Archive for October, 2010

Cheeseburger in Paradise

Man, was Halloween ever fun. Had I known that it was going to be such a blast, I’d have done a little more, ah, preparation, instead of deciding that Sam’s costume would be whatever I could nab on sale at Old Navy that didn’t feature shit on her head. Because what do kids hate? SHIT ON THEIR HEADS. And yet, every Halloween costume has some sort of head piece that is so integral to the ensemble that if the kid bails on it, they’re left with a pink unitard or fleece pants or some completely ordinary outfit and then trick or treat is sort of moot, because you took your kid outside in his pajamas or something. And with a toddler, it looks like a parent candy-grab ANYWAY, so again, shit on the head is BAD and anything NOT featuring head shit is GOOD. Ergo, the cheeseburger:

The world's smallest largest cheeseburger

Seriously, Sam had so much fun, and I was completely and utterly shocked at how long she lasted. Our blocks are fairly large, and for her to make the entire way around one was really quite a feat, and took well over an hour. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a kid hold a trick or treat bag with such intensity, and she clung to it with the grim determination of an OSS officer carrying a key piece of intelligence across enemy lines. If you so much as laid a pinky on her bag for any reason other than helping her hold onto it more tightly, she screeched “NOOOOOOO!” with an astounding ferocity, and we learned quickly: DO NOT TOUCH THE BAG.

She returned home and had a special Halloween cookie, and so help me, as I type this, I’m fairly certain she’s still in there, wide awake and wired from the sugar and wow, that was … super not bright, but whatever, it’s a holiday.

Adam finally returned home Friday from his nearly week-long business trip, which means, for the love of all that is holy, I have finally begun sleeping again. Honest to jebus, we can never get divorced, not only because I would be profoundly sad, but because I would never sleep again. It’s ridiculous and Helen Reddy would be horrified, but I feel much SAFER when he’s there, even though half the time I want to kick him for snoring, and the other half he’s so comatose that I swear, if a person WERE breaking in, the robber would have to knock his knees together to make any sort of impression. And yet, without him, I’m listening to every sound in the house like it’s some kind of death knell, and the sound of the furnace kicking on can send me into wild heart palpitations and a sweaty panic.

Shortly before — actually the DAY before — Adam left for his trip, he installed, for reasons that remain unclear, an automatic air freshener in the master bathroom and set to go off every nine minutes. PSSHT! Oh, what’s that noise? Is it a burglar? Is it someone LASERING THROUGH THE WINDOW? No, that’s just the air freshener! ALL EFFING NIGHT LONG!

*drifts off to sleep*

PSSSHT!

*terror*

*drifts off to sleep*

PSSSHT!

*terror*

AND SO ON. EVERY NINE MINUTES. And so help me Jesus, the thing doesn’t even have a discernible SCENT. No, I don’t know why I never became accustomed to it, either, and if you’re wondering if I could just TURN THE DAMN THING OFF, I couldn’t, as he placed it high enough that I’d need a ladder, and I didn’t want to risk life and limb over a stupid air freshener. I am a mother, you know.

But he’s home now, and despite the incessant PSSHT! sound, I am able to distinguish it from, say, a farting robber. Or something. All because he’s snoring next to me. Pathetic.

Finally, I’d like to thank you all for your comments on my last post. I am consistently impressed and amazed at how thoughtful and kind and respectful you all are, and how much you make me think, and want to be better at, well, everything. Basically, I want to be more like you. Thanks to you, when other bloggers complain of hate mail and trolls and mean people, I am usually blank-faced and confused, because it just doesn’t happen here, no matter how weird or controversial the topic. (Except for Michael Jackson. But that was only once!)

Seriously, I am better because of you. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Happy Monday to you!

*Jimmy Buffett

31 comments October 31st, 2010

Rich Girl

As I get older, it becomes more and more clear that I have a huge chip on my shoulder when it comes to perceived elitism, and more directly, and for lack of a more gentle term, People With A Shitload of Money. It’s hard to really pinpoint my reaction, but I’ll say that it comes in the form of becoming super-defensive and twitchy when I’m in certain towns or see certain types of cars, or hear that someone I’m meeting is FROM a certain town. I have a list of towns that I’ll never live in, because I don’t want to feel inadequate, and worse, I don’t want my kids to feel inadequate.

