Attention, attention!

December 16, 2008 at 10:26 am | Posted in musings | Leave a comment

For those who still check in here every so often, I’m moving to a new location. Email me at aebracken at gmail dot com for details if you’d like to follow along! Gracias!

guess who’s back…

December 5, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Posted in musings | 1 Comment
Tags: ,

Let’s dust this thing off, shall we? Is this even still on? Hello?

Momma needs her outlet back, one that’s not necessarily baby-free but is decidedly ALL ABOUT ME.

Because dammit, I have things to say. And they may involve swearing. So there.

Stay tuned, m’dears.  Would love to know if you’re out there so chime in and we’ll carry on!

(and holy shit (ha! I can swear!), is this new WordPress throwing anyone else a major curve ball?)

and I don’t even like eggs.

February 21, 2008 at 5:48 pm | Posted in health, Links, offspring | 2 Comments

A few years ago – four, to be exact – I went through the long and arduous process of being an anonymous egg donor.  Not that this is something I talk about a lot, but people tend to have one of two very strong reactions to this fact: loosely-veiled shock tinged with an air of “how could you”, or immediate fascination paired with wanting to know all about it. 

I bring this up now for a variety of reasons, but mainly because a recent episode of Oprah about the donor sibling registry has had me thinking about it a lot again.  I need to caveat this all beforehand with an important tidbit…I’m 99.9% sure my eggs weren’t actually used. I don’t think I have a biological child walking around somewhere, and I know this because the program I went through withdrew its request of me to donate more than once.  Something happened and it didn’t work for the couple who selected me, which breaks my heart into a million pieces but I try not to think about it too much.  Especially now that I’m 8 months pregnant with my own child after having spent the last few years absolutely convinced I had bad eggs because of this whole experience,  which has lessened my guilt complex immensely.

So yeah, I ponied up my eggs for an infertile couple.  I was paid well…really well, actually.  To be fair, I didn’t know about the compensation factor until after I’d started looking into being a donor.  My sister had a variety of health issues that were surely going to affect her reproductivity options, and I started thinking about what I’d do if I had the chance to give her this gift.  So I began investigating the process and local programs, thinking it’d be a smart idea to go through it for an anoymous couple in case it didn’t work – I couldn’t imagine doing it with my sister’s hopes and expectations on the line only to find out something was wrong with me.   

You wouldn’t believe the steps one has to go through to be selected as an egg donor when you’re working with a reputable program (and really, that’s the ONLY way anyone should do this. If it’s easy, something’s not right. Run away.)  Applications, endless rounds of medical screening, the psychological exam….

…and let’s stop right there.  Of course it makes sense when you think about it, but isn’t it absolutely confounding that women have to have psychological testing and consultations to make sure they can handle everything that comes with donating their genetic material, when any Tom, Dick, or Harry can walk off the street into a clinic and leave his swimmers behind without even having an appointment?  This is FASCINATING to me.  It is completely acceptable in our society for men to be sperm donors as often as they’d like, and I can’t even count on both hands the number of guys I know who made it a regular part of their beer-fund routine in college.   Me? I had to be told by a medical professional that I was of sound mind and body to give up the goods. 

I think there’s a lot to be said for how much importance our culture places on a woman “giving away” a child.  I honestly don’t see how this is any different than donating blood (which I do as often as possible), bone marrow (I’m on the registry), or even being an organ donor after I die (which my family now has official written proof that you’d better donate every scrap bit of me if you’re in the horrible position of having to make that decision.)  I have something I don’t need. Someone else needs it.  I can give it.  Why is that strange?

Yes, genetically speaking, the donor child would be as much “mine” as this baby who’s set to arrive in a few weeks. But your mother is the one who raises you, and I felt confidant I’d have no attachments or misgivings about what I was doing as the years passed by.  This is all very easy for me to say now that I’m pretty certain my procedure unfortunately didn’t work out in the end, and I won’t have to “deal” with any consequences down the line.  But you know what? I would have been fine dealing with it someday.  Just as I’d love to meet someone whose life was saved by my blood donation, I’d be so open to meeting and answering any questions my donor child had for me. I think it’s pretty cool that people are able to more easily connect now through registries and the like. 

Donating your eggs is not for every woman out there.  I know this.  The physical process is grueling – almost identical to everything you go through with IVF, except for the implantation part at the end – but on the flip side, the emotional part of it is light years removed from what those couples go through.  I’d sit in the waiting room of the fertility clinic before each appointment alongside various couples, and the tension and what I can only describe as palpable despair would cut me like a knife.  But it also made me feel so good because I knew I was trying to help someone in their shoes, and that was all I could do.

