Sunday, October 30, 2005

Where I am

I can’t wait for the kid to get here. I hope the kid doesn’t get here too soon.

I miss my regular clothes. I miss great sex. I miss being able to dance in the kitchen without feeling like a cow.

I forget what it’s like to have a waistline. I saw a picture of myself from June and my skinny body looked strange.

How can I be this far along and still have all that much farther to go?

Those baby kicks still haven’t lost their novelty. My furnace bod is a favorite with the cats.

“Episiotomies are the worst.” “Episiotomies aren’t all that bad.” “You definitely want to avoid drugs.” “You’d be crazy to deliver without drugs.” “Nursing is far more traumatic than the birth.” “People with red hair have extra-sensitive nipples.” (?)

“A midwife? Couldn’t you find an OB?”

Mom: “I hope you’ll write your novel before you’re wiping little behinds. Kids have a way of taking up your whole world.”

Mother-in-law: “I used to read novels while Annie played with her toys. Because caring for an infant isn’t the most stimulating job in the world.”

Mom: “People who have children tend to be less selfish.”

Mother-in-law: “I respect Annie’s decision not to have children, but I don’t understand it. She wonders if people will think she is selfish.”

(Mom and Mother-in-law are taken aback at my vehemently expressed preference for our friends without children. Whoa. Where did that come from?)

Adam gives gentle hugs. Adam kisses me and calls me beautiful. Adam falls asleep with his hand on my belly.

Adam is so much kinder and funnier than he was in graduate school. How did he get like that? How did I get like this? Better, and so much happier than before?

We raised each other to be better people. So we might do just fine with a newborn.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

By George, that smarts.

Check out George Saunders' short story, "In Persuasion Nation," which appears in this month's Harpers. Of all the hallucinogenic social critiques the prolific Saunders has published lately, this is my favorite.

The exchange between the orange and the Slap-of-Wack bar is especially well done.

"I have vitamin C," says the orange.
–"So do I," say the Slap-of-Wack bar.
–"I have natural fiber," says the orange.
–"So do I ," says the Slap-of-Wack bar.
–"You do?" says the orange.
–"Are you calling me a liar?" says the Slap-of-Wack bar.
–"Oh no," says the orange politely. "I was just under the impression, from reading your label? That you are mostly composed of artificial colors, an innovative edible plastic product, plus high-fructose corn syrup. So I guess I'm not quite sure where the fiber comes in."
–"Slap it up your Wack!" shouts the Slap-of-Wack bar, and sails across the counter, jutting one pointy edge into the orange.
–"Oh God," the orange says in pain.
–"You've got an unsightly gash," says the Slap-of-Wack bar. "Do I have an unsightly gash? I think not. My packaging is intact, weakling."
–"I have zero calores of fat," says the orange weakly.
–"So do I," says the Slap-of-Wack bar.
–"How can that possibly be the case?" says the orange in frustration. "You are composed of 80 percent high-fructose corn syrup."
–"Slap it up your Wack!" shouts the Slap-of-Wack bar, and sails across the counter and digs its edge into the orange over and over, sending the orange off the counter and into the garbage can, where it is leered at by a perverted-looking chicken carcass and two evil empty cans of soda.
"Now you have zero of zero of zero," says the Slap-of-Wack bar.
"The Slap-of-Wack bar," says the voice-over. "For when you're feeling wacky!"

(The orange does get a chance to fight back. But you'll have to read the story to find out how it all ends.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Odd tears

Rosa Parks seems to have lived a long and beautiful life. I'm pleased that she is getting so much praise on the news today. I'm also reminded of Sarah Vowell's comedic essay on public figures who have inappropriately compared themselves to Rosa Parks. (The essay appears in Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot.)

I didn't cry over Rosa Parks' passing. But I did start sobbing a minute ago upon recalling the ending of a certain children's book. I won't reveal the title or the author just now, but the ending goes something like this:

"Oh!" said Susan. "Their wings are soft."
"Oh!" said Harriet. "Their hands are kind."

Does anybody recognize this book? Does anybody else go to pieces over it?

