Monday, June 30, 2003

Maybe, baby

Let’s pretend you’re newly divorced with three young children, one of them not even crawling yet, the oldest not yet in kindergarten, a mortgage you can’t afford and a new job that is shaky, at best. Let’s also pretend that you have a devoted and devotion-worthy boyfriend who has been with you through the whole gory, bitter, strange and liberating dissolution of your marriage and your former life. Let’s say you’re in love and you’ve been in love since, in fact, the moment you laid eyes on him and he opened his mouth and started talking to you. Imagine that you, who had heretofore been something of a cynic about love, choosing not to believe in things like love at first sight and eternity and soulmate, suddenly found yourself reeling with the discovery that all of that had not just been made up to sell romance novels, but that the poets just maybe knew what they were talking about.

Now, let’s say, that on the eve of your appointment to go to Planned Parenthood and be outfitted with a shiny new IUD you happen to take a pregnancy test because you’re just a little uncertain of your status. For example, you may have been breastfeeding until recently, and not yet had your period, and so not been aware of your ovulation cycle. And maybe you were a little lax in using your birth control.

Imagine that the test shows you two little lines.

And so imagine you and your boyfriend spend the next two and a half weeks in a fog of uncertainty. The decision to be made is staggering and frightening, and neither option, no matter how many times around the gerbil wheel you go, seems right. The timing sucks. Your finances suck. Your body is still in recovery from the last baby. Your job is new. Your relationship is new. And yet, to say no to this life, this baby, this creation which you, in fact, made make it and then stop it...imagine that this feels wrong to you.

You call the clinic, get the necessary information. Let’s say that you are told it is early enough in your pregnancy that you would be eligible for RU-486. They explain to you that you will come in, take a pee test, have an ultrasound, get lab work. You will be “counseled.” And then a doctor will give you a pill which will cause the fetus to detach from the lining of the uterus, and send you home. Two days later you will insert a suppository at home, and this will cause your cervix to open and your uterus to contract, and you will bleed out. Just like a miscarriage. Imagine that you are stuck on the idea that someone will actually look at this baby, via ultrasound. And that you will have to walk around for two days with the knowledge of what is happening, before you can finish the procedure.

Let’s say you make the appointment anyway, because the only way to make a decision, you realize, is to keep walking down the path. Pretend that you pull into the driveway, past the man with the big abortion sign and the picture of the fetus, who shouts desperately at you and your boyfriend as you walk into the clinic. You sign the papers. You pee in a cup. And then, imagine, the technician takes you back to a room and has you lie down on a table. The ultrasound, of course, is facing away from you. But your boyfriend is offered a seat right in plain view of the thing. He is watching, the technician is watching. You are lying there, holding back tears while she presses the wand into your belly. Imagine that you ask, “can you see the sac?” And that she responds, gently, “Yes.” Let’s say that when the technician is done your boyfriend has questions, which leads to looking at the actual pictures, and you lay eyes for the first time on the image of a dark, peanut-shaped form, floating there in your womb. Pretend that stops your heart from beating.

Let’s say you are led to a room across the hall from the lab, and when the lab tech comes to fetch you for your blood tests, you ask her, “Could we have another five minutes please?” But really, in your heart, you already know. Pretend your boyfriend is saying in your ear, “Why not?” And in your heart, you are already saying “OK.”

Imagine you pay for the ultrasound, and leave. The guy at the end of the driveway is still there with his big abortion sign, but he doesn’t seem to care that you’re leaving. You’re still in a haze as you drive to pick up your kids from day care. On the way back is a lovely mix of sunshine and rain.

Imagine you see a rainbow.

If my calculations are correct, we’ll be having a new addition to the Big City right around Valentine’s Day, 2004. Brian has already taken to calling “him” by the name of “Rupert.” I say he gets named Rupert over my dead body. Wish us luck.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Some Things

Thing One:
So it turns out my camera store has some sort of scam going, because a quick call to Canon (thank you Brian) reveals that for no cost at all, they will open up my camera and have a look-see, CALL me with an estimate, and then I can choose whether to go through with the repair or not. And yet, the store told me it would be a $160 flat rate? What's up with that? Of course, I was drooling over the PowerShot G3 today and maybe, just maybe, there's a little part of me that hopes it's too expensive a fix so I can buy a new camera. But that would be silly.

Thing Two:
The Sobig virus has made an appearance on my computer 4 times tonight. God bless Norton Anti-Virus. Let's be careful out there.

Thing Three:
Speaking of Nervous Parents, I stumbled across this ad in my monthly neighborhood flyer:

Is it time to babyproof your home? Call Austin Babyproofing Company today!

I especially like the text on the first page, which goes something like this:

What is Austin Babyproofing Company?

