Notes from Colorado

We went to Denver, and it was wonderfully relaxing. Yes, I managed to take it easy and enjoy myself. I’ve compiled a list of observations from the trip.

1) They put green chili on everything. Also, there’s always a bottle of malt vinegar to put on your French fries.

2) They have the best damn beer I’ve ever tasted (and I’m not even sure I like beer).

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3) I wore a knit winter cap the whole time. It just felt right.

4) I was definitely the fattest person there. Even in 9 degree weather, people were working out everywhere you looked. “Health conscious” may be an understatement.

5) All the cars had 4 wheel drive. Obviously.

6) Buffalo meat was readily available. It tastes just like beef, but is supposedly less fatty. Plus, it feels cool to order a buffalo burger.

7) The people really are nicer out West.

8) I also wore a ski jacket the whole time and felt like I fit in. Makeup was overkill. I’m pretty sure NY Fashion Week isn’t the event of the year out there.

9) Ok, so Coloradans don’t care about fashion. Things they do care about: music, the environment, and locally brewed beer.

10) The bread doesn’t get stale for a really long time. No humidity!

11) Colorado: Flat. Flat. Flat. Flat. Foothill. MOUNTAIN. HUGE EFFING MOUNTAIN.

12) On a clear day, you can literally see Kansas.

13) It’s the mile high city. You could say we were really high the whole time we were there. IMG_1109

14) Listening to the radio, we heard a song called There’s No Tortillas” by Lalo Guerrero. Watch the video, it will make your day.

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what mood swings?

Last night I cried inconsolably for fifteen minutes. The culprit? A slightly emotional (but not devastating) scene on the show Parenthood.

For some reason when I heard that these injections could cause mood swings, I pictured a pendulum. I figured that I would either be on one end of the spectrum – happy – or the other end – sad. What I was not prepared for was a myriad of confusing, specific emotions that may be drug side effects or may just be my inner psyche manifesting the intensity of the situation. I will never know.

Since I started the injections almost a week ago, I have felt extreme joy, irritation, confusion, instability, excitement, fear, impatience, apprehension, gratitude and above all, anxiety. I feel anxious that the moment of truth is quickly approaching. Months ago, before we knew that any of this would be happening, we planned a short trip to Denver to sight see,  snowboard and visit with Eric’s cousin. We are leaving this Thursday. So on top of worrying about what’s to come and getting my next, incredibly expensive prescription in time, I have to plan on and pack for a vacation. I’m excited, but stressed. Very, very stressed.

The injections are going well. Eric’s mom did the first two and Eric has done all subsequent shots. The first night he had to do one I had already angered him by parking in his spot (accidentally), so he may have enjoyed doing it a little too much.

I have a whole other post planned addressing this, but I just want to take a moment to thank you all for the support and well wishes. I didn’t expect so many likes, comments, private messages, texts, in-person conversations and genuine concern. It means so much to have all of you surrounding us and encouraging us through this frightening yet exciting time. I know now that I made the right choice sharing this journey rather than keeping it all inside. I probably would have had a breakdown without a proper place to vent it all out.

Like I said, we’re headed to Denver next week. Hopefully I can relax and enjoy myself and just take my mind off it all for a little while. Ha. Ha. Ha.

A very dramatic New Year’s Eve

I bet you thought this would involve drinking, didn’t you? Well, it doesn’t. At least, that wasn’t the dramatic part.

I had my second appointment in the city on NYE. Yup, I traveled to Manhattan on New Year’s Eve. Totally sane. Anyway, I took the 7 a.m. bus and somehow made it to the NHF office (a bus ride and a subway ride) in an hour and 40 minutes. That is unprecedented. Smug and satisfied, I strolled in 20 minutes early for my appointment and made plans for a leisurely brunch with a friend. I felt breezy.

In the back of my mind there was a slight problem – blood test results. We needed them to be officially accepted into the trial and to get all of my fun prescriptions  (You know – injections and stuff). Eric got his results immediately, but since I had to have genetic testing the results took longer. For some reason I was convinced that while I sat in the French cafe with my croissant and coffee, the results would magically appear in my email inbox. Because life always works like that, right? Of course, the results did not come. I called Quest and was told that some results were back, but for some reason my PCP was not authorized to get partial results. Great.

I went back to NHF and broke the bad news. They said that if one particular test was holding up the works, they could still get stuff done that day. I gave them all the info and let them deal with Quest.