Now, there’s something to be said for being down to earth (I am, extremely so) and grounded (ditto) and wanting to make sure that your kids are surrounded by people who have those values, and there is a strong argument to be made that in one’s formative years, confidence may be built by at least living in a geographic area where there is a relatively even playing field of economic factors. But it would be a fallacy to say that People With A Shitload of Money automatically, by way of their Shitloads of Money, don’t have those values, you know?

I don’t really know. I just know that I have this total chip on my shoulder about it, and I am at least grateful that I’m aware of it, although that doesn’t help matters much. On the other hand, when I’m at gym class with my kid and a mom who lives in one of The Towns With Shitloads of Money announces that I should move there, because although everyone lives in mansions, they are super down to earth! And their kids wear Old Navy! Rich People: They’re Just Like Us!, I kind of want to announce that yes, but we can’t AFFORD a $3M mansion, so believe me darling, you are nice, but your breath is wasted. I’d also like to note that she said this while noting that the people in the Other Rich Competitive Town Next Door are super snobby and won’t talk to her when she goes there, and all I could think was that rich people really ARE like us, in that they stereotype just as badly as we do.

This isn’t really making any sense, is it? I mean, I have friends in all of the traditionally wealthy towns up here, and frankly none of them are terrifyingly wealthy (probably on par with us, honestly, and while we’re fine, we’re far from Rich), and they are all down to earth and well-valued, etc. etc. It’s just this CHIP I have on my shoulder about those towns that when people ask me if I’d ever consider moving to them, I practically SNORT IN THEIR FACE and announce that we’re moving to [Insert really high crime bad neighborhood here], where the Normal People live. Normal people who want their kids to be illiterate and get shot on their way to school, that is. But you see, I swing like a pendulum.

Am I making it clear that this is MY problem? I hope I am.

I grew up … well, poor might be too strong a word, but my family certainly didn’t have a lot of extra money, if any at all. (And I’m talking about my bio mom’s side, and this may all get confusing, but it’s where I lived primarily and ah, divorced families, so hard to explain.) (Also things have since turned around for them, so …)

But the thing is, almost EVERYONE in my tiny town was pretty, uh, downtrodden, in a lot of ways. At least the people I hung out with, anyway, and it wasn’t a big school district. In some ways, it was utopia, because there was no competition, very few kids had cars, and we missed most expensive fashion trends because no one could afford them anyway. I really didn’t know we were in the lower end of the economic spectrum, until it came time for me to go to college, and I had to go where I got the biggest financial aid package (Syracuse, as for a myriad reasons, state schools weren’t an option, as my mom and stepdad — my primary residence — were moving out of state, ETC OH MY GOD CONFUSING).

Fine, great, off I went. And OH HO HO, Syracuse. I’d never seen money like that in my life. Did YOU know Syracuse has a super-wealthy population? Because I didn’t, and that was sure something they didn’t explain on my lame little campus tour. Kids CAME TO SCHOOL with luxury cars. To school! With leather-interior brand-new BMWs! At age 18! I was casually in conversation with a nice young man who was talking about his father, who worked in Hollywood. “Oh, what does he do?” I asked. “Um, he’s [famous character actor],” he answered. My roommate sophomore year had a $1,000/month clothing allowance. Ha ha! I don’t even think I paid a thousand dollars a month in TUITION BILLS. No — I KNOW I didn’t.

It was nuts. I was terrified. I panicked. And while I think there were a lot of contributing factors and bad choices on my part that made my school experience a flood of inadequacy and panic, I think it’s hard not to panic in that situation, and I spent the majority of my college experience feeling Not Good Enough by the simple fact that I didn’t come from Money, or even money, with the little ‘m’ and everything. After all, I didn’t even have a beat-up clunker at school, much less a Mercedes, and besides, my dining hall work study job didn’t bring in enough cash to cover anything beyond the basic beer and pizza runs, so mall trips were out.