Oh, er, to answer your actual question, Austin Babyproofing Company is blah blah blah...

Thing Four:
I have no dog food. This is bad. I am home alone with three children tucked all snug in their beds, I can't leave the house, and tomorrow these dogs are going to be eating the baby if I don't do something about it. And really, they'd be perfectly within their rights. So anyway, if you're in the neighborhood and you wouldn't mind dropping off a bag of Iams on the front porch tonight, I'd be so grateful.

Thing Five:
It's been a strange day, and I have so much news, but I'm not ready to share just yet. However, I will tell you that the boys and I saw a rainbow today on our way back from school (if ONLY I had that digital camera! Ack!), and maybe that's not enough for YOU to go on, but as far as I was concerned it was a sign. And I felt instantly OK about the whole thing.

Thing Six:
Texas is good for fried green tomatoes, which I had today, and abundant iced tea served everywhere with abundant lemon slices. Texas is not good for fire ants, which made a midnight snack of my right foot a couple nights ago as I was innocently standing, barefoot, in my back yard playing ball with my dog. I'm sorry, but I grew up in Massachusetts where running barefoot through the grass wasn't some sort of pretty storybook fantasy, it's what we DID. I also have some issues with the heat, but having lived in Wisconsin and suffered through the other extreme, I suppose I'll keep my mouth shut.

Nighty-night. I'm off to book-land.

It must have been the news that sodomy is now legal in Texas that finally killed him

Bye bye, Strom.

From the article:

Asked once to recount his career, Thurmond was blunt and brief: "I tried to be honest. I tried to be patriotic. And I tried to be dedicated."

And he tried to be a racist bigot, too! And a womanizer! What a guy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003


Yep, that's been me, over there on the couch or up late at night in the bed, reading words on PAPER instead of on this screen. I finally gave up on ever trying to finish The God of Small Things, which was coming ever closer to its heavily foreshadowed depressing conclusion, and even though the writing was very rich and intriguing, I just looked at that book with sheer dread. It sat by my bed like that, gathering dust, for months. It's still sitting there, actually, but I've moved on to other things. Briefly, I moved on to 20 Years in a Desert Jail, which I thought would be gripping and moving and teach me something about life, but I got quickly bored with that one as well. For one thing, I had been under the mistaken impression that she was Iranian, not Moroccan, and it was Iran that I had really been wanting to read about. And then there was all this stuff about growing up in a palace and being a sort of adopted princess and loving her beautiful mother from afar and the stables and the governesses that just sort of turned me off. I feel bad, but there it is. Never made it to the jail.


I've been plowing through my old New Yorkers. Yeah, go ahead, roll your eyes, I read the New Yorker and listen to NPR and drink red wine and enjoy a little Mozart now and then. So fucking what. Anyway, I read a fascinating article on Koffi Anan and the role of the UN, another fascinating article on the director of PETA, several stunningly excellent Talk of the Town pieces by Hendrik Hertzberg and David Remnick who just TOTALLY kicks Tina Brown's ass, I don't care if she does write for Salon, I'll forever think of her as the whore who tried to Hollywood-ize my magazine, and I'm glad she's gone. There was a scathingly funny review of The Matrix:Reloaded which said in such better style why it didn't even hold a candle to the first movie. And a lovely article by Roger Angell, baseball writer, Red Sox fan, humorist, stepson of E.B. White about the car trips of his youth. Delightful. And now I can say with some relief I am completely caught up on my New Yorkers, so BRING IT ON Mr. Mailman.

In the books department, I've started reading The Professor and the Madman, which is the bizarre and true story of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. No, seriously, it's not boring. Well, not to me. So a book I may actually finish as I make my way through the pile. Next after this is The Corrections, which I've been waiting to read with such anticipation I'm actually concerned that it won't live up.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I Won't Hold My Breath, Though

Bush says "It's just a matter of time."

Monday, June 23, 2003

Camera Kaput

I got the call from the service department this morning. For $160 minimum they can send my camera to the manufacturer, but there's no telling how much more it would cost me once it got there, so I don't think it's worth it. I'll let Brian take a look at it and maybe he can fix it, but it's also quite possible that I'm going to have to replace a digital camera that is merely 2 years old, and cost me $800 at the time. I can get a better camera for less money now, but this is still turning into an expensive habit. I'm used to 35 mm cameras, which last for-freaking-ever. This is my first digital camera and I guess I thought I'd get at least 5 years out of the thing before I'd want sell it for an upgrade, not take a loss on the thing. I feel like I've been robbed. And to have this thing break on me the VERY DAY I switched over to blogger pro so I could upload digital pictures...grrr.

Thursday, June 19, 2003


I got a speeding ticket today. I am such an idiot.

