acupuncture, dating, fertility, IUI, ovulation, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

I heart Dr. Tran

Today I saw the doc to discuss next steps, in the event that IUI#6 doesn’t pan out. He was handsome as usual in a wool sweater today, no doctor coat. He has such a warm and understated personality and always manages to work into the conversation how hard he’s working, but that he can’t complain because loves his job. (How often does your doctor tell you that??)

He mentioned at least every three minutes that I can get pregnant, and that I did get pregnant, 2 out of 4 tries (he doesn’t count the first 2 tries at PRS since he didn’t oversee them). I’m “batting 500.” Nothing is wrong, nothing is worth testing now. He also said at least 4 times how much he wishes that his patients didn’t have to go through miscarriages, but they don’t know how to prevent that yet, and it’s really nature’s way of selecting. He looked concerned and paused on the topic of miscarriage and I thought I might cry but then we moved on. I hadn’t thought about the lentil in a little while.

So, what does he recommend? He thinks we’re ready to move on to Clomid, which is a pill I’ll start taking on Day 2 to grow more, fatter follicles, like 2-3 would be great. 4-5 and we might wait until the next month to be sure I don’t have millions of babies. On Day 10: ultrasound to check the follies. Day 12: trigger shot to trigger ovulation (I’ll need to learn about how to give myself the shot), then IUI the next day.

The idea is that we’d have multiple embryos and hopefully end up with one normal one. Of course, I could end up with two, in which case you are all hired. I’m sure I would go ahead with twins and it would ruin my life in the best way possible. How many cycles does he recommend with Clomid? Only 3. Then IVF, but he feels strongly that we won’t get there (and if we do, I have high ovarian reserve, so it would be a slam dunk (my words)). I said that I liked this plan, and he smiled and said, OH, I have a plan for you and I always did!

It looks like I should be able to wrap this up one way or another by my 40th birthday in July, which is a nice goal. Dr. Tran walked me out and touched my arm as he said good bye and to hang in there. I wonder if there’s any ethical way for me to date him? (This crosses my mind every time we meet.)

Meanwhile, I could be pregnant now. But I’m only 5 days in, thought I was feeling mild cramping last night but it turned out to be gas (doesn’t it always?). Today, my digestive system is not happy with me and I’m on the couch feeling achey and cold under a blanket while the cleaning lady cleans and the city erupts outside in celebration over the Giants winning the World Series exponentially intensified due to the fact that it’s Halloween (supposedly there are a million people out there–my acupuncturist called to cancel because he can’t even get to his office).

I realize that ending yesterday’s post with a potential guy-atus was a bit incongruous after listing all that I have “going on,” even it’s a lot of dating busy work and no real results. I think a guy-atus is my way of pretending I have control (now I’m on! now I’m off!) even though I don’t, and of course I would be open to meeting someone great whenever. The question is how much energy do I invest. Maybe dating Dr. Hawaii long-distance with romantic visits here and there throughout the coming year would be the perfect mix?

As MMcL emailed me yesterday, perhaps it’s about accepting the pace of where things are at. If I think Baseball Guy should have called sooner than five days after a first date, maybe that’s arbitrary. Maybe now that I’m not seeking a babydaddy it’s time to slow my roll and just see who shows up–we’re not under the gun anymore!!

Two shouts out: The Solo Mana Project got two recent mentions:

  • On the SMC site it is the featured blog post this week! It’s from the summer, when I was prego, which is a blast from the past now but what an honor to be featured there, thank you, Jane.
  • On a virtual friend’s blog, Return to Go, I was nominated for a Liebster Award, which, from what I gather, means that I answer her 11 questions and then nominate 11 other bloggers to do the same. Cool! I’ll do this soon.
biological clock, dating, IUI, meditation, outdoors, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc


IUI #6 happened Saturday and for the first time was done by a Eastern European male nurse practitioner who mechanically told me step by step what was happening and smiled at me like we shared a secret. I asked him how my cervix looked and he said, “normal.” (I was looking for something more like, “fertile.”) Notably, he told me to do whatever I wanted for the rest of the day, and I said, “Really? That’s the first time I’ve heard that.” He said there was nothing I could do to affect the outcome. I think he represented the most medical and least psychological perspective on this, and rather than going for a run afterward, I went home and took a nap.