My summer jobs paid for part of my tuition and most of the money I had to live on the entire year. I bought precisely one pair of jeans while attending college, and I used Sun-In in my hair because I couldn’t afford to color or cut it (I typically cut it on visits home). Meanwhile, my contemporaries were composing rush skits around the fact that everyone was simply HAD to buy the latest pair of Georgia boots. I remember filling out the paperwork for my sorority and choosing a big sister, and writing down, “Please, give me someone else on financial aid, too.” Knowing how embarrassed I was about my financial situation, I MUST have been desperate to admit it out loud, on paper and everything, my God.

(They did.)

(Apropos of nothing, I did spend a significant portion of my money one semester going tanning, for reasons that make no sense to me, other than I got addicted and had SAD — it WAS Syracuse, after all, which is effing DARK)

And all this is before I brought home a boyfriend and we visited my best friend from high school (who is, ironically, now quite famous in certain circles) and when we walked into her house — which was a disaster, with ratty, ancient furniture and peeling paint and falling-down cabinets in a way that I’d realized he’d probably never seen — and I saw it through his eyes, and it was a little like my whole world just fell away. I’d never NOTICED those things before, because this was just a house I spent time with my best friend in. And there I was, mortified for her, for me, for everything. Over nothing, really, for it was all quite meaningless.

I still kind of hate myself for that moment.

What’s crazy is that I still haven’t really gotten over this, and it is, I think, solely responsible for the Mount Rushmore-sized chip I carry around on my shoulder every day. My economic situation has changed, certainly, and I’m happy and we’re comfortable, and I honestly don’t want for anything — it’s not that I WANT Shitloads of Money, it’s that I am strangely afraid and hostile about the people who HAVE Shitloads of Money, because I assume that they are like the adolescents of my college experience, who were, in a word, assholes, by the simple fact that they were too young to know any better. This is, obviously, totally wrong. Well, sometimes, anyway.

I have no idea where I’m going with this, and I recognize that this is the most poorly written and thought-out thing I’ve put up here, but I wanted to work through it and think about it and be honest with myself about why I’m such a douche about this and VOILA! Here we are. Incoherent thoughts on why I’m an asshole about People With Money, by Jonna.

Have a great weekend! Twice a week, anyway, despite promises of three. Improvement?

PS, I’m glad I went to Syracuse for a lot of reasons. It pushed me to be competitive, to move beyond my comfort zone and to be better at … everything. So it was a good choice, really it was. And I met Adam there, after all, so … (Adam, for the record, had a COMPLETELY different school experience, likely because he was both a) a male; and b) came from at least some small ‘m’ money.

*Gwen Stefani

97 comments October 28th, 2010

Mistaken for Strangers

Oh look that’s right, I have a blog! Not that anyone cares, because there’s nothing worse than a blogger being all, OH SO SORRY I AM SO SHURE YOU MISSED ME, but man, I missed doing THIS, so I hereby declare to post no fewer than three times a week moving forward, until the end of time, barring holidays and vacations, in the name of Blogging Jebus, Amen.

The reason for my absence this week was that Jennie and Mike were here visiting, and I know the last thing anyone feels like reading is another Mighty Blogger Circlejerk, because it’s ALWAYS Lovely Love My Internet Family, but let me tell you, there’s a significant difference between going out FOR AN EVENING with someone and coming away with a good feeling, and, say, spending FIVE DAYS WITH THEM IN YOUR HOUSE, and then — hand to God — when they leave, having it feel like the time was too short, and perhaps they could cancel the second part of their trip and just stay here, with us? No? Too forward? What if you just moved in then?

And let me tell you it is even MORE DIFFERENT when your husband — one of the most private people in the world — skips doing work each night to hang out with them because he, too, loves them so, and when they leave, have him feel THE SAME WAY, which is to say that they could have stayed another week, and I don’t think we’d minded in the slightest. Nay, we’d have enjoyed it. Their son Kyle, would have enjoyed missing them another week not so much, probably. But whatever, he can move in here, too. Problem solved.

