But look at all the juice!!! Who the hell needs forty-nine kinds of JUICE???!!!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I wish I had a green thumb. I really love plants. They're so beautiful and make one's house seem more . . .I don't know. Natural? Outdoorsy? Anyway, I have never been very good at growing plants, and now this is upsetting me. We got several plants when we lost Brian, and I want to keep them all alive, because they make me think of him and how many people love him (and Jim and I). However, I am really struggling with this task. Tonight I went to WalMart and bought some pots to replant them in, and some plant food and a new watering can. Oh, and some potting soil. SO . . .I have spent the evening potting plants and making a gigantic mess on the floor, which Jim is going to be so pleased with when he gets home from work it's not even funny. :) I tried to vacuum it, and it rubbed it into the carpet, so then I tried the steam cleaner and it made mud. *sigh*

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Baby Mine
Baby mine, don't you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart,
Never to part,
Baby of mine

Kathie's angel is now on Brian's grave. I took this picture yesterday evening. Everything looks peaceful and beautiful there. The amazing thing is that the baby resting in the angel wings is almost exactly the same size Brian was when he was born.

Baby Update: A Plan of Action!

Well, we saw Dr. Egley today (spelled it wrong last time), and we now have a definite course of action. My blood deficiency of Protein S is not low enough to cause any real alarm or to have to take heparin. It is low, and after giving birth it is oftentimes low anyway. However, an aspirin a day (started today) will take care of that problem. The other blood mutation was something that is very common in women and not at all the cause of what happened with Brian. In fact, the Protein S deficiency is also not really a "deficiency" at all, just a little on the low side, but it also was not a contributing factor, as far as he can tell. The answer is indeed incompetent cervix. He said that we were correct (actually, the residents at St. Francis were, since they were the ones who told us about it) to think that, and it was his diagnosis as well. All the symptoms were present, and it was really a classic case. SO . . .the plan of action is, as I said, an aspirin a day to assure that everything is a-okay with my blood, and a cerclage between 10-14 weeks. That is now a definite. We are very glad to know this, as we have felt so strongly all along that it was the answer. He seemed very positive and said that actually, for many couples, fertility and achieving pregnancy is the challenge, so we are fortunate not to have that to deal with. Keep us in your prayers!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I am having a hard time. People act like I am "wallowing" or something like that because I still want to talk about my son. I am still grieving, and I feel like people are annoyed by that grief. It's not fair. Would it be so hard for people to sometimes say "Are you doing ok?" or "We're thinking about Brian." ??? Or even to actually listen to me when I try to answer those questions honestly. They just want me to say yes, I'm ok, and get over it already.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Baby Update: I had blood taken (LOTS of it) 2 weeks ago to find out if there were any problems that contributed to Brian coming too soon. Turns out, there is a problem. I have Protein S Deficiency, which, as far as I understand it at this point, is a blood deficiency causing a low INR. I am going to see Dr. Egli, a high-risk OB specialist, on Thursday. I will then most likely be put on daily aspirin immediately. When I get pregnant again, I will be put on a higher dose of daily aspirin as well as have to give myself heparin injections.

Heparin is an anticoagulant. It is used to decrease the clotting ability of the blood and help prevent harmful clots from forming in the blood vessels. This medicine is sometimes called a blood thinner, although it does not actually thin the blood. Heparin will not dissolve blood clots that have already formed, but it may prevent the clots from becoming larger and causing more serious problems.

In addition to this, I will see both Dr. Egli and Dr. Harrington throughout my next pregnancy. I will be monitored constantly and they will be doing weekly checks of my cervix. If at any point it has shortened, begun to dilate, or efface, they will do a cerclage. At least this is (from what I gather) the plan at this point. I will let you all know if this changes after I see Dr. Egli on Thursday.
Hey, no fair!!! No more pictures of me asleep!!!!!!!

I daren't lie down now for fear of what may happen to me. Plus, no telling how my state-wide reputation as a hottie is going to suffer. Also, I don't mean to be lewd, but aren't a man's hairy parts his own business? Or am I just being old-fashioned?

Still, I love what she did with them. :)

So here, at long last, is my revenge!!! And trust me, it's good.

AMY'S SANDALS!! Uwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Touche!! Gotcha!! Take that! Uh... right back at'cha!!