That night, I went to dinner and a Halloween party as Zombie Cinderella. After borrowing the lovely costume (because it looked nice and was a quick and easy solution), I soon realized my error as I contemplated actually walking around the Mission in this un-ironic get-up. Not to mention the fact that this particular fairy tale irks me more than any of them, and so does Disney for fanning the flames of expectation among little girls who grow up dreaming of being rescued by the perfect man. Then we all learn the hard way that no man is perfect and no one can rescue you from yourself, and lives continue to unfold in all their glorious imperfections well beyond the happily ever after. I still believe I’ll find my Prince Charming, but he will be imperfect and our life together will have highs and lows, starting with the fact that I might be a member of the AARP by the time he gets here. Meanwhile, I stopped at Walgreen’s for zombie makeup and watched a YouTube video on how to achieve a “freshly dead” look, putting a new, irreverent spin on this iconic character, and it somehow worked. My poor friend who loaned me the costume and just married her Prince Charming mustered a, “Somehow you still look beautiful…”

The next day, I did a day-long retreat at Spirit Rock, focused on nature. The whole thing was outside, under a bough of trees in the golden hills and clear blue sky. We sat in a meadow as the sun rose behind our teacher through the trees, then moved to the other side at mid-day to stay in the shade, watching as the sun set behind him. In the middle, I took a big nap during the lunch hour. There was a woman there who resembled the girlfriend of a guy from my past and I was sending subconscious resentment her way without realizing it. Later, in the group of about fifty, she happened to be sitting next to me when it was time to get partners. One of us closed our eyes while the other led us around gently to something in the nature around us–a rock, a tree, etc.–and put our hands on it, letting us explore it for a while without using our sight. We were mostly silent or whispering or giggling as we went through this exercise which sounds so basic but is very sensual and bonding and exciting. I was so intrigued that this woman to whom I had attributed this tangle of hurt feelings turned out to feel like a friend and a sister as we walked together arm in arm like Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan. I felt truly awakened by that experience–compassion, connection, loving-kindness.

Then we won the World Series, again! Unlike two years ago when I was out partying in the streets, I was asleep by 10 despite the cars honking and revelry outside. Then the hurricane stopped everything coming out of New York and I am totally catching up on work (and hoping all my east coast friends are doing fine).

Meanwhile, Baseball Guy from Friday night hasn’t called, which is unexpected considering how I thought it went, but you just never know with people, do you? The Moroccan is back, texting up a storm, but we can’t ever seem to coordinate on a time that works for both of us because he works evenings. And, introducing Mr. Hawaii, who found me online almost a year ago–we became facebook friends which is usually a mistake but in this case has allowed me to get to know him passively over time, and he feels like an old friend. He’s a naturopathic doctor. He just emailed me that he’s coming to SF after Thanksgiving! So…finally we will meet.

Meanwhile, I’m considering giving up dating for a while. Can I just can the whole thing and be content with my friends and family and work and my maybe-zygote? Is it time for a guy-atus?

biological clock, dating, donor sperm, fertility, IUI, ovulation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc


I’m in the hours between a promising first date and an IUI.

Fascinating, isn’t this? Here is a window into my thoughts, “But when he finally came around, would he be able to love the child as his own?”

Even I know I’m getting ahead of myself. But I did pause in the bathroom thinking, “Should I tell him tonight?” (When I got back to the table, he had outed us for being on a date to the girls at the next table over. They giggled and wished us luck.)

Then I remembered there’s nothing he could do to talk me out of it. I got to this point, age 39 with waning fertility, because of waiting. Waiting and bad matches. And: chances are actually pretty high that things won’t work out with him AND I won’t get pregnant. Not to be pessimistic, just helpfully realistic. I don’t have to start juggling a baby and a boyfriend tomorrow. Unless I get really, really lucky.

I was talking to L on the phone just moments before walking into the bar. She said, “Are you excited?” and I said, “My mouth just went dry. I think so.”