We had SO much fun. They were here sightseeing and wedding-ing and such, but we spent almost every morning and evening together, and I’m sure by now you’re all reading Jennie, but what I think is impossible to capture is, a) how fully cute she and her husband are, in a non-barfy way; and b) how incredibly down to earth they are. Just good, solid, normal people that are so easy to be with — no tension or weirdness or discomfort, and I don’t think either of them has a pretentious bone in their body, for there was ZERO pretense among any of us, and it was SO REFRESHING. It felt like being with family, except without all that weird family tension and history. It was just EASY and COMFORTABLE, like wearing your favorite sweater, and I don’t think that point can be overstated.

I think it was the first night that one of them said something that was so disarmingly NORMAL and charming, that I looked at Adam and said, “These are our people,” to which he replied, “Yes.”

(Self-involved side note: I always use normal to describe people who fit my personal Good People Paradigm, or worse, People Who Are Exactly Like Us. I don’t think this is particularly generous or open-minded of me, but there you go. Apparently I think I’m the definition of Normal, which is so douchey, right? So douchey. AND YET.)

And oh, hey, do you want to see the pictures of us together?

LOOK A BLANK SPOT BECAUSE I DIDN’T TAKE ANY AGAIN. The closest thing I have to photographic evidence that they were even HERE is a picture I took with Jennie’s camera of her and Mike all dolled up for the wedding. If you look closely, you can kind of tell that’s my kitchen. THAT’S IT.

***

Now for the bad: The day they were slated to arrive, I realized that Sam had the most ASS-SEARING stomach virus with some kind of HORRID, FLESH-EATING side effect that left her in … oh dear. It was unpleasant downstairs, and if I so much as glanced at the kid’s behind, she wailed in agony. There was SKIN BREAKDOWN and some BLEEDING AND SLOUGHING and I wanted to DIE, but also, I just felt so bad for her. The solution, if you were wondering, was to ride it out and also, coat the kid in approximately four ounces of Triple Paste per diaper changing, which is how I arrived at the Very Awful Place of going through AN ENTIRE JAR of the stuff in less than a week.

What? You don’t think that’s a big deal? Oh, it’s just DIAPER CREAM? OH PEOPLE. THIS DIAPER CREAM GOES FOR $28 PER JAR WHAT THE EFF.

Which brings me to, seriously, the four biggest surprises to me about pregnancy and having a kid that with all the unsolicited assvice, no one ever told me, so now, I am telling you:

1) While pregnant, you may possibly puke until you pee your pants. Not a little pee, but like, a FULL BLADDER’S WORTH. No, it doesn’t matter if you just went. The pee will materialize from some mysterious reserve your body keeps just for these occasions. What is wise is to puke into a bag-lined bucket while sitting on the toilet. Minimizes cleanup. Oh, and this will pretty much happen every time you cough from now until eternity, THE END.

2) When you give birth vaginally, your post-birth ladybits will be so swollen that you swear — SWEAR! — that another baby is crowning, until you press a little and realize, nope, that’s just YOUR VAGINA, swollen to the size of a cantaloupe. No, I’m not kidding or exaggerating. Okay, fine, HALF a cantaloupe, with the cut half resting on your pelvis. SERIOUSLY. (This does go away, thank you GOD.)

3) Already stated, but worth repeating: worst part of a backdoor stomach virus is not the cleanup, but the SEARING SCREAMING DIAPER RASH. I’m telling you, DID NOT ANTICIPATE THIS.

4) You will gladly — nay, GLEEFULLY — spend $30 on something you spread like peanut butter on your kid’s ass. FOR THEM TO POOP ON.

YOU ARE WELCOME, PREGNANT PEOPLE OF THE WORLD.

Happy Tuesday!

