Thursday, April 30, 2009

On Being Sick

The Cons

Did you know that you can pull a muscle in your stomach while vomiting?

You probably did know that.  But I didn't, and now my side hurts.  This is what I get for being out of shape: a puking injury.

I never threw up before I got pregnant with Westley.  I puked a couple times in college from (what else?) ingesting too many poisonous recreational beverages in rapid succession.  But before Westley was born, I think I was seven or eight the last time I threw up due to illness.  And interestingly (interesting to me, anyway) I only started throwing up while pregnant after Rob told his parents.  So maybe this is something I can hold against my in-laws.

It seems like every time I get sick now--which is way too often--there's nausea and vomiting involved.  I was rarely sick before I had a child, but I've been sick five times since.  Four with vomiting.  I'm starting to wonder if pregnancy did something to screw with my immune system, the same way it moved my organs around.  And those early months certainly did wonders in jump-starting my gag-reflex.  In high school, I always wanted to be able to make myself vomit and never could.  Not even a toothbrush handle did the trick.  Now, just brushing my teeth makes me gag.  Flossing is worse, especially behind my back teeth.  And I can forget about drinking anything thicker than full-fat soy milk easily.

So, naturally, as I sit here with the queasiness subsiding and my symptoms relocating from my stomach to my intestines, I find myself facing medication in the form of gelatinous pink liquid.  Mmm.

The Pros

I've lost seven pounds.  My face looks really skinny, which never happens.  I should develop a weight-loss program that encourages contracting stomach bugs on a regular basis.  The maintenance routine would involve lots of brown rice and Kaopectate.

Peppermint-flavored Kaopectate is waaaay tastier than vanilla-flavored Kaopectate, which is weird to me.  I think this is the only example of a product for which I prefer the mint option to the non-mint.  My toothpaste is "orange-mango" flavor.  Before that, it was apricot.  I always like it when I discover that my likes and dislikes aren't the hard-and-fast rules I thought they were.

It's also nice to know that when I'm allowed to sit around and do nothing else for a day-and-a-half (thanks, honey), I can read a couple of books from start to finish.  

English-major mojo.  Yeah, I've still got it.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Searching for Carrie Fisher

I had some kind of humor hangover all day Sunday.  I was in the best kind of pain--cheeks aching from near-constant laughter--and I can still feel some soreness today.  I woke up yesterday morning with glitter on my nose and in my hair and in my bed.  And I think I'm in love with Carrie Fisher.

Wishful Drinking (first the show Saturday night at the Rep, then the book Sunday afternoon) turned me into a fan in the space of about five hours combined.  This woman is magic.  She sails through the telling of painful stories with so much ease it's sort of alarming.  It's also completely hilarious.

Oddly, I didn't know much about her prior to this weekend's Drinking binge, apart from what I'd absorbed through the pop-culture collective unconscious.  But the last time Rob and I were at the Rep, I just happened to notice that a one-woman show written and performed by Carrie Fisher would be coming to Seattle.  I read the blurb next to the title and promptly declared that we ought to see the show.  "She should be funny," I think is what I said.

I had no fucking clue.

If I had been paying better attention, I might have had some inkling.  A little half-clue to get me started.  For instance, I don't really think of her as Princess Leia.  I saw Star Wars for the first time as a junior in high school.  (Yes, I live under a rock.)  My first real exposure to Carrie Fisher was in a movie called Drop Dead Fred.  While I love her in When Harry Met Sally, and I think she gives one of the funniest interviews in The Aristocrats, I've seen Drop Dead Fred too many times to count and prior to this weekend, that film was my major cinematic connection to her--which I freely admit is completely odd.  (It's kind of a funky rock.)  

In the film, Carrie plays Phoebe Cates' straight-talking, power-walking friend Janie.  She lives on a houseboat that Phoebe Cates' imaginary friend sinks.  (Really, it all makes perfect sense.  Just see the movie.)  I don't know why I've seen this movie so many times, except that it's clearly one of those films that was loved like crazy by its creators, and I kinda-sorta identify with the main character.  Because that's the kind of girl I am.  You know, without the cheating husband or the devil-mother or the imaginary friend from childhood.  What I mean is that I have an elaborate--sometimes madcap--internal life that occasionally gets the better of me.  Janie, on the other hand, responds to the problem of her house sinking by attempting to bludgeon her friend's imaginary friend to death with a shoe. 