He walked in, instant rapport. He lives up the hill, plays baseball, works in tech, and considers himself a lapsed Buddhist. Somehow, he pulled off a royal blue sweater vest. I didn’t realize he was ambiguously ethnic until he mentioned his dad is Sri Lankan. He has three older sisters. When I asked about his career aspirations, he said he just wants to make enough money to be able to hang out with his kids. (follow-up question: do you have to be the bio dad?)

Intriguing how they all want to be babydaddies now that I have McPiercy.

He paid for my beer at The Page and my dinner and beer at Fly Bar (yes, I bent the no-alcohol rule since it’s IUI eve). He fired many thoughtful questions and listened intently as I answered. I noticed early on that he brought out one of the best versions of me. He kissed me on the cheek and gave me a hug and…it was nice. (Dad, was that too much?)

Then I drove up to Marin to visit D and J and borrow one of J’s zillion Halloween costumes. I landed on Cinderella. It would be too easy (and nauseating!) to make this a sign that I’m headed for a fairy tale ending, and plus I don’t think I believe the fairy tale anymore, which makes my costume choice a bit problematic. I just want a nice guy to hang out with. If he turns out to be a Prince Charming who loves to hang out with my kid, so be it.

Finally: He asked me to think it over and let him know if I want to see him again. I said, “Ask me out again!” (Was I supposed to play it cool? I’m thinking yes. Sigh.)

Tomorrow is big. I *will* call the sperm thaw hotline before 8:30. I will put forward my best effort to begin a new life. Then I will party till the clock strikes midnight.

fertility, IUI, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

sun salutations

Blog! I’ve missed you. I went a little while without writing, like 9 days. It was a very packed 9 days and had almost nothing to do with fertility and everything to do with work: deadlines, stress, travel, presentations. And there were moments of joy: roadtripping with J, running 8 miles along the coastal cliffs of Southern California, sitting around the fire drinking cucumber vodkas, flirting with nerdy finance guys at the hotel bar, and stopping to see my insemination sister A in Santa Barbara on the way home. Let’s pick it up there.

When I went for my first IUI in March, I was put in touch with her by dear mutual friend J because A, single, living abroad, went for her first IUI the same weekend as me. A frenetic gchat relationship ensued, wherein many questions were asked and answered, acronyms flew, and we were pretty much always freaking out. Two weeks later, A had taken four negative home pregnancy tests followed by a very positive blood test. She got pregnant on the first try.

Yes: she freaked out. I was the first person she told, on gchat, because I was hanging out there waiting for the verdict. She spiraled into a whole other hemisphere of intensely mixed emotions as I tried to understand how she’d be anything but blissfully happy–and this was a good lesson for me: you never know how you’re going to feel.

Fast forward two months and A came through San Francisco: we met for coffee. We squeezed in 1.5 hours, and for me the final puzzle piece clicked into place. You definitely don’t quite know who you’re dealing with until you meet in person. Next, we gchatted, blogged, facebooked, and never quite skyped (working on that) our way through all of these months. I pretty much know what’s going on with her every day.

Fast forward to Sunday, and she’s 31 weeks pregnant, in town for her baby shower. Of course it was impossible not to look at her and think, “That would be me.” But I’m not in a place of feeling sad about it–I’m at where I’m at, and so is she, and MAN this is a wild journey. You just never know. I am so happy for her, and her baby boy on his way. A great example and huge support from South America, especially when I need it most.

We did yoga on the beach in the morning, an idyllic scene of sunrise, calm waves, and birds with very long beaks running along the water’s edge, digging deep in the sand for their breakfast treats. Here we were, two women in our late 30’s, greeting the sun with all our beauty and imperfection, our experience and adventure, our independence and insecurities, our passion to be moms. One with a belly, one without.

For the record! She started with meds on the first try and has been somewhat bewildered about why I wouldn’t do the same. I am getting there. This cycle will be my last unmedicated one: #6. I have an appointment next week with Dr. Tran to discuss #7 and what my protocol will entail. For now, I am peeing on a stick and #6 will happen sometime around this weekend.

After the work travel (which entails dessert after every meal), I am also trying to reset the health button by going off gluten, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.  My sister gave me a Vitamix (THANK YOU!) which means I can pack a mountain of fruits and vegetables into one smoothie. I kid you not, I feel the difference after one day. (I think gluten might be the devil.) It’s that time of month where we switch over from bourbon, Newman-O’s, boy-crazy mode, and coffee back over to broccoli, fish oil, quinoa, light runs, and fizzy water. Quiet, and sleep.

