By the Light of the Moon

The other night, when Tolby woke at 3 am--as has been her dentally-induced habit as of late--we let her do a thorough cleansing of the tear ducts instead of going in right away to soothe her. Being that her tear ducts have a pretty vigorous maintenance plan as it is, such action was probably not necessary, but there you have it. At least my husband and I got an extra fifteen minutes of laying in bed, dreaming about dreaming. When I finally went in to get her, she had worked her sinuses (sinii?) into such a tizzy that she could no longer breathe properly through her nose. The result was a gaping look of befuddlement as she pulled in great gasps of air through swollen gums. How could you do this to me, mother? There was no anger, no sadness--only circular astonishment. Mouth open, eyebrows raised, her face was a round, red question mark. I held her to my chest for awhile and stared. Her expression was borne of mucus and my own analysis, but it seemed so real. She seemed so real. Then I lifted her onto my shoulder and hip-swayed her into submission with a efficiency no overpriced glider could mimic.

Waking up at 3 am is worth it if it means I can be there to see her turn into a little person.


Books Are Good, MmmKay?

When I was younger, afire with the hormones of pre- and actual-pubescence, there were a lot of literary characters I found hot. Among them: Johnny Tremain, Mercutio, Benedyk, Gilbert Bly, Sodapop Curtis and, depending on my mood, Dally Winston. For the sake of discussion, I'm talking about the kind of books we read in school, not the countless and more generic young adult novels I scarfed down like the Cup O' Noodles I grabbed from the pantry every day after school. Books were my life, and for lack of any action that wasn't confined to 150+ pages of pallid paper, I took romance where I could get it. Oh, the drama and the intriuge of that cocky Johnny with the gimp hand and his star-crossed Cilla. They will get together! They won't get together! They will! They won't! Kiss me, you fool! I just could not get enough. At thirteen, the world of masculine humanity, past, present and future, was at my disposal, and I tore through those pages by the hundreds. Then, at night, I'd lay awake in bed, my nose pressed into my drool-stained pillow that somehow smelled good, and make my own fantasies inside my head. These creations were a strange blend of Shakespearian, revolutionary, Canadian and midwest, mixed with DePaolo Middle School. The glory of it was that anything was possible then; I could honestly believe that, one day, I would meet someone as dashing as Mercutio, as tragically flawed as Johnny or Dally, as darn sweet as Gilbert Bly. All I needed was to be somewhere else. To be someone else.

So I waited, and I read. Then I got some cars, an education, and several jobs. Got a life, became a wife. And it's funny, because sometimes I still bury my face in the pillow, searching for the smells of childhood and wondering where it went, the hopeful excitement of not knowing.


Luck of the Draw

My baby should be surly. She should realize that the world owes her something and act accordingly when it doesn't come through. She should raise a wicked eyebrow when she farts. She should chuck her frozen teething ring, pock-marked by two sharp eruptions, across the room because it just doesn't do anything to numb the pain, godddamit! By virtue of being my child, she should do all these things, and more. But I guess she didn't get the email.

She's too beautiful, too sweet, too mild-mannered and calm to be mine. She should've been born to a mother--no, a mommy--who is soft in all the right places: soft chest, soft arms, words of adoration welling up inside and brimming to the surface, softly. She is not the type of child who belongs to a woman who looks at soft, written out four times in one sentence, and thinks, "wow, that is a weird looking word." She is more than language could ever say. She should have a mother who knows that.

But she is mine. I am hers. And that's really an uneven exchange. I am the one who got lucky the day my husband laid that swaddled bundle in my morphine hold as her warmth stilled the shivers that wracked me. Every day she grows, blood running hotter through each squiggling extremity. Every day her friction melts me more.

But enough? I'm afraid not.


Good Will Hunting

So, here's a question for ya'll: do you have a will? I don't. I can rationalize this by stating that wills are a money-related business, and most things fiscal fall to my husband (not all, but most). My husband--the man who thinks he is immortal. So immortal, in fact, that most of his bi-weekly paychecks go into our retirement plan. We live on mac 'n cheese and Two Buck Chuck now so that, one day, he can be old and crotchety in a garage as big as our current house, restoring vintage Porsches. His certainly has a keen sense of foresight; it just doesn't extend to the Pearly Gates.

For that reason, my husband's mother is now on a quest to instill some semblance of maturity into the father of her one and only beloved grandchild. For as long as I've known her, she has left cut-out newspaper articles on the nightstand next to the bed we sleep in when we visit. Sometimes the Dear Abby excerpt is a bit on the cryptic side, and we wonder why she figures the sterling chain of our lives is lacking this particular pearl of wisdom. Other times, like this past weekend, it is abundantly clear. Sitting under the pale glow of the bedside lamp was a six part series titled Why Dying Without a Will is a Bad Idea.

Each state has an intestacy statute (that's latin for should've written a will, dumbass) which dictates who gets a person's property if s/he dies without a will. In the case of married people with children, the decedent's property is split between the surviving spouse and the children (when they reach the age of majority). In the case of a married couple without children, however, things get dicey. As in, many states will force the surviving spouse to share the estate of his dearly departed with the in-laws. So, if your relationship with your beloved's parents is such that the four of you can't even agree on what kind of pizza to order when you begrudgingly stop by on a Saturday evening, you might want to consider drafting that will.

Of course, there are many more issues that make dying intestate a bad, bad idea, whether you are single, married, civilly unionized, childless, childful and/or in possession of a hamster.