*The National

197 comments October 25th, 2010

That Time

A few weeks ago, I spent a wonderful evening with Maria Melee. She was in town for business, and we had a glorious time at the Improv Asylum, then walking around Boston’s North End. She is, if you were wondering, exactly as advertised — smart, funny, completely down to earth and wonderfully accessible as a human being, and I just loved her, no bullshit whatsoever. The first time I ever spoke to her, my first thought was, “Of course, this is Maria.”

It’s always so refreshing when that happens, you know?

I lived in the North End when I was in my early twenties — it was my first home in Boston after college, second only to my summer sublet in Somerville for two months after graduation. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but the apartment was … special, and I mean that in the most ironic, un-special way possible. I’d originally shared it with my boyfriend at the time, though we called it quits after, I think, seven days. (SEVEN. DAYS.) We paid $800/month for it, which is hilarious, given that it probably goes for around $2500 now, but it was a lot for us at the time.

Ultimately, Eve, my best friend from college, moved in and … well, it was a two-room studio, and we had two queen beds in the bedroom that joined together into what we affectionately called The Unibed, because that’s what it was. One bed. Two women, who were single and heterosexual and … oh my lands, it was something.

Our friend Jenny lived with us for a month while between apartments, and for a little while, it was one bed, three people, and there was that godawful time when Jenny had an allergic reaction to alcohol and threw up in the bathroom sink, and it’s a miracle we didn’t kill each other that night, because if you didn’t know, three people were not meant to live in a two-room studio, and it turns out I have little tolerance for picking a squatter’s regurgitated chicken from my toothbrush.

I set fire to the stove once, in an ill-advised attempt to use a paper towel as an oven mitt, melting the avocado finish off of the cabinet and the skin off of my hand. Later, I got drunk and was too lazy to take out the garbage, so I dangled it out the window on a rope made of wire coat hangers from the dry cleaner. It got stuck on the fire escape, and I’ll never forget Eve, who was also drunk, announcing, “I THINK I PEED” as we tried to regain control of the rogue garbage bag, only to sit in frozen terror as we heard it crash to the ground three floors below.

In 1999, I got my first Home Runs grocery delivery service and had to choose a unique nickname for my account: Jonna Kay was taken, so I frantically chose “jonniker,” which seemed ridiculous and silly at the time.

It stuck.

I bought cheap wine by the jugful from the convenience store on the corner — one of the few in the city of Boston to be exempt from Blue Laws, for it wasn’t until recently that you could buy wine anywhere but a liquor store — and drank it in copious amounts, night after night, even on weekdays, because I was in my twenties, and never got a hangover, and why the hell not? Well, and if I did get a hangover, it was nothing bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel couldn’t handle, and no matter how many times I indulged in that cure, I never got above a size 4.

I went to bars and parties on weeknights, got hot dogs from vendors and drunkenly smeared mustard on my pants, went out with a guy (well, several, actually) who was a Bad Idea in every way imaginable, worked late for the fun of it and took crazy business trips with Internet executives who didn’t know enough to pull their pants over their ass cracks.

I’ll never have that life again, and that seems sad to me, in a way I can’t articulate. I wouldn’t want that life again, no matter how much you paid me, and the truth is that I’ve never been happier than I am right now, and that’s not an exaggeration. But walking around that night with Maria, it was like being punched in the face with the passage of time, and how far I’ve come from that place when I could just run downstairs and pick up a sub from Il Panino because I’d forgotten to get dinner, and when I had fewer responsibilities and even less income. It was a reminder of the inexorable fact that we really do only get one run at this thing, and we might as well make the most of it: have the hot dog, date the bad guy, get drunk on a weeknight, because you’re only young once. And later, eventually marry the right one, have the kid you always wanted, and just suck it up and enjoy the ride.

Because holy shit, time flies.

DSC_0024
Don’t rush it, kid. Plenty of time for those later.

*Regina Spektor. I hate the damn song, but I own it, so there you go.

588 comments October 18th, 2010

Spicks and Specks

Do you know what I did last night? DO YOU KNOW?

