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Pulp Fiction meets Shakespeare

Below is but a taste of the new Pulp Shakespeare wiki, where you, young bard, can take a gander at translating (and reading) scenes from one of my favorite films, Pulp Fiction - into old English, a la Shakespeare.

Thanks, Ceruleanst.  Old William would be proud, methinks.

—–

ACT I SCENE 2. A road, morning. Enter a carriage, with JULES and VINCENT, murderers.

J: And know’st thou what the French name cottage pie?
V: Say they not cottage pie, in their own tongue?
J: But nay, their tongues, for speech and taste alike
Are strange to ours, with their own history:
Gaul knoweth not a cottage from a house.
V: What say they then, pray?
J: Hachis Parmentier.
V: Hachis Parmentier! What name they cream?
J: Cream is but cream, only they say le crème.
V: What do they name black pudding?
J: I know not;
I visited no inn it could be bought.


J: My pardon; did I break thy concentration?
Continue! Ah, but now thy tongue is still.
Allow me then to offer a response.
Describe Marsellus Wallace to me, pray.
B: What?
J: What country dost thou hail from?
B: What?
J: How passing strange, for I have traveled far,
And never have I heard tell of this What.
What language speak they in the land of What?
B: What?
J: The Queen’s own English, base knave, dost thou speak it?
B: Aye!
J: Then hearken to my words and answer them!
Describe to me Marsellus Wallace!
B: What?
JULES presses his knife to BRETT’s throat
J: Speak ‘What’ again! Thou cur, cry ‘What’ again!
I dare thee utter ‘What’ again but once!
I dare thee twice and spit upon thy name!
Now, paint for me a portraiture in words,
If thou hast any in thy head but ‘What’,
Of Marsellus Wallace!
B: He is dark.
J: Aye, and what more?
B: His head is shaven bald.
J: Has he the semblance of a harlot?
B: What?
JULES strikes and BRETT cries out
J: Has he the semblance of a harlot?
B: Nay!
J: Then why didst thou attempt to bed him thus?
B: I did not!
J: Aye, thou didst! O, aye, thou didst!
Thou hoped to rape him like a chattel whore,
And sooth, Lord Wallace is displeased to bed
With anyone but she to whom he wed.

The things kids say: version something-or-other

Connor was in school, and Siena and I were just walking out of the grocery store. As we were walking out, a man was walking in. He had long, sandy blonde hair that was done up in a ponytail, sectioned off by several ponytail holders that went down the length of it vertically. Over the top of his head was a bandana. He had on holey jeans and a tight torn t-shirt and was making his way to the cigarrette counter.

I felt a tug on my arm and realized Siena had stopped walking to stare at this gentleman. Afraid of what she might say out loud (she’s just turned three) I gently coaxed her out of the store.

When we were outside, Siena looked up at me with a solemn expression. “Mommy.” she said gravely. “I saw a pirate.”

Revisiting: Breast Intentions

My own life hasn’t been incredibly interesting lately - a little laundry here, a little errands there.  So while I try and make myself more interesting for your sake, I’m going to put up an old post from my now-defunct old blog.  This was written a couple of years ago and while I *SO* no longer relate to what I wrote here, I still enjoyed the trip down memory lane.  Insecurities exposed and all, I’m still pretty proud of this post.  A few words here and there changed for context.

—-

The 4th of July marked two weeks away from a very important date for me. On July 18th, I will be undergoing a hysterectomy. I’d mused about it earlier…in rereading it I remember how I felt somewhat unsure for so long about doing the surgery, and this post was my way of explaining why I had decided to finally do what I am now about to do. Today, though, I am 100% sure about my decision. However, I didn’t expect to have some additional feelings about losing the central core of my being as a woman and how that would affect me.

