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Mom and Elizabeth and I piled into the car on Monday for the long trek to Boise. It's a 65 minute drive to get to the city from here, and so we left an hour and a half before Elizabeth's scheduled ultrasound.

We met George at the clinic. Mom and I waited in the reception area reading back-dated pregnancy and motherhood magazines for about half an hour, then the nurse came in and escorted us to the ultrasound lair. It was showtime!

The tech squirted a dollop of clear conductive goop on Bit's belly and turned out the light. We were riveted to the big television set that was mounted near the ceiling. The tech turned the machine on, and suddenly the room was filled with the whoosh and thump of Lucy Grace's heartbeat.

She's breech, as she's been from the beginning, her legs prissily crossed at the ankles and her arms tucked over her face as though she's shielding herself from an oncoming basketball. Because of her positioning, her feet are always poised to kick Elizabeth squarely in the bladder. (Bit says it feels like there's a fairy in there tap-dancing.) Her kidneys and heart were fully visible, but we could only see her mouth and nose peeking out from between her arms. Lucy appears to be camera-shy.

Her fingers are perfect. They're long and slender and slightly curled. Piano hands, doctor's hands. She moved around a little bit while the tech pressed on Bit's tummy. It reminded me of what happens when you poke a sleeper - Hey, stop, I was asleep, go away!

We watched in silence as the friendly tech outlined Lucy Grace's organs, her tush, her feet. We listened raptly to the whoosh THUMP, whoosh THUMP of her heart pounding out 150 beats per minute.

I watched the baby inside my baby sister, this little person, my niece. Such a strange thing, to carry a child, to have a person living inside of you. Someone who kicks and rolls and (according to the doctor) dreams its own little dreams. Dependent but separate.

The news was on the whole very good. The placenta is stubbornly refusing to move away from Elizabeth's cervix - a condition known as placenta previa - so it's likely she'll have to spend some time on bed rest if there's any spotting at all. She probably won't be able to deliver normally, and the doctor is cautiously advising a c-section. They want to do an amnio in a few weeks to draw some fluid from Lucy's lungs and to check lung development. If all goes well, they want to take Lucy Grace out on Halloween day. (Now that's a treat.)

Bit doesn't care what they have to do; all she wants is to hold her daughter.

After the ultrasound, Elizabeth had several more minutes alone with the doctor, who checked the thickness of her cervix. The average thickness is 4 inches, and Bit's is holding at 3.7, which is excellent news. One of the main reasons she'd lost the triplets is that her cervix was thinner than normal; she just wasn't able to support the weight of three babies.

So we all breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Up until now, Elizabeth hasn't quite allowed herself to get excited about Lucy Grace. She's graciously accepted the gifts of baby and maternity clothes from her friends and relatives, but the fear of miscarriage has weighed heavily on her.

When we were done at the clinic we went out for lunch and talked. All of us were simultaneously limp with relief and zinging with excitement. We had plans for a Costco run after lunch, and Elizabeth said Well, I think it's time to stock up on diapers. Mom had an appletini to celebrate. I grinned until my face hurt.

It was a good day.

Living at home with my mother has been like having a personal cheering section. Some days are harder than others.

I want to be unreservedly happy for both my sisters. They're at pivotal and joyous places in their lives, places that I know I'll never have. I'll never be married for the first time ever again, and I'll never know what it's like to carry a child. Most of the time I'm joyous right along with them. I can remember the first weeks of my own ruined marriage, and those weeks were some of the happiest of my life.

But sometimes I get sad. It isn't jealousy, not exactly. It's more akin to self-pity, which is a limp and lonely and fruitless and shameful state.

Mom always listens to me when I get teary, when the day is done and I feel empty and lost and used up. She lets me say what I need to say and lets me cry for a little while. But then she always reminds me of one spectacular detail:

My life is my own.

I am no longer responsible for the happiness and welfare of a husband. I no longer have to discuss my decisions or explicate my actions. I'll never be a mother, but that's my choice, and it's a good one - bipolar disorder is outrageously genetic, and passage to children is as high as 80%, which is a significantly higher rate than schizophrenia. (Ask the Hemingway family about that.)

I get to start dating again. I can pick and choose who's allowed to be in my life, and I can weed out the ones who are shut down emotionally. I am at leisure to look for a companion if I want one, and to be alone if I don't.

I can write. I can go back to school. The money I make from now on can go to the things I want, to a future that belongs only to me. Mom always reminds me.

I get to be the cool aunt. I get to be single. It isn't the end of the world.

As a matter of fact, it might just be the beginning.

There are structures on the ocean,
Steel castles erected by saints,
And the dolphins and the whales glide past them,
With unremarkable familiarity.

No one knows why,
Nor spends time to learn,
Why the glaciers calve cold blue like ultraviolet dragons,
And when Quinn arrives everyone jumps for joy.

On this island.

On this island I'm not sure anymore. Helicopter chop over the distant glaciers reminds me of Antarctica. Air clear as nothing makes the mountains smell ancient. On this island people walk their dogs away from the bears. Flight attendants recognize poorly disguised caribou horns in passenger's luggage and then look away. Girl bar singers hit notes in fourteen tone scales while men in carhartts and baseball caps offer a standing-O. Outside the palmeni vendor sells dumplings to blue-haired tourists from cruise ships.

We pick up hitchikers on the road from nowhere. A middle-aged couple. They hop in back smelling of cigarettes and light beer. They recount their life stories and we smile to each other. Everyone is from somewhere. Everyone is heading nowhere. Everyone works in a mine or a restaurant or a court. The hitchhikers have come to the island and made it home. Never going back to Fresno. Never going back to Phoenix. On this island no one is sure, and so no one remembers if there had been somewhere else for them, ever.