Now comes the fun part. Have you ever waited for a fax that someone said was coming? Have you ever stared down a fax machine, willing it to spit out that life or death piece of paper? I have. My car got towed in Philly many, many years ago. I was totally that girl that you see on Parking Wars, fighting with Allstate and fighting with PPA and waiting in the filthy, noisy waiting room for seven straight hours for a mystical proof of insurance document. If that show had been around back then, I would have been on it.

This “waiting for fax” episode was not quite as dramatic because someone else did all the phone fighting for me. I simply sat in the waiting room. And sat some more. I read an entire book. (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling. Highly recommend; laugh out loud funny). I changed seats. I watched people come and go, nurses wish each other a Happy New Year and leave, and receptionists switch off lights and head out. By the time they finally summoned me back to the office it was just me, a dark waiting room, and a young Asian child sleeping on a nearby sofa.

I’m not sure where the study coordinators are from, I’m so bad with that. I want to say they’re Russian? Ukranian? Something like that. They have thick accents and don’t understand some of my sarcasm (more’s the pity). Anyway, coordinator Matt said they finally, FINALLY got the fax after many threatening phone calls placed on my behalf. Thinking about his colleague,  a sweet and soft spoken woman whose name escapes me, on the phone battling with Quest Diagnostics for hours in broken English just to get MY blood test results gave me an instant surge of gratitude.

I drew my envelope. Matt made a big deal about this part but I don’t know, by this point I was tired and anxious and just wanted to get home to celebrate New Year’s. Plus I don’t even know if I wanted Conventional or Mini IVF; there are pros and cons to both. We got placed into Conventional.

Conventional IVF means daily injections. Matt demonstrated how to do these on a small rubberized button meant to resemble my stomach fat roll while I tried not to look visibly ill. He also said that since we are Conventional, the injections had to start that day. As in, within a few hours. He gave me directions to a pharmacy a few stops Uptown that he knew would carry the drugs and sent me off.

I should probably mention at this point that my phone was dying. I think by the time I left NHF I had 6% battery life. I also had no idea what time I could catch a bus out of Port Authority and my mom had borrowed my car, so I needed to be able to communicate with someone to pick me up. Stress levels began to escalate.

I made it to the pharmacy pretty easily. I confirmed with them that I could use an HSA card over the phone to pay for this $200 prescription. I also warned Eric that I would be calling to get the number. I called him from the pharmacy’s phone – twice – no answer. Desperate, I called him from my cell phone, thinking he wasn’t answering because he didn’t recognize the number.

Conversation:
“WHAT! What do you WANT! I’m in the shower!!”
“Hi I’m at the pharmacy I need the number now please give me the number now I have to talk fast phone is dying hurry please.”
“Oh MY GOD I am DRIPPING WET! FINE!”

I could type out even more of this story but this post is getting ridiculously long and I’m not close to finished here. Basically the card wouldn’t go through, a line formed behind me, I broke out in a rash and started sweating profusely, called Eric back at least three more times, got yelled at again, and I think our final communication was him screaming “JUST LEAVE. ABANDON ALL HOPE AND FUCKING LEAVE!” as I hung up the phone and whipped out a different credit card. If you were behind me in line, you would have hated me. I hated me.

I raced back to the subway, practically jumping over an old woman who had collapsed in the street. Sorry, didn’t have time for that shit (a large group of people was helping her, don’t worry. I’m not a monster). Somehow I made it to Port Authority in time for a bus going to William Penn. Phone life was at 2%. I called my dad and said, “Shut up don’t talk be at bus stop at 6:50 with my car phone dead k love you bye.” And with that – my phone died.

You think it ends there? Nope. I still had an injection to do, remember? Eric and I had already decided that neither of us were up for the task and we would get his mother, a (***now retired!) nurse to administer the injections. I knew she was going out for New Year’s Eve but had no way to warn her I was coming over with this urgent matter. Once I got in the car and charged my phone enough to turn it on, I called her, right as she was walking out the door. She was kind enough to wait for me to race over so she could stick me before heading off to her party.

After that we made it to our party 2 hours late, which I figure is fashionable. 2013 arrived. It better have a baby in it, and he/she better be pretty effing adorable.

calm. down.

I haven’t felt calm for more than two years. Sure, I’ve had brief periods of relaxation – mostly wine-induced – but on the edge of my subconscious there has always been been a tiny voice screaming, “You have to do something! You have to do something! Do something now!”