There's some of that beat-the-thing-into-submission mentality in Wishful Drinking--"I have problems, but problems don't have me," she says conspiratorially--but mostly there's a kind of reactionary joy.  For example, the show opens with a death...and also glitter.  The fascinating thing about listening to Carrie tell her stories was that I felt my whole body laughing at the same time that my mind was going, "Fuck!  How awful!"  So much of the show could be tragic or poignant except that you almost never get there through the humor.  Laughing takes the sting out of Fisher's life--for the audience listening to it, and certainly for her living it.  It's an incredible alchemy.  And it's what I want for myself.  I mean, if this woman can make it through such a variety show of crazy circumstances with her vibrancy and sense of humor unscathed (made stronger, even), then there's no reason that I can't best my comparatively minor emotional crap.  

I need to get in touch with my inner Carrie.  The humor-and-honesty part.  Not the drug-using, licensed merchandise-gracing, turning men bald and gay part.  (But if someone wanted to make me into a Pez dispenser...)

Towards the end of her show she says she tells her younger friends that "one day they'll be at a bar playing pool and they'll look up at the television set and there will be a picture of Princess Leia with two dates underneath, and they'll say 'aww--she said that would happen.' And then they'll go back to playing pool."  

She's only half right about this.  Some of us won't go back to playing pool right away.  Some of us will stop and cry, because it will be a very sad day when Carrie is no longer with us.

If you're in Seattle, of if you'll be in Seattle in the next week or two, go see Wishful Drinking.  Do it!  And take advantage of the Audience Participation element of the show by getting seats in the front rows, if you can.  Rob got "picked on," and it was unforgettably awesome.

P.S.--I think I'm also in love with the Internet.  Your comments on my last post were fabulous.  Thank you all so, so much.  You're all magic.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sunk at Swim

As usual, I was sort of wrong.

I thought taking Westley to a "Tot Swim" class would be a horrible experience.  I was pretty sure he'd love it.  Westley has been teaching himself to swim in the bathtub for months, putting his face in the water and blowing bubbles without guidance from anyone.  (I'm trying not to let myself believe that this means anything about his future as an Olympic swimmer--but if he inherited my stupid-long torso, he's at least built for it.)  No, I thought it would be a horrible experience because I knew with the absolute certainty that comes from newish motherhood combined with a lifetime of insecurity that I'd be the odd man out.

Maybe it's my fault for not bonding instantly with the other women in my birth class, but I seem to be the only mother in Seattle who doesn't go places with friends.  Whenever I see mothers at the park, toddler open gym, even Target, they're always in groups of twos or threes, happily chatting away like they've known each other all their lives.  When Westley was seven months old, I signed up for one of those structured, leader-facilitated support groups, thinking I'd meet at least one like-minded woman with whom to share the occasional park visit/cup of coffee.  At the first meeting, however, it was clear that most of the other mothers already knew each other well enough that they were babysitting for one another and having regular lunches together.  My remarks were never well-received in the group, and I spent most of the time feeling lonely while trying to keep my newly crawling son from knocking over potted plants.

So I was convinced that all of the other mothers who'd signed up for Tot Swim at the community center would already be best friends, and want nothing to do with me.  Or else they'd be supermodels.  I pictured a bunch of Heidi Klum look-alikes with their 6-month-old babies and washboard abs, standing next to me, with Todd-Lar the Barbabyan and rolls of skin hanging over my swimsuit.  

And of course I was wrong, mostly.  A couple of the other moms do seem to know each other from such-and-so playgroup, but no one in the class is a supermodel.  In fact, some of them have tattoos and stretched lobes and look like the kinds of girls I hung out with way back when I hung out.  And yet, I can't get anyone to talk to me.  Part of the problem is that it's so easy to run out of conversation after you exchange "how olds."  But it's also not easy when all of your attempts to strike up a conversation with the mother whose baby is sharing a changing table with your baby because there's only one in the whole damned locker room are completely shot down.  

So far, the only person who seems even kind of open to the idea of having a conversation with me is the one dad in the class.  He's teaching his little girl to count to three before jumping into the pool and into his arms, which is hilarious if you're Westley and get splashed in the face during the process.  He has a ponytail and refers to my giant toddler-man as "the baby" to his three- or four-year-old daughter.  On our way out the door, he was delighted to tell me that Westley had pulled his beanie completely down over his face.  "See you next week," he said, smiling.

"Yeah, see ya."  I pushed the stroller down the hill towards home as he loaded his girl into the car over my shoulder.

I could see us being friends.  Especially since if anyone is more the odd man out than I in this moms' group, it's him.


Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm Not a PC Anymore

"I hate this piece of shit computer!  I swear, our next one is going to be a Mac."

