Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Trip To The Library

A dear friend used to say that we all have our bag of rocks to carry. Then she realized that the bag is not full of rocks -- it's full of books.

Life does seem to teach us the same lessons over and over again. I don't know about anyone else, but I always seem to need the refresher course.

My big lesson this week was gratitude. On the morning of Gabby's birthday, I was playing with her in the house in Santa Fe that we were sharing with Atomic's family. I went to hike her up on my shoulder, and all of a sudden I was grasping at air. Then came the sickening thud as she flopped face first onto the floor. She screamed and screamed, unable to be comforted by either of us in any way. I held her and rocked her, and then she started to get sleepy. I got even more worried and called the doctor. While I was on hold, she screamed some more and then threw up. We rushed to the emergency room, in a snowstorm. We were terrified.

By the time we got to the hospital, she was fine. She'd taken a nap, and was cheerfully waving at the nurses and doctors in the ER. The doctor advised us against a CT scan and told us to watch her carefully over the course of the day. She developed a heck of a shiner on her left eye, but that was about it.

Even now, a week later, I lose my breath and get a horrible knot in my stomach when I think about it. And then I am flooded with enormous gratitude and humility. The universe has seen fit to entrust us with this precious child. We'd better not fuck it up.

Now, as for the other books in my bag this week, well, it's not exactly the New York Times best seller list. Some, ahem, highlights:

Flights of Fancy: How To Lower Your Expectations When Traveling Coach

The Homicide-Free Family Vacation

Simple Holiday Meals For Fourteen Picky Eaters

Strange Rashes

How To Survive Your Inlaws (yes, this one is real, and it actually looks kinda good)

The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter

As I said, not exactly beach reading, but all worthy lessons which I am certain to forget by the next time I need them.

Here's wishing all of you love, peace, happiness, prosperity, and gentleness in 2009.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It has a name, Gabby!

I've always gotten a little weepy watching the much-parodied final scene of The Miracle Worker. The concept that everything has a name is so basic, yet so counterintuitive, it's a wonder we ever invented language at all.

Once you give something a name, you can talk about it even when it's not right in front of you. You can tell stories about it; you can theorize, conceptualize. You can engage in abstract thinking. I think that scene always moved me because being able to name things seems like a prerequisite for personhood.

Well, our Gabby had a Helen Keller moment today. For the last several weeks, she has definitely worked a few words into her babbling, mainly "mama," "dada," "cat," and the all-purpose "dat" (that). "Cat" was a big step toward getting the whole things-have-names concept, but it wasn't until last night and today that I think she really got it.

Last night, she was in my lap, staring up at the gorgeous mobile Atomic made using some painted wooden fish from Mazatlan. She looked up, pointed at the mobile, and said "dat!"

I said, "Those are fish, honey."







"Fffffffffffrthl. Dat!"



"Yes! Fish!" Big kiss.

She went back to nursing, obviously quite pleased with herself. Twice more, she interrupted her meal to point and say something that sounded rather like "fish."

Now, she's gotten that far before, especially with the cats. But tonight, we were in her room getting ready for bed, and I asked, "Gabby, where are the fish?"

She looked at me quizzically for a moment, and then I saw it. That flash of understanding. I repeated the question.

"Gabby, where are the fish?"

She looked up, smiled hugely, and pointed at the fish.


She then valiantly fought sleep for another half hour so that she could point triumphantly toward the ceiling every few moments and shout, "Fish!" with a tone and a grin that said, "I am SO all over this language thing."

Update: Gabby woke up this morning, gave me a big, sweet smile and said, "Fish!" So, yeah, I think the abstract thinking is probably still a few weeks off.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

That Circle of Life Thing Again

Getting back to the intensely personal here.

Gabby is growing and thriving. She had a bit of trouble putting on weight for a little while there, but once I figured out that she would still love me even if I supplemented my breastmilk output with a bit of formula, things turned around. She's not walking yet, but she will be soon. And her babbling is sounding more and more like actual words. Either that or she IS saying real words but she speaks only Uzbek. Or she mumbles a lot.

Gabby's new best friend (my best friend's daughter) was born yesterday.

Another friend just got some good news in a bad situation -- her daughter's brain tumor has remained stable for another six months, and she's managing to grow up and learn and love and laugh despite it all. Good thing no one told her she's not supposed to be able to do all of that.

Another friend and colleague, someone I've known for nearly 15 years and worked with in three different jobs, just got sworn in as our city's newest council member.

And another old friend, a teacher and mentor, is dying.

And so it goes. Round and round and round.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Who You Callin' Colorblind?

I can't believe it's been a whole month since the election. For the past month, I've been so incredibly proud to be an American. (And a bit less proud to be a Californian, but don't get me started on that right now. I'm feeling fairly joyous and a tad philosophical, and working up a head of steam about self-righteous and intolerant out-of-state religious freaks would really harsh my mellow.)

So, where was I? Oh, right. President-elect Obama. Has a nice ring to it, dontcha think? He seems to be hitting the ground running, egged on by still-President Bush, who is so eager to hand off the steaming pile of turds that he has made of our national economy and international reputation is likely to leave skid marks on the White House lawn.

Of course I'm interested in what President Obama will do, but I'm also curious about what we Americans will do now that he is our leader. Will it change the way we think about race? For me, it already has.

We all hate to admit how much we've internalized the racism we grew up with, how much our sneaky little subconscious still recoils when a Scary Brown Person heads toward us on the sidewalk, but it's there. Recently, however, my subconscious is much more apt to look at said Scary Brown Person and wonder if he has kids. Or if he owns a house on my street and if so, whether he worries about his property values as he waters the hydrangeas in his garden. My rotten, racist subconscious has quite suddenly and disconcertingly decided that the Formerly Scary Brown People are actually Folks Like Me.