The voice was referring to the baby situation (some might call it a biological clock, but I think it’s more complex than that). However, it extended well past scheduling specialist appointments and Googling “homeopathic fertility methods.” Every aspect of my life has been affected by this anxiety. I’m often impatient and irritated at work. My catchphrase at the office is a deep, exaggerated sigh, and my cube mates often giggle when I let out one of these overly dramatic, oh-so-put-upon exhalations. I stress out over the state of my home’s chaos, such as how many dishes are piling up in the sink, how much laundry is piling up in the hamper and how much dog hair is accumulating in the corners. Even as I sit on the couch watching TV, my mind often keeps going a million miles a minute thinking of all the things I should be doing.

We went for our initial consult appointment on Friday. The office was gorgeous, and huge. It took up the entire floor of a building and reception had no fewer than 30 people waiting. We were ushered into the consult with two other couples – an awkward proposition at first, but once the meeting started we quickly got over being self-conscious. We were all there for the same reason.

All the tests took 4 hours. To my surprise, they said we would get a 98% acceptance or denial into the study that very day. We were sent to lunch, and promised that upon return, we would have our answer.

I have had two panic attacks in my life that I can recall. The first one was last year, in February, and that story almost bears a whole other post. Suffice it to say it had to do with a psychic prediction that foresaw us getting pregnant in February. I managed to stress out my body enough to delay my Aunt Flo three full days. Cue panic attack #1.

The second happened this past Friday. As the clinical trial coordinator sent us out to get lunch while our tests were analyzed, my heart started racing. My mouth went dry. I felt like I was going to throw up, pass out and levitate all at the same time. While Eric scarfed down a burger and cheese fries, I quietly died in the corner of the Goodburger on Columbus Circle. He couldn’t understand my meltdown. I couldn’t understand his lack of a meltdown.

When you’re trying to have a baby and you’re not able to, people like to tell you to calm down. “It will happen if you just relax! Don’t think about it so much!” Yeah, ok. I feel like the phrase “easier said than done” was created specifically for this sentiment. The amount of stress created by trying to force myself to relax was almost as bad as the stress that already existed. Does that make sense? I’m sorry if it doesn’t. Let’s just say I was doubly stressed out.

We got back from lunch (by this point I was shaking visibly) and were finally, finally escorted back into an office. The coordinator Matt took his time getting to the results. He said, “You seem like good candidates for the study.” I made him confirm three times that yes, this in fact meant that we WERE accepted into the study. I breathed the hugest sigh of relief and started babbling thanks and nonsense, while Matt (a non-native English speaker) looked at me puzzled and said, “But I do not understand? Why you freak out? You don’t need to freak out.” Eric just laughed.

That’s it folks: we are in. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. I feel like a gigantic part of this stress I’ve been lugging around has melted away. This weekend I sat under my dog hair covered blanket, dishes in the sink, laundry in the hamper and smiled, completely unconcerned. The funny thing is that Matt suggested that we start using condoms. You see, oftentimes people accepted into clinical trials can accidentally get pregnant from being too relaxed, and our next visit will be too early to test for such a phenomenon  I think this may be the definition of irony. Or maybe not. Like Alanis, I’ve always had a hard time defining irony.

Anyway – this is good news! I will try to keep you all updated as much as I can without saying too much. Just know that if my hopes have ever been sky high, now is that time. It’s like an inevitable that I have to now patiently wait for. But I just think it will be worth it.

spoiler alert: we’re not pregnant

I’ve debated a lot over this post. Probably more time than one should devote to thinking about something as inconsequential as a blog post. Here’s why I ultimately decided to do it:

1) It’s what’s going on. The most successful blogs are real, gritty, everyday life, right? So why wouldn’t I put this out there? This is what’s happening in my life.

2) It got harder and harder to post about other stuff. It felt like ignoring the biggest thing – the most important thing – the elephant in the living room.

3) This is like my worst kept secret anyway. I’m mostly open about it with people who I know and even sometimes with people who I don’t know. So organizing my thoughts and putting them all down isn’t going to be some big revelation.

Longwinded preamble aside… Eric and I are have been trying to have a baby for two and a half years but we don’t have one yet. There, I said it. My master plan was to wait until I was pregnant and post a whole long thing about the process leading up to it, but this “side blog” was getting long and frankly unreadable. I wanted to wait until I actually achieved the goal to post anything. Why? Because I don’t want anyone to know if I fail, that’s why.

