Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Why I have a new pomegranate string on my wrist.

Or, Why my husband recently said, "Babe, with you it's never a dull moment."

On Saturday, I painted little kid trains on the wall of a "big boy" room for one of my sister-in-law's friends. On Friday night, I figured I'd go grab some paint on the way home from our weekly CiCi's pizza trip and be good to go. We headed to Wal-Mart (of course) and managed to add several non-painting items to our basket (also, of course). After discovering that the line of pre-mixed paint that I like to use was discontinued about a year ago, Mr. Mandolyn and I decided that we'd have a few pints of paint mixed in the paint department. There was no one at the paint counter (of course) so we took turned looking pathetic and asking other departments to please page someone for us. After almost half an hour, a nice lady from Lawn & Garden came to give it her best shot- she'd only mixed paint once before and it had been six months ago.

It was a bit of a joint effort, but she figured it out and matched the colors perfectly (the machine wasn't one of the new computerized ones). We were all making pleasant conversation as I grabbed the last pint of paint and set it down in the basket. Except that it didn't quite make it. It slipped from my hand with about an inch to go before hitting the bottom of the basket.

And then it happened.

It must have hit with just the right amount of force in just the right spot, because bright green paint EXPLODED. It didn't spill, it exploded. Six feet in the air. Mr. Mandolyn felt drops on the top of his head first. I, on the other hand, felt oozing latex paint dripping down the side of my face and before opening my eyes to observe the scene, thought, "Oh yeah, it's everywhere." And oh, it was. It was splattered all over my face, my hair, my shirt, my jeans, my shoes, my string bracelet, Mr. Mandolyn, the shopping cart, everything in the shopping cart, my purse, my windbreaker that had been crammed in the cart, and the floor at the Wal-Mart paint counter. You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone within sight stood with mouths hanging open. If it was caught on the store camera, I have no doubts it's on YouTube somewhere.

I didn't know where to start. I knew my clothes were ruined. There was just too much to try to race to get it off. Mr. Mandolyn happened to be wearing a shirt that was the exact color of the paint. (We thought he'd escaped relatively well, until we took a look at his undershirt that night. It looked like he'd been in a horrible accident and bled green.) Everyone rushed to help. It came off of my purse pretty well (thank you, $10.45 Sam Moon purse...I knew that purchase would eventually be justified) but everything else was not so lucky.

I could feel the hot tears welling up just from the sheer lack of control over the situation. A very unhelpful employee told the Lawn & Garden lady that she must have not put the lid back on right, although I saw her pound it with the mallet. The same employee also looked at me in disgust as she said, "Um, I need to get past you..." Right lady, and I need to NOT BE COVERED IN PAINT. Deal. I headed to the bathroom to try to save face- from embarrassment as well has from the goo that covered it and tears started to fall. A couple of people looked at me in shock and I answered their wonderment with, "Uh, disaster in the paint department." I pulled myself together, washed myself as best I could, and headed back. Maintenance teams and managers were helping my husband transfer what could be saved into a new cart and grabbing new products as necessary. One manager took me over to the clothing department and told me that they would give me a new outfit. He was so sweet, and was really trying to do the right thing, so I tried on some clothes. I just wasn't in the mood. Shopping for clothes for me is always a stressful adventure and at that point, I didn't want new clothes. I wanted my own to not be ruined. My sweet husband took one look at me and realized all of this and asked if we could have store credit instead. We'd use it to pay for the things we would by that night and he would take me to get new clothes later. No problem, they gladly gave us a gift card.

And then we laughed...because, well, damn. It was funny. We're the biggest thing to happen to that Wal-Mart in a long time. At least we gave countless people a good story to go home and share. We've been telling everyone about it, and so far, everyone has said, "Mandolyn, you do realize that this could really only happen to you, right?"

Oh yeah. I do.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Call for Assvice!

I graduated from college at a not-so-good-if-you-actually-wanted-a-job time. I kind of knew it would be like that, so it wasn't a huge step to move in with my parents for a while. They had just moved 600 miles from where I was raised and were now about an hour away from where I'd been living. In an attempt to make a little money, I decided to try to start making greeting and notecards out of these little angel characters that I doodled. I had a teacher in high school suggest it and laughed him off (while continuing to draw in the margins of my college notebooks as well). This was also not a huge stretch for me. I'm (obsessively) crafty and was always the kid on the corner with a lemonade/Kleenex flower/yarn doll/pet rock stand. I'm pretty sure that I never made $5 total in the years that I tried to sell crap to the neighborhood, but somehow that never discouraged me.

So back to the cards. My parents were ultra-supportive and helped me dive a little deeper into it. I actually trademarked a logo and booked myself at a few craft fairs. It has been kind of hit and miss from there. (Sometime I'll have to go into my craft fair soapbox...) I did eventually get a job, moved out, got married, etc, but have kept it going. I honestly do enjoy it. My husband is the best supporter ever. I have a website, but it isn't always up-to-date or cool (but I do have a friend who is doing it for free, so the complaints kind of have to end there.)

And now. I'm looking at trying my hand at not working in an office after this baby is born. I have a lot of reasons, but one is definitely that I don't feel like anything I do at work really matters. And it doesn't, that's just a fact. But I can make people happy with the cards, so I figure maybe I'll try concentrating on that some more.

