Insecure Connection

Go here to vote for the best of the best of the bloggiest of blogs in the sixth annual Weblog Awards.

Go here to marvel at the things we don't talk about and the creative ways we get the message out anyway at PostSecret.

Here's my secret:
I have dooce saved in my favorites, and I voted for Heather B. Armstrong all over the place in the Weblog Awards, but I can't actually read her stuff anymore because her talent makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth. Maybe writing as good as hers should give me something to aspire to; but instead it makes me feel like mediocrity personified. So I don't go there, and I keep up my own blogging as if there's a point to any of this, until, in a bout of self-esteem, I click on her site again. Arise, vile bile of jealousy.


Little In The Middle But She Got Much Back

No longer can I say her shit don't stink. Gone are the days of the mild mustard poops. With the introduction of baby oatmeal, we are entering an era of stank not smelled since my husband last ate an entire carton of raisins in one sitting. Before today, it was always the wet feeling on my leg or the sight of a diaper breach that would alert me it was time for a change. These evacuations were so mild in stench and texture (though not in scope) that even Tolby was not moved by them. She would not cry or become fussy. But no longer. If her uncomfortable wails had not warned me something was amiss earlier this afternoon, then the odor would've. I walked into a room so thick with methane that I knew the day of reckoning had come. My baby is growing up.

I haven't been this nauseous since my child was an embryo. Posted by Picasa

Them's the Brakes

I just read that Joaquin Phoenix, star of Walk The Line, had a car accident wherein his brakes stopped working, causing him to lose control of the car and hit an oncoming vehicle. Thanks to God and Johnny Cash, he walked away uninjured. Absolutely all accident analysis aside, let me say this: how freaking freaky is the idea of losing your brakes?!?! I live in fear of just such an occurance. I once mentioned this to a friend, who suggested opening the driver's side door to maximize wind resistance in the event of brake failure. Turns out he was joking, but I swear to God (and Johnny Cash) that I would try anything. Talk about feeling helpless.

I have a lot of these fears now that I have a baby to be scared for. It is a testament to my ability to sweep things under the subconcious rug that I can even get out of bed every day to face all these new demons. Though I've never been what anyone would call a worrier, I have been a tad superstitious and a bit on the paranoid side. Before my daughter came along, I'd think that the world was out to get me, but I wouldn't really care. In the Tolby era, I have to care, because nothing is really about me anymore. Now I can't go three minutes without knocking on wood or trying to banish images of car accidents or Avian Flu epidemics from my mind's eye.

On a related note, I really had to struggle to spell "brakes" correctly throughout this entry. Despite my usually impeccable spelling, my default setting for that word is "breaks." I don't know why.


The Cold Season

Someone I live with likes to shoot rhinoviral loogies into the bathroom sink. Perhaps, by shrouding his identity in ambiguity as I broadcast this across the blogosphere, he will be able to hold onto the modicum of dignity available to him after repeatedly hawking up phlegm globbers into our communal wash basin.

I have nothing against expelling the thick stuff. Sometimes the works get gummed up and you have to clear the way. But why the sink?!?! It is over the sink that I insert/extract my contact lenses, brush my teeth and cleanse my delicate pores. I know that germs from any or all of those processes are bound to make the rounds, but somehow they all pale in comparison to big, green, already-compromised goobers rolling like viscous tumbleweeds from porcelain to drain. How about the toilet, one might ask. Or even the tub. Anything but the sink, which I look at now and want to vomit (puke being another thing that should be reserved for the toilet--or the shrubbery next to our porch, but that's another story).

I realize this might all be grosser than gross, but there is not and likely never will be a moratorium on nastiness in this blog. There are too many facets of life bound by appropriateness. How will we ever discover just how similar (or completely different) we are without divulging some of the more unsavory aspects of our existence?

Yesterday I said that life is too short to worry about the small things; today I add that it'll be short and boring if you try to repress all the juicy details.

How I like my sink: clean
How I like my blog: completely unsanitary


Eat This

Yesterday was Tolby's six month check-up. We discovered she only gained about one pound and one inch, putting her in the 10th percentile for weight and the 65th for length (down from her four month stats of weight: 50th and length: 90th). She also got four immunizations. One could almost feel bad for her, all emaciation and needle sites. But she's tough, and the baby Tylenol made her even cockier. It was all in a days' work for my little crack whore midget.