Confession time: I used to blog about this under a super secret name and not tell anyone about it. This BBT blog is more lifestyle, less specifically allocated, so I’m going to keep things light (not that the situation is light, not in the least). Basically, I want to give an overall view of what’s going on without being too graphic. However, if you do want or need specifics, I have a gold medal in over sharing. If you ask nicely, I’ll quote you medical history and test results all day long. I just don’t think most people reading this particular blog care to know.

In the fall of 2010 we went for fertility testing and figured out the problem. Knowing the problem does not mean that you can afford to treat it, however. Most insurances cover the testing portion, but when it comes to treatment there is little to no coverage. Currently 15 states require providers to cover at least some of the treatment costs, but Pennsylvania isn’t one of them. And so we bid adieu to a potential $15,000 medical bill and decided to keep on tryin’ the old fashioned way (giggity).

So far, clearly, it hasn’t worked. Again, I could write pages and pages on the subject, but I’m just going to gloss over a lot of fine details and say this much: the past 2.5 years have featured plenty of tears, venting sessions, joys, ups, downs, hopes, despair, prayers, selfish tantrums, weird dreams, one ill-advised visit to a psychic, fights, make-ups, fights again, and pretty much every other emotion on the spectrum. We’ve learned an awful lot about each other but we still don’t have a baby.

Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago. A friend suggested that I research clinical trials as an alternative way to pay for the IVF that we need according to the specialist. Lo and behold, the first result that Google returned sounded promising. New Hope Fertility Clinic in Manhattan is currently running a study comparing 2 different types of IVF (though saying the words “clinical trial” to one particular friend got the immediate response, “But does that mean you’ll grow a mustache?!”) The whole thing sounds legit.  And best of all, minus the cost of testing and some meds, it’s totally and completely free. Free! For those of you who don’t have conception challenges – this is comparable to winning the lottery. At least it feels that way to me.

We aren’t in yet. Our consult is coming up soon and we could still be rejected from the study for any number of reasons. Despite the cliché and despite how much I DETEST this phrase – everything does happen for a reason. So if we don’t make it in, something else will come along. A month ago I wouldn’t have even believed this opportunity existed, so it proves that anything can happen. That’s why when that Ellie Goulding song comes on in the car I totally bust out some crazy vocals. Anyway, I will keep y’all posted on what transpires (nice details only). But I really, really REALLY hope we get in. I really do.

the biggest mistake of my life (it’s probably not what you’re thinking)

Actually, I have no idea what you’re thinking. Who are you? Do I even know you? Is anyone actually reading this? I don’t even care. I have a big glass of red wine and a couple of dogs laying at my feet. Life is good.

Anyway, every couple of years I like to spend a few agonizing hours playing “what if?” I’m sure we all do it. I like to do it right as I’m about to fall asleep, or better yet, when I wake up for no reason at 2 a.m. The game is quite simple: just imagine the outcome of your life if you would have done this and done that. How much better it would have been. Because that’s all we can focus on, right? How much better it would have been? What we’re missing out on? It’s probably not accurate to think that way. I just finished an intriguing book called The Post Birthday World, which explores both sides of “what would happen if she did” and “what would happen if she didn’t” one chapter at a time. I won’t spoil it because I highly recommend it, but I’ll just say there was no right decision. There were pluses and minuses to each life she could have lived. And that’s a pretty smart way of handling it.

ANYWAY. Regrets, I have a few. I wish I had gotten my shit together in high school and figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wish I had never wasted my time and money on a worthless school like The Art Institute of Philadelphia (damn con artists). I wish I had started writing sooner, I wish I was writing more now. I wish I never signed up for a credit card. I wish, I wish, I wish. But in a more tangible way, I really wish I never bought that car in June.

I swear, no single decision has more completely and swiftly impacted my financial life.  I remember, for one second while sitting at the dealership, hesitating. And I could have just walked away right then. I should have. I didn’t.

Why did I buy the car? I wish I could say because my trusty old Blue Civic finally died. But no – she’s still chugging away. If I’m being honest (and why would I not be honest rambling to myself?) it was sheer vanity. I look around and I see my peers with new-ish cars. I talked myself into believing that I deserved it. And so, with my arrogant head held high, I plunged us from a comfortable existence into counting every penny. From spending without thinking to logging into my bank account before stopping at Wawa for coffee. One car payment can do that? Seriously? Yes, yes it can.