That was bit pathetic, wasn't it?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"It's The Hard-Knock Life"
The gang has all been partying again all night.
Like I said, it's hard out here for a pimp.
So the girl with too much time on her hands
(and no conscious company)
has created a pictoral for your enjoyment.
Re the last post - don't worry everyone, no harm befell my lovely wife. However, I am waiting, camera in hand, for an opportune moment when I shall have my revenge. If I could get a pic of her drooling on the pillow - something like that - that would be just GREAT. :)

Personally, I think the picture of my good self below should be on the front page of Wal-Mart's website captioned: "Interested in a career at Wal-Mart? This could be you!" As you can tell from the picture, however, one nice thing is that they're not all that bothered if you shave. Or, going by some of my co-workers, if you bathe regularly, or can read, or walk in a straight line. I know, I know... that's mean... but I just got back from a reaaaally looong shift, so I hope you'll forgive my misanthropy. They don't mind that at Wal-mart either - because none of them know what it means!! Ha ha ha ha!!! Okay... I'm seriously stopping now. Wal-Mart is not a bad place to work per se, but the particular job I am doing is exqusitely dull, but exhausting too. Plus, Amy and I are finding it really hard, especially at the moment, to be apart at night, and I would hate to get to the point where I spend my few waking hours of the day either yawning or feeling grouchy/depressed. I did that for three years in England, but I wasn't with Amy then, and wasn't where I wanted to be. Still, we are extremely short (think Danny DeVito with a stoop) of money at the moment, and Wal-Mart have a little money set aside which, apparently, they are willing to give a bit of to me if so long as I keep turning up and putting things on their shelves. So, that's cool. And it WILL be worthwhile. And on my lunch break I have taken to parking in front of Radio Shack with my favorite music on, and have found that for some reason it's a really awesome place to think about Brian. The hope I am finding in all this is certainly not human. After all, a weight is a weight, and I accepted it upon myself, and indeed felt it hit me very hard. Yet, like the man who stands and walks from the wreckage of a plane, I am not crushed. And I don't know why, except to say that I have a feeling daily as if something, or someone is replenishing the love within me, or perhaps shielding its flame from being blown out.

So, I just scrolled down and looked at those photos once more. Two things: one, don't you think the Maddie and Sammy one looks like a stand-off that just went on too long? Secondly, I now feel that I should apologise to you all myself for the photo that Amy took. No-one deserves to be exposed to my chest hair, in full color, without warning, or a memory-erasing device (you might know it as a large measure of a strong drink.)

Lastly, I don't have the time to write here as much as I used to, so I am going to indulge. On my way home from work today,I drove through the early morning and listened to this song. It's one of my favorites, and I wanted to share the words. (Sing along if you know it...)

"Redemption Song" by Bob Marley

Oh pirates, yes, they rob I,
Sold I to the merchant ships.
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong,
By the hand of the almighty.
We forward in this generation,

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom ?
'Cause all I ever had,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it's just a part of it,
We've got to fullfil the book.

So won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever had,
Redemption songs.
These songs of freedom,
Songs of freedom.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"

This is all they have done today. Sammy's the pimp, btw, and Maddie is his ho. It truly is indeed a rough life they lead. At least Jim has an excuse.

He's the pimp daddy.

(If I'm not here tomorrow, it's because he discovered I posted this and something very bad happened to me)

Hi--I have probably emailed most of you reading this, but for those of you who didn't get that email, I wanted to post here. I found a section of the March of Dimes website where they raise money for prematurity research. As the website says, "The answers can't come soon enough." You can purchase a baby band there. I think it's really important, so pass the word along!


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Just Some Stuff I Found . . .

Some of this helped me, and some of it may be able to help others. None of it is intended to be preachy. It's just reflective of some things I'm feeling at the moment.

How to support someone who has lost a baby:

Hollow platitudes can hurt. Don't try to minimize the loss by saying things like, "It was meant to be" or, "You're young. You'll get pregnant again."

It takes time. Allow the person to grieve at her own pace, and don't encourage her to "get over it."

Preaching doesn't help. Just be a willing ear. Listen before you give advice, and respect the person's beliefs.

But don't be silent, either. It helps to acknowledge the loss as a significant event.

Sharing the pain:

After losing a child, a woman must learn how to share the loss in a very fertile world that largely still doesn't understand the depth of her loss.

Well-meaning family, friends and co-workers often make insensitive, minimizing remarks.

Common platitudes such as, "It's nature's way" or, "You can always try again" make it seem as if the little person so recently alive never even existed.

"People find those kinds of reassurances very hollow at best, and kind of disturbing at worst," said Marilyn Germano, a clinical psychologist in Kirkland.

The woman may also feel anger and envy "about why other people get to have this, and I don't," said Germano.
So . . .I'm sorry for my post-traumatic-stress rantings. I can tell (from lack of responses) that it makes people uncomfortable, and that is totally understandable. I decided a while ago to be more honest about how I was feeling about losing Brian, but I also know that it's difficult to deal with for others sometimes, so . . .forgive me. It's more difficult than ever now, and I don't quite know why. I think perhaps at first I was in shock and had bursts of extreme grief. Then it became waves of sorrow, and now I feel buried under those waves. I guess it's a process one must go through, but I hope against all hope no one else has to. It's also harder because Jim is working nights, so I have a lot of lonely hours with no one to comfort me, and he's so good at doing that. The one person I feel like clinging onto for dear life has to leave me, and while I know it's what we must do . . .it is still rough for me. I just got him here in February, we got pregnant in February, married in April, and lost our child in July. It's been a very eventful, very strange, high and low six months. Continue to pray for us both. Someone at work told me, "It's way harder for a mother." Well . . .make no mistake, that is completely untrue. It's just as hard for Jim. In SOME ways it's harder for me . . .such as the fact of the physical loss of part of me . . .but in some ways it's harder for him. He feels like he has to be strong and take care of me, but he's hurting so much too. He designed and painted the entire nursery, completed 2 days before he lost his first son. All the coats of paint and sweat and frustration and joy that went into that room represented his love, and . . .well, that's not easy for me to even think about. On our website you can see his smile right after he finished, and that says it all. Just keep us both in your thoughts. We could really use some prayer warriors right now.

Pray for me also, that I will be able to redirect my current anger into something more positive. I feel so much despair sometimes that I am afraid for myself. I don't know who to direct the anger at, so most often I direct it at God. Then, being the obsessive-compulsive that I am, I get scared that God won't give me another child because I'm mad at Him. WHICH, I realize, I am really not . . .but kind of . . .etc. So just pray for me as I try to deal with these new feelings of rage.

In other news . . .not only is April pregnant, but Keith and Ashleigh are expecting. She is 17 weeks along (whoah!) They just announced it to the family last night, so pray for their little one and the days of planning that are ahead for them. Pray for April too. She had some complications with her first pregnancy, so just pray that this time things will go smoothly, but that no matter what, her baby will be healthy and safe.

Love to you all. . .
Monty Python knew it. The Marx Brothers knew it. And it's that right when life gets as serious as it can be, it usually gets a bit silly. A lot of the things we do in life that on the surface seem a bit silly are actually incredibly important. And a lot of the things we take very seriously are, when examined closely, really very silly indeed.

Lest you forget this excellent word, here is Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley, responding earlier this year to claims that Chicago Skyway tollbooths were fully staffed to help ensure an unimpeded ride to his Michigan summer home:

"Silly. Silliest thing I ever heard in my life. It really is silly.... It's silly, silly, silly, silly. It is silly, it is just silly. Silliness. That is all it is. Completely silly, completely silly. It's silly, Baldheaded. He's baldheaded. Is that silly? No. Come on. It's the silliest thing I ever heard."

(The school of thought there clearly being 'Say silly enough and they'll know I'm serious.')

Sixth, seventh, or wherever it fits, thank God for silliness - the sense that Man would be doomed without.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I'm having an angry night.

People who abuse their children were allowed to see them grow and live. I, however, was not.

I should still be going to get ultrasounds. I would know by now we were going to have a boy. We'd be buying little boy toys, and buying little boy clothes. Showers would be planned. I should be bigger and round and my belly should be full and hard.

Instead, I am left with an empty house, an empty nursery, and an empty womb.

I have to look not at birth photos, but at post-mortem pictures to remind myself what he looked like.

Part of me died then, and while some days I can pretend to myself and everyone else that it's ok, it's not. I don't know how to recover.

I know all the consolations, because I've told them to myself and everyone else a million times. Yes, he's in Heaven. Yes, he's at peace. Yes, he had a pain-free life. No . . .I don't feel better.

My arms ache for him. My ears want to hear his cries. I want to be tired from lack of sleep, not because I'm missing him, but because he needs me.

I can pretend it's all okay. Tonight I just don't feel like it, because I'm angry.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ok. I am ranting to all the wrong people here, because none of you who ever read this are like this . . .but I am going to rant anyway, so just bear with me.

Why are people so stupid? Especially in Pekin? Seriously. Those of you familiar with Pekin know that it has never been the capital of acceptance and diversity. So . . .Jim speaks with an English accent. They act like they can't understand a SINGLE word he says. They're all "nice" to him, in that . . ."he's from a foreign country, just nod and smile" kinda way. They know he's a good guy. They're just f-ing idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't people ever just LISTEN? He speaks ENGLISH for god's sake! They INVENTED it? COME ON! It really cannot be that hard.

Tips: Don't ask English people if they drink tea every day. And don't act like their accent is the only thing interesting about them. Don't CONTINUE to act like their accent is the only distinguishing thing about them long after you've met/known them. Don't imitate their accent and try to speak to them with a false British accent. It's rude and insulting. And condescending.