But, seriously. I could let her descent through the percentiles worry me if I was the type to stress out over things like that. As it is, I've decided that as long as she's happy and healthy, I must be doing something right. I still worry in the back of my mind about wine and coffee stunting her growth and impeding the fusion of critical neurons, but then I regain my regular consciousness, which is ruled by the phrase everything in moderation. And by everything I mean even the bad, bad ingestibles that pregnant and lactating women are warned to avoid like the plague (or at least an e coli outbreak) such as gouda, olive loaf, mahi-mahi, or steak tartare. Putting things off-limits just makes them even more desirable.

This, I tell you: one could live to 35 or 102, and the fact would remain that life is too damn short to worry about every little thing.


Her Place

I re-found this article courtesy of The Happy Housewife, but I first saw it back during my college days in a Communication Studies textbook. It's no joke. Let us harken back to a time when women were gay and interesting, children were little treasures, and men were incapable of removing their own foot gear.

...from 'Good Housekeeping Magazine', 13th May 1955


Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious dinner ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and if necessary change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

Be happy to see him.

Listen to him. You may have a dozen things to tell him but the moment of is arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late, or goes out to dinner or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure.

Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. have a warm or cool drink ready for him.

Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. Remember he is the master of the house and as such will always excercise his will with fairness and truthfulness.

You have no right to question him.

A good wife always knows her place.


Food For Thought

Tolby turns 6 months tomorrow, which means two things of note:

1) Time goes by too freakin' fast


2) I really need to start feeding her solids.

The fact that I haven't started her on the latter (#2) is that I am so freaked out by the former (#1) that I want her to remain infantile as long as possible. Not carnival-sideshow long, but I want to buy myself as much time as I can get away with without displeasing the medical community or the grandparents. Ever since she was born, the comedy/action/adventure/drama of our lives has been on fast forward, leaving me with no time to sit back and relish the show. Yet I know how important it is to do just that. Somehow, holding off on the rice cereal and the pureed turkey dinner makes me feel like I can get away with freeze-framing the simplicity of her newborn-ness just a little longer. Even though her attention span is not as wide as one breast and half the time she'd rather stare at the white ceiling than eat, I hug her close to my chest and rub her silky hand, knowing she won't always be that soft and she won't long be so huggable.

Before Tolby, there was a time when I'd think things were moving too slowly and the tick-tock of the clock was interminable. Even while I was in labor with her, it was that sluggish fetal heartbeat that caused my midwife so much concern. I remember the impatience of my previous life and, though I don't miss it, it left me ill-prepared for the dazzling speeds of my new world, where there's no going back and there's no slowing down.


If I Can Make It Here, I Can Make It Anywhere...

I am applying to become a blogger for the Web site of a Connecticut newspaper (not local, local but not big-time, either). After I sent a cover letter and sample blog entries, they forwarded the following questions. I answered them in the lofty prose, liberally sprinkled with bullshit, that one must produce in order to get anywhere in the world of words. Censoring the crap out of myself (figuratively speaking), I made sure not to include any references to poop. It's not easy being respectable. For now.

How will you come up with blog entry ideas?

I’ve been inspired with blog entry ideas in the midst of tasks that include, but are not limited to: taking a shower; feeding the baby; changing the baby; washing the baby’s clothes and, less frequently, washing the actual baby; putting the baby down for a nap and failing; putting the baby down for a nap and succeeding; and going on long scenic drives that clear my head, making room for even more blog entry ideas. You see, life is its own muse, and inspiration is everywhere, if you just know where to look.

How you will shape the content, meaning, how will you decide what to write about? How long would entries typically be? Will you use quotes? Voices of others, such as friends and relatives?

The thing about writing a blog is that life dictates what I will discuss on any given day. It’s really quite liberating. There’s a freedom in knowing that it’s the very quotidian nature of daily living that readers are logging in to read about. I want to be funny and relatable; readers want to laugh and connect.