I went from having a $0 car payment to having one I’m too ashamed to disclose. And the worst part? I just have to live with it. It’s not like they have an exchange policy. I seriously hate myself a little bit every time I slide behind the wheel. But damn, the built-in Bluetooth is nice. I am definitely in love with that.

Silver linings: well, I have learned to be a lot more conscious of my spending, simply because I have to be. Gone are the days of aimlessly wandering through Target and leaving with $200 worth of “What the hell did I just buy?” I don’t whip out a credit card to pay for whatever I need; I don’t even carry credit cards anymore. And Eric and I finally got rid of our personal accounts and joined forces 100%, so I’m a little self-conscious about spending what I used to spend on trivial shit. It’s just not worth the fight justifying $50 visits to the nail salon.

We’ll bounce back, of course. Maybe we’ll look back and laugh. In the grand scheme of bad financial decisions, I don’t think buying a car ranks up there with bankruptcy and such. But I’ve learned an important lesson about biting off more than I can chew, and I learned it the hard way. Target…. I miss you.

Juice

So I’ve been juicing.

Yeah, I know, once again I’m behind the bandwagon. But it’s never too late to start good habits.

I’m trying out this juice thing for two reasons:

1) I watched the documentary ‘Fat Sick & Nearly Dead.’ I liked it. It wasn’t the most inspiring or revolutionary thing I’ve ever seen, but it was well done. It piqued my curiosity, that’s for sure.

2) My entire extended family is doing a Biggest Loser style competition, complete with cash prizes at every weigh-in and a grand prize at the end in December. It’s a great way to potentially earn a little extra cash, fit in my jeans again, and feel better about myself in general. A win-win-win, if you will.

I borrowed the juicer from a salesperson at work, and I freaking love it. I’m going to have a hard time giving it back, that’s how much I love it. Eric says I’m not allowed to actually buy one because he sees juicing as a passing trend for me. I guess only time will tell.

I didn’t go cold turkey on food, but I did stock up on fresh fruit and veggies so I can replace most meals with juice. Right now I’m “enjoying” the Mean Green signature recipe from the documentary while Eric feasts on a steak dinner. Fun times.

In case you’re feeling adventurous, here’s the recipe. I left out the ginger because it’s too expensive. (Actually, all of it was expensive. No wonder poor people eat junk food).

bottom's up

Mean Green Juice

6 Kale Leaves
1 Cucumber
4 Celery Stalks
2 Green Apples
1/2 Lemon
1 piece of ginger

We shop at Target

Dear Marie Claire magazine,

Hi, I’m sorry, I am your audience. At least I thought I was. But month after month I go through the same cycle of emotion when you show up amongst my pile of bills. It starts with excitement (Fall fashion!) and ends with depression ($900 boots?). Along the way there are pit stops at outrage, confusion, envy, lust, hopefulness and resignation.

You know the women in your magazine? I don’t know these women. For once I’m not complaining about impossibly skinny models with airbrushed faces. I actually do know plenty of slender ladies with gorgeous skin. No, I speak instead of your “respondents” to various polls in various articles. The women who have questionable job titles, are 24 years old, and who cannot live without $1200 studded belts and $200 face cream. To some extent, I understand – magazines are not about reality, they are about fantasy. They set themselves as a fashion compass and we can choose to follow to the extent that we are able. It’s sort of like runway vs. the real world – no, you won’t be wearing the 8-inch spiked heels, but you might spring for the 4-inch. But still. I read each issue cover to cover and finish feeling anxious, overstimulated and woefully left behind. Sometimes I do wonder if my peers are lounging out in their mid-century modern lofts admiring their newest Birkin. But I also find it hard to believe.

Here in suburbia I can pinpoint where my friend’s new cardigan came from because I have the same one in teal. We didn’t get them at Bendels; we got them at Old Navy. We shop the Target clearance rack like its a second job. Our shoes are from Macy’s, but sometimes they’re from DSW or if we’re really lucky, they’re from Target clearance. Did I mention we like Target? Our face cream comes from Walgreens, but on payday it comes from Sephora. It almost never comes from Neiman’s.

No offense to those who do, but I don’t live in West Virginia. I can (and do) drive to NYC in under two hours. While I don’t live in the most happening metro area, it’s not quite east of nowhere. I have a few friends who live and work in the city. They shop at Target. We also like Marshalls and Forever 21 and when we’re feeling edgy, we really love H&M. At Target we scoop us $13 sundresses and $8 tank tops and $10 braided flat sandals. We compare notes and compete and try to figure out who paid the least. We walk down the back of the aisles for end cap sales, because everyone knows that walking down the center of the aisle is pointless.