Just to throw a wrench into the works, I have jury duty tomorrow. How much blogging will I do from court?

Stay tuned! The jury’s out 🙂

IUI, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait


I’m under the covers in bed at 6:30pm at a casino hotel in Reno resting up for blackjack. My friend KC is here, in the next bed over, lamenting that Starbucks doesn’t have room service. We’re back to campaign for Obama in this battleground state after having blast here four years ago . We just ate burgers, fries, and shared a chocolate shake while watching TV. My marathon meal, even though it was more like a consolation prize tonight. AF arrived, so we’re resetting the clock to Cycle Day 1.

On Thursday, after so many days/weeks of nonchalance, I spent the whole day believing, feeling, knowing I was prego. Which annoyed me since I felt that all the very real symptoms were so valid and almost scientific–and suddenly I was invested in a deeper way. No longer fearing superstitions or jinxes, I shared this with AM, with Cr at dinner, and with my mom on the 2-hour drive to a presentation Friday morning. Oddly enough, though, all the symptoms disappeared through the course of that day. We got to Reno, checked into our lovely and incredibly cheap hotel room, went to dinner and a live $10 show of a hypnotist/comedian, followed by a little blackjack. The people-watching is ridiculous–fat families, cleavage, sparkles, cigarettes. So entertaining and sad and not like the casino culture you see in Vegas movies, more like her poor step-cousin.

This morning, we met up at campaign headquarters to get trained and receive our packets and clipboards to go door to door. After knocking on over thirty doors each with good results, KC and I headed back to HQ for another round. While there, I stopped in the loo. And there was AF when I least expected her. I felt almost nothing. Texted AM and my mom. Got back in the car.

Unbelievably, our second packet was for the same trailer park we canvassed four years ago! We remembered it because it was quite a poor area, with ironic street names like “Lucky Lane.” These trailer homes sell for around $24k, which we know from several that were for sale with the price posted. We were both so tired but decided to push through at least a couple of loops and to finish the rest tomorrow.

Just in case I was about to start feeling sorry for myself about try #5, I got a little perspective on Lucky Lane.

At the only house that KC and I did together all day, a man showed us his gun (no joke, people) and said that lucky for us, it was reserved for Republicans. We scooted.

The next house (trailer) I visited had a man sitting alone on the porch, not doing anything but looking out and sitting in the sun. He was around 50 with glasses and a curly little ponytail. He told me that he already voted for Obama absentee. We started chatting and I mentioned I was from San Francisco-and he started raving about it, “Everything there is the best there is,” with a sparkle in his eye because he used to live in the East Bay. He asked me about how I can afford it, “What does your boyfriend or husband do?” He couldn’t believe that I could be making it there on my own, comfortably, and by then he had stood up and had the sun shining behind his head like Jesus or something, and he said, “Well, that’s just amazing and wonderful that you can live there, that you get to experience that life. I guess we all end up where we’re meant to be. You really seem to have it all figured out and all I can do is wish you the very best.” I walked away in tears.

The next house on Lucky Lane was an eighty-five year old man who is going to early vote for Obama and happily accepted a ticket to go see Joe Biden’s rally on Monday. I chatted with him for a while, conscious of the fact that he seemed to be enjoying the conversation. We talked politics, he told me he voted for Roosevelt, how he loved the train system and won’t go through the trouble of learning email at this point. He didn’t keep me, just said how much he appreciated our talk and wished me well. I walked away in tears again.

In between, yes–we had the “I’m not interested” people and KC had someone grab her literature and shove it in the recycling with spite right in front of her. But the majority were so sweet that my little heart could hardly take it.

My last house of the day was two big friendly lesbians and their jumping, licking dogs. They are also going to early vote for Obama and they absolutely love Michelle. I asked them to fill out a card for me that included the question, “What is the number one reason you’re voting for Obama?” and one of them put, “A chance.”

Today, I talked to a teenager whose dad said in the background, “We don’t do Democrats.” To a Latina mom with multiple generations bouncing off the walls just behind the open front door. To a woman who couldn’t attend the Biden rally because it’s her chemo day and she needs to take it easy.  To a black man who can’t vote because of his felony.