I watched ants crawl in and out of Terro traps. For hours. I was completely and sickeningly unable to focus on anything but the ants crawling in and out of the pool of boric acid, watching their bellies swell to the point of impeding their ability to walk, and I just sat back, procrastinating on a shit-ton of work with a glass of wine. I mean I sat on the goddamn OTTOMAN, which isn’t even COMFORTABLE. And worse! I was reporting on their progress to, um, Twitter! And Adam! OH LOOK, BABY, THE ANTS ARE EATING THE TRAPS! I was rubbing my hands together and cackling in an unironic fashion, over and over again.

It was very sad. And I’ve done it before. The Terro traps are like ANT TEEVEE.

Anyway. A few things, almost entirely unrelated:

– The last few days with Sam have been almost magical. The snuggling! The laughing! Oh, it’s been a never-ending funbag of giggles and independent play and yes, an odd attachment to our refrigerator magnets and plastic pieces of mail, but still! So enjoyable. And then, as quickly as it began, it all melted down like a nickel on the floor of Chernobyl, and today she wouldn’t leave my side, and by my side, I mean, she had to be ATTACHED TO MY HIP in the most literal fashion, and God, it’s like a constant YO YO up in here, I tell you.

– Yes, it’s true, I thought the Hell’s Angels were a philanthropic organization and that the concept of organized crime in motorcycle gangs was a total myth. This came out via a conversation as I was viewing Sons of Anarchy with Adam, which he watches regularly, though I don’t. He was attempting to catch me up, and the conversation went something like this:

So, that woman became a surgeon, then she realized that this whole biking thing is who she is, and she wants to be an Old Lady.

An Old Lady? Like the Old Spice Lady?

No, like a biker’s chick kind of thing.

Oooh! I get it! Like the Pink Ladies in Grease! Well, Grease 2, actually.

Not really like that at all.

Well, yeah, but Stephanie couldn’t be a Pink Lady after she broke up with Johnny, because it means they’re T-Bird chicks and –

No.

It turns out, after the conversation progressed, that Hell’s Angels are kind of scary — okay, fine SOME, or whatever, I don’t know, really, I just learned about this whole One Percenter thing — and on the FBI’s list of organized crime … somethings? And that they are not, in fact, like the Guardian Angels, which is what I thought they were, and I think I thought — no, seriously — that the Hell’s Angels wore berets under their helmets, and … well, that’s probably enough.

This is almost worse than the time I thought that Russell Simmons was famous because he was the founder of Russell Athletic. You know, the sweatshirt people.

I hastily add that I thought this because ADAM TOLD ME THAT, thinking that the joke was obvious, and no. No, it wasn’t. In fact, it was so far from obvious to me that the way I discovered that this was, indeed, not true was because I TOLD SOMEONE ELSE, and was all, Oh yeah! Russell Simmons! The sweatshirt guy! Which, um, ha ha, no.

Ahem.

Moving on.

— So yesterday, I was driving somewhere with Sam (back in happier moments, before she decided she hated me), and the Bee Gees came on the radio (OLD LADY RADIO AHOY), and … you guys, have you HEARD the Bee Gees recently? Have you realized how AWFUL they are? You guys! It was WORSE THAN THE CHIPMUNKS. How did they ever make it? How were they not laughed out of the recording studio? HOW AND WHY ARE THEY DOING FALSETTOS ON PURPOSE, ALL THE TIME?

It was as if I heard them anew, truly, and I was more appalled than I can accurately convey here. It was horrifying, and I was retroactively embarrassed for them, even Maurice, God rest his soul. I say this even though Andy Gibb was my first crush ever, thanks to Xanadu, which I realize he was not in, but at the time he bore a striking resemblance to Michael Beck and when you’re five, it all blends together, because all you want to do is be Olivia Newton-John on roller skates singing about magic and then getting sucked into a mural with Gene Kelly. Or something. Either way, hand to God, one of the first memories I have is of sitting on the toilet, calling for my mom and then when she popped her head in, announcing, “Mom, I love Andy Gibb. LIKE A GIRL.”

(She remembers this. Neither one of us are sure why I insisted on telling her while still seated on the toilet. I mean, I was FIVE.)