The surrogacy thing (I seem to have an unnatural urge to offer to have a baby for anyone I know dealing with fertility issues) is definitely a symptom of my about to lose my ability to have children. A woman recently surprised me. Through a girlfriend, she let me know that if I were still interested, she would actually like to have me be her surrogate. As much as I love the idea of helping someone in such a wonderfully giving way, I’ve decided that my reasons for doing so are probably not the right ones. The reality of such an undertaking is much more complicated than it is on paper. And my husband doesn’t think it is a great idea - I think he worries that I would become too emotionally involved in the little child growing inside me that would never be my own. He knows me well - I worry about that too.

Another symptom I seem to be having is my perceived loss of womanhood with the upcoming loss of my uterus. Of course this is ridiculous. I know that although I will no longer have a womb, I am a woman, and always will be. My emotions are not dealing with this on a conscious level - rather they are revealing themselves in ways I never imagined. Like my recent trip to the plastic surgeon.

I’ve carried and breastfed two children, and with that came the inevitable ups and downs in cup sizes in my breasts. I went from a C pre-pregnancy to a DD+ while breastfeeding. Now I am a small C, but the skin that developed to hold my huge knockers while I was pregnant is still all there. The result? Sagging and wrinkling - they call it atrophy in the business - that leaves me feeling less of a woman when standing in front of a mirror.

When I was preparing for post-op (picking out what movies to watch, what books to read, and how else to pamper myself while I pretty much lie around for 5 days without kids while I recover) I had an epiphany: what if I did something just for myself? I could add a little something to my breasts to fill them back up again - perhaps to a large C or possibly even a D - leaving me with firmer and perkier breasts similar to what I had before I had kids.

So, without really putting much thought into it, a girlfriend of mine (who had implants in already) and I went up to spend the day in the “big city” several hours from home to visit a well-respected doctor there. I checked out his website. The results looked impressive. I did a little research. It would be a pretty intensive procedure, and would require me to have childcare for my kids for a couple of weeks. As with any surgery there were risks and possible side effects. I felt unsure, but thought it would be interesting to get a professional opinion.

The office looked like any other doctor’s office. Older people, younger people, and families waited for their turn with the surgeon. I wondered what these people were going to have done, or what they had already had done. Do 80 year-olds really have body image issues? Perhaps she was there for breast reconstruction following a mastectomy. What about the dowdy woman with the three teenage boys tagging with her, complete with mullets? Wouldn’t a simple makeover suit her better than surgery might?

And why am I here in the first place? I thought. What would people assume about me?

I weigh what I should according to those awful doctor’s charts. I eat well and exercise often (when I am on an exercise kick that is). I feel pretty comfortable with my general appearance - I’m certainly not the most attractive thing out there, but I’m comfortable with who I am. I have a pretty crooked nose that I’m not terribly fond of, and I’ve got some love handles and a poochy stomach that hang over tight-fitting pants sometimes - but I think I’m friendly enough that when I meet someone my personality makes up for it. And if it doesn’t? I’m probably not talking to someone with whom I want for a friend, anyway.

We were called into a room where we watched a video about breast augmentation. The woman actor on the video was complaining about her breasts after pregnancy and childbirth - my same complaint - and was referring to her small children at home. She was at least 50 years old and looked a bit like Elizabeth Taylor a few years ago. The doctor was a young man who listened coolly and professionally to her issues and offered cookie cutter advice. “I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV,” I whispered over to my friend, and we got the giggles. However I must admit that the video, as cheesy and unbelievable as it was, did open up a few questions for me, and my friend handed me a piece of paper and a pen so I could jot them down.

It was our turn into the exam room. I was asked to strip down to my panties and put on a robe. My friend pretended to read a magazine in the corner although in my head I was sure she was checking out my figure. Almost immediately after I donned the robe, the surgeon came in. He was not what I expected - probably well into his 70s and bald - and had a very nice calm demeanor. “Well, show me what you got,” he said in his soft southern drawl. I dropped my robe. It had only been on for 5 seconds while he was in the room. Why did they bother with it in the first place?