That’s not to say we don’t splurge. I used to work for a luxury handbag retailer, and you’d be hard pressed to find a bag in my closet worth less than $200 – but remember I bought them all for half price with my discount. I couldn’t help but notice that in this month’s “Look Luxe for Less” feature, you offered a $998 Tommy Hilfiger coat as the cheaper alternative that would help to keep you from “straining your wallet.” Seriously? Our splurges are $168 dresses from White House Black Market. I own exactly one $300 Theory blazer (it was a gift) that I’m almost frightened to wear. And yes, $998 would most certainly be a strain for my wallet.

So what do we want? A little perspective, maybe. It’s like in the HBO series Girls, the one where the characters are real. They’re real and they’re likeable and they’re messed up and they probably shop at Target. It’s so easy to relate. We watched Sex & the City when it was cool (before it was a movie) and we loved it but we also scratched our heads and wondered if these women really existed. Someone finally figured it out – real women with budgets are out there, not with closets full of Manolos, but with mortgages and student loan debt and half priced gift cards to Applebees. This is your audience.

So about that Chanel watch – I won’t be calling to inquire for the “price upon request.” I’ll be at Target. Thanks, though.

 

 

Massacre at Harding Farm

Based on the title, and because I’m not the most adept at suspenseful openers, I’m just going to say it: the chickens were murdered. Well, not all of them. Just three of them. That leaves one confused, lonely hen that we found wandering the driveway in a state of shock (not sure if chickens can register shock, but if they can, that’s what she was).

We went on vacation last week and of course it was relaxing. However, I realized something about myself. While I did not face work stress or home stress or regular daily stress, I managed to create vacation stress. Rather than just live and let live, I found myself worrying about who was doing what and at what time, when I should be ready by, how long I should stay at the beach, whether I should pack a turkey sandwich or peanut butter and fluff, etc. You know – big decisions. It’s not that my problems were monumental, it’s just that my poor brain doesn’t know how to function without at least a modicum of anxiety. In the absence of actual drama, I somehow manufacture faux drama.

One thing that was actually worth worrying about came in the form of text around mid-week. I had a friend checking in on the animals at home (cat, turtle, fish, chickens), and she found an ominous pile of feathers in the front yard, which she reported to me with a sad face emoticon. She said that she did not see any chickens wandering about.

We got home and immediately set off looking for our flock. It didn’t take long to discover the aforementioned feathers in the front yard… and then the second pile near the neighbor’s yard… and also the third pile near a pine tree. A quick stop at the neighbor’s confirmed that nary a rooster crow had been heard since Tuesday (it was then Friday). Dismayed, we walked up and down the driveway until we found our lone surviving hen, who turned her head at us inquisitively as if to ask, “Where were you? Where were you while my family was being murdered?” Eric quickly gathered her up into the coop and locked it up tightly. The giant food and water feeders we purchased recently take up half the floor space of the coop, serving as a cruel reminder to all that we had and all that we lost.

all that remains

Obviously, free ranging has its limitations. Eric tried to make me feel better by justifying that this would have happened even if we had been home since we weren’t corralling them at night, but I would imagine that we would have noticed they were being plucked off one by one and locked them up sooner. Really, we should have kept them in the coop full time once the first hen went missing weeks ago. But we loved seeing them strutting around the yard, hiding in the front bushes, perching on the wood pile out back, and creating a little haven in the dry creek bed beside the driveway. The neighbors also enjoyed them immensely, saying it warmed their hearts when they found chickens wandering around their backyard.

Silver linings: we still have one hen. The three roosters that we gave away to the farm are still living (hopefully). And the ones that we lost had very good, albeit short, chicken lives. They roamed freely, eating bugs and ruling the yard. They were not restricted to the tiny cages of giant eggs factories. If it were me, I would prefer a short and free life to a long and imprisoned one. However, these could all just be justifications of a woefully inept caregiver.

The next steps involve finding a chicken friend for Diana Ross (Get it? She will survive?) [EDIT: Diana Ross DID NOT, I repeat DID NOT sing “I Will Survive.” Shame on the writer for not doing her research. The hen’s name shall be Gloria.] and then starting the whole process over again in the spring, if my uncle allows it. Maybe I shouldn’t tell him this little tale. To my lost chickens, I will just say this: I’m sorry, and I hope you can forgive me.