300-500 words, on average, gives me enough room to say what I have to say, while keeping even the most cursory of readers engaged.

The voices in my head as I write are often those of my husband, parents, siblings, and friends, and they will all translate into this blog. Some stay-at-home moms say that they lack meaningful adult interaction, but those mommies aren’t me. I’ve never put much stock in the “stay at home” aspect of full-time mothering, and, in my pursuit of stimulating ways to fill days that are already proving too short, have found no lack of situations, stories and quotes with which to regale my blog readership. I’m a mother, wife, writer, friend, volunteer (et cetera, ad infinitum) with enough angles and interests to appeal to a host of demographics.

How will you sustain the content, meaning what do you plan to do to keep it fresh? Do you plan to periodically revisit items previously written about and update them in the blog?

As long as my life is fresh, my blog will be, too. And my life will be fresh. I have never been the type to sit idly by while things get boring. Luckily, having an infant means that I no longer need to go on the offensive when it comes to generating excitement. Between raising my daughter, trying to get a freelance writing career off the ground, and making sure I don’t lose my husband in the chaos, I’ve got more stories to tell than ever before.

How you will you use reader feedback? You’ll likely receive email from readers, and their comments can provide good fodder for responses in the blog.

[Note: Is it me, or did they answer their own question? What I should write in response is "I will likely receive email from readers, and their comments can provide good fodder for responses in the blog."]

Using the existing audience of [hyperlink deleted to save myself embarrasment if I'm not selected] to catch the attention of travelers on the information superhighway, I hope to draw in those Internet rubberneckers with witty, easy-to-read content that keeps them coming back for more. Once they become regular readers (and commenters), they’ll be treated like friends, with old anecdotes becoming inside jokes as a building sense of familiarity leaves them interested in what the next day’s blog will bring.

I welcome reader comments not only for the sense of camaraderie they help build, but as a way to gauge areas and levels of interest as I work to provide content that engages as many people as possible.

Wish me luck.


Much Clown Luv, A Retrospective

I didn't quite get married in Insane Clown style, but I did paint my face and christen the gown a week before our wedding when I had our photographer take a series of photos, one of which I printed up and presented to my husband on our actual wedding day. Posted by Picasa

I'm the Mommy, That's Why

So, about this mommy thing. Let me go on the record right now as saying that, in order for you to refer to me as mommy, you better have been pulled out of my gaping abdomen (or vaginal canal if things go a little more smoothly next time), spent at least six months sucking on each boob, and landed enough explosive poops for me to pull blog material from for the next two years at least. If you are not my child, I am not a mommy. I am a mother because we are adults. I know that I might get some resistance here, as there are many, many women who love to refer to themselves and other recent reproducers by this term (in all its mommy manifestations--mommyhood, mommy-to-be, stay-at-home-mommy, "Oh how I adore being a mommy," etc.), but I don't feel it. When I am speaking to adults, I want to use adult words. I will speak babytalk with the best of 'em, but if you are over the age of 6, I prefer mental stimulation and some acknowledgement that I have worth beyond my ability to produce milk and wipe shit from my daughter's armpits.

Of course, using the word in an ironical fashion is encouraged. Pop culture references such as "Mommy Dearest" are okay by me as well. But when the kids are at the babysitter's, and you're sharing a bottle of Lost Vineyards $3.99 Red Table Wine with my husband and I as Johnny Cash growls in the background, you're among adults. Sit down, relax, put another one back.

Friends don't let friends call themselves mommy.


See, I Don't Write About Poop For Once and It Totally Sucks

Some stereotypes about women:

They are afraid to ask for money.
They are afraid to speak their mind.
They can't say no.

Asking for money. I hate it. From the day I trudged door-to-door as a kindergartner, hawking my Jeanine Kit wares, I have detested sales. The fact that I even remember the name "Jeanine Kit" shows just how mentally scarring the experience was, since I only remember the bad stuff. It was a cardboard suitcase filled with crap that even a 5 year old knew nobody wanted to buy. In junior high, I missed out on more than one field trip because I failed to sell enough candy bars to fund my transportation costs. Girl Scout Cookies? Forget it. The things practically sell themselves and still I could not manage to merit even a badge, let alone the stuffed monkey recognition prize. Now the MOMS Club of which I am a member is looking for ideas to raise cash for our international Mother to Mother Fund and I am starting to twitch.