After discussing that I was more interested in getting rid of sagging and wrinkling than going up in size, the doctor examined my breasts. He asked me to stand in several positions: with my hands above my head, leaning forward (NOT the most flattering position), and arms out. “Your right breast is bigger than your left,” he informed me as he measured me with calipers. I had never noticed. While he was studying me, I was busy looking at him. His bald head was almost devoid of wrinkles, in sharp contrast to his age. Botox? Probably so. He didn’t seem the type, but I supposed that when you had easy access to these sorts of things it is easier to take advantage of them.

After the exam I put on the robe again and we sat down for a little chat. He told me that a breast augmentation, where implants are placed in, would be much less scarring than a breast lift, and possibly could fill me back up without having to have the heavy scarring of the lift. Then I got a chance to ask my questions. How long would I need child care? About 3 weeks - picking them up would jeopardize the healing process and make a noticeable difference in the outcome. What are the chances of some of the risks? Higher than I expected. What size would I be afterwards? That is really impossible to determine until you go bra shopping after surgery, but we could fake the effect right here in the office.

The nurse handed me a surgical unibra, the same flimsy cotton garment that I would have to wear day in and day out for about a month while I recovered. They handed me a couple of implants - one bigger and one smaller, of course, because of my lopsided figure. “Slip these into the bra then put your shirt back on. It won’t be perfect, but it will give you a general idea.”

I did as I was told, then stood in front of the mirror. A very well endowed woman stared back at me. Would I look like THAT? I looked more like a porn star than my regular self. “What about something smaller?” I asked.

“We can put you in a size smaller, but it may not take care of all the sagging and wrinkling. Then we might need to go back later to do a lift.” We tried them anyway. It was closer to the effect I was going for.

Since the appointment, I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching. I’m not normally a person who would have breast implants or any kind of surgery solely for cosmetic purposes, for that matter. What makes me want to do it now? Is it because of the hysterectomy? Am I afraid of losing my womanhood? I am still not sure.

I also don’t know if I will have the surgery. I flip-flop a couple of times a day.

On one hand, there are no promises that the surgery will fix my sagging. And it is up in the air how big I would actually get. I’m not really a flashy person in real life - I wouldn’t want to be obvious to friends and family that I had any work done. I just wouldn’t mind looking better naked. My ego is also getting in the way. I take great pride in the fact - rightly or wrongly - that everything about me is real. This is my real hair color, real eye color, and real fingernails. I am who I am. I love being able to claim that, and if I got implants in, there would be no going back from that.

Bigger than that, though, I feel a social responsibility not to do the surgery. Why is it that when men get crows feet and graying hair it is sexy, but when women show signs of aging it lessens their desirability? I’ve always said that I would age gracefully and be proud of it. I love an older woman with long, flowing gray hair. Her wrinkles in her face shows the years of smiles and battles that she has fought and that is womanhood at its finest to me. Why should I join the ranks of the pressures that make woman feel the need to look like society’s version of perfection?

Then there are the times I stand naked in front of a mirror and think, “Holy s—, Kristina, get over yourself. If you don’t like something about your body, why don’t you just change it already?”

Will I do the surgery at this time? No. But must admit I’m not taking it off the table completely. I’ll keep the paperwork in a file. Maybe someday I’ll get it out to use it. Maybe I’ll find it one day while cleaning out my files and have a good laugh, my long gray hair bouncing and wrinkles showing with my smile.

I hope for the latter.

Riding that endorphin high

I attended my first homebirth in the wee hours of the morning a night ago - mom stoically sat in the birth pool, the only sign that she was working hard was light tapping of fingers and the occasionally quiet moan.  As soon as that birth wrapped up - about 6am - I get a phone call from my actual client.  “I think I’m in labor”.  Wee ha!  I go home, catch three hours of sleep, shower, then quickly shuttle kids off to grandma.  As kids are pulling out of the driveway, I get another call.  “My water just broke - we’re headed to the hospital.”  She was a trooper -  always had planned on an epidural but it didn’t take well and there were a couple of hours of really rough labor.  I got to earn my money, which always feels good.  Baby born right before midnight.  Both beautiful births - and I needed it.