We all just keep trying, right? And, eventually, mark my words, we’ll get lucky.

And now I’ll have cocktails with my blackjack.

acupuncture, anxiety, dating, donor sperm, meditation, outdoors, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait, writing

commence week 2

I assume I’m pregnant. But in a disconnected, almost blasé way–I seem to have merged being in the wait with being in early pregnancy: it’s all tentative until it’s confirmed. So, I perceive some symptoms and yet catch myself moments before plunging into the hot tub (thankfully, L keeps hers at 98 degrees). I find myself going over my food consumption in retrospect, when it would already be too late. If I’m lucky, I will remember not to have a margarita after work.

I like this new, disconnected merged feeling and hope it lasts. I feel like I’m right where I thought I’d be and wished I was on try #1, like, “Yeah, whatever, you know, it can take a while so we’ll see what happens.” Instead, I was myopic in the worst way, absolutely consumed with every minute detail, and now I think: yeah. Maybe sometime between now and the end of the year, *yawn*. I transported 3 vials to UCSF: one for October, one for November, one for December. And then we’ll celebrate a year since my big decision in the Grand Canyon and Rio-valuate.

I spent a lovely 24 hours in San Jose over the weekend, but otherwise felt kind of aimless. My acupuncturist recommended not running for a few days and just telling me that is a recipe for going stir crazy. I ended up doing a burly urban walk to the top of Twin Peaks:


I find it intriguing that the photo is off-balance, because I was feeling off-balance. Stressed about work, mad and frustrated about my Good Match being so delayed, wondering when it’s all going to come together and make sense. Being on top of Twin Peaks makes me think a lot about one of my exes. The walk down made me think about another one. I passed my therapists’s house. It sure is a journey.

I got a mani/pedi. A hugely prego woman sat next to me and I vibed with her silently. I sat on the roof and wrote in my journal in the sunshine as the Blue Angels swooped around overhead. I bought veggies and made a delicious stir fry with quinoa.

I listened to Pema, who always says the right thing. This time, it was to remember to cradle your poor anxious self in gentle lovingkindness. I decided to do my tomorrow self the enormous favor of setting out clothes, packing a gym bag, getting the coffee ready and the oatmeal and the vitamins. It was a nice gentle favor and my day was full, ending with another lovely tea with T. Now I need to do myself the favor of going to bed.

I love this time of the month where my views start to skyrocket because you’re all checking for news. It makes me feel very loved and looked after, thank you.

I will end with one last piece of news for which I am profoundly grateful: totally totally totally randomly, gay bf J will be back in town precisely when I will be testing, for the 3rd time in a row!!!!!! This is just cosmic. You couldn’t plan it. None of this turned out the way I expected, but you know what? I’ll take it.

nighty night, peeps xo

donor sperm, fertility, IUI, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

my team of millions

Consistent with my stated mode of “not having my head in the game,” I forgot to call the sperm thaw hotline this morning. Fifteen minutes after the deadline, at 8:45am, they called me. My ringer was off. They left a message saying to call as soon as possible.

When I got the message several minutes later, I flew into a panic, of course. Where is the number? Why didn’t Olga resend it? Where’s my computer? Where’s my iPad? I called the general UCSF line and asked for the sperm thaw hotline. “The what?” Thinking I was speaking too quickly, I slowed down, “Sperm Thaw. Hotline.” She said, “I’m not sure what that is.” I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. This is the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health and you don’t know what the sperm thaw hotline is?” I was not patient. She asked me who my doctor was and unhelpfully transferred me to Olga’s voicemail. Finally, after precious minutes, I found the sperm thaw hotline and asked them to call me back and confirm that I could still get in for today. A few minutes later, a nice embryologist named Will called to confirm they got the message and we’d go on as planned and I basically am in love with Will now.

I drove over at around 11 and checked in, reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott on my iPad in the waiting room, occasionally tearing up because her writing is so raw and honest and sweet. Encouraging texts flowed in. Thank you for all your good thoughts for my good egg!