So I emailed my husband.

What are we going to do about this? I asked.

Not die? That's my plan. I don't know about you.


What Would Jesus Wear?

When I was in college, my roommate and I had an elaborate plan that involved purchasing a life-sized lawn ornament of Jesus Christ and dressing Him according to the season: a toga for Greek Week, a pointy paper birthday hat and a plastic kazoo on Christmas, a Hawiian shirt over Spring Break, etc. But a lawn Jesus is expensive and a college student's budget is small, so we were never able to pull it off. I remember the anticipation, though, and am not being disrespectful* in the least when I say we were really looking forward to welcoming the Big Guy into our dorm.

More recently, my husband, brother, mother and mother-in-law went to the Christmas vigil at the Catholic church my husband attended as a child. It's a contemporary building with a covered entryway more reminiscent of a hotel lobby than a house of worship. "It's Courtyard by Jesus," my brother chortled. And I thought that wasn't a bad analogy for my kind of Jesus--accessible, accomodating and just as susceptible to the whims of modern architecture as the rest of us.

Pretty soon it's going to be time to introduce my daughter to Uncle Jesus, but the problem is I haven't been able to reach Him myself. Every time I catch a glimpse, the ugly head of institutional Catholicism rears itself yet again and obstructs my view. Priests can't be women; can't be married; can't encourage the faithful to think. With all those barriers, how can the real Jesus be anything but out of reach?

I wonder what a 6 foot plaster Jesus goes for nowadays? Maybe that's where I should start. I've got a North Face jacket and a knitted cap with His name written all over it.

*That former college roommate is now a minister with a degree from Yale Divinity School. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.


12 Seconds

Proving once again that the stereotype about tight-assed New Englanders is not entirely true, I present exhibit A as documented at my July, 2004 wedding.


God Bless America

To all those in the military, past and present, and their families.

Thanks for the freedom.


Green Olives Make No Sense

There are things I love without knowing why. Among them: the musical Cabaret; green olives with pimiento; Troy, New York; most words with hard K sounds; certain blogs; some people; and bourbon, even in its most generic form. I'm sure I could figure out my attraction to these things if I tried, but, really, why would I? Sometimes it's enough for something just to be.

In fact, maybe that's the secret. I should never have to think about broadway musical soundtracks on repeat, or why I love the words Shodack (a town, incidentally, near Troy, NY) and Wachovia. It's enough that bourbon, like certain old friends, is comforting and familiar, even though it's hard to pinpoint what brought us together in the first place. See, getting there isn't as important as being here now, and, in some cases, getting there doesn't matter at all.

Like with green olives.


A Friday Referral

My husband, using Blogger's "Next Blog" function as he is wont to do, actually came across something good. It's a weblog called The Phone Rang that found its way into my heart and my Favorites and hasn't budged since. It is, like, really good. If Dooce is modern motherhood and Anonymous Lawyer is the fucked up culture of workplaces and Overheard in New York is urban voyeurism, then this site is good, old fashioned, there-but-for-the-grace-of-God, marital DRAMA. Time Magazine, take note. If you're going through the archives, I suggest warm jammies, popcorn and a couple (two, tree) bottles of wine. Needless to say, you should put the kids to bed before embarking on this adventure. Then go up and kiss them on the unwrinkled innocence of their foreheads when you're done.


Why Good Enough Will Never Again Suffice

The absolute most fantabulous thing about my baby girl is that she loves me because she doesn't know any better. I can't get that kind of unconditional adoration from my dog, but here is 14 pounds of babbling, soft-skinned warmth that puts all its trust in me. Her blind faith makes me a better mother--maybe, one day, it can turn me into the person she thinks I am. Posted by Picasa


An Avocado By Any Other Name

Surprise #1,567,001 in My Life As A Mom: Baby poop can actually smell good.

Though you may not have known this about avocado and its effect on immature digestive systems, I'm here to tell you that it looks and smells the same going in as it does coming out.

No shit.


I-95 is a Random Muse, Or, Just One of the Things That Popped Into My Head On My Way Back From Virginia

The only good thing about the northeast, as far as I can tell after 27 years of observation, is the abundance of Dunkin Donuts establishments. And even that is a mixed blessing now that the company has traded in my old standby--French Vanilla coffee made from flavor-infused beans--for at least nine different sugar-free syrups that roll over the tongue like sweet cancer. In case that somehow sounds appetizing, let me just clarify: it's not. These syrups are a foul-tasting marketing ploy to offer variety to the throngs of people streaming in and out of the drive-thru at the start of yet another weekday differentiated from the one before and the one after only by the presence of coconut, toasted almond or blueberry syrup in their 24 ounce styrofoam cup. But, really, who cares if it tastes bad? By the time the caffeine jolts us awake, the propylene glycol, glycerine, natural & artificial flavors, triacetin, polysorbate 80, and caramel color have long since numbed our taste buds.

We'll willingly drink bad coffee because it makes our days livable, but truly good coffee makes that living worthwhile. McDonald's tried to capitalize on that fact on the upper east coast with the introduction of Green Mountain coffee (Newman's Own Organic Blend). Then they got really smart and offered it stark, raving FREE for something like two whole weeks. One could drag his or her somnambulant carcass into McDonald's every morning for the duration of the special and sail out on an complimentary caffeine cloud. And an organic one, no less. We love that. Don't let the fact that we'll pay $5 for a non-fat Starbucks latte convince you otherwise.