Between us, Rob and I have probably said some version of this line hundreds of times in the five years (and four PCs) we've shared.  Earlier this year, when it became clear that the last of our computers was on its last leg, we decided to finally put our "home electronics" budget where our mouths had been for so long.  The computer on my lap is light, sleek, and has a back-lit keyboard that I love, love, love and want to kiss.  Seriously, I want to take this keyboard on a long, red-eye flight.  So...glowy...   

The problem with having a new computer, of course, is that I don't know where anything is.  Or how anything works.  I keep accidentally changing the size of my text, or highlighting more of a sentence than I meant to.  And I really don't understand not being able to right-click (even though I'm not sure how often I even need to right-click), and I don't think I'll get to use all of my nifty keyboard shortcuts any more.

(What the fuck?  Now everything is teeny!  I feel like I need reading glasses.  First on the list of things to figure out: the wacky, hyper-sensitive touch pad.)

New OS awkwardness aside, I'm glad we made the switch.  It's only been a few days, and nothing is "moved in" yet; all of my documents and photos are on an external hard drive.  It still feels a little like wandering around in an empty house.  But it's a pretty house (  And it doesn't take me 20 minutes to get through the front door.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?

My dad is eyeing the fine blond fringe on the back of Westley's head. "Almost time for a trim there, buddy."

"No," I say immediately, a little sharper than the situation warrants. "Not yet."

My dad laughs. "He's got a mullet."

I don't say anything. It's possible that my son has the beginnings of a mullet, but I don't care. Rob and my brother Sean both had mullets at one point, and they turned out (almost) perfectly normal. Besides, Westley is only 16 months old. I think you have to be at least 2 before anything your hair and anything it does can be slapped with a style name.

Business in the front, party in the back.

I'm planning to put off Westley's first haircut as long as I can. I'm thinking I'll break out the scissors when his hair starts falling in his eyes. Unfortunately, it seems like I'm the only one who thinks this is a good idea. My father thinks it's high time for a mulletectomy, and every time my mother has Westley on her lap, she starts fiddling with his fringe, saying, "You could put it in a little ponytail." Rob winces a little when I mention the hair, and says it looks "kinda silly."

"But he's a baby," I protest.

"Yeah, and your aesthetics are different than mine. You think because he's a baby it looks good, and I think it looks silly."

"I don't think it looks good, necessarily," because I don't. I think it looks a little haphazard and uneven, but that's not the point. "It's just that...he's a baby."

Rob thinks I'm being ridiculous (which I kind of am) for being attached to Westley's crazy-looking baby hair. I don't even know why I'm attached to it, except that I've always had long hair myself so not getting a haircut seems kind of normal to me. And I really, really like long hair on little boys. But Westley doesn't have cute little-boy-with-long-hair hair yet. So what difference would a trim in the back make?

For reasons I can't explain, it just seems wrong to cut it. Maybe it's because it took Westley so long to have any hair at all. Cutting it now would be...insulting to those hair follicles that worked so hard. Or maybe it's as simple as me not wanting to give up another part of the baby. Westley looks so much more grown up every day--more and more like a little boy with each passing minute, it seems. As much as I love having a walking, talking dude to share the world with, I miss the little baby who needed to be swaddled all the time, who consistently fell asleep while strapped to Rob's chest by the baby carrier, and on whose sweet, bald head I accidentally dripped chocolate on his first Valentine's Day.

Westley, 4 weeks old, totally bald. I don't think he even has any eyebrow hair here.

Oh, God. I'm going to cry like a total girl when Westley's baby fringe is gone, aren't I? I'm going to save it in a little baggy, taped in the back of the baby book (if there were a baby book). What the hell is wrong with me? I mean, it's just hair.

And, for now, it's still attached to my son. Rob says he gets that I'm sentimentally attached to it, but I can tell he would really prefer it be trimmed sooner rather than later. He says, "When it's all smoothed down in the back, it looks fine. But when he wakes up and he looks like Doc Brown, I think, eh."

"What's wrong with Doc Brown?"

...and they lived long-hairedly ever after.

I still don't think Westley's hair is too long in the back, but I'm also willing to admit that my judgment may be clouded by my increasing attachment to his "baby-ness." I'm almost tempted to trim his hair myself first thing tomorrow and get the whole thing out of the way so I can move on with my life as mom to a big, grown-up toddler boy. It would be nice not to have to hear about Westley's "mullet" any more. On the other hand...awww, my little baaaay-beeee...