On this island the tides cover then uncover boats. On this island you shoo away the bears and mosquitoes. The whales breach off the beach. The eagles squeal for real. The berries grow in endless variety and no one knows why or cares to spend time to learn how she loved Quinn and mourns him still. On this island if you learn one word it must be gunalcheesh -- spoken to the men who carve the totems. On this island you trek into your personal wilderness and leave nothing unknown -- leave behind your ideas of warmth and accept the ice.

In obeyance to absolute zero, there is absolute freedom.

I could live on this island. I could give up warm forever.
I'm not sure.

But I think I could.

-- Juneau, Alaska

You don't know what "truely-shitty-shitty-shitty" feels like until:

You don't know.

You just do not know.

Tigerlilly, we all loved you. And I'm so sorry.

I've been telling myself not to write anymore daylogs. I like daylogs. I read them every day and ching them fairly often. But let's face it, we read daylogs, we pass on, we nearly never go back and re-read them. And in recent months, I've spent too much time writing stuff that no one will ever re-read, which meant, I decided, no more daylogs. But I need to vent, so I must daylog. Feel free to pass me by.

First, I despise my job. It used to rock. I liked the people I worked with and the work duties weren't obnoxious. We had a boss who'd buy pizza for the office and who would often let us go home an hour or more early on Fridays. For some damn reason, the higher-ups decided they wanted her gone and ran her off. At the time, the rest of us said it was a good thing.

Damn, were we stupid.

The new bosses never did anything for the employees, never let us go home early. They thought yelling and making veiled threats to fire people was a good management tool, and in the process, they ran off employees who'd worked in the office for over five years. Now faced with too few employees to do the job, they sweetened up their attitudes, but you can still see deceit and contempt behind their eyes.

And I don't like my new co-workers either. They range from clingy weirdos with a tendency to sit and stare at me for several minutes before they'll tell me what the hell they're doing in my office to sunny and thoroughly unrealistic optimists who like handing out the bullshit about letting a smile be your umbrella.

So I'm overworked, with major projects due at the end of the month and additional projects being piled on every morning. There's no way I'll finish on time. The bosses refuse to do any work more strenuous than attending meetings and schmoozing with the higher-ups.

I feel so tired when I come home that I can't work up the energy to do any writing. There's just sitting in front of the TV or playing computer games. Not writing stuff for E2 or other fun writing projects makes ol' Jet-Poop feel like a goddamn shit, like a loser who shouldn't bother getting out of bed in the morning, like a used-up piece of crap that don't have anything to look forward to in the long run but a cheap hole in the ground.

I despise my job, and I'd love to dump it by the wayside and move onto a better position.

I have an interview for a job this Friday. It's with a computer gaming company. Some of my job duties would involve writing fiction. And not the usual "Oh, here's why Professor So-and-So's project is important for the whole world and not just his resume" crap. Writing short fiction for a computer game's website. The pay would be an improvement, and the job would be in Austin, which everyone tells me is a wonderful place to live.

Frankly, I do not consider this interview to be a good thing.

First, the interview will take me away from working on my other work projects for two days, which is just one of the things that is making it so difficult for me to finish.

Second, I haven't lived in Austin since I was a little kid, and the directions I've been given for getting from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the company's office make no damn sense. I've tried studying maps, and I just can't figure out where some of these roads are actually located. And I'll arrive in town after dark on Thursday -- how the hell am I supposed to find the hotel in the dark when I can't even figure out which turns I'm supposed to take?

Third, I hate airports. I love to fly -- the feeling of exhilaration from going airborne just thrills me to the core. But good god, do I ever hate airports. Just worrying about getting through security, finding the right gate, picking up a rental car, all in a fairly small time frame -- that's another huge chunk of worrying to worry about.

Fourth, I'm not actually that fond of Austin. Live Music Capital of Texas? Who cares? I don't go to bars anymore. Good dining? Who cares? I'm too cheap to eat at a lot of restaurants. On top of that, it's insanely hot and humid. Allergy season lasts 'til the first freeze in December. The cockroaches are the size of spaniels, are able to fly, and are attracted to light. Just on the basis of the bugs, a sane society would tear Austin down and sow the ground with salt.

Fifth, I like living in Lubbock. Yes, it's extremely conservative and so out-of-the-way that I couldn't get my friends to visit me unless I died AND the funeral home was serving those high-dollar Vienna sausages. But my 93-year-old grandmother lives here and relies on me a lot for stuff she needs. My brother lives here, too, and we go running around town several times a week. My niece lives here, too -- she's my brother's rat terrier, but I love her so much that I get weepy just thinking of the possibility of moving away from her.

And sixth, I'm far from being guaranteed this job anyway. There's at least one other person in the running, possibly two, and we can't all get the job. Two of us won't get job offers, and who the hell says that I'm more likely to get the job than the others? Hell, the fact that the job itself sounds interesting puts me on the low end of the scale anyway -- I think the universe doesn't really want me working a job that I'd enjoy. So I've got a pretty damn good chance of looking back on this trip in a few weeks and saying, "Well, that was a colossal waste of my time."

And even if I get offered the job, I'll have to start worrying about getting a new apartment to live in, cleaning up my current place, packing up my tons of stuff, hiring movers, getting everything moved, getting cable turned on, my phones, my 'net connection, finding a bank... More stress, more worry, more expense...

But on the other paw... God, I hate my job, and I want out of it so damn bad. The idea of coming into the office every day, with no end in sight, is like getting slowly crushed by stone plates. A little more flattened, every damn day...

Just venting, pass me by.

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