Today is my little girl’s birthday - and driving home after a couple of births was the perfect way to kickstart it.  Now I’ve got to clean furiously for a birthday party this afternoon that I haven’t had the chance to plan.  Funny thing is I’m not even tired.  Ahhh…birth hormones (yep, the doula gets them too).  Don’t you love ‘em?

Book Club: introduction

Hi.  My name is Kristina.  This is my friend Jen.

I love saying that.

Anyway, the three of us BFFs started a very exclusive book club.  Whether it’s very exclusive because nobody else wants to join it is beside the point.  We get to read stuff and have someone to talk about it.  And as in our usual fashion, there will surely be wine.  And possibly food.  (I’m on a healthy cooking kick at the moment.)

It all started when I was raving about this really cool book my dad got for Christmas from his sister.  The book listed out all the best books of several genres.  Children’s lit, classic lit, modern, etc.  It’s been a while since I’ve read much fiction, particularly classic literature, and there were many books from many genres that when I saw I would shout “oh!  I’ve always wanted to read that” and there were other books I’d never heard of but sounded awfully intriguing.  I found myself flipping through the pages, remembering fondly books I’d “had to read” in high school and college, and some I’d hated (but probably deserved a fairer shake).  I think it’s well established that I like lists and order so this book spoke to me.  I’m already working my way through all the Oscar Best Picture winning movies and the IMDB top 100 and had always coveted a list of books that I could similarly work through.  One of the Jens mentioned that it would be fun to do it together in the form of a book club.  The only problem?  Confining us to a list like that just seemed too - well - confining.  So I set the “rules” on how to pick the books.

1.  We’d each take turns.  Everything worth knowing we learned we learned in Kindergarten, after all.

2.  There is no limit to the type of book we can pick.  It can be classic lit, nonfiction, reference, IKEA assembly instructions, whatever.  It can be 100 pages or 1000 pages long.

3.  Whatever one picks, we have to read.  No complaining.  There is something to be learned from any book.

So, The Jane Austen Book Club” and was intrigued.  But some of us had read Ms. Austen’s major works - or at least seen the recent movies - so she thought it might be fun to pick a lesser-known, and shorter, book.  Jen works for a major online retailer based in Seattle and one day the complete works of Jane Austen showed up on my doorstep.  I called her up.  Which book?  She chose by where her bookmark ribbon was placed.  Mansfield Park it is.

I finally cracked the book open and started reading in earnest yesterday.  It can be challenging to follow, with all the social mores and language of old England (care to help us out movie watching.

And wine.  Of course.

Thomas Beattie: First Pregnant Man

Thomas and Nancy are a loving, happily married couple living about 4 hours away from me.  They are expecting a child, due in July.  Their doctor says this is a perfectly normal pregnancy.  The only difference - Thomas is the one that’s pregnant. Thomas, who was born Tracy, is the first legally male person who is going to give birth.

“…our situation ultimately will ask everyone to embrace the gamut of human possibility and to define for themselves what is normal.”

They appeared on Oprah here:

Part 5

He wrote an article for Advocate.com here:

Part 3

I’m feeling sort of deflated when I read the comments on the Youtube videos.  Many of them say Thomas is just a gay woman having a baby…and many quote the Bible, etc.  I think it is interesting that they choose to ignore the parts of the Bible where Jesus directly asks them to not cast their stones and not to judge lest they be judged.