But I also got a free cup of coffee because the guy at the window felt bad for making me wait...I was too busy thinking about my next blog entry and listening to Wilco to notice it was late, but hey, free is free. Thanks buddy.

Parenting in the Age of Anxiety

And what was I thinking about, exactly, while waiting for my coffee? The people who live for the next Right Start catalog to arrive in their mailbox so they can set about making the world safe for their petit enfant. For the record, I have never used outlet covers, toilet seat locks, cabinet locks, doorknob locks, car window shades (let the kid squint, for god's sake), gates, cat guards for the crib (in fact, my cats sleep with the babies and everybody's happy that way), special harnesses for riding in the shopping cart, leashes, I.D. bracelets, video baby monitors, bed rails, "snuggle beds", corner "cushions" for my tables or any of the billions of other "safety" products that are marketed to an increasingly anxious population of American parents. All my kids are still alive, still in one piece, and I don't have to struggle with the toilet in the middle of the night just so I can take a piss.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

This is Gonna Get Long, So Grab a Glass of Wine

I didn't actually get to talk to my father on Father's Day because he was moving from the house he has lived in for 25 years to a condo in Cambridge. My dad is easily overwhelmed and stressed, and feels an intense obligation towards the people he loves the most, so even just a quick phone call in the middle of all that moving would have possibly killed him. Anyway, Father's Day isn't really his bag, and I guess I inherited his general dislike for and suspicion of the "Hallmark holidays." I'd rather celebrate his birthday with him and be done with it.

What I really want to write about, though, is the house he is moving out of. When his wife, my stepmother Polly, died suddenly two years ago of brain cancer, my dad went from owner to tenant overnight. In her will, Polly left the house and land to her three biological children, my stepsiblings, under the condition that my father could remain there for as long as he wished. I really don't have a childhood home -- I was born in New York, my parents moved to a suburb of Boston when I was 2, they were divorced when I was 7 and my mom and I lived in a couple more houses between 7 and 14, when I escaped to boarding school in Vermont and my mother fled the suburbs to go live on Cape Cod.

When I was 10, my dad moved in with Polly and her three children, who were living in a house on the North Shore of Boston she bought with her first husband in the early 1970s. When I was 12 my father and Polly were married in the living room. Back then it was a fairly modest, albeit charming, 18th century farmhouse sitting on 10 acres in a sleepy Merrimac Valley town. Over the years both the town and the house have been transformed. Boston's suburban radius grew exponentially in the 1980s, and now it is not unheard of to commute to Boston daily from New Hampshire, some 10 miles north (and that much further away from Boston) from where the house is located. The town my father lived in was transformed overnight into a pretty wealthy suburb, with some awfully valuable real estate. My stepmother, always an excellent gardener, got a degree in landscape architecture from Radcliffe and set about cultivating 3 of the 10 acres of land, creating a beautiful estate of flower beds, hidden nooks with benches and statues, a frog pond with a running stream, several storage buildings, and eventually a swimming pool, labyrinth and fire pit. Meanwhile the house burst out of its boxy farmhouse shape and gained an enormous, fully-equipped kitchen, and the addition of a large dining room with a pantry and basement underneath. The wood for the kitchen (and the refurbished master bathroom) was imported from South America. The dining room featured a heated stone floor. All the rooms were filled with Polly's paintings, beautiful light fixtures. The wide plank wood floors in the entire original house were resanded. A pergola was added to the front entrance. The pavement driveway was torn up and a new gravel driveway with a different entrance was installed. And on and on.

It is possibly my favorite house on the planet. And it's all about Polly. That house and land were her heart and soul, a full and complete expression of her spirit. Polly, if you haven't figured it out already, bore a somewhat frightening resemblance to Martha Stewart (except maybe for the insider trading thing and the reputation of being a bitch). She was a perfectionist in all she did, and she did everything. She was a ballroom dancer, a painter, a singer, a landscape architect, a gourmet chef, a healer, a historian. This was not always an easy parent to have, even step-parent. But I worshipped her and learned from her and emulated her and assumed, like everyone else, that she would live forever.

I don't know what will happen to the house now. The taxes alone will cost her kids an arm and a leg. The upkeep on the property just to maintain the landscaping would surely put them under. It was sinking my dad fast, and I know he was extremely relieved to finally find a place and be out from under the burden -- not just financial, but the burden of responsibility, of oversight, of knowing what to do, which Polly made seem effortless. Relations between my father and my stepsiblings are strained; the usual fighting over who gets what has been going on. I am far away, half way across the country from all of this, and removed entirely, in any case, from the decision making and the bickering and whatever else is happening. I try to know as little as possible about it all.