Speaking one's mind. I'm not one for holding back, myself. However, what I do know something about is how other women, who might not be as outspoken, react to a strongly stated opinion. They get defensive. And they read things into it. And they think that the one who opines is bitchy instead of assertive. In fact, even some women who are, themselves, opinionated, can balk when confronted with an idea that does not mesh with theirs. And instead of dealing with it constructively, they'll go behind backs to talk about it.

Saying No. Okay, this one really doesn't apply to me, since I have never made a habit of doing things I don't want to do. But I guess there are a lot of overacheiving women out there who can't delegate or disassociate or dig a hole in which to crawl when the demanding throngs become too loud. It almost certainly ties into not speaking one's mind, but it's deeper than that. I'm not a sociologist, and I have no desire to play one on the Internet, so I will cut this one off here, leaving you to ponder where you fall on the metaphorical feminine spectrum that goes from "Do Me Now" to "Sorry, Buddy, I Have a Headache."

My point is that I believe in stereotypes, though I know that they could never apply to everyone or be true all the time. It's just that I've never believed something could be discounted purely on the grounds that it generalizes. What's more important is the context in which the stereotype emerges. Maybe women don't always "speak their minds," or bring in the most money for their alma mater, or admit that their plate is a little too full. But we are operating in a world where values are assigned by men. For a woman to embrace her feminine side often means being looked down upon by a society that holds more masculine ideals dear (Say what you mean! Mean what you say!). On the other hand, a woman who makes her way according to "man's" rules might be construed as stabbing her sisters in the back (Why can't you be more diplomatic? Why can't we all just get along?).

I don't know where this is all coming from. I guess I just find it so hard sometimes to get along with other women (mostly new women--it all changes when they become friends) and I want to know why. How much of our day-to-day interactions are clouded by our societally-influenced perceptions of the way things should be, as opposed to an acceptance of the way things innately are?

Okay, this is stupid, rambling and boring. I am so glad that nobody ever comments here because I'm sure there wouldn't be many positive responses. I should stick to writing about poop.


Seven Sevens

Seven things to do before I die
1. Put my ass in a chair and write some novels
2. Put my ass in a chair and write lucrative magazine articles
3. Have more kids
4. Weigh the same as I do now after having those kids
5. Travel extensively and internationally
6. Make sure family and friends know how much I love them
7. Spoil my grandchildren

Seven things I cannot do
1. A pull up
2. Talk French convincingly
3. Tolerate my husband's road rage
4. Develop an appreciation for liver and liver products
5. Lie convincingly
6. Figure out how to keep my baby from soiling all her garments with rocket propelled bowel movements
7. Remember to take the garbage out

Seven things that attract me to my husband:
1. Humor
2. Intelligence
3. Faithfulness (in the event that this isn't true, at least it will make him feel guilty)
4. Competence in almost everything
5. Height
6. Broad shoulders
7. He's happy when I'm happy

Seven things I say most often
1. Time flies
2. It goes by so fast
3. I forgot
4. I can't remember
5. Interesting
6. True, true
7. Tolby

Seven books (or series) I love
1. Beach Music by Pat Conroy
2. Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
3. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series
4. Everything by Nelson Demille
5. Vince Flynn's political thrillers
6. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
7. When I was young I was obsessed with a series called The Fabulous Five

Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time):
I don't have that kind of patience or endurance. I'm substituting "television shows" for "movies" and there ain't nothing you can do about it.
1. Sopranos
2. Desperate Housewives
3. How I Met Your Mother
4. Reba
5. So You Think You Can Dance (if it returns)
6. House Hunters
7. Vacation Home Search

Seven people I want to join in, too:
Not all of these people have their own blog, but they at least have email, not to mention the ability to contribute their own Seven Sevens to my comment section
1. Chris
2. Jene
3. Amy
4. Sarah
5. Jess
6. Sean (but he doesn't read my blog, so I guess he'll never know)
7. You


Chicken Hunting

It seems that the Avian flu virus has claimed several casualties in remote parts of Turkey. By playing monkey-in-the-middle* with chicken carcasses, two Turkish teens unwittingly handed themselves over to death's icy grip as contaminated fowl beset their homeland. Now, I realize that every situation must be analyzed in its own cultural context, and that one child's Nintendo DS is another child's severed chicken head, but some things really just make you go hmmmm.

