Thursday, January 30, 2014

O sleep

So baby has had a run of excellent sleep, and I'm a wreck. 

You'd think, if you were a sane and rational human being, that it would be the other way around: baby up and about, mama prostrate; baby snoozing, mama restored.

If you are a sane and rational human being, I am impressed.

To be honest, the kid's always been a pretty sturdy sleeper as babies go, with none of the night-day confusion so terrifyingly outlined in books.  And now, at twelve weeks, he's slept a full adult quota -from 8PM to 6AM or 7AM straight- for ten out of the past eleven nights.

I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Is it so strange, that a run of smooth sailing strikes terror into the hearts of those of us with a nose for disaster? When the plane ride is silken I fear turbulence; when the notes come smoothly I wait for the hitch.

Good times- the grin before the fist in the gut.

Which shouldn't, now that I think about it, prevent me from grinning back.  O sleep!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Divorce: $189

It's a small yellow sign, thrust into the dirt of the median.  You drive across the train tracks right before you see it, rumble over the ties, under the highway feeder and past the police horses grazing in its shadow.  It's a nowhere stretch of road, limned by windowless buildings that warehouses or abbatoires or dance studios, and how would you know the difference?  In their company, the little yellow sign seems almost homey, a letter from a world in which humans, even if they fight, nevertheless breathe and drool and listen to their hearts.

People in this pass-through stretch of the world are snug in their cars or homeless.  Occasionally a policeman emerges from his vehicle to tend to the horses, bring them out from under the shadow of the overpass and parade them through the projects.  The littlest boys stop and stare; the older ones pretend not to notice.  Which is something: pretending not to see those hooves, those teeth.  

Divorce: so cheap!  Weddings are inching ever closer to $30,000, but divorce will set you back little more than a cable bill.   In terms of bang for your buck, it's tough to think of something else that will change your life so quickly, so effectively, at so little cost.  Your knots unknotted: your solitude secured; your children shuffled from hand to hand.

It's not an accident, this sign.  $189 and you're alone.  $0, and you're almost there.

Monday, January 27, 2014

One Sunny Day

It's bright and warm today, as if the the world might possibly begin to think about Spring. 

This is false advertising.  I happen to know, thanks to the casual miracle of weather forecasting, that this will be the only sunny day in a clutch of cold and cloudy ones, the one yolk in the carton.  I'm enjoying it, if enjoyment means sitting around wallowing in guilt over insufficiently enjoying the eminently, if transiently, enjoyable.   

Failing to enjoy because I think I should be enjoying more: This is among the least useful of my neuroses, one step below my membership in the clean plate club but a rung or two higher than my nagging sense that I should be accruing more frequent flier miles.  And faster.  Why am I not Sky Priority?  What does is say about me that my travel habits, while adequate to my work-life needs, relegate me to the interminable purgatory of Sky I'll-Get-to-You-Later?

All this rattling around in the bright.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

I Am Here

Some shockingly cold version of Atlanta, GA.  In a basement.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hitching Post

I'm a sucker for the Vows column of the New York Times, in which couples enumerate the pleasures and vicissitudes of their particular schlep to the altar.  I like the soppy details, the tear-gland-wringing anecdotes, the ever-so-slightly snarky quotes from friends. 

It is true that the one time a couple I knew was featured, they were featured so rosily as to be unrecognizable -a shocking, pepto-bismol distortion of themselves.  But I still save Vows for last in my  Sunday paper perusal, savoring it as the climax of a long and pleasurable liturgy.  And if I don't read the column religiously, I do read it with more than a hint of the supplicant's fervor.

It's with some degree of puzzlement, then, that I declare an even greater affection for Unhitched, the column that spotlights divorce.  Unhitched is most frequently published on the facing page from Vows, where it looms over smiling brides and grooms like a memento mori: DIVORCE WILL COME FOR US ALL.  Or 50% of us, give or take.

I'm all for schadenfreude, but there's very little of that bubbly brew in my enjoyment of Unhitched.  Rather, I'm head over heels for the storyboarding.  The marrying couples in vows have to pour their stories into a single mold: meet-love-marry; what's more, their individual narratives must cojoin, compress into a single tale of how-we-met. 

The divorced couples in Unhitched, on the other hand, have a whole pile of narratives at their disposal, and in many cases, these narratives diverge: one spouse talks of blossoming, while another speaks of getting over the hump.  One spouse speaks of fight, another of flight.  Divorce is, after all, a fracturing of narrative- one person's tale splitting from another's in the telling.

Ergo, more story  -and often though you might not think it, more love.  There are so many splendors, Unhitched assures us- and only some of them require you to stay.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Brave New World

Book club has the salutary effect of forcing you to read things you don't particularly want to.  So here I am again, reading Huxley's high school-reading list chestnut.  So far it's notable mostly for its stridency- a kind of adolescent lookatmenow yawpishness.

But there's some fun in it, too, small details I didn't notice the first time through:

"Feeling lurks in that interval of time between desire and its consummation."