It's bizarre to realize I've had a mental shift like that, because it forces me to acknowledge that I had all those awful racist thoughts to begin with. And then of course I wonder if the person walking in the other direction is thinking, "Great. Another slack-jawed fool giving me the lovey googy eyes because she's suddenly figured out that we share a common humanity. Hoo-friggin-ray." It is, quite frankly, rather embarrassing.

But I'm hoping it's an experience that a lot of my fellow white folks are having. And I'm hoping that maybe the googy eyes will give way to actual conversations, and, you know, community and stuff, and then maybe we can all stop segregating ourselves and each other into little enclaves and fighting over schools and jobs and start realizing that we've got common goals -- and common enemies -- and oh geez I'm about to burst into that song from the Coke commercial so I'll just leave it at that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sunrise in Cincinnati

My friend Michael has been volunteering for the Obama campaign in Ohio for the last couple of weeks. He's been sending back some wonderful stories of the way this election is transforming our nation. This one, sent two days ago, made me cry:

Sunrise over Cincinnati.

The last Democratic Presidential nominee to win this county was Lyndon Johnson. Yesterday morning voters began lining up at the board of elections at 7 am. By 8:30 the line stretched 4 blocks. I saw this myself. If you arrived at 9 am, you voted nearly 4 hours later. Our election monitors told me that people waited calmly and quietly. And voted. And, by all accounts, the vast majority were our people.

Many celebrated as they left the Board's downtown office. Some wept.

Yesterday a 60 member volunteer Cincinnati gotv team, many who have never participated in an election, led by a fresh-faced 23 year old organizer, hit several thousand doors. This is a team of old and young, black and white, people of every level of educational and socioeconomic background. Similar teams hit doors all over this county. Today, many of those same volunteers, joined by thousands more, will again hit the streets. As they will tomorrow. And Tuesday.

I haven't had the time over the last few weeks to think about the big picture. Of what this election means to us. What it means for my 5 year old niece. But this morning I did. As I watched the sun rise, I thought of her and a promise of a better America. I thought of the young volunteers (many only 17-23) who work 12 hour days on this campaign. I thought about residents of a city that has seen more than its share of racial strife. I imagined grandmas and grandpas who remember times in this country that were difficult, and how they wish for a tolerant and kind America - where their grandkids have access to a decent education, good healthcare, safe streets, a rewarding job.......a future. And I thought about the politics of cynicism and fear. And where that has brought us. And how it has divided us. And the possibility, the chance, however slim, of unity.

Sunrise indeed.
Thank you, Michael, for putting your all into this effort, and for bringing home the hope.

Monday, October 27, 2008

On Nursing A Teething Infant

Am I insane
To entrust my tender skin
To this ferocious beast
With sharp teeth and claws, thrashing
Inflicting pain needlessly, heedlessly
And sometimes just for fun?

How can I be her rock, her mountain
When my flesh is made of flesh, not stone?

I am not your rock; I am your mother.
Now stop biting me and go to sleep.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Babies For Obama

Gabby's been an Obama supporter pretty much all her life. Apparently, she's not alone. Enjoy the slide show.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Way We Consume

We went to Costco today to pick up a platter of sandwiches for our Obama phonebanking party. The Peanut rode in style in her car seat, in one of those humongous shopping carts, beaming at everyone in her cute little "My Mama's For Obama" onesie and her little blue leg warmers.  

As we left, I whispered to Atomic, "Uh-oh.  We don't have a receipt for her.  What if they stop us?" 

"Don't worry," he replied, "If we had gotten her at Costco, there would be 12 of her, she'd be wrapped in seventeen layers of impenetrable plastic, and each of her would weigh 40 pounds."

Here's a photo of Gabby in her Obama shirt explaining her views to Timmy the Sea Turtle, an undecided voter:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quote of the Day

Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor.

And while I'm over here, did I hear old Cranky McGrumpypants correctly last night? Did he really suggest that soldiers returning from military service should be given positions teaching school without having to get a teaching credential? If I did hear correctly, why isn't anyone talking about what a completely absurd idea that is?

I have nothing but respect for our boys and girls in uniform. They volunteered to do a job that the rest of us wanted no part of, and they're paying a heavy price for our leaders' folly. I think they should have every advantage when they return home, including adequate health care (including mental health care) and substantial assistance with higher education and housing. The GI Bill should mean something again. If they want to come home and teach school, wonderful. Give them an education on the public's dime and give them the credentials and tools to do a good job. But to suggest that we should just skip all that fancy-schmancy elitist edumacashion and just plop them into a classroom? That's crazy talk.

Can you imagine?

"Johnny, where's your homework?"
"I fowgot it."
"Drop and give me 20!"
"Twenny whats?"
"Twenty push-ups, maggot!"
"Waaaaaaah! What's a maggot?"

"Sweetie, what did you learn at school today?"
"We learned about bawbed wire! And how to disawm a woadside bomb!"


Yeah, you get the picture.

Now, if in fact I did NOT hear that proposal correctly, well, in the words of Emily Latella, never mind.

The fact remains, though: McCain = total crackpot.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Let's All Send This Guy Some Email

My friends, meet Bobby May. Mr. May is a McCain campaign representative in Virginia, and in the fine, fine Republican tradition, he is doing a heckuva job.

He penned this HILARIOUS column about what an Obama administration would look like, including mandatory black liberation theology classes, raising taxes to buy drugs for his "inner city policital base," money for cans of spray paint to graffiti the White House, and foreign aid to Africa so the Obama family can "free their goats and live the American Dream."

Poor Mr. May. No one told him that you're only supposed to use the "N" word behind closed doors, in the company of like-minded people. Instead he unwittingly let the cat out of the bag. Ooopsie!