I believe that gender is not defined by what “parts” we might have, whether we are talking about penises, vaginas, testicles, ovaries, or chromosomes.  You might choose to define females as someone who has XX chromosomes and males XY.  But how about someone with both female and male genitalia?  How about “females” that grow a penis at puberty (I learned about this in sex education back in college - unfortunately I cannot remember the name of this syndrome or find a link).  All of a sudden, being able to assign gender gets a lot more fuzzy.  The way I see it, if you can’t medically assign gender all the time, the only true way to determine gender is within.

As a doula, I’m trained to deal with the emotional side of childbearing.  I have no doubt in this couple’s being fit to bring a child into this world - any child would be blessed to have this gentle, loving couple as their parents.  I do feel for them, though - they’ve already experienced opposition from their first doctor, who dropped them as a patient because he made the staff uncomfortable.  Pregnancy and childbirth brings up strong feelings for any couple, often requiring time to work them out, and they are probably no exception. I see a host of emotional possibilities here (just as I do with any family).  I think an experienced, sensitive doula or perinatal counselor (pregnancy counselor) would be a valuable asset to their team.

One thing is for certain - they are a loving couple and will be wonderful parents.  I applaud their ability to open and share themselves with the world - being able to put faces on stories like this is exactly what the world needs to break down misconceptions of gender and sexuality.  Way to go Thomas and Tracy - thank you for the gift of your story!

The things kids say

Bear with me, guys, this post does not end up being about birth.

We’re driving down the road as a family.

Connor:  Mom, what’s it like being a nurse?

Me:  I’m not a nurse…but would you like to hear about what nurses do?

Connor:  Oh - I mean a doula.  What’s it like being a doula?

Me:  Well, it’s the best job in the world.  Having a baby is hard work, and moms are sometimes scared, and I get to help them stay calm and relaxed.  And the dads are often scared too, and I get to help them just as much.

Connor:  I’m getting scared just thinking about it.

Me:  Oh?

Connor:  Yeah - about that part where I have to stick my penis into her vagina…

Me:  Oh…..yeah….actually I’m not there for that part.  (Dying now, trying so hard not to laugh)

Rich:  Connor, don’t worry, it may seem scary now, but when you are older and you meet the right person you’ll think that part is a lot of fun, and it will pretty much be all you can think about.

We interrupt this blog for a public service announcement

A family member on bedrest in the hopes of lengthening her pregnancy.  A friend who spent days in the hospital’s NICU with her premature infant, waiting for the day she could bring her baby home.  News of a devastating pregnancy or newborn loss from someone we know and love.

The fact is each and every one of our lives has been touched by premature birth.  Since 1990, the number of preterm babies has climbed more than twenty percent and is the leading cause of death for newborn infants today.  That’s why Rich serves on the local March of Dimes board of directors, and why I am excited to be a part of this “first” March for Babies.

On Saturday, April 26th we’ll be walking alongside 1000 other walkers to raise money for this important cause.  The March of Dimes has changed the name of their annual fundraising walk from Walk America to March for Babies to remind us exactly who we are walking for – all babies.  We’ve started a team – with Rich’s company (FE&C) as the team name.

DONATE NOW:      

Kristina’s page: http://www.marchforbabies.org/kristinafrench

Rich’s page: http://www.marchforbabies.org/personal_page.asp?w=181005753&u=RichardFrench

In addition, I’d love to hear your personal stories of how prematurity has affected your life.  Post one or send it to me, and I’ll post it here.  Thank you for making a difference in every baby’s life.

Richard and Kristina French

The vegetable garden: and so it begins

We all love spring - but we gardeners, I think, love spring best.  It’s the time of year of the greatest of gardening optimism - we can forget the tangled mess of weeds and bitter vegetables hanging from nitrogen-starved plants that was last year’s vegetable garden “harvest”, and plan this year’s like we know (ha!) what we are doing.