I don't know what I'm trying to say, except that I'm sad. I miss her. The house was a part of her, and now it's gone from me too. I wish she was still around to talk to me on the phone and to be a grandmother to my kids. I miss her cooking and her funny little anecdotes about the animals and the way she would look at me with such barely constrained mischief sometimes. I feel shut out from the house, and consequently shut away from her, and in a way it's like she's died all over again but no one knows this time.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

It's a Good Thing

*When a certain someone who has been acting like a dick decides to stop acting like a dick just MOMENTS before you tell him to fuck off, which wouldn't be good all things considered.

*When you royally screw up at work but don't get fired because, for some reason, your boss likes you.

*When your 5 year old puts his head on your shoulder at story time.

*Money. In the nick of time.

*Dog snouts. Oh, and twitchy, dreaming dogs on the floor.

*Using some of the money to buy CDs and filling your house with Beck and Liz Phair (is "Chopsticks" not the funniest/sweetest/saddest song?) and Elvis Costello and Wilco and The Flaming Lips and, yes, Mozart too.

*Knowing that, no matter what happens, he loves you and it's going to be OK.

*Watching your 3 year old rock out to Regatta de Blanc.


Tuesday, June 10, 2003


The thing is, I can't write about it, at least not here. And this is when the blog fails me because it is public. So I'm thinking and thinking and thinking my little head off over this current, nameless (for you, anyway, dear reader) situation, and I'm left with nothing to write. I don't know. There are some of you who write about every last gorey detail of your lives, and others who keep it almost eerily impersonal, and most of you find some way to balance it all, but I don't know how you keep on writing when you're mid-dilemma. How you can write about other things while something really big is swirling around in your head.

My digital camera is broken (oh woe is me!) but I have a new scanner, so I might as well put it to use. And so, I give you...


When in doubt, use the children for material. Right?

Kyle, my ferocious kitty is outside right now being dive-bombed by mockingbirds. She acts irritated if not indifferent, but I think she is secretly pleased that she holds such a fearsome status in the neighborhood. My other kitty gets no attention whatsoever from the shrieking birds, but Kyle is Public Enemy Number One. I've yet to see evidence of her destructive nature -- she hasn't once brought me a baby bird. But she couldn't have gained this reputation for nothing. I wish I could show you a picture.

I'll get back to my dilemma now.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Burning Passion

Sometimes listening to NPR can be thought-provoking, or amusing, or annoying, and sometimes it can make me crazy with lust and desire. Please, God, will somebody make me this cake?????

Why I Love My Boyfriend, Reason # 732:

He photoshopped this for me. Isn't he funny? Isn't he clever?

All Underwear, All the Time

Since it seems to generate so much traffic to my humble little weblog, I'm just going to keep on posting about underwear, underwear, underwear.

I know, quizzes are stupid. Bite me.

Your the boxers. You leave everything to the last minute. Never on
time for anything. And always caring about others before yourself.

Which underwear are you?

Yep, that's right, I'm a selfish bitch. Selfish AND lazy.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

What Would You Do...

...with 7 pairs (6 white and 1 heather grey) of Jockey bikini underwear that your mother sent you in the mail?

Because I'm thinking: trash. And I guess I feel kind of bad about it, like I'm wasting perfectly good underwear. But exactly how do you give underwear away? I mean, does Goodwill even TAKE underwear? Would YOU buy underwear at Goodwill? It's brand new, never been worn, but these things are out of the package (they came that way) and now taking up precious real estate in my house, and I want them gone. Would anyone like some underwear?

Going, going...

Monday, June 02, 2003

Attention Wachowski Brothers, Vis a Vis Next Time

Please: more car chases, more fight sequences, more sex, more slo-mo bullets, more explosions, more octopussy evil machine robots, more sweaty earthy dance sequences, more Superman/Errol Flynn/Chow Yun Fat references, more long black trenchoats and tight-fitting shiny black outfits and hip sunglasses, more slamming of bodies into brick walls...and...

Less Philosophy 101. Please.

We do NOT want to sit in a theater while your actors, no matter how pretty they may be, yammer away about choice and fate. Especially when their yammering leaves us just as confused about choice and fate as we were when we came into the damn theater. And especially when they keep having the SAME FUCKING CONVERSATION OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

I have more to say about this movie, but I'll let it go at that. The sad thing is, as I said to Brian on our way out, I'll pay* to see the next one, too, because it's so damn pretty to look at. I only hope the script is better. Please.

*Yes, Brian, I do realize that you paid for my ticket. And thank you.

Just Wondering

To the guy with the mustache driving in front of me in the silver Ford Explorer Sport, blowing smoke out the window but flicking the ashes out your sun roof, which, when you were stopped, caused them to land on your head:


To my mom, who just sent me 12 pairs of I-only-wear-these-when-I'm-in-my-third-trimester Jockey underpants in the mail, with no explanation attached: