Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Blogger Interrupted, Again

Yeah, okay, so, apparently, when I left that comment for Lildb over at I Obsess, when I said that if I saw the flu on the street, I would kick the flu's ass on her behalf?

Yeah, apparently, the flu didn't like that trash talk.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

We Interrupt This Meme to Bring You the Message that Andrea Totally Rocks

Over time, as I've become more and more involved in the blogging community, I feel I have gotten to know so many amazing people so well despite having never met them in person. At times I have felt I've begun to form honest-to-goodness friendships with people I've never once met face-to-face-- in some cases, with people whose photographs I've never seen, who have never even told me their real names.

Since having a child, the unavoidable changes in my lifestyle have meant that I have grown apart from so many of the real-life friends I once had, who had been mostly young, single, and childless, the relationships that had depended on weekly face-to-face interaction and common experience slowly fading as I found myself unable to attend spontaneous last-minute gatherings, or answer midnight calls. And finding new friends, which has always been a difficult challenge for me as a natural introvert, has at times has felt nigh impossible now that so little of my time feels like my own. When I began blogging, I was beginning to feel desperately lonely.

Connecting with others, especially other mothers and fathers, online, finding so many people with lives and thoughts and feelings so similar to my own, has helped so much with the loneliness, isolation, confusion, and sheer inadequacy I often felt as a new parent. Blogging, in so many ways, has kept me from losing what's left of my mind.

But I still miss my old in-person friendships. At times, I have wondered whether this world I have built for myself online is really nothing more than a comforting illusion, a band-aid solution to my social problems. Was I wasting my time, forming virtual relationships, instead of trying to find "real" friends?

I have found myself wishing, often, almost daily, that some of the people I know online could come over for dinner or go out for a drink in real life.

But the idea of actually meeting a fellow blogger I'd come to think of as a friend in person also made me very nervous.

After all, we all sound so much smarter, and funnier, and kinder online, with the aid of the delete button.

What if it turned out we didn't get along in person? What if I ruined a blog friendship by failing to meet the expectations of someone I'd only ever shown my most thought-out thoughts, my best side, to?

I met Andrea, from Little Bald Doctors, today. And as I have suspected since the first time I read one of her blog entries, she totally rocks.

I just found out she's already written this amazing blog entry about us meeting, and I'm speechless. Because seriously people, she makes me sound so much more awesome than I actually am. I am such a major geek. And she makes me sound, like, totally suave, but I was just as nervous about meeting her as she was about meeting me.

But Andrea has an openness about her that is completely disarming, and she is just as witty and interesting in person as she is on her blog, and before we'd talked for an hour, I felt like I'd known her for years. Which was a weird feeling to process, because, despite knowing all sorts of details about her daily life from having read about it online for months, I'd only just met her in person.

And, gosh darn it, I think she might actually like me. EVEN WITHOUT MY DELETE BUTTON.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Story About Summer, 1986

I lay limply on the top bunk in the bedroom I shared with my sister, my face buried in an overdue library book, trying to concentrate, to transport myself someplace else. The light of the glaring afternoon sun poured through the small room's only window. A cheap box fan whirred futilely on the windowsill, failing to move the thick, sluggish summer air.

"Do you want to play horsies with me?" My sister asked.

"No." I snapped the book shut. "Every time we play horsies, you always give your horsies special magic powers so they can escape any bad thing that happens without even trying to figure anything out, but if I try to do the same thing with my horsies, you yell at me."

"I do not!" my sister whined. "I should go tell Mom you're telling lies about me again."

"Good! Go and tell her already." I sighed.

"It's hot," my sister announced to no one in particular.

"It's hot," I agreed, and after a moment, added, "But Mom said we can't turn on the air conditioner until it gets hotter."

"I think it's already hotter," my sister mused philosophically. "I'm bored." Then she brightened. "Do you think the sno-cone man is coming today?"