Now, let me be very clear here. This guy is not some random crackpot who spends all day in his pajamas spewing racist crap all over the interwebs. This gentleman WORKS FOR THE MCCAIN CAMPAIGN.

So, maybe we should all send Mr. May an email at and let him know what we think of his funny funny jokes!

The one I sent said,

"Dear Mr. May,

I read your column about what an Obama administration would look like, and I have to say you are doing an excellent job of representing John McCain. You really understand what he is all about, don't you?"

Please don't feel that you have to be as polite as I was. I think it highly probable that poor Mr. May will fail to detect the sarcasm oozing from my keyboard. He may just need one of you all to administer an electronic smack to the forehead.

You'd be doing a community service, really.

Go on. You know you want to.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Girl Gone Truthy

You know how when you're in a debate, and you're not sure what the question means, and sometimes, ya know, you just have to wing it?

And how sometimes you say stuff that's, ya know, something that didn't actually happen EXACTLY the way you're telling it but you really really want them to like you and not think that your internal dialogue sounds something like bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz like that all the time?

Ya, whattya call that?

Ooooh, right. Thaaaat's a lie!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Already Smarter Than Sarah Palin

She's not even in preschool yet, but this little girl is already smarter than the Republican Vice Presidential candidate.

Then again, so is my cat. You know, the one that stares at the wall a lot.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Maverick My Ass

Actually, make that George W. Bush's ass. In which John McCain has apparently inserted his nose so far that, well, I'll leave you to your own revolting images.

Ok, I'll wait here while you shower and try to scrub that image from your brain.

All better? No? Sorry 'bout that. Maybe now you're ready for the Bush/McCain Challenge.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Brazenly Lifted From The Daily Kos

I received this in my email inbox yesterday. Do you think it's legit??


Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Truth About The Tax Plans

Here is a wonderful and well-sourced graphic that shows exactly who would benefit from each of the candidates' tax plans:

The Republicans love to call the Democrats the "tax and spend" party. Seems to me they're the ones who love to tax (the middle class) and spend (on unnecessary wars, boondoggles for their wealthy friends, bridges to nowhere, and corporate welfare).

Hmmmm. I wonder what a corporate "Welfare Queen" looks like. Any of you talented folks want to take a stab at it?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Here's Foam In Your Eye

We've heard all about Obama's fundraising prowess, but when you factor in the wads of cash that the RNC has to throw about, Obama's got some ground to make up.

So today, in honor of the mouth breathers who think that "latte" is French for "liberal arts education," I decided to donate the cost of one latte per week to the Obama campaign.

I hereby throw down the foamy gauntlet to you all. Click this here little link and donate the cost of a nice bottle of California Chardonnay. Or the price of one of them big old, whatyacallem? Books? Yeah. Those things you elite folks always have your noses stuck in. Or hell, if you're one of them Wall Street bigwigs who just pulled the ripcord on your golden parachute after handing off your mess to us taxpayers, maybe you'll have a crisis of conscience and donate the cost of a university degree.[1][2]

Put your money where your heart is. Go donate. And then come back here and let me know which symbol of effete leftyism you used to calculate the amount.

[1] And I ain't talkin' no state school, neither, mister.
[2]Ok, ok, there's a $2300 limit on contributions to the campaign, but seriously, Mr. Moneybags, go find yourself a nice independent expenditure committee.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Not My Daughter's Role Model

I recently received an email asking me why I believe that Sarah Palin, despite all the celebrity "buzz" she has generated, is a poor choice to be Vice President of the United States. Here is my response:

Here is why I say "NO!" to Sarah Palin:I have a nine month old daughter. I want her to inherit a cleaner, more prosperous, more peaceful world than the one we live in now. I want her to get a decent education in public schools, and to learn that science and faith answer two completely different sets of questions. I want her to be able to make her own decisions about her body and her life. I want her to have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. I want her to live in a world where polar bears exist outside of zoos. I want her to be proud to be an American, proud of a country that leads by example and not by force, proud of a country that deals fairly with its own citizens and with those who have come here seeking a better life. I want her to value the rule of law over the law of the jungle.

If McCain/Palin are elected, the chances of my daughter living in that world are severely diminished.

There are so many great role models for my daughter in politics: Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Shirley Chisholm, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, Abigail Adams, Victoria Woodhull, Jeanette Rankin, Rebecca Felton, Nellie Ross, Geraldine Ferraro -- the list, I am happy to say, is long.

Sarah Palin is not good enough be on that list. I don't want my daughter to emulate a woman who has more snark than smarts, more lipstick than substance, who is celebrated for what she looks like rather than for the content of her character or the soundness of her ideas.

That is why I, as a woman, a feminist, and a mother, say "Hell, no!" to Sarah Palin.

To view other responses, go to

To send in your own response, send an email to Please include your name and home town.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Shake, Rattle, and . . . Snore

For those of you keeping score at home, yes, that was a little bitty earthquake last night, right around 9 p.m. A 4.0 on the Richter scale, according to our friends at the U.S. Geological Survey. And Gabby, oh, my dear Gabby, she slept blissfully through it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Since You've Been Gone

Atomic has missed a few developments on the Gabby front since he's been away. Things move pretty fast here in babyland. In the past week, Gabby has:

  • become super proficient at getting Cheerios into her mouth;
  • gotten her first haircut;
  • tried a few new foods, including yogurt, egg yolks, cheese, and mushrooms;
  • gotten really good at crawling;
  • cut a third tooth;
  • pulled herself up to standing a gazillion times;
  • visited an old timey mining town with burros who wander the streets (She looooooved the burros, and they apparently loved her as well, which explains why they kept trying to eat her);
  • gotten a new bathing suit;
  • gone swimming with her best buddy Portia;
  • tried gnawing on some bread;
  • figured out the whole "peekaboo" thing;
  • signed "milk" very clearly for the first time;
  • experienced her first thunderstorm (which she slept through);
  • watched portions of her first Democratic National Convention (and witnessed history in the making);
  • made tons of new friends; and
  • fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with her Meema and Grandpa in Arizona.
It's been a fun and eventful week with a giant gaping hole in the middle. Hurry home, honey, before she starts walking!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

For Now, We're Two

Atomic went to Burning Man. Without us.

It was my idea that he go, and I am glad that he's getting to enjoy the event on his own. I'm glad we're getting to spend a little time apart - it mixes things up a bit, gives us a chance to appreciate each other, to miss one another.

And oh, boy, do I miss him. I started missing him before he was even out the door. I miss him every time Gabby does something cute (which is, oh, about sixteen times a day). I miss him at 3 a.m. when I realize I haven't yet trained the cats to get Gabby out of her crib and into the bedroom. I missed battling him for The Week In Review. I missed him ranting as I try to listen to Harry Shearer's Le Show on NPR yesterday morning, because frankly (and I say this with love, Harry) Atomic's rantings and ravings greatly enhance Le Show.

And it's only been three days.

Granted, the house is quieter, I can watch whatever I want on TV, the cats are a lot less raucous (although one of them did pee on the bathroom floor last night. Bastard.) , and I'm getting a lot done, chore-wise, but all of those things have downsides as well. I'm tired, a little stir crazy, and I think Gabby's getting a bit bored with me.

The good news is that Gabby and I leave tomorrow for a visit to my parents' house in Arizona. I don't think it will make me miss Atomic any less, but Gabby will get to be spoiled by her doting grandparents and I, I hope, will get some sleep.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Birthdays are different now

I'm now 41 years old. Funny, I don't feel 41. A friend of mine who, AHEM, turned 41 waaaaaay before I did (47 days before, but who's counting), said, "Welcome to the second half." Indeed. Only, since we're not really ready for the second half, we've declared this our "Intermission Year."

In contrast to the festive blowout we had last year, this year I spent most of my birthday hanging out with a friend, taking care of a cranky, teething baby, and doing a few chores. In the evening, a wonderful friend-in-the-computer-turned-friend-IRL watched Gabby while Atomic took me out for dinner and a movie. I ordered the grownup equivalent of the Birthday Belly-Bustin' Banana Split (i.e., a sushi roll so complex I couldn't name half the fish, so ornate that it included little spirals of gold amid dollops of caviar, and so long it took up half the table). Then we saw the latest Batman movie on Imax.

That would have been a fairly ordinary Saturday night not so long ago, but tonight it felt like heaven. And I confess, I missed my Peanut and was also simultaneously glad to have someone else put her to bed tonight.

It was a perfect birthday.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Ouch! The problem with kids getting teeth is that they use them. Not to do anything useful, like eating, mind you. No need for that when mommy purees everything nice and smooth. No, the teeth are being put to a far better and more amusing purpose -- biting mommy. While nursing. Hard enough to draw blood.

I'm really distressed over this turn of events. When Gabby was born, I was anxious about breastfeeding. I'd known so many people who had a hard time with it, and I wanted so badly to be able to do it, even for a few months. I was delighted when Gabby latched on like a champ right away, and breastfeeding has been easy peasy for us ever since. Until now.

Every time she bites, I pull her off and say, "no!" and stop the nursing session. It's hard on both of us, though, and tonight at bedtime we were both in tears. Even worse, the first time she bit me hard, I cursed, yanked her off me, and tapped her face with my hand. It scared me, because without thinking I had almost slapped her. I don't want to hit my child, especially not in anger. It worried me that it was almost a reflex to do so.

I don't want to wean her yet -- I'm not ready for it, and I don't think she is, either. I'm hoping this is just a phase. One that we're going to have to get past (please god) before she cuts any more teeth.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Total shitstorm at work last week. Poor blog -- always the last to know.

I had about 48 hours to draft a brief in response to an "emergency" ex parte motion. Emergency my ass. Basically, someone's overdeveloped sense of entitlement meant that I had to miss my baby's bedtime AND miss my day off.

Well, that poor fool learned in a big hurry that you don't mess with Mama Bear. Don't get me wrong -- I love to win for its own sake -- but if you get between me and my cub I will do everything I can to make you bleed.

Gabby's had a busy week as well, babbling up a storm (for some reason she says "da-da-da-da-da" when she's happy and "maaaaammmmmaaaaaaa" when she's really sad), figuring out the whole crawling thing (she's progressed to the combat crawl), and mastering the pincer grip (ouch!).

When Gabby's busy, that's great. When I'm busy, not so much.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

On The Move

Gabby's been a busy little beaver this week. On Monday, I came home from work and Meghann, our fabulous babysitter, said excitedly, "Look at what she can do!" She put her on the floor and put a toy in front of her. Gabby picked herself up into a push up, but then, instead of doing her usual worm action, she managed to get a knee under herself and propel forward. Atomic then told me she'd made it across the floor of his studio.

It's not like I missed her first steps or anything, but it made me a little sad.

By Tuesday night, Gabby decided that she didn't like sleeping on her back anymore. We still put her down on her back, but now she sighs, grunts, and flips over, and sometimes folds her arms in front of her and rests her head on them.

This morning she figured out how to use the adorable "Giddy-up" jumperoo we got her. She beamed and squealed as she bounced and bounced and the jumpy made galloping noises.

Oh, and she cut a second tooth.

This is going really fast. The dizzying speed of it really makes me appreciate bedtime, when all I can do is hold her and nurse her and cuddle her. I can't multitask when I'm putting her to bed. It's all about the two of us being in that moment, just staring at each other and hanging out together. And when she finally falls asleep and slumps into me, her total trust in me brings out the fiercest and tenderest feelings I have ever experienced.