We live in a global society now, but, in the grand scheme of things, very few of us think that way. The world over, regular people are concerned with their regular lives and the regular ramifications of their regular actions. Here in northeastern CT, I am consumed by my daughter's explosive poops and their effect on the laundry. In Turkey, mothers must now worry that their children may be exposed to Avian flu-infected chicken feces while playing in dirt. But if that Avian flu merges with a human flu strain and mutates into something easily transmissable from person-to-person, it's a concern that will come home to roost in the lives of families the world over.

We are American mothers, and it is frightening to think of things in such a large context and humbling to sense our complete lack of control. As AIDS ravages Africa, we feel helpless; as the Avian flu crawls westward, we are scared. It's no longer enough to watch neurotically as our kids wander their neighborhoods or go on play dates across town. Now we must set our sights wider as civilization closes in on a one-world landscape that leaves these babies vulnerable to the kind of boo-boo a kiss and a Band-Aid won't fix.

*Or some variation thereof


Memories of Marseilles, Part Deux

We stopped first at our hotel, where coffee stains on sheets (or what we hoped were coffee stains) were commonplace and where the cleaning staff didn’t care. Then we were off to the visitor’s bureau and up the hill to the Abbaye. The staleness of that ancient house of worship and its tombs was a cool respite from the high July sun. From there, we trudged ever upward into the church of Notre-Dame de la Garde, the most unabashedly gaudy piece of architecture I had ever witnessed. Its steeple was the virgin and child, in gold.

By then it was time for dinner, always my favorite time of day. We settled on that waterside café with the prix-fixe special, and were less than enchanted when the waiter opened our bottle of wine with a series of grunts and tugs between his thighs. After the rubbery calamari had been ingested, my husband asked the sidewalk accordion player who was thrumming away behind us to play “Happy Birthday,” which would have been nice, had his song not been followed up with no less than four gypsies and assorted street hustlers trying to sell us a product line ranging from roses to cigarette lighters. Eventually, our waiter proved his limited worth by demanding that they leave his establishment alone so his patrons could enjoy a good meal. I’m paraphrasing, here. It’s funnier that way.

In Marseilles, only the moonlight is soft in all the right places. Darkness falls on dirty streets and lonely cafes, while a pale yellow glow shines on the virgin and her son before shimmying low across the ripples of the bay. That night, I sat with my new husband on the old stone edge of the water, feet dangling and my handbag protected by my armpit. The breeze stirred the heat of the Mediterranean air that was all black and golden before us. It is easy to remember the bad parts, of course, but in Marseilles it is almost impossible to forget midnight—a black slate, not clean, but completely open to possibility.

View from the old stone edge of the water, Marseilles, July 2004
 Posted by Picasa


Memories of Marseilles, Part I

The view from Notre Dame de la Garde in Marseilles, July 2004

My Marseilles is old and dirty with bad calamari and good sarcaphogi. My husband and I experienced the former during my birthday dinner at a dirt cheap sidewalk eatery, across from the port, that we should have known was too good to be true. The latter were encountered earlier that day in the crypts of the Abbaye Saint Victor, where ornate tombs flanked the underworld perimeter. Upstairs, select vestiges of Saint Victor’s skeleton and those of several of his comrades were displayed in golden boxes encased in glass on either side of the altar.

The fact that skull fragments and 15-century-old tombs were the highlight of my two day excursion to the south of France’s most historic city speaks volumes about a place where sunlight and oxygen only serve to make the rotten stench of decay easier to inhale. This was a birthday gift from my husband on our European honeymoon.

Before Marseille we had been staying with his mother’s family (his mother included, and his father, too) in the small southern town of Biot. My husband’s parents, whose permanent residence is the outskirts of New York City, had high-tailed it to France the day after our wedding and were waiting, all smiles, when we arrived in the ancestral homeland about a week later. The sun beat down on all my new relatives and they opened a couple bottles of wine before retiring inside for the après-lunch siesta. After naptime, we ate again as more corks were popped and baguettes were brandished at all ends of the dinner table.