Ok. I'm done. And trust me, I'm not talking to any of you friends or family. I just had to go off about it to people who will read it and sympathise with what Jim's been going through. Thanks for listening. (FYI--I know most of you American folks reading this have said you like Jim's accent, and that's not a bad thing or at all what I'm referring to--I love his accent too! It's just one of many things I love/find interesting about him. Anyway, don't think I'm referring to that.)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Kathie bought this for our angel baby.
Isn't it beautiful?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hey all!

My first day at work!

It was a looo-oooong day, and there were many videos to watch, and a thousand bits of paper to sign, but I am now a Wal-Mart employee with my own name badge!

I'm pretty happy with everything, except the benefits which don't nearly amount to (initially) what they promise outwardly to prospective employees. But after a certain time they are, admittedly, excellent. I have to go in tomorrow at 8:15am to finish my CBL (Computer Based Learning - a.k.a. EQAHTNBSWL - Endless Quizzes About How To Not Be Stupid With Ladders)and then I start on Friday night, 10pm-7am as a stocker in the food section.

I am wary of being 'sold' a job, but I actually do believe Wal-Mart when they tell me that if an employee wants to, and works hard enough, they can build a career there, and that's quite exciting. As is, right now, just the thought of getting a paycheck in two weeks. Oh, and stocking up beef jerky. 'Cause just LOOKING at beef jerky is a thrill for me. IT'S SO SO GOOD.

Anyway, I'm cream-crackered right now, so I'm going to have some dinner with Amy and watch a movie or half. Hope everyone is really good, and thank-you also for all your lovely comments about Brian's website. We are both so glad that our "vision" for it actually came across.

Love to you all,

Jim and Amy

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hey, everybody. Just wanted to let you all know the website for Brian is up and running now. We had a few technical difficulties, but it's all good. Hope you enjoy!

Hi there everyone,

Well, it's taken a bit of work, but Brian's webpage is now finished and on the web! You can see it here:

Hope you like it! You can also find a permanent link to it in the links section to the top-right of this blog. Please, also, feel free to send the address to anyone you think might be interested.

All our love,

Jim and Amy

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I got a job!!

Pending a successful drug test (took it this afternoon - should be okay on that one, I think) I start work at Wal-Mart, four nights a week in the food section, within the next ten days!

The interview was actually a little more stringent and in-depth than I had expected. It was nothing extreme - no flashlights in the face, no walking over hot coals - but quite long, and featuring many of those dreadful questions where you have to find an example of something you did in a previous job that matches their description (i.e. name one time you successfully organized a group to achieve the sucessful completion of a task before a deadline when you were in a hurry and provided good customer service and excelled yourself). You know, the ones where all you can think of to say is: "Well, once someone dropped a Snickers and I picked it up for them and they said 'Thanks, you totally nice guy!'" Actually, I did okay with the stories. Due to working for three years at a place whose clientele were at least 1/4 homeless drug users and fifteen year-old alcoholics, I had some pretty good 'customer service' stories to tell. The rest I just made up. (Joke.)

My job sounds like it'll mostly be what I was doing before - minus the drug addicts - which suits me down to the ground. I was a little cavalier on my application form and gallantly put down that I would consider any position, but I would WAAAY prefer to be stacking shelves and lifting boxes than sitting at the checkout singing made-up songs in my head along to the beeping of the barcode scanner, and stacking-stocking-lifting sounds like about the size of it. So, I'm pretty pleased in all. Shifts are 9pm-6am, or 10pm-7am - I think I'm going to go with the 10-7. From previous experience doing 10-6 shifts, I found the extra hour on the end was always easier to bear than at the start.

And the real up-side? I got called Australian by my interviewer! Does this mean that for the first time in my life I look sun-tanned, happy go lucky and even larrikin? I was tempted to claim it, but in the interests of honesty owned up to my Englishness, and she said of course, that she should have been able to tell by my pallor, melancholy and larrikinism-deficiency.


Hehe. Anyway...

Amy also began back at work yesterday and is doing so well. I am very, very proud of her indeed. The girls at TUMCCC have all welcomed her back, and she has had more than one "pleased to see you" hug from her kids. AND she waited for an hour while I had my interview. AAAAND waited at the doctors while I peed into a cup. You know why? 'Cause she's great.


It's been HOT here. On Monday in Pekin it was 103 degrees! And on Monday in Peking they were all riding bicycles. I have no idea what I'm on about now.

Anyway, hope you're all well and taking good care.


Jim and Amy

P.S. We're very, very nearly done with Brian's website. We're really pleased with how it looks, and can't wait to share it with you all!