She's my little girl. She's my big girl. She's a part of me, and separate from me. It's all quite confusing, actually, and rather wonderful.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Few Things I've Learned As A Working Mom

It's only been a couple of weeks, but I think I'm getting the hang of this. Somewhat. I have learned a few tips and tricks along the way, which I'd like to share with all of you:

  1. Part-time schedules are for suckers. They mean that you get less money and less time to do the same amount of work.

  2. I am a sucker. Despite point number 1, I willingly slog through the mountains of work while living for those blessed Wednesdays with my Peanut.

  3. It is possible to cram twelve pounds of crap into a five pound bag if you're really determined and don't mind getting a bit messy.

  4. Planning ahead really works. Who knew?

  5. Sometimes it's ok to raid the rainy day fund when it's only partially cloudy.

  6. If it doesn't result in a trip to the ER, an overdrawn checking account, an insurance claim, or an involuntary change in employment status, you're doing it right.

  7. An effective way to exceed expectations is to lower the expectations.

  8. Bonus points are rarely, if ever, awarded for suffering in silence or taking one for the team.

  9. Being Terribly Busy does not make me Terribly Important, or Terribly Smart. Often it just makes me Terrible.

  10. Smile when you say no, and try to say it every day.

  11. Guilt is for sissies.
More lessons to follow, I'm sure.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Random thoughts on returning to work:

Having Wednesdays off rocks. Yesterday was utter bliss.

Having Wednesdays off also sucks ass. Especially when you don't get any less work in exchange for your reduced hours and pay.

Have I made the right decision? Can I really do this?

I vacillate between being really happy I'm back and feeling stressed and miserable.

And damn it, I'm still not wearing a watch.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Momentous Day

I went back to work on Monday.

Somehow, the sky did not fall.

The day started off pretty grim but got steadily better:

6 a.m. Wake up to Gabby's beautiful one-toothed grin. Pick her up and cry a little.

6-8 Rush around getting everything ready for my first day back. Feel like a complete scatterbrain.

8 a.m. Walk to work in the gross cold fog.

9 -10 Get my office back in shape. Try to figure out why my phone isn't working.

10:30 Pump.

11 a.m. Wish my phone still wasn't working.

12 p.m. Atomic and Gabby come for a visit! Yay! Show off the wee one to all my friends.

2 p.m. Pump.

2:15 Talk to boss. Decide to work part-time (4 days/week) for six months.

2:17 Panic over finances.

2:30 Start wading through work. Remember that I am actually good at this.

4 p.m. Pump.

5 p.m. Atomic and Gabby come back to my office and we troop over to City Hall together to watch people get married. See couple after couple emerge from City Hall with enormous grins, greeted with cheers, a marching band, and random people serving cake. Tell Gabby what an historic day it is. Cry a little, in a whole different way.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Apple . . . Tree

I guess she is my kid after all. I'm wearing a shirt today that has a shiny, embroidered neckline. Gabby can't tear herself away from it. She even ceased her other favorite activity -- squealing at the cat and grabbing handfuls of fur -- in order to inspect the pretty shiny thing more closely.

Her other favorites? "Reading" (i.e. crinkling/eating) the New York Times and "typing" (i.e. banging on/eating) on the computer.

Like well-informed-but-helpless-before-pretty-shiny-things mother, like daughter.

I think there might be some shopping-oriented fun in our future.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quick update

Feeding was a resounding success.

No noticeable changes in poop as a result.

Tooth now visible.

More later. Typing w/ one hand sucks.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Gabby went to her first wedding on Saturday. And on Sunday, she attended her first play, The Wizard of Oz. Her review: the weather was a bit warm for her taste (it was outdoors), but the music was pretty catchy. Dorothy scored numerous gummy grins.

And speaking of gummy grins, Miss Tish also appears to be cutting her first tooth. I can't really see what's going on in there, since Gabby permits only momentary glances, but the other day she was gnawing on my knuckle and I felt something really sharp. So, either my darling girl is cheeking a shiv, or she's cutting a tooth. Either way, I'm gonna break out the nipple salve.

Rolling is now a fairly regular occurrence, although the poor dear still cries when she flops onto her tummy and then forgets how to get back onto her back. Sitting happens, sometimes, with assistance, and inevitably results in a comical tipping over. At least now she's got the muscle tone to not bonk her head really hard when she goes down.

And here's a really big one: Tomorrow we start . . . oh, wow, I can't believe it. . . solid food.

Things are going to start changing really fast around here, aren't they?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Time, Part II

I return to work in two weeks. I never thought that would be something I dreaded. I never imagined that I would fantasize about being able to stay at home with my little one.

But I do.

It's crazy -- after 13 years as a lawyer, after all that expensive education and dues paying and incredibly hard work, I'd be happy as a clam to ditch the whole shebang to sit at home and play peek a boo with Gabby.

This turn of thought is particularly mystifying given recent events. My office just celebrated a HUGE victory in a civil rights case. By righting a long standing injustice, the court changed the lives of lots of people for the better. It's not an exaggeration to say that the world is a fairer and better place because of it. I worked on that case, and although my contribution was small, that victory felt like the proudest moment of my career.

When the decision was announced, celebrations erupted throughout the city. I desperately wanted to run down to City Hall and join the party, but Gabby chose that moment to take a much needed nap. And I was totally content to rejoice quietly and skim the decision on my laptop as she snoozed next to me. Seemed kind of a fitting way, actually, to celebrate a decision affirming the right of all people to form families.

Even in the afterglow of that event, I feel no strong pull to return to work. These six months have been such a luxury, and I am so glad to have had them. Being able toHaving to stop what I'm doing to pick up Gabby when she cries, feed her when she's hungry, change her when she's wet feels like such an indulgence. I get to say to the world, hey, fuck off, I'm busy. I work for Gabby now.

I have a feeling that the anticipation is worse than the reality will be. I know I'll be ok, in part because I don't care as much about my job. That's not to say I won't do it well -- I might even do it better, more efficiently. But it's no longer my identity and sole source of pride.

And that feels like a good thing to me.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I Hope You Dance

Oh, gracious, I must be hormonal or something, because I have turned into the world's biggest sap.

WARNING: the following post is utterly devoid of sarcasm, ironic detachment, or postmodern sensibilities.

More than a year and a half ago, some of my friends in the computer organized a mix CD exchange. All of us were going through fertility struggles, and we all needed some inspiration. One of my favorite songs of those I received is called "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack.

Dont let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,
I hope you dance....I hope you dance

I got teary the first time I heard it, and thought, "That's what I want to tell my daughter some day." And then I thought "That's what my mom taught me. Given the choice, I've always danced, and I've never regretted doing so."

I played that song on the way to our first IUI. I played it again right before the egg retrieval in our IVF cycle.

Today, I played it for my daughter. I picked her up and we danced together in the honeyed late afternoon light in her room, and I sang to her and she beamed at me. I realized yet again that she is a dream come true.

One of Gabby's fairy godmothers has predicted that she will be a healer. In a way, she is already. I'm grateful to her and for her, and to H4F for sending me that song and to all the amazing loved ones who walked that hard road with us and shared their support, prayers, and wisdom.

May we all always choose to dance.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Big Night, Part II

So, we didn't spend the ENTIRE night just thinking about our little peanut. We found ourselves completely enchanted by the Brahms concerto and symphony. Of course, we both sat there thinking about how much fun it will be to bring Gabby to the symphony and teach her about music, but we devoted, oh, at least 30% of our (shared) brain to actually enjoying the music.

There are definite cultural differences among the lively arts in our town. Ballet patrons tend to be fashionable, good looking, aware of themselves and their space. Many of them look like they might be former dancers. Either that, or they're just really well preserved and have fabulous personal trainers.

The folks who attend the opera always make me feel schlumphy, impoverished, and under dressed. They dress UP. Like they mean it. It is the opera, after all.

And then there's the symphony -- aaah, the symphony.

Symphony patrons seem to skew a bit older, or maybe they're just not as good at hiding it. At any given performance, you'll see a parade of corduroy and tweed blazers with elbow patches, many adorned with a slight sprinkling of dandruff about the collar. There are also a fair number of urban hipsters and young professionals, but they all look as if they'd be equally comfortable at a sci-fi convention.

In short, they are nerds. They are folks in touch with their inner geek.

They are our kind of people.

It's not just our fellow audience members that make us feel comfortable, it's the performers themselves. I can look at a ballerina with great admiration, wondering at how on earth she gets her impossibly long legs up behind her back and parallel with her neck, but I couldn't imagine ever actually talking to one.

And opera singers seem to be of a different species -- an extremely theatrical race of divas who never ever experience humdrum emotions such as mild surprise or simple contentment.

But symphony musicians? God love 'em. They look like your next door neighbor, dressed up for a family wedding. Or maybe that guy with the schnauzer you see in the coffee shop all the time. Or the woman in the next cubicle. It makes it all the more amazing that they create such magic. And that they're so interesting to watch, despite the lack of costumes, stage makeup, or body contortions (well, other than the occasional grimace from a soloist).

Hmm. Why do I have the sinking feeling that Gabby will likely torture us from the age of 7 on by refusing to listen to anything but her generation's version of Hannah Montana?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Our Big Night Out

I have never appreciated my parents as much as I do now. Not just because I now understand what they went through, but also because they keep stepping up and doing these really awesome things for us.

I dunno, perhaps becoming grandparents for the third time has rendered them daft and unable to stop themselves from doing insane, over-the-top nice things for us.

Like coming to my house and emptying my dishwasher (?!!) I mean, who does that? And, get this -- flying all the way here for the weekend so they could watch Gabby while Atomic and I had a night to ourselves for our anniversary. Let me be clear: we're not talking about an evening out. We're talking a whole night. As in, 4 p.m. until 10 a.m. the following day. As in, dealing with the evening scream fest AND the 3 a.m. feeding AND the morning poopsplosion.

They rock. And they're completely insane. In a good way, of course.

So, you may ask, what did we do with all of that free time?

5 p.m. Cocktails and an early dinner reservation (during which we mused about what a potentially child-friendly restaurant we were at, answered one frantic call from my folks when Gabby hit an unprecedented level of wailing misery due, apparently, to a bottle that was one or two degrees too cold for her liking, called back seven times to make sure everything was ok, and debated aborting the mission and going home).

7 p.m. After being talked down from the ledge by the couple at the next table, we arrived early for the symphony and got to hear a pre-performance recital. Made one last call home before shutting off our phones.

8 p.m. Symphony performance. Enjoyed it thoroughly. And, over intermission drinks, talked about how much fun it will be to dress up Gabby and take her to the symphony in a few years.

10:30 p.m. Stopped at the symphony gift shop after the performance and found some cute stuff for Gabby.

11 p.m. Back to the hotel lounge for a nightcap and dancing. Wondered aloud how Gabby was doing and whether she was keeping my parents up all night. Talked about how much we missed her.

2 a.m. Finally turned in for the night. Wondered if Gabby was up.

2-6 a.m. Dreamed about Gabby.

6 a.m. Woke up early despite late night, as per recent programming. Pumped enough milk to supply a medium sized orphanage.

10 a.m. Reunited with our little smunchkin, who looked adorable in her little flowered dress and white cardigan, all dolled up for Mother's Day.