I wish there wasn’t such a double standard for women and men in this situation.  I don’t want to overgeneralize, but I tend to think women donate eggs to help others more so than men donate sperm for the same reason.  Obviously the donation process is a hell of a lot easier for men, which probably explains a great deal of the differences in mentality, but I also think a lot of women don’t even know egg donation is an option.  No one talks about it.  Hell, even Oprah’s show only focused on sperm donors and each guy’s brood of genetic offspring (mind you – we’re talking dozens of kids, in some cases). I loved that they were talking about it, though.  Fertility/Infertility options and issues in general are still so hush-hush and my hope is we can start talking about all this stuff without judgement and shame.  

It’s surreal to even be writing this while feeling powerful little kicks from my unborn child.  Can you imagine giving the gift of feeling this to another woman, who’s wanted it more than anything in the entire world?  And for the love of god, I’m not looking for kudos here because I didn’t do anything special. I just want people to know, if they don’t already, that there’s another side to the donor discussion.  A woman’s side.  

I know, I know.

February 18, 2008 at 10:39 am | Posted in Links | 1 Comment

I’m being beyond horrible with writing on here these days.  So sue me.  I’m doing great at posting on our baby blog (if you’d like the link, leave a comment with your email address), and have totally turned into “that girl” and I’m not even officially a Mom yet. 

Had to share this link, though.  It’s a good one for a Monday morning when the thought of the next five days is sucking the will to live right out of your bones. Or maybe that’s just me.

I’ll try to come up with something to write about soon. I know you’re anxiously awaiting that day. (not.)


January 22, 2008 at 11:11 am | Posted in rants | Leave a comment

Nothing sends me into a tailspin like money worries.  There are definite periods of my adult like that have been marked by an underlying current of financial stress, and this is one of them.  Which is ridiculous, given our combined income. When I do the math on our monthly net take home pay, it makes ZERO sense that I’m a basketcase and losing sleep over financial matters. 

Here’s what just chaps my hide: we have a financial planner/advisor at Ameriprise. We paid them money to plan our finances.  We’re all set up with IRAs, life insurance policies, you name it.  Yet somehow, these people we pay to MANAGE OUR FINANCES, can’t get their act together and update our accounts with our new bank information. So for the second month in a row, they’ve deducted money from our old account – racking up almost $200 in overdraft fees, even after repeated calls, emails, etc. begging them to get their shit straight.  Our advisor has moved on to another position, and I can’t get an answer on who our new advisor is – so I can’t even find someone who’s “responsible” for us.

I’m so frustrated, I could scream.

It’s just one of the items on my mental list of things I need to get straightened out before I can sleep easy.  Our property tax bill came last week, yet our mortgage company paid those for us back in November. So I have to find out why we’re being sent a bill for thousands of dollars.   Our gas company apparently didn’t update our bank account info either, so I have to go through that process again.  I’m desperately trying to sock away money in our savings account for my unpaid maternity leave that’s looming over us like the mother of all black, gloomy clouds…but at the same time pay every spare penny we have towards American Express to get that sucker under control. And let’s not even talk about preparing for daycare, not to mention diapers and god only knows what else.

It’s all just a mess. I’m a mess.  I know we’re just in a transition state with getting things setup and switching back and forth between banks has caused so many of these headaches…but I just feel like it should be easier.  All the talk about being on the heels of a recession and our economy tanking is only making things worse, and I just want to STOP THINKING ABOUT MONEY MATTERS for awhile. K?

It’s that time.

December 31, 2007 at 12:33 pm | Posted in lists, marriage, musings, offspring | 1 Comment

I’m normally not big on resolutions, but 2007 was kind of a weird year for me so I feel like I need to fake some sort of structure for the next one.  First, let’s talk about how this will be the year I become a mother. Me. A MOTHER. what? It feels beyond weird to even write that.  My daughter comes into the world soon. I’ll have a daughter. This is flipping me out.

I digress.

My resolutions for 2008, in no particular order because honestly, does prioritization ever matter in these lists?

  • visit my grandfather.  and actually, I lied above – this is probably my #1 priority.
  • stop eating fast food. The exception will be Chick-Fil-A because I have to be realistic here.
  • resolve my career path indecision and make a change that aligns with the work/life balance and personal gratification I seek.
  • make a daily effort to make my husband feel appreciated. I am horrible at this and it eats at me, because I couldn’t ask for a better partner and shame on me for not letting him know that every single day (see! that’s a start. Love you, krod).

Happy New Year!!

bad idea.

December 11, 2007 at 5:56 pm | Posted in Nashville | 1 Comment

It’s hard to get in the holiday spirit when it’s 75 degrees outside.  So ridiculous.  But I was determined to do something festive last weekend, and after hearing numerous people talk about how wonderful Opryland is with “9 million lights” and their wonderful Christmas decor – not to mention a whole article in Southwest’s in-flight magazine ranking it as one of the best lights displays in the country – I figured it was a no-brainer. 

W-R-O-N-G.  omg.  First of all, really bad call to go on a Saturday night. I have no idea what the hell I was thinking when I suggested this, but it could not possibly have been more crowded.  Opryland is like a Vegas hotel/convention center, which really surprised me. It’s enormous and sprawling and so commercialized.  But imagine EVERYONE who’s visiting Vegas squeezing themselves into ONE place at the same time. That’s what this felt like.

The entire rural population of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama had dusted off their Christmas sweaters (the ones with blinking lights were my personal favorite), dressed their kids in matching tacky outfits, and strapped on their fanny packs for the OUTING OF THE YEAR.  Now, of course this all makes for excellent people watching.  The only redeeming part of our visit was the 20 minutes spent sitting on a bench and watching people walk by, trying to keep straight faces and wondering out loud if we’re just big city snobs (probably) or if these people were really that out of touch with what passes as acceptable fashion decisions (likely). 

If only the “lights display” had been worth seeing. Apparently the 9 million lights were spread out over the 9 acres, so it just felt like any other hotel at Christmas with a few strands hanging here and there.  It was bad. It was worse knowing we’d forked over $15 to park about a mile away to experience such glory. 

I’ve made very few bad calls about sightseeing-type things over the years….a certain Irish festival in Coney Island comes to mind….and now this.  You cannot pay me enough to set foot back in Opryland at this time of year, if any.  I always thought Rockefeller Center was hell on earth the weeks preceding Christmas, but oh, how wrong I was.   Hell has new meaning.

a not unusual exchange

December 6, 2007 at 5:58 pm | Posted in family | Leave a comment

boss: “I saw on the news today that Omaha’s getting pounded with snow…wish we’d get some of it here.”

me: “yeah, my parents live in Lincoln and I got a picture of it earlier. pretty crazy.”

boss: “wait. your parents are in Lincoln? I thought they were in Atlanta?”

me: “no, they’ve been out there for a few years.  Moved from Westchester, NY so it was a bit of a culture shock.”

boss: “I bet. wow. ”

co-worker popping his head out of his office: “did someone say Rochester?”

me: “No, Westchester.”

co-worker: “Oh, thought you said Rochester, NY – I was born there.”

me: “oh, no…but so was my sister. ”

boss and co-worker: “????”

me: “yeah, I used to live there too. we moved around a lot.”

boss: “you’re confusing.”

me: “I know.”

I’m sorry, but…

December 6, 2007 at 2:50 pm | Posted in entertainment | Leave a comment

This is just of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time. 

and this, my friends…

November 29, 2007 at 9:41 pm | Posted in health, rants, travel | 1 Comment

…would be what we lovingly refer to as “hormones at work”.  After 11 hours on a shoot today, my 3-coworkers bailed on me for dinner leaving me alone with our 2 clients.  And I started crying.  Luckily I was in my hotel room at the time and not in front of them, but I just lost it.  I have no idea why, other than being really damn tired and kind of sick of entertaining these people…coupled with the fact that I have to hit the road at 6am tomorrow to do it all over again. And then again the next day.  I’ll say it one more time: anyone who thinks advertising is glamorous needs to come hang out with me for awhile. 

Sure, hearing the grips talk to each other about how Brad Pitt is holding up the film they’re working on because he’s demanding rewrites “like usual” is always entertaining, but do I actually get to SEE Brad Pitt? No. My co-workers, on the other hand, run into Hillary Swank and Leonardo DiCaprio in seperate instances on this trip…was I around at either time? No. Of course not.  This is how my life works.  Instead I get to work with the guy whose resume’ touts a few guest spots on Nip/Tuck and a Verizon commercial that only aired in England.  

I am totally blogging about work. I know.  But I cried tonight for no reason and so I just kind of want to get it out there, ok? I am huge and pregnant and sat in a 300 degree room watching take after take of so-so acting today, and while the spots are actually going to be hysterical and great, the process is exhausting.  I live for this crap and would rather be spending my days doing this than sitting behind a desk, trust me, but I think I’m starting to realize my limits in this “delicate state”.  I’m openly rolling my eyes at people, which is normally something I’m extremely skilled at doing in a discreet manner, and I’m definitely piping up more when my environmental needs (temperature. food. water. sour patch worms.) are not being met to satisfactory standards and am so that girl on the set.  Do I care? Lemme think….No. No, I do not care.

Over the last year or so, I’ve been realizing with more and more clarity that I’d like to be doing something else….a slight career change in the same vein/realm of what I’m doing, but different enough that I’d likely have to drop down a few rungs to do it.  I’m just not sure I can climb that ladder again. Not sure I have the fight in me this time, financially and just emotionally.  Cause Lord knows I’m not the flag-waver for mental stability these days.  I’m a bit of a mess, but keep telling myself I’m allowed to be for a few more months. Because then I have to be a real grown-up and take care of another human being.

For now, though, I’ll sniffle my way through another client dinner and try to pretend like the sexist jokes and stupid “war” stories about the good ol’ days don’t faze me. Because that’s my job. 

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