In the stairwell out my door and down a few, there resides or resided (I’m not sure yet) the Mother of All Spiders.  I’m sure she is just a plain garden spider, however, she was flippin massive.  She gave the end of my pinkie a run for its money, I’ll tell you that right now.  I decided she was female, and I almost named her Shelob after the gigantic nasty spider in Return of the King by Tolkien but that really skeeved me out.  Anyway, she resided in the cement-tile crevice above the door I use every morning and evening to get to the car – from the stairwell to the parking lot under the building.  Every morning and evening, I would say hello to her.  I believed that unflinching manners and kindness would keep her from dropping on my head at inopportune times – that is to say, at any time.  This went on for a couple of weeks, I’d look up and say hello to her OctoMajesty as I went to the car in the morning, and on my way in at night I’d step to the side through the door and say hello again.

Everything changed about four days ago.  She was not in her place when I came home one day.  She had moved about ten feet along the left-hand wall, and it did take me a few tense moments, casting about frantically, to find her.  I greeted her like usual, and gave her space as I went up the stairs.  The next day was kind of bad.  I didn’t see her at all as I came through the door at 5.  I looked at her old place, I looked at her new, I didn’t see a thing.  I looked and looked, up and down and all around.  then i saw it.  I saw Her OctoMajesty on the floor, rather hunched up.  I skipped the pleasantries and skittered past without screeching.  That was a major  triumph, as my screechometer was twitching.  Today I walked down the last flight of stairs with great trepidation, eyes darting thither and yon, trying to locate her before I stepped into her lair.  I didn’t see her at all and had to feel that scalp-itching horror of not knowing where a huge spider is in the room.  My spine tingled.  My hiney cringed.  I feared the worst.

Sadly, today after work, the worst was confirmed.  Her Ladyship, Her OctoMajesty, Her Madamness, was found dead on the floor all folded in on Herself at 5:17pm, Thursday, March 17th 2011.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day, my friends.

I found a new class to take at the gym.  It’s called Teacher Makes Us Squat And Then We All Die.  Not really, it’s called like. . .Willpower and Grace or something enticing.  The teacher said for people that have never taken the class before, to stick with the Level 1 option that she provides for the different maneuvers.  Then there are Levels 2 and 3.
I believe I have mentioned previously that I am very competitive.  So competitive, in fact, that I stopped taking yoga classes because I would try to be bendier than the instructor, you know, the person who has been doing this daily for 5 years or so?  The person who. . . does yoga daily?  After pulled muscles galore, I decided to keep myself and my issues in the living room.  Even though I think Dooce and I could totally agree on this topic.
Anyway, I decided (wisely) to stay at Level 1, the level of wimps, beginners, pansies, pregnant women, and those with glaring physical wounds keeping them from being good enough.  It’s a good thing I did, too.  Because I can’t count the breaks I took, just standing still and gulping air while everyone else leapt lightly from toe to toe, swooped into a plie`, swung their arms with purpose on a diagonal line from their right toes to a point above their left shoulders, and used their “smart toes” to really grip the floor and stabilize themselves.
I’m fine, Nick’s fine.  A divorce was just announced in his family, is all.  I don’t know how I feel.  No, I do.  I feel. . . sick.  I feel so heartsick that it’s having a physical effect.  I want to fix it, I want to make it better.  I want to wave a wand and heal the wife, wave that same wand and repair the husband, swish and flick that wand and protect the children.  And then I just want to be nearby, watching, and not interfering.  It’s not my life but it’s close by.  I’m terrified of what this will do to my Nikolai.  He’s never lived through trauma this close before – as the youngest of his generation, most of the grandparents, great-aunts and uncles were gone before he noticed or weren’t close enough for him to feel it.  I have a tendency to exaggerate my own importance and abilities and responsibilities, and therefore I feel like it’s my job to protect this family from the worst of it.  I feel like it’s my job, as the only one in the mix who’s lived through this before, to maintain communication with the wife and husband, respectively, help Nick talk through what he’s experiencing so he can process it and deal, and coach the other adults through proper grieving channels and habits to minimize the damage that is sure to go down.  I don’t want years of bad blood.  I don’t want severed connections because of judgments and misinformation and hurt.  I don’t want these people, my new family, to know what I knew, growing up.  Being shunned by extended family on the other side, not mentioning his name, her name, pity in their eyes, and satisfaction too.  Satisfaction that it was difficult to survive, that we were all damaged by it.  Studiously not mentioning a two or three year span of time, because that’s when it was worst.  Charity from school and church, whispered conversations with glances in our direction, and ostracism so delicate it was almost imperceptible, except it was right there, because my parents had failed.  They couldn’t hack it.  They weren’t strong enough, didn’t pray enough, didn’t try hard enough.  If they had really tried, surely they’d still be married and happily prosperous, and touting God’s miracles.  If my mother had been a good wife, she’d have submitted.  Ew.  Okay sorry for the rant, I just . . . I’ve lived through a divorce and I want the second time to not be as bad as the first.  And there are all these people I care about, who will have to live through this too, and they don’t know what comes next or what to expect.