Next thing I knew, 45 minutes had gone by. When I asked for an update, the same receptionist who greeted me 45 minutes before didn’t recognize me. (PS it is not a big waiting room and I was in her line of sight.) When she realized I hadn’t been seen in 45 mins, her eyes got big and she flew out of the room. Coming back, she apologized profusely, said it would be 15 more mins, and gave me a Starbucks gift card which 110% placated me.

Finally, I was called in. The same nurse Stephanie who has done all my IUIs and ultrasounds did the IUI today. I thanked her for doing an awesome job with me last time around. I told her I was in a good space now, kind of ‘whatever,’ not so high and low. She told me that sounds great–stay in the good space.

McPiercy had a nice showing of 11.3 million sperm after the wash. Stephanie said, “Now let’s get this team up there where they can do their thing.” I told her “my team of millions” would definitely be the title of my next blog post.

After they left me to my 5-10 mins of purely psychological laying-there time, the feeling was not ‘I love you’ or tearful longing or lightning bolts but instead a letting go. A release of trying to control. A whistle-blowing: “Listen up, Team McPiercy! You’ve got this! You’re on your own! Do your best! I’m rooting for you!” And to the good egg, “OK, pretty girl, be patient–they’re on their way.” And then I threw my arms up to the heavens, handing the reins over to the universe, to God, to Mother Nature, and the Buddha.

And then I got on with my day.

biological clock, dating, fertility, IUI, ovulation, parenthood, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

on the eve

It’s that one night a year in San Francisco when I wish I had a fan. The whole city is officially Way Too Hot, and we don’t deal at all well with this. Our tolerable temperature range is anything between 60 and 70 degrees, and that’s about it. On the street outside, people are stumbling around in confusion–it’s simply shocking to not need a sweater. I’m sweating and eating ice cream up in my stuffy apartment, hoping for a breeze through the open window.

Can I just say how grateful I am that my cycle has kicked back in like motherfucking clockwork on Day 15? Smiley-face today. I called Olga, and I go in tomorrow for IUI #5. At 11:15am PST, in case you want to say a little prayer for my good egg.

I had the perfect evening to mark the end of my TTC hiatus, including sushi and beer and catching up with a dear old friend with whom I hadn’t caught up in many months, so I didn’t even know she was having fertility dilemmas of her own. I knew I’d be telling her my story, and my story was that much more relevant since it resonated. Her story made me remember my own long and difficult road to the big decision, what a process it was; whereas now it’s such a solid fact that I could hang my hat on it. I savored her questions and hoped she’d read the blog.

It got me reconnected a little to retell it. Mostly, I’ve felt like “my head’s not in the game.” I had to set my alarm in Outlook to remember not to pee, and again to remember to pee four hours later, on the stick.

It was kind of a rough weekend. The Moroccan chose a weekend in Santa Cruz over our coffee date–touché. I decided to “quickly” sign up on, forgetting the existential process of creating an online dating profile (an hour later, I had a screen name). Also: I discovered that I had forgotten my car in a downtown lot for 4 days ($160), tripped on a curb and fell on the sidewalk in front of an uncaring crowd, and worked alllll day on a Saturday. Wah.

Predictably, when I finally got myself to run from the Beach Chalet up past the Cliff House to Lands End, all the way up that staircase, all the way down the other side to Sea Cliff and all the way back, I felt fine again. Can I please remember from now on that I always always always feel better after a run?

Today is Monday but I’m drunk on two beers and contemplating my remaining hours of peace.before the two week wait. I don’t know how I feel really… still a little disconnected, and I hope that turns out to be a good thing when the crazy train pulls up a week from now. I keep finding myself listing out my trifecta of goals: to be promoted, to find a guy I like, and to get (and stay) pregnant. I’m trying my best in all three categories, and my new mantra is: SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

Stopping in the corner store tonight for ice cream, I came upon a dad and his 4-year-old picking out ice cream flavors. The dad was reading them out and the kid bursts out with, “VANILLA!” like it’s absolutely the most exciting flavor ever created. His dad handed him a pint, which he carefully put into the basket of his bicycle with training wheels while his dad went to pick out a bottle of wine. Then, the little boy walked up to the cat sitting on the check-out counter and said to him quietly and meaningfully, “So, how’s your night going?”

My heart swelled as I remembered why I’m doing this.