There is something to be said about being awakened at 9 a.m. on your honeymoon to the sound of a woman who, aside from having given birth to your husband, has the other incongruous quality of having lived in the United States for 30 years without being able to shake the rolling, high pitched cadences of her native tongue. “Chreees-toe-fer! Eet is time to get up! Allo? Allo!” Perhaps it should’ve seemed more natural than it did, that bright morning in the south of France as the sun streamed in through the wooden slats of the shutters and fell hotly across our entwined appendages. “Chreees-toe-fer! Are you awake yet? Allo? We are going to zee beach now!”

It was on the heels of such distinctly un-honeymoonish encounters that I demanded a private soujourn into Provence to celebrate my birthday. When I said “Provence,” what I meant was the lush, green hills and valleys of the region extolled in Peter Mayle’s travel tomes. What I got was a two hour trip in a crowded cabin of non-conditioned air on a commuter train bound for the crime capital of France. We stepped off the train platform and onto the streets of Marseille, which descended steeply several miles to the main port and then rose again, steeply, in the direction of anything worth seeing.

To be continued... Posted by Picasa



Howard is coming all over America. This Monday, the REAL radio revolution will shine down on us like the rays of a liberating satellite sun. Howard Stern takes to Sirius for his first show at 6 a.m., and my tired ass will be there. There's nothing like freedom feeding into an unassuming digital display, heralding a new era for free thinkers and free talkers everywhere.

I love voices in the air, from Howard Stern to the newly syndicated Jay Severin to NPR programming to Democracy Now. It's unique approaches to entertaining and educating (not necessarily in that order) that hook me--not wanna-be ideology.

I'm a mom now and I know that one day soon I am going to have to exercise that special mommy superpower touted by many free speech advocates in the face of corporate (and, dare I say it, government) censorship of entertainers like Stern: changing the channel when things get too inappropriate. Go, Go Gadget Pointer Finger! With nerves of steel and a brain like a sponge, I will call on all my available resources to do what I feel is right for my family, as only I can. If I don't like it, I'll change it. If I decide it will make me look bad if my daughter starts stripping down to her diaper and asking if she looks good enough for Playboy at her weekly playgroup, I'll change it. I can do it. I pay taxes for things like highway maintence and homeland defense, but when it comes to my listening pleasure, I prefer that federally funded civil servants keep their legislation away from my boom box.

A change is gonna come.


Downward Dog

Today I came home to see that my canine had devoured our chocolate-filled advent calendar, plastic tray and all. I had just returned from a friend's house, where we lotus-sat our way through a video session of Living Yoga: Abs for Beginners in the calming atmosphere inspired by the presence of three children under the age of 3, to find a trail of yuletide carnage woven throughout the first floor. The reason there were any "treats" left in the calendar at this late date is that the chocolate was so ungodly BAD that even I could not force myself to eat it. So there it sat on a living room end table, just inviting disaster.

Now, I know that chocolate is bad for dogs and that eating plastic can't be too good either, so I automatically (and neurotically, and perhaps psychotically) assumed the worse. When I called out my dog's name and she didn't respond, I figured she was dead. My breathing became rapid and I froze in place, afraid to look anywhere around me for fear of spotting the rigid carcass of our family pet. I screamed out her name some more, to no avail. Luckily, the phone was sitting on the coffee table in front of me, so my plan (to call my husband) was a-go.

Let me interrupt this story to mention that I have a phobia of fish. Not so much living fish in their natural habitat, but dead fish, or fish-out-of-water. It all stems from the goldfish I had as a child, the one that lived for several years and grew to roughly the size of its ten gallon tank before floating upside down to the surface one fateful day. I even wrote a haiku about it:

Yesterday I found
my gold fish, belly up at
the top of the tank.

I only rehash this story because it illustrates my fear of death as manifested by pet-related phobias. I was very conscious of the memory of finding that goldfish dead as I stood in my living room today, sure that rigor mortis was setting into Roxie's musculature somewhere on the first floor.