Sometimes family news comes, not out of the blue, but still pretty unexpectedly.  And then it just pops up, smacks everyone in the face, and runs away laughing.  Then I go home in the light snow, share a few beers with the husband, and we just let it sink in slowly until we can deal with it.

On My Birthday Eve, I was heaving my innards out for the first time since getting married.  I guess my leftovers for lunch were older than I thought.  We went over to visit friends, and my stomach was just aching.  A little before we left in a hurry (this is an example of foreshadowing!), our lovely host (who had just the most adorable beaglish puppy) offered us daiquiris.  Translation: delicious fruit slush with sprite.  Because we were driving.  And . . . I don’t know.  I requested just the soda, for my stomach, and sipped it for a bit.  Then I requested directions to the bathroom, went, peed, and promptly had to turn around and vomit into my own pee water at my husband’s ex-girlfriend’s parents’ house. Just let that sink in there for a minute.  It splashed on my face. The only way for me to get away from the supreme horror of this memory is to inflict it on others.  Hi Uncle!  Hi Aunt!  Love you!  After vomiting up everything I’d consumed in the previous say, six hours, and damn if part of my brain didn’t keep track and tick off each meal, there’s the chicken strips, yup, cranberry juice, aaaand there’s the rice casserole from lunch, I stared at my red face in the mirror and kept saying, “okay, okay, okay, okay.”  Then I went back to the living room and explained we needed to go home forthwith.
“Uh, why, honey?”
“Because I just vomited profusely in the bathroom.”
Frozen smiles on all faces.
“Ohhhhh. . . .okayyyy.”
Went home, tossed cookies once more, and then slept horribly all night having bizarre dreams that bad things would happen if I changed my sleeping pose.  The next day, at work, maybe two people asked if the vomiting indicated pregnancy, so i spent the rest of yesterday, my birthday, paranoid that it was evening sickness and double-checking each sensation of my innards to see if I was symptomatic again.  Also, I yakked so hard I asploded a capillary in my eye.
Ewwwww but cool.
But I didn’t lose it again last night, so yay!  Not pregnant!  Happy Birthday to me!
I always know when my period is coming because I get really insecure and sad.  I miss Nick like crazy, even though a work day isn’t usually impetus for missing.  When I do see him again, I get all teary-eyed.  I have been known to have a small whimpery kickfit if he’s not holding me close or tight enough, and I get grumpy for no apparent reason.
Two or three days ago I had a very vivid dream wherein three different people told me I was pregnant.  I woke up pretty quick after that, so the memory of people close to me telling me that was pretty much in the front of my mind.  Right now in our lives, children are not in the picture either really or mentally.  Therefore the whole “you’re pregnant” thing freaked me out.  I’ve told friends, tried to calm down, and reminded myself that the symptoms I was feeling were completely standard for my PMSing self.  However, I cannot shake the niggling doubt that my IUD, while having a 99.9% confidence rating, is going to magically fail me after 9 previous months of totally working without a single problem. My coworker telling me about her sibling who was conceived whilst the mother had an IUD did not help.  The fact that this went down in like. . . the sixties or something didn’t calm my fears at all.
I keep running through symptomology in my mind – sensitive tatas could be PMS (like every other damn month) or could be my mammaries getting all into working order.  Going back for seconds even though I know I shouldn’t could be poor self-control (because I’ve totally let that go since we got married and cannot control myself worth beans or for beans because beans are delicious) or it could be my body forcing me to provide to two.  The extra body fat I’ve started accumulating could be my utter lack of exercise (and the molasses cookies I baked, and the delicious irish cream-based drinks, and my affinity for starchy carbs) or could TOTALLY BE BABY WEIGHT OMG.
In short, I have never been more ecstatic to be spotting, nor have I waited for cramps, fatigue, a dreadful mood, and raging insecurity with such breathless anticipation.

This place is magical.  This place is where I found (with my mom and sister) a family plot with my last name.  This place is where I saw tombstones inscribed with “A Confederate Soldier” and “A Yankee Soldier”.  This place is the Historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, GA, where this beautiful, heartbreaking statue rests:

Ignore the angel. Look at the lion.

That lion is lying on his side, dying, with his great maw open in pain, a sword broken off in his back.  The inscription says something deeply moving, and I cannot remember what it was.  Something to the effect of: lots of men and boys died in this war (Civil) and it was horrible and we’re all sad because everyone lost someone.