It's a good thing I work in a relative privacy. Because, after the book's last two sentences went floating through my head, I sat down on the floor and bawled. I cried so hard that I started to wonder if something is wrong with me. There's no reason for these tears, except maybe as a symptom of other wounds and worries, all in need of kind hands.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Carry on

We're settled now, in our cozy new house. It's a modest little rental, but it feels quite luxurious compared to the oddball place we lived (not unhappily) this summer.

We like old places. We've always lived in old places. So we're kind of thrown off by a house with regular right angles and floors that don't slope. We marvel at the uniformity of the windows, and the airtight-ness of the doors. We're embarrassingly reverent in the gleaming presence of the basement washer/dryer.

The basement of our former apartment abruptly filled with water last weekend, destroying still more of our boxes. (Including a box of my teaching materials from last spring. Blast!) We slowly moved our stuff across the street through seven, eight, NINE straight days of heavy rain.

When the sun finally made its appearance late yesterday, it felt like a miracle. Like a balm on the eyes. We ran out of the house and squished carelessly in the mud. Adam put up the bird feeder and planted spring bulbs. We bought a dozen gourds and pumpkins to line the stoop.

The baby kicked all weekend long. The cats licked and lolled in the sunlight. The house began to hum with color and life.

Without my glasses, it's a watercolor world. But I could see this morning that the bird feeder was still. No cardinal. No blue jays. No frantic cloud of finches.

Here was something even more dramatic.

"Adam, come see! Giant wild turkeys in the yard!"

Would the charms of this new home never cease? Wild turkeys. How very New England.

Adam put down his book and strolled to the window. He pushed his own glasses further up his nose.

"Do you see what their eating?" he asked slowly. "Looks like a rabbit."

What? I ran back to the bedroom and felt for my specs.

"Those aren't turkeys," Adam laughed. "Those are vultures."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


The baby seemed to grow overnight. Woke up to bigger stomach. Even Adam noticed. We tried to imagine the cats' response to the the concept of baby.

G.: (scurrying away, belly low to the ground) NO baby, thank you!

LoveKitty: Maoooooooo! Mahaaaaao! (LoveKitty doesn't speak English like the other two.)

GeezerCat: Baby good to eat? Baby come in can? Baby come in savory sauce?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


I woke up cranky, having hit the snooze bar a half dozen times. I am struggling to finish the project description for another post-doc application, which is not unusual, because these things always take me a hundred times longer than they should. But this new project is also worrying me, because of a dramatic leap it makes from part one to part two. Was I crazy when I suggested that leap in the first go-round? (The round that got me the job I have now?) If I was able to coax so many people to approve the leap then, why do I find it more difficult to justify now?

"So, in my dream this morning, the tiny Beatles came to help me."

Adam is fixing the lamp over my computer. "Tiny beetles? That's a neat idea," he says kindly. He is accustomed to my nutty dreams by now, and, gentle spouse that he is, always affirms them.

But I can hear in his voice that he's misunderstood. "Not beetles. Beatles. As in, JohnPaulGeorgeandRingo. Only they were tiny. Like.... un-formed yet. Looking like grown-ups, but also very, very small."

"Oh. Beatles," says Adam, waiting for the punch line.

"I asked them to help me with the leap in my application. And Paul told me, sorry, but the project wouldn't work. John told me the project would be beautiful, and that he would write some lyrics about it and they would open my mind. And George Harrison didn't speak at all. He just cried."

"In my "guitar-gently-weeping" way?" asks Adam, helpfully.

"No. Because he was sad for what was happening to the planet."

"And Ringo?"

My brow furrows. I can't remember.

"I don't think Ringo showed up for work."

Monday, October 03, 2005

What I want to remember...

Friday night: Thai dinner out with Adam. Our "date night" spent finding a washer/dryer for the big move.

Saturday night: The Constant Gardener.

Sunday morning: Hike. Climbed a mountain in a local state park. Bought some pumpkins at a roadside stand.

Sunday evening: Felt a little hammer-tap in my belly. Grabbed Adam's hand just in time and he was able to feel the baby kick a second time. Spooned to sleep and dreamed about Posh Spice, who told me the baby would be a soccer player (?!).

Sunday, October 02, 2005

So sorry to hear

Rest in peace, August Wilson.

Remember: "They ain't studying you."