So it seems that the little person in our midst has thoroughly soaked into our psyches. And our hearts. And our imaginations.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Time, Part I

Some time around the beginning of my last trimester of pregnancy I stopped wearing a watch. It was just too damned uncomfortable and it left marks on my swollen wrists. Immediately after the baby was born, I didn't bother wearing a watch because at any given moment I had no idea if it was even day or night and I really didn't give a shit. I wasn't wearing deodorant, never mind a watch.

Gabby's four months old now. We keep a pretty full schedule of activities. We go to events, see friends, attend classes. But I still have not resumed wearing a watch.

They say that when your child is small, the hours go slow and the months go fast. I feel like it's all going fast. Each day begins with these beautiful big eyes looking at me and smiling, and then all of a sudden it's evening and those lovely eyes are closing.

With my return to work looming (well, it feels like it's looming, although it's still more than a month away), I'm starting to figure out why the watch has languished for so long at the bottom of a drawer: I like being in this little bubble, just me and my family and those other folks I choose to see, doing whatever we please. I dread returning to a regimented life, a life where I have to consult my calendar constantly and account for my day in fifteen minute increments. I dread the feeling of not having enough hours in the day, of constantly being late for things because I try to cram too much into every last minute.

Of course, these musings bring up a lot of stuff about being a working mom, finding a balance between work and home, wondering whether I'll have any time for myself, and not wanting to miss a second of Gabby's childhood. I'm sure I'll be writing more about these things soon.

Ironically enough, I've been working on this post since March because I haven't had the time to pull my thoughts together in a coherent way. I think I'll just call it "Part I" and leave it at that.

In the meanwhile, I'll continue to float along watchless, thankyouverymuch, in my little bubble with my baby.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Buddy Story

Remember last summer when we almost lost the Monkey cat?

The poor thing was at death's door, suffering from a lymphoma that rendered her unable to eat. After the surgery and the feeding tube and the chemo (well, we'll never be done with the chemo), I am thrilled to report that the Monkey is her old frenetic, insanely social self. Not only that, but my fondest hope in that area has been realized -- the Monkey and Gabby are fast becoming buddies.

From the day we brought Gabby home from the hospital, the changing pad has been Monkey's favorite roost. Tonight, we also caught her snuggling in Gabby's folded up play mat, clearly relishing the smell of her little companion.

And Gabby has become aware of the cat as well. Although she has been smiling and laughing for a while now, Gabby let out her very first genuine shriek of delight when the Monkey jumped up onto the bed. Now she looks for her, and giggles like crazy every time she sees her furry little buddy.

Thank you, oh cancer gods, for sparing our Monkey, even for a little while. Every moment we have her with us is precious, and every smile she brings to our baby's face is a blessing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Who's Trippin' Down the Streets of the City

. . . smiling at everybody she sees?

Everyone knows it's Gabby!

I don't whether it's just babies generally or whether it's Gabby's penchant for making eye contact, laughing and smiling at everyone, but everywhere we go people smile at us and strike up pleasant conversations.

We toodle around town with Gabby strapped to me in her carrier, facing outward. She almost never fusses when she's in there -- she's too busy looking around at stuff and charming the pants off the folks at the produce stand, the bus driver, the baristas at Starbucks, and random pedestrians who catch her eye. She can't see me behind her, but she clearly knows I'm there as she confidently greets her public.

The other day an elderly woman approached us on the street. A soft, wistful smile spread across her face. She said a few words in Chinese, and touched Gabby's hand. Then she said a few more words and walked away. I suppose she could have been asking for directions to Fillmore Street, but something in her tone sounded like a blessing.

Later on, we got on a crowded bus during rush hour. A woman immediately jumped up and gave us her seat -- something that never happened during my pregnancy. We started chatting, and then another woman joined in the discussion, all the while cooing and smiling at Gabby. Standing between us and the women was a young gangsta-looking guy, with the baggy pants and the gold grill -- the whole nine. He, too, looked at Gabby and busted out a very ungangsta-like smile. He said, "Oh, they grow up so fast. My little girl is nine now, and it feels like she was just born yesterday. Enjoy this time."

Pretty soon half the passengers on the bus were chatting together and cooing and coochie-cooing Gabby, and she was eating it up, giggling and "talking" the whole while. It was wonderful to see this tiny girl bring people together.

I'm just happy to be a member of her entourage.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Ties That Bind

The Peanut is the spitting image of her father. Same eye shape and color, same complexion, same round head. I joke about how I don't know who her mother is, since she doesn't look a thing like me.

And when I make those jokes, I wince, because a little more than a year ago I didn't know whether I would ever have a child with a genetic connection to me, and that was breaking my heart. I truly believe that it would have made no difference in terms of how much I love my child or how I parent her if she had come to us via adoption or an egg donor. Yet, at the time we were considering these options, the possible loss of that genetic link felt like a pretty brutal narcissistic injury.

Some of my desires and fears in this area stemmed from my mother's experience. When my mother found her five birth siblings after years of searching, we were all amazed at how much she was like them. Despite having grown up in two very different families, on opposite coasts, my mother and her birth relatives shared not just a physical resemblance, but similar tastes, gestures, vocal intonations, even hobbies. (Who knew that mah jongg was genetic?)

In the eleven years since, we have all remarked on and rejoiced over those similarities. We have celebrated the genetic ties that bind us together and make us a family despite our lack of shared history.

And now there's a new kid in the family, one who shares my DNA. Who knows what genetic traits she has inherited from me? I certainly hope not a propensity toward obesity, diabetes, ovarian or breast cancer, and it would be nice if she were spared the nearsightedness as well.

I have no idea whether she will come to resemble me in any way. At any rate, at least right now, she doesn't look like me.

The weird thing is, that is totally ok with me. When I look at my daughter, I don't find myself searching for myself or my husband. I find myself gazing at a unique individual. She is completely and only herself. She looks like Gabby. Which is exactly as it should be.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

And Speaking of Milestones . . .