This year I checked out a load of organic gardening books from the local library and have decided to take a novel approach: to actually have an approach to gardening.  I first fell in love with the Square Foot Gardening method, but the idea of creating your own perfect soil entirely from bags of stuff from Home Depot, without any native soil, proved to be too expensive (and was slightly off-putting anyway from a holistic, earth-loving, biodynamic point of view).  I have, though, worked a few of the theories of SFG into my current garden plan: raised beds, measured by the square foot, where I can plant more in my garden with less space (instead of rows).  I’ve incorporated little gems of information from other books in my gardening plan this year as well.

This year I’m going to:

- Plant in raised beds.  Raised beds warm the soil more quickly and are easier to manage.  We’ll fill the area around the beds with some mulch of some kind to discourage weeds.  It will be a much more pleasant experience than last year’s weeding through a weed jungle taller than me.

- Plant stuff when it actually should be planted.  My old method was just to throw some seed and starter plants down all at once and hope for the best.  As it turns out, different veggies like to grow at different times.  Some cold-loving broccoli, spinach and lettuce are already in the ground.  This year, hopefully, we won’t have pumpkins in July.

- Feed and water stuff when it actually should be fed and watered.  Different plants have different needs from the soil, and as a plant grows, it needs different amounts of water and feed at different times of their growth cycle.  Who knew?  I’ll be watering with a hose this year (instead of drip irrigation) so I can control how much water goes into each plant.  I’ll also be feeding some of the more nutrient-intense plants some compost or fish emulsion every few weeks.  This has the added benefit of me actually having to step into the garden each day so I can see how my plants are doing and adjusting my care accordingly.

- Plant in succession.   There is no reason to plant a hundred radishes all at once.  Instead I’m planting a few at a time, on a rotation schedule, so that I’ll always have a handful to harvest each week with more in the ground at various stages of life.  My neighbors will be happy to know that I won’t be dumping radishes on them this year.  Most other veggies can be planted this way as well, so we’ll have a constant supply of lettuce for our salads (do you see the completely unabashed and unrealistic optimism here?).  I’ve even planned both spring and fall harvests.

- Grow stuff up.  You can make more room in the garden for other stuff if you use a simple garden tool: the trellis.  Peas, beans, peppers, tomatoes, and even pumpkins (albeit smaller ones) will be growing vertically in my garden this year.

- Choose seeds and plants more carefully.  I’ve discovered the thrill of high-end seed catalogs this year.  Instead of standing in front of the wire rack at the garden center and choosing between “bush bean” and “pole bean” I actually get to experience the joy of picking out just the right bean that’s tender and tasty and resistant to bugs.  And they’re all organically grown!  Bonus.

- Pick stuff when it is supposed to be picked.  Harvest has usually been whenever we have felt like making a salad or a side vegetable.  Often that has left us with overripe beans and bitter cucumbers.  Now I know that I need to pick vegetables often on many plants to encourage new growth, and usually smaller, younger veggies are the most succulent.

Here are a few pics from the beginning of the garden journey this year:

Putting in the raised beds I designed and Rich built…can I really fit my tushie in between there to plant, weed, harvest and such?  I thought I measured pretty carefully…

…ah, I actually didn’t measure so carefully.  Off by a foot.  Rich scratching his head, deciding what to do.  He looks a little put out in these pictures, but we were actually laughing the whole time.  I made him stand there in that position.

Rich working on fixing my mistake.

Much better!  My 12 foot by 4 foot raised beds are now become 12 foot by 3 foot raised beds.  I can now (barely) fit.  I had to re-arrange my whole planting map, but it’s worth it.  Still, it’s a tight squeeze and will be tough gardening in there…

The beds filled with compost and organic peat moss substitute (which seems to be just mulching bark) over the top of our soil.  Planting seeds and such.  See my nice little measured out one inch squares?  More on the obsessive-compulsive farming method to come…

My birth-hero

This article in the Seattle Times illustrates perfectly why I love my doula trainer, Penny Simkin.  She’s not just a great role model for birthy-types; her gentleness, passion and openness makes her a great role model for anyone.  Thank you for a lifetime of work, Penny!

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