The sno-cone man came to our neighborhood at least twice a week in an unmarked wood-paneled station wagon, ringing a big brass bell. The back of the wagon was fitted with two rows of flavored syrup bottles, a paper cone dispenser, and an enormous insulated bucket of shaved ice. For twenty-five cents—half the cost of a boring old bomb pop from the fancy painted ice cream truck— a kid could get a big, icy, sugary sno-cone in any color of the rainbow, with a fat gumball at the bottom of the cone. When the sno-cone man came, children flooded out of the rickety townhouses on my street in a cheering sweating tide.

I slid down the bunk bed ladder to the floor, and went to check my bank.

"I've only got ten cents, anyway," I sighed. "You?"

"I've got this quarter," she said proudly, holding up a nickel.

"That's a nickel, you dummy."

"It is not!"

"Is too. A quarter is bigger."

"I'm going to tell Mom you're lying again. MOM!"

"I'm just trying to tell you that that's not a—"



My mother appeared at the top of the stairs, and glared into our room from the hallway. "What is it?"

"She called me a dummy because I was trying to tell her the difference between a nickel and a quarter and she wouldn't believe me," my sister said. "She keeps lying. She's the dummy."

"Can you two stop fighting? And don't call each other names. It's not nice."

"She started it," we both said.

"Jinx," my sister whispered, and poked me in the arm. "Now you owe me a Pepsi."

"Quit it, you two! I'm trying to get work done. Now leave each other alone and quit fighting over that money, or maybe I'll just confiscate it."

"You can't confiscate money from my bank it if it's my money," I reasoned with pious conviction. "It's mine. I earned it doing chores for Grandma. If you took it away it wouldn't be fair."

"Life isn't fair," my mother growled, fixing me with a serious look.

"Never mind," I gulped.

"It's hot," my sister moaned. "Can't we turn on the air condition-thing?"

"Not today," my mother sighed, wiping sweat from her face, "I'm already worried about the electric bill."

"Can we go outside?" my sister asked plaintively.

"It's hot," I protested.

"It might be hotter in here than it is outside," my mother said. "Why don't we go out and see?"

My sister dashed down the stairs. My mother followed, and I tromped down sullenly after them.

Outside, it was still hot, and a cloud of gnats began to gather around me as I sat on the porch. My sister was playing in a clump of weeds next to the parking lot. Sighing, I got up to join her, hoping the gnats would stay on the porch.

"What's this?" she was asking my mother, holding up an egg-shaped chunk of asphalt from a pile that had cracked off an old section of the parking lot while it was being resurfaced.

My mother took it in her hand, squinting, and weighed it thoughtfully. Then she leaned toward us conspiratorially, an excited twinkle in her eye.

"This," she breathed in a reverent half-whisper, "Is a dragon egg."

"A dragon egg?" my sister gasped.

"A dragon egg?" I groaned.

"A dragon egg," my mother repeated. "A real, live baby dragon lives inside, waiting to be found by the right person. And if the right person finds a dragon egg, and takes it, and faithfully, solemnly promises to keep the egg and care for the dragon inside it forever and ever, and puts the egg in a nice, warm, sunny spot in her bedroom, when that person wakes up in the morning, the egg will have turned to solid gold. And that is the sign that the dragon has decided to love that person, and eventually-- sometimes it takes years-- if the person takes care of the dragon egg, then, someday, it will hatch, and out will come a baby dragon."

"Wow," my sister whispered.

"So, Mom," I said, "Where exactly did this dragon egg come from? Where are the dragons that laid it? And why did they leave it out here, by itself, instead of taking care of it like birds do?"

"There's a dragon right now," my mother said, pointing up at the sky.

"A DRAGON?" my sister squealed.

"That's an airplane," I muttered.

My mother regarded me archly. "Sometimes those are airplanes. And sometimes they are dragons. You don't really think a dragon would come to visit this world without putting on some kind of disguise, now, do you? If a dragon came here without her disguise, people would be frightened, and they would try to capture her."

"That's true," I admitted.

"And," she continued, "The dragons have to leave their eggs here, because the only way a dragon egg can hatch is if the dragon inside is loved by a human being."