Guess who did a complete 360 degree roll last night?

Gabby has (knock wood) been a pretty good sleeper since she was born, but the last few nights we've had a really hard time getting her to sleep. I said to Atomic, "I bet she's fussy because she's working on doing something new." Lo and behold, she was.

She flipped back to front, and then front to back, and then looked up at us as if to say, "Hey, check me out!" Huge, toothless grin.

I know, I know, it's not like she suddenly stood up and started reciting the Gettysburg Address, but still. I'm proud. I can't help it.

Does that make me boring/lame/typical? Yeah, probably. But who knew boring/lame/typical would be so much fun?

*** Update as of 4/12/08: since her magnificent initial performance of said roll, Miss Tish has shown absolutely no inclination to repeat the feat. She's content to rest on her laurels (and on her mommy's shoulder) for a while, I suppose.****

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Funny how new moms obsessively keep track of their children's milestones. There are shelves and shelves of books that will tell you when your kiddo should be raising her head 45 degrees, when she should be rolling over, grasping at toys, and smiling.

But no book can tell you all of the new things that your child will do, or when she will surprise you with them.

Gabby is three months old now, and she can:

  • lift her head,
  • hold her head up,
  • sit supported,
  • put weight on her legs when supported in a standing position (oh, she loves that one),
  • roll from side to back and from back to side
  • smile
  • laugh
  • giggle
  • titter
  • squeal with delight
  • grab for toys
  • grab Mommy's hair and pull. Hard.
  • find and chew on her hands
  • draw soft toys to her mouth and try to eat them

She also does things that are not in any child development book. For instance, she has now discovered her hands and sometimes doesn't quite know what to do with them, so instead of just holding them out there all willy nilly, she folds them in front of her when she's feeding. She has also learned how to raise her eyebrows independently of one another and does so to great effect. She blows milky bubbles (and seems to know how funny that is).

Every day is a wonder.

Almost every day is enormous amounts of fun.

Here she is with a diaper cover on her head and socks on her hands:

Thanks for being such a good sport, sweetheart. You make even laundry fun.

I hope everyone who celebrates it had a great Purim. Happy Easter to those in that camp, and happy Persian new year to us all!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Mostly True Fairy Tale For My Daughter

Once upon a time, there was a couple who desperately wanted a child. They had waited a long time with no success, and they were very sad. The couple spoke to each other and said, "Let us visit a healer, so that we may have a child that way."

So the couple went to a great healer. The healer said, "I will help you. But my potions and ministrations will do nothing for you if you do not have Belief. You must seek a spiritual path to your child, not just a physical one."

So the couple visited a priestess. The priestess instructed them to find a beautiful, ripe melon, cut a hole in it, and place their wish inside. They were then to bring the melon to the ocean at the full moon and leave it at the water's edge. "The goddess Yemaya will accept your offering and grant your wish," the priestess said, "but only if you have Hope in your hearts."

When the couple heard this, they were frightened, because their journey had been long and they were not sure how much hope was left inside them. So they visited the Wise Women of the Desert, with whom they had been long acquainted. The Wise Women lived in a Magical Dome where miracles often took place.

The Wise Women embraced the couple and peered into their hearts. They saw small embers of hope there, just barely glowing. So they blew on the embers and put kindling around them and said to the couple, "You shall have a child, and that child shall be precious beyond imagining. But you must have Love in your hearts in order for that child to grow." They kissed the couple on their foreheads, gave them blessings and powerful amulets, and sent them on their way.

On their way home, the couple encountered another couple. The young man and woman were on their way to be married, but they needed someone to solemnize and bless their marriage. "We will do it," the couple said, and as they blessed the young lovers, their own Love was magnified a hundredfold. The young couple thanked them, not knowing that they had given a far greater gift than they had received.

And at that very moment, a child began to grow inside the woman. The following winter, she bore a baby girl, who was indeed precious beyond all imagining. They named her Gabriella.

The couple brought Gabriella to the Magical Dome in the desert for a blessing. When they entered the Dome, they found there not only the Wise Women, but all of the spirits, healers, priests and priestesses, and others who had helped them on their journey. They formed a circle around Gabriella and each one presented her with a gift: one offered Wisdom; another the power of Healing; another Solace. Curiosity and Music, Compassion, Laughter, Self-Knowledge, and Courage -- these were all laid at her feet.

And Gabriella looked around her, looked deep into the eyes of her father and mother and all of the godmothers and godfathers gathered there, and knew that she was loved indeed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ordinary Miracles

Gabriella is a miracle. Her very existence is improbable, long sought, but against the odds. I think about that every day when I wake up and see her break into a huge toothless grin.

She exists. That's a miracle.

What's wonderful about our lives now is that against the backdrop of the Big Miracle, there are all these other, smaller wonders taking place. The kind of tiny, quotidian miracles that are just part of having a baby. The smiles. The growth. Seeing her focus her eyes on a toy, and then reach out for it. Watching as she squeezes a stuffed animal and tries to stuff it in her mouth. Hearing her learn how to laugh. Watching her raise her head and push at the floor with her feet.

Her little brain is developing so fast, and her wee body gets bigger every day. I swear, if I'm away from her for an hour, she looks different when I next see her. Compared to what happens around here every single day, the miracles I heard about in church growing up seem, well, kinda lame in comparison.

Walking on water? Whatevs. Gabby's wiggling puts that to shame.

Turning water into wine? Yawn. Gabby turns her parents to mush whenever she smiles.

Parting the sea? Yeah, yeah, part, schmart. My kid is grabbing at toys and she's not even three months old!

I'm overcome with a sense of wonder, and a strong feeling of gratitude. And, I must confess, not a small amount of maternal pride.

I can't help it. My kid's a miracle.