What do you think, oh fine people of the Internet? Does Westley need a haircut? How long did you wait for your child's first haircut? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?
(Please say no.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Married Life

Without my really noticing it, our evenings have become pretty scheduled recently. Rob and I have carved out times after Westley goes to bed for exercising, dish-doing, and movie-watching. And so far it's worked pretty well; the things we need to do get done more often. Which made me realize that there's an easy solution to a problem I've been having:

"I wanna have sex three times a week."

"Um, okay."

"We should schedule it. Let's just pick some days, and decide, 'On these days, we do it'."


"Any ideas?"

"Well, we're already doing the budget on Thursday nights. Are those things mutually exclusive?"

"Yeah, I think so." Looking at the state of our finances is a definite mood killer. "I'm tempted to say Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday."

"Okay, sure. Wednesday."

"Hump day."

"Right. Now we have no choice."


Monday, April 6, 2009

He was a Young Comedian

My heroes have always been funny people. It's my dad's fault for playing George Carlin, Tom Lehrer, and Allan Sherman albums when I was in elementary school. I was mesmerized, and a sense of comedic timing quickly became worth two or three other desirable qualities in my book.

So it took me by surprise when I realized that while I'm always hearing about certain developmental milestones ("Is he sleeping through the night/walking/talking/interested in the potty/... yet?"), one seems to have dodged everyone's radar, including mine: Baby's First Joke.

Westley made his first joke last month, while eating lunch. My mom and I were talking to him about the bread on his high-chair tray, and he picked up a piece and rubbed it in his hair. When we said, "Bread on your head?" he grinned, laughed, and did it again. I was pretty sure Westley was making a joke, but I instantly thought Isn't he too young for that?

Turns out, no. Westley is already setting himself up for Class Clown status. He has made the "bread on your head" joke several more times, and he's always delighted when we get it. Tonight, he decided to move away from "verbal" humor, having recently come to share Carlin's fondness for the "bilabial fricative."* This is probably my fault for laughing every time he accidentally blew a raspberry. Now that he knows how to do it intentionally, he's decided to work on his timing.

Rob and I were putting Westley to bed the way we always do, quietly holding him in the doorway of his darkened bedroom. After a minute of relaxed hugging, Westley suddenly popped his head up off Rob's shoulder, let the pacifier drop out of his mouth, and blew a giant raspberry right in my face. Rob and I burst out laughing, trying to contain our response a little bit, so as not to raise the energy in the house from "going to bed" to "goofing off." But Westley seized the moment. He put the paci back in his mouth when I asked him to (while biting my cheeks to keep from cracking up), but quickly let it drop again to blow another raspberry.

Bread on YOUR head, Mommy!

We did finally manage to get him relaxed and in bed, but not without a lot of barely contained laughter. Now that Westley knows has a few data points on being able to make Rob and me laugh, I'm fairly certain he's going to try doing it all the time. I'm thinking that if Westley starts trying to use his joke-cracking to get out of bedtime, I'm going to have to work on my Serious Mom Face. But I'm also thinking that this is the best milestone ever.

*A raspberry is actually a linguolabial trill. This kind of thing usually sets off my Accuracy Meter and makes me itchy, but I stand by George's incorrect use of the phrase. "Bilabial fricative" is much funnier than "linguolabial trill"--and sounds kinda dirty. Comedy gold.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

16 Months: A Musical Tribute

The Ballad of Westley O
Attend the tale of Westley O
His grin was wide so his teeth would show
He snatched the food off his Mommy's plate
And gleefully gobbled whatever he ate
He knew some tastes that few can know
Did Westley O
The daring toddler who eats beets.

He licked his chops at every meal
He worshipped seitan and outlawed veal
And on the plate he left not a smidge
No leftovers saved to be stored in the fridge
For Westley
For Westley O
The daring toddler who eats beets.

Savor and enjoy!
Westley, such a hungry boy.
Freely flow the milks of almond, rice and soy.
His chair was high, his reach was long.
With fruits and veggies he found no wrong.
The juice of carrots, and lots of greens,
An apple, banana, and two nectarines.
For sweetness he liked tangelo
Did Westley O,
The daring toddler who eats beets.

Often ravenous Westley was,
With aromas impressed he was.
Spoon from a jar, lick of a lid,
Westley liked flavors that nobody did.
Westley tasted and Westley chewed,
Like guy with more teeth he chewed,
Westley was cute, Westley was cuddly,
Westley's demands were not made subtly!

Attend the tale of Westley O!
His favorite meals weren't the status quo.
He'd let you know what next he'll munch
But he wouldn't want to be late for his lunch

Not Westley
Not Westley O
The daring toddler who eats…