"Do you think it's hard for the Mommy dragons to leave their eggs behind?" my sister asked, her eyes wide.

"Yes, I think it's very, very hard," my mother answered.

"Are there more of these supposed dragon eggs there in that pile?" I asked.

"Why, yes-- I think I see another one, right--" my mother knocked a pile of rocks aside-- "here. See? You can tell by the shape."

The asphalt chunks were almost identical.

"Why don't we take them inside, and you two can try to convince them to let you adopt them while I make some lemonade?"

Once back inside, my sister quickly busied herself making a nest for her dragon egg. I stared at mine, pensively.

That evening before bed, we placed the eggs under our bedroom window, in the fading sunlight, and our mother insisted we offer up an incantation pledging our eternal love to the dragons inside before going to sleep.

"You have to mean it, now," she said. "If you don't believe in the dragon inside that egg with all your heart, it won't turn gold in the morning, and then it will never hatch."

Aw, what the heck, I thought. What if she's right?

Doing my best to clear my mind of doubt, I tried to visualize a tiny dragon curled within the rough black egg. In my minds' eye, suddenly, iridescent scales shimmered, and a tiny golden eye winked.

In the morning, the eggs were exactly where we'd left them. And they were solid gold.


(Okay, so it's not audio. It was just too long. I'm doing a whole series of these, to complete the meme. Wish me luck! I may do the last one in audio, just so you can all hear my LOVELY voice ;) ).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Not the Same

Note: I am working on that audio post idea, everyone. It is going to be long and I might have to break it up into multiple posts. We shall see. Now, to this post:

The Tuesday before last, at 9:30 a.m., Isaac turned to me and said, hopefully, "Michelle coming?"

(I was surprised. Michelle, Isaac's occupational therapist, who makes housecalls, always came Tuesday mornings, but I didn't know how he knew it was Tuesday).

"No," I said, "Michelle isn't coming today, Isaac. Michelle had a baby! It was a surprise-- the baby was born early. Now she has to stop working for a while and take care of her baby, until the baby gets big and strong, and then, when her baby is big and strong, she will come back and play with you again."

"Michelle has baby?" he whispered, his eyes wide. "Oh!" Then he smiled. "Isaac has baby, too!" And he ran to get a baby doll from his toy box, but shortly got distracted by his toy trains.

Last Tuesday, at 9:30 a.m., Isaac clasped his tiny hand around mine, and asked, "Today Michelle coming?"

"No, baby," I said, "Michelle is not coming for a long time. She has to take care of her baby. But Michelle's office said they would send one of Michelle's friends to come play with you instead until Michelle can come back."

This Tuesday, as we rushed about in the wee hours of the morning trying to get ready for me to go to an 8:00 a.m. dentist's appointment, he said, in a voice that seemed to expect disappointment, "Go see Michelle?"

"No, Isaac, I'm sorry. Michelle's still not coming. Michelle's friends are trying to find someone else who can come and play with you, but they still haven't called Mommy back."

Today, a woman named Jackie called me to say she would be Michelle's replacement.

"I know you've missed a lot of sessions while we tried to find someone," she said, "So I was thinking I should definitely come every week. Only I can't come at all this week, or the week of the Fourth of July. Oh, and I work with students in August, so I can't come at all in August. But I can come every week other than that."

"Um, isn't Michelle coming back to work at the end of August?"

"Well, yeah, I think so . . . " Jackie said.

"So, you're basically saying that you can come for three weeks in July, and that's it?"

"So, when did Michelle usually come by?" she asked.

I sighed and told her that Michelle came on Tuesday mornings at 9:45. "Isaac usually eats lunch around 11," I explained, "and so she would usually stay until right before lunch so that he would start getting a little bit hungry just as she was starting the food therapy at the end of the session."

"You're saying Michelle would stay for a whole hour?"

"Yes, usually, sometimes more. Why?"

"Oh. Hmm." Jackie paused. "Well, if eating is a problem for him, I don't want him to get stressed out by having someone new around when he's trying to eat."

"Well, actually, you see, Michelle was working on his eating because his eating is his main pro--"

"How about I come at 9 a.m. next Monday and we'll take things from there? I haven't looked at any of his charts yet or anything, and I don't know if I'll get to it this week, so we'll probably need to start from scratch. I don't know if I can stay for a whole hour on Monday, but I can try."


Your company has had eight months to prepare for this absence, and you haven't read my son's charts?

I don't like you, Jackie.

Oh, sweet, sweet Michelle. Please come back, as soon as you can, Michelle. You can bring your baby! You know can nurse her right in front of me-- I'll give you nursing tips! I'll hold her for you, and sing to her, and change her diapers, while you try to get my son to play with peanut butter. Or, hey, could we come to your place? I'll cook you lunch. I don't care if your house is messy; I know you've got a new baby. In fact, I'll wash your dishes and do your laundry and scrub your toilets.

Micheeeeeellllllllle . . ..

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Testing, Testing . . .

Is this thing still on?

Okay, so, yeah, uh, my husband was out of town last week, and, because we are poor souls with no lives and therefore almost never go anywhere, this was the first time either one of us had been gone for longer than a day, and so my son was all freaking out and refusing to sleep at night and constantly asking where Daddy was, and it kinda sucked.

During this time despite the suckiness I wrote out this whole elaborate outline for an audio post based on a meme I got tagged for, and then I fought with a decidedly cranky Blogger to get my audio post account working, and then I decided my post idea sucked and I needed to do it better, and I came up with this really brilliant idea to write a series of vibrant, descriptive, touching present-tense personal narrative vignettes describing moments in my past and read them out loud, and then I didn't follow through.

(Have you noticed this theme? This theme of me working really hard on something, and then trashing it, and then trying to do it better, but not following through? Yeah. This is the story of my life. I am a perfectionist with little drive (outside of paid work, that is) and no self-confidence. These traits do not play well together. Blogging was supposed to be my lazy outlet, a playground for my mind where I could hang out and write stuff and not care if it was any good or made any sense to anyone but myself. And then I realized that, like, people, cool people, awesomely talented wonderful beautiful admirable people, ACTUALLY READ THIS SHIT. Uh. Oh . . . ).

Also, this weekend, being Father's Day weekend, was kind of booked.

Anyway, just wanted to say: I love my husband-- he's the best dad ever; I my readers-- you're the best readers ever-- and I promise promise promise I will write lots this week! And maybe even finish that post I was tagged for.

Friday, June 09, 2006

How I Know My Son Is Really Reading, Even If Our Doctor Thinks I'm Nuts

Yeah, so, at Isaac's two year check-up about a month ago, the doctor asked me, "So, what sorts of things is he doing, developmentally?"

"Well, he talks quite a bit, often in full sentences, although he still needs to work on his enuncuation, and he walks and runs just fine, although he's a bit more timid than other kids his age, and, um, he builds really tall block towers, and, let me see, he scribbles pretty well with his crayons, and oh-- Did I tell you this at our last visit? He's reading."

To which the doctor, trying very hard not to roll his eyes, responded, "Oh, you mean he remembers some of the words in some of his favorite books and pretends to read along with you?"

"No, no, I mean, he's reading, as in--"

"You mean he recognizes logos on cereal boxes? Or that he knows the titles of some of his books? That's not the same as . . ."

"No, he reads words."

"You mean, he can actually read the same word in different places? In different type styles?" The doctor looked at me with extreme skepticism.

"He read the word 'milk' at the supermarket a few months back, on a generic box of powdered milk that didn't have any pictures of milk on it. His father and I both saw him. We hardly believed it ourselves, but we've seen him read more words since then."

The doctor shook his head. I imagine he was thinking that only way to deal with this delusional woman was to humor her.

"Oh, well, that's nice," he said, and quickly changed the subject.

Well, Mister Doctor Man can go and eat his textbooks for all I care. Do you know what I caught my son saying this week while watching television?"

1.) During a Home Depot commercial, he said, "Mommy, let's go to the Home Depot again!"

He pronounced the "T."

To my knowledge no one has ever mispronounced the word "depot" in his presence. This means HE READ THE WORD. Not only did he read it, he SOUNDED IT OUT.

Don't believe me?

2.) Tonight when we turned on Comedy Central to watch the repeat of last night's Colbert Report, Isaac said, "Colbert is coming on!"

And he said Col-BerT. He pronounced the "T."

Come on, now. Stephen Colbert doesn't even pronounce the "T" in Report.

Now do you believe me?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Summer Resolutions

I resolve . . .

To make no more resolutions ;)

Mother Guilt

Saturday morning, while we waited in line at the grocery store, Isaac tugged at my hand impatiently, trying to pull me around the cart toward the candy stacked up near the checkout. "You don't need any of that, dear," I sighed. "You already have plenty of candy at home."

The well-dressed, quiet, 40-something woman buying groceries in front of us turned away from the teenaged cashier's half-hearted attempts to engage her in a conversation to watch him as he moved on to the magazine rack, pointing at the photos.

"My son had red hair," the woman said, blinking fiercely, her voice curiously flat-- studiedly neutral. "Every time I see a little boy that age with red hair, it reminds me of him."

I looked up from my son to her face. She was staring at him unabashedly, her eyes alight with such fierce longing that without even thinking I snatched him up and wrapped him tightly in my arms.

For once, he didn't protest.

He flashed the woman a quick, flirtatious grin, then turned in my arms and started waving at his father, begging Daddy to let him hold the debit card.

The woman sighed, and as she turned away to finish paying for her groceries, wiped a tear from her cheek.


On the way home from the store, I read a book while my husband drove. It was a fantasy novel, about a village of women who were all natural sorceresses, drawing their power from a goddess of fertility. The most powerful witch in the village could not control her magic powers, because she was unable to bear children.


Saturday afternoon, after my husband went off to work an evening show, a package arrived in the mail for my son. It was a birthday package, three weeks late, from my mother.

Isaac was sleeping. I woke him from his nap, which had already been too long. "You have a package from Grandma Diana!" I said.

"Package?" He popped up from his bed, immediately wide awake.

"It's a birthday present! From Grandma Diana."

He jumped down off his bed and ran into the living room. He pointed at the box.


"Yes, baby. Presents!"

He paused thoughtfully.

"Grandma Lori?"

"No dear, from Grandma Diana. My Mommy. Your grandma who lives very far away."

"Grandma Tammie?"

"No, Isaac, Grandma Diana. Diana. You talk to her sometimes on the phone."

"Grandma Mary?"

"No, it's from--"

"Grandma Lori!" he declared, with confidence, and started to tear open the box.

"No! Stop! Don't open it yet. Come here first." I grabbed his hand and pulled him over to the end table, where I keep the family photo albums. I pulled out a set of photos from his first year, a set from his second, a set of wedding photos, an album of my husband's family. Isaac squirmed, looking at his unopened package of presents. Finally at the bottom of the pile I found my own old family photos.

"Look, here." I pointed to a photo of my mother at her wedding. "This is Grandma Diana." I turned the page and pointed to a picture of my mother holding me as a newborn. "This is Grandma Diana." My mother with my newborn sister. "This is Grandma Diana." My mother, thin and nervous, but strong, posing with my sister and me at her very first apartment after my parents' divorce. "This is Grandma Diana." My mother sending me off on my first day of school. "This is Grandma Diana." My mother boarding a Greyhound Bus on the way to Washington for an Equal Rights Amendment March. "This is Grandma Diana." My mother, my sister and me at the zoo. "This is Grandma Diana." My mother, pregnant with my brother. "This is Grandma Diana." My mother teaching. My mother reciting at a poetry reading. My mother dancing. My mother baking a birthday cake.

"This is Grandma Diana."

"Oh, Grandma Diana." He beamed.

"Yes, and after we open the package, we will call Grandma Diana right away and tell her thank you, won't we?"

"Yes! Call Grandma Diana!" he shouted with glee.

(We did).