Here's where you come in. I need some suggestions, opinions, and assvice. Mel has brought it up before and I've been a part of discussions about it. So let's revisit, shall we? How do we feel about cards specifically designed for the infertile? Pregnancy loss, Hopeful Wishes, Congratulations on _______, etc, etc... My husband and I talked about it last night. We had a difficult time handling people in the aftermath of our miscarriage. He said that he would have liked to receive one that said, "You don't want to talk about it. We won't make you. We love you." That's what he wanted to hear.

What would you like to hear? What about pictures? I do a lot of custom stuff, and that would certainly work well in this case, but should I look into a Special Collection? And how can I make it mean something? Should I put a blurb about the pomegranate string? Include one? Is this something you would be interested in?

Please deposit any thoughts- comment here or email me ( Tell me what other people think, too. If I'm going to try this, I want to do it justice.

If you want to get an idea of what I'm talking about, my website is Most of the designs there are based on requests that I've gotten along the way. For the record, though, I did give you fair warning as to it's up-to-dateness...yes, I realize that aside from what the snowman on the front page says, Christmas really isn't just around the corner.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Inside Mandolyn's Head, Episode 1: Religion and Infertility

Sometimes, long blog posts need an introduction. Without further ado:

Melissa at Stirrup Queens had a great post on Wednesday- Sermony that really struck a chord with me. She has several questions from a woman planning on writing a sermon designed to reach out to the infertile congregation. I thought I’d leave a comment on her blog, but it turned out to be a little lengthy (ahem). So…in response to her post and a few of the questions Melissa has posted on her blog:

My husband and I have been talking about finding a church lately. I’ve always said that I want to raise my kids with church to give them a basis to form their own beliefs from, just as my parents did. It’s a hard thing for me, organized religion. I haven’t had any specific bad experiences per se, I just don’t feel like I fit in. Yes, I realize how much of a lame excuse that sounds like. I haven’t been to church (other than a few special occasions) in almost ten years. I fell “out of practice” in college. I went to a private college that was once affiliated with a certain denomination (that I grew up a member of, and actually do like, based on beliefs) but found that church services were something that everyone did because they were supposed to. It was beyond cliché, it was sickeningly hypocritical. I realize that happens on a much larger scale than just a college campus, but I suppose the exaggerated environment really struck me.

I don’t believe that religion and spirituality exist in the confines of walls and stained glass windows. I haven’t attending a church service in years, and yet I think I have felt closer to God and more in touch with what I believe since…not that the two are directly related. For me, stepping back and diving into myself and my beliefs and wrestling with it made me truly comfortable with my own spirituality. I felt in touch with religion when I took the time to notice things around me- the crisp morning air, my husband’s sweet touch, the togetherness I feel every year at a family reunion, the sun on my skin, a big sloppy dog kiss. It worked for me. Until infertilty...then I had to reexamine it all over again. I'm a work in progress.

How has dealing with IF changed your view of God (if you had one?)

I don’t know that my IF changed my view of God and religion, but it made me very aware of how differently infertility is perceived through the (religious) eyes of others. I have never been completely comfortable with the thought of God’s Plan for me. Do I have a say in it? Don’t my actions make a difference in what happens? I like to think of it more as God’s Big Flow-chart. Free will has to play into the game somehow. (This is the part where my brother turns red in the face and starts reciting verses, sure that he can make me understand that I’m dangerously mistaken.) So many people gave me religion-based advice and thoughts about my inability to conceive and my miscarriage. I wanted to scream.

“It’ll happen on God’s time, baby, not yours.”
“Let go and let God.”
“It just meant that the baby wasn’t perfect in God’s eyes.”
“We can’t question God’s Will. It was just meant to be.”

If all that is true, then God consciously chooses which babies make it and which don’t. Which wombs and which cycles get to carry a baby to term. And then how is that based? Obviously not on merit, the world has far too much evidence of that. I hardly think it's a lottery. But we’re taught to think (however simplistically) that God rewards good people, and that children are rewards, precious gifts. And then guilt sets in. If all that is true, then I must be doing something wrong, this must be a consequence of my actions, of the way I’m living my life. Maybe I don't deserve a baby. It goes on and on….and I can’t understand that. Maybe I just refuse to. I don’t think that God decided to finally let a baby implant itself in my uterus and then decided he needed to die in a matter of weeks, any more than I think God causes the terrible, horrific things that happen to people all the time. The truth is, my infertility has led me to think that God doesn’t necessarily cause or authorize all the pain and suffering on this Earth, but rather that He’s there to help us through it.

Would it cause more pain to hear it talked about in church or be a comfort to open a dialogue?

I would love to have discussions on infertility at church. I think that it’s one of those messy, uncomfortable issues that people shy away from. It can test your understanding of religion and life in general and it’s easier to ignore it. I’d rather take hard subjects like infertility, roll my sleeves up and talk about them, expose them make them real, and I think church is a wonderful setting to do that in.

Which brings back the question: can someone outside the experience ever speak as honestly and as eloquently as someone inside the experience? Is it the speaker or the personal experience that truly has the power?

While I think that the perspectives from both sides of fertility are important to hear, I don’t think that one side could speak about the other and do it justice. We can speculate and try to empathize with what we don’t know personally, but it isn’t the same. I think the power lies in the personal experience. I've been trying to expand on that thought for the better part of an hour now and haven't come up with anything profound to add. It's just that. If anyone can talk with heartbreaking honesty and absolute eloquence about infertility, it's an infertile, whatever her/his experience and perspective may be. I guess that's all I have to say about that.