Huxley is not a Buddhist.  And neither am I.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I Am Here

Chicago, IL

Monday, January 13, 2014

I Was Here

Phoenix, AZ.  Taking a really bad shot of a cactus.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

In Which I Give Advice

Oh, I promised I wouldn't.  There's nothing quite so smarmily irritating as the veteran parent who starts sentences with: "Just remember...."  "All you have to do is..." "When Norbert/Melchizedek/Hottentot was young..."

But one of the more dispiriting side effects of progeny is one's sudden, irresistible urge to enlighten others as to the particulars of your sagacity.  So here.  In the event that you are thinking about making the long waddle into parenthood, I hereby dispense my three hard-earned pearls of wisdom:

1) Some of it will be different than you thought.  Which particular parts will be different than you thought will also be different than you thought.  Basically, no one has any idea what is going on, and it's probably time to eat.

2) Accept any and all offers of free food.  Actually you should do this all the time, and not only after you undertake breeding.  Why wouldn't you accept free food?  It's free.  And it's food!  What is wrong with you? 

3) Do not, under any circumstances, read "We Need to Talk About Kevin" during the first two weeks of parenthood.  Also don't read it during weeks four through ten of parenthood, during pregnancy, or really any other time you might happen to be around a child.  Probably the only safe time to read this book is after you make the decision never to allow any immature human to come within in a twenty food radius of yourself and you hit the Internet to purchase a twenty-foot-long child-warding-off pole in accordance with this purpose.  In which case "We Need to Talk About Kevin" is a fabulous read and will make you feel safe and righteous and smug and relieved you have a pole and you should plow through the book now -right now!- while noshing on free food.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Baby, Baby, Baby

What I can't get over is that what I'm doing now -sitting with baby, feeding baby, dressing baby, changing baby, cooking, laundry, general domestic drudgery- used to be almost every woman's full-time job.  Maybe if she wass unmarried she'd get to teach, but otherwise a woman basically just got to have babies and raise the babies and hope that her babies got old enough to have babies.  The repetitiveness of this astonishes me.

And then, of course, I question my own astonishment.  If I had been raised with the expectation of making babies my work, would I find female history less startlingly boring? Or did my foremothers, too, get bored?  Is my own boredom a luxury, one more excrescence of the ease of modern life? 

The problem with the country of the past is that all its patriots are dead.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Snow, elsewhere

So I am tangentially employed by a large university in the Midwest.  My monetary remuneration barely covers my yearly car insurance, but I receive true recompense in the form of electronic missives -infrequent yet reliable- from a place that's not here.

Mostly these messages from elsewhere are alarmist.  Campus lockdown!  Tornado warning!  Occasionally they are sorrowful.  Bigwig died.  I have yet to see a happy one, but I love them anyway because they assume -wrongly, but with absolute confidence- that I am on the ground in another state, and in so doing they allow me to pretend, if only for an instant, that I am.

My favorites are the storm warnings, and so I savored the one that came today:  Mittens are warmer than gloves.  Watch for patches of ice.   Significant snowfall expected; bitter cold.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Shot Up

Baby got his two month shots yesterday.  He screamed as if he were being multiply impaled- which, I suppose, he was.  My role, according tot he nurse, was to comfort him.  I was blazingly successful, if comforting your child means running out of the room and hiding in the hall.  Go Mommy.

I really thought I had crying covered, too.  In one of my jobs, I see about a kajillion crying preschoolers, and I've become, over the years, stone cold: No, tiny Machiavellian,  tears will NOT enable you to eat my crayons.  Or hit your friend.  Or any of the other things you really, really want to do that are inadvisable and/or irritating.  You ran when you weren't supposed to and tripped?  Dust yourself off.   You want your Mommy? So do I.  My heart is hard, preschoolers: My heart is hard.

But it turns out there's a dreadful difference between the tears of a preschooler and the tears of an infant.  A preschooler has both language and agency.  You can explain things to a preschooler: Your Mommy is coming back.  Crayons are poisonous.  I told you not to run.  Preschoolers' brains are tiny, but those tiny brains do tend to have some grasp of cause and effect.

Try explaining things to a two month old.

Hence my retreat to the hall, where I resorted to ragged repetition of my sole parenthood mantra: Not "be a good mother," because, heck, I know I'm going to bomb there, but "be a good enough mother." 

"Good enough" means trying not to kill anyone.  It means muddling through.  It means admitting that I'm probably not going to be an awesome parent, but also that, if I put some effort in, I'm likely to rise above piss poor.  Set the bar low and trundle over it: parenthood at its finest.

In the meantime, I'm pawning all remaining shots off on Dad.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Happy New Year!  I probably miss you- and in any case, I'm glad you're out there, reading.

I will likely fail to keep my 2014 New Year's resolutions.  (I kept a written list of my 2013 resolutions, which was really ill done of me; accountability is most disheartening.)  I'm doubly glad, then, that I was able to keep the smaller, more personal resolution of marking, on this blog, every day of Advent as it passed.

Time is precious; the least you can do is howl a little as it goes.