Anyway, so I finally got through to my husband (after leaving a hysterical message on his voice mail), only to find him unsympathetic and generally pissed that he had married such an ineffectual lunatic. He told me to go find the dog. I told him she was probably dead and I couldn't deal with it. He said she was not dead and that she was most likely hiding in a corner with her tail between her legs because she knew she'd done wrong. I said no, she's dead. At this point, the conversation was approaching the don't-ever-call-me-here-again zone. Thinking fast, I realized that, if she was indeed still breathing, all I had to do to get her to come to me was open the refrigerator door and pull out the cheese drawer. If that didn't work, I was taking the baby, leaving the house again, and not coming back until the body had been bagged and removed from the premises.

Ohthankthegoodlord. "I think I hear her."
"Of course you hear her," said Chris. "Now beat her ass. You're crazy and I have to go now."

Roxie was happy and wagging, oblivious in the face of cheese. I crumpled into a chair and sighed.

Tolby flapped around, equally unfazed in my arms. A stray baby-finger went up my nose and she shrieked. This is life now. Life and death.


The Nature of Nurturing Sleep

Tolby Evelyn has, for once in her life, actually bought her own ticket to the Land of Naptime Nod. This means I have to write something now, and I have to write it fast. Working under this kind of pressure, the only topic I can come up with is Schedule? She Don't Need No Freaking Schedule!

The girl, generally, will not nap. For a five month old, she's awfully caught up in other people's business. How old will she be before she realizes she's not missing much? They say that youth is wasted on the young, and that's most certainly true, but a lot of good sleep is frittered out the nursery window as well.

I know that her lack of a schedule is directly related to the fact that I don't have one myself. My life as a stay-at-home mom is all willy-nilly, with me taking full advantage of not having something like a real job to superimpose structure on my existence. I go here, I do that, I throw in some laundry and I drive around aimlessly for awhile. I've never been so happy in all my years, but the trade-off is a cranky baby (with eyes so wide-open they scare the crap out of me when I'm caught off guard) at 6 p.m. when I need to get dinner made.

Maybe 5 months old is too young for a schedule anyway. Perhaps today's bionic babies don't even need sleep. Nine months of pre-natal vitamins and some Baby Einstein CDs should do just fine to stimulate brain development and encourage motor skills, both fine and gross.

I like to think it's the nighttime sleep that's really important, and at least there, Tolby has the zzzz's on lockdown. I may have imparted a complete disregard for daytime scheduling into her nascent noggin, but I have given her nothing but appreciation for a good night's sleep.

Ah, there she goes again. I must say, her timing isn't bad. I was just about finished with this entry anyway. Who knows when I'll have time for lunch, but at least I got some writing in.


An Obstacle to Overcome

My husband recently saw an episode of Family Guy (a show I abhor, btw) that really seemed to strike a chord. It was one in which Stewie, the freaky baby, mocks Brian, the articulate dog, about the "progress" he's been making on his novel.

Listen to it here and then get back to me.

Okay, so my husband thinks this is so hilariously relevant on account of the fact that I am three years and three hundred pages into a big nothing of a novel myself. I like to consider myself a writer, but the irony becomes obvious when the fact that I don't actually write anything is held up for scrutiny. I think about it a lot, though. And lately I've even seen the faint glimmer of a plot in my mind's eye. One day in the car I came up with a sentence.

I'm sure that readers of this blog have already deduced that discipline and will power are not my strong suit. I'm working at a disadvantage there, but I owe it to myself, my love of books and my own talent to get off my ass and do something about it. Or, more specifically, to get on my ass. Someone famous and writerly once said that this is what you've got to do to become an author: put your ass in the chair. But just like any other aphorism, it doesn't really mean anything until you're ready to accept the message. Like someone famous and Chinese once said: when the student is ready, the teacher will come.

Well, Stewie, I think I'm ready. I feel ready, anyway--moreso than I ever have in the past (excepting seventh grade, when I came up with 30 pages of what I believe to this day would have made a fine young adult novel, had I not misplaced the notebook).

Something is definitely brewing. And for once I'm not referring to what my daughter is cooking up in her diaper.