(Random aside: did you know Maurice Gibb died of something called VOLVULUS, where your intestine just sort of flips over itself and gets all twisty? OOH LOOK, something new to be afraid of! I shall now panic every time I’m constipated!)

Well, this turned into a hot mess of Old Ladies, Pink Ladies and Volvulus Panic. I hope you have a great Thursday.

*A BEE GEES REFERENCE.

44 comments October 13th, 2010

A Photograph of You

This weekend was the kind of weekend that makes you remember why you had a family in the first place. Don’t get me wrong — I’m always glad for my little family, but every weekend isn’t wine and roses, you know what I’m saying? Saturday was lazy, but Sunday we went into Boston and hit the public garden and tooled around Beacon Hill, and oh, I love my city. Have you ever been to the public garden? You should go, because it’s one of my favorite places in the whole world, and it’s shockingly pristine and stunning for a park in the middle of a city, and looks like this, even right now, smack in mid-October:

Boston: Public Garden

{Photo from Flickr member Wallyg under Creative Commons}

Sam was in high spirits and loved every minute of it, including lunch, which consisted of … ketchup. For Jesus’ sake, I have to hide the ketchup around this kid, because if it’s present, she wants a plate of ketchup, and she basically wants to drink from the bottle. Fool me, I gave her some to dip in (kid loves to dip!) and HA HA, oh my God, here, kid, have a lunch of ketchup while my fellow diners call the department of social services.

I forgot to bring the camera, of course. Genius!

Monday, we hit the pumpkin patch, and you know, I might not remember my camera, like, EVER, but at least I don’t scream at my children to “Line up on top of the pumpkins! JESSE! GET YOUR ASS OVER THERE ON THE PUMPKINS! LOOK LIKE YOU’RE HAVING FUN! STOP POUTING! SHUT UP! JESSE! JUST HAVE FUN! HAVE FUN!”

Speaking of not bringing my camera, I was absent from this space last week because I went to Vermont to visit my good friend Kate, and oh! OH! It was so lovely. I love Kate so, along with her entire family, really. Did you know Kate’s husband COOKS? Like, Kate stays home with their son (and works her ass off doing so, I hastily add) and her husband works outside the home, and when he comes home, he MAKES HER AN ENTIRE MEAL. FROM SCRATCH. Like, GOOD MEALS. DELICIOUS MEALS! From recipes I have already appropriated and made, less than a week later!

I don’t know why I’m so flabbergasted by this — perhaps because while Adam has many fine domestic qualities (he vacuums! he does the dishes EVERY NIGHT!), cooking is not one of his special skills. He makes a great egg sandwich and sure, he can do the requisite stir-fry (and did I ever tell you that when he cooks, he narrates the whole thing in a Julia Child voice?), but that’s pretty much where it ends.

The point is, I spent three days in Vermont with one of my best friends and her beautiful son, who played beautifully with my daughter (chase! they played CHASE! AND GIGGLED!) and here are the photos I took while I was there:

Beautiful, aren’t they? YES, GORGEOUS. GORGEOUS WHITE SPACE PHOTOS OF WHITE NOTHINGNESS BECAUSE I FORGOT TO TAKE MY CAMERA OUT OF MY SUITCASE.

It means so much to me that I get to spend time with Kate, even though I moved away. It’s the sign of a great friendship, I think, and we’ve consoled ourselves with the fact that though we are no longer minutes (as in, uh, 45 — it IS rural VT you know) away from one another, now we get to spend more concentrated, quality time in nice chunks. I feel very, very lucky and I mean that in the most earnest, uncool way possible.

Finally, I can’t thank you enough for your kind, thoughtful comments and emails on my post last week. I know it’s a touchy subject, but every single one of them was thoughtful, considerate and respectful. It was one of those weeks where I wished I could have sat down on the Internet all day, every day and talked about it at length with all of you. Thank you again.

Happy Tuesday!

*Depeche Mode

22 comments October 11th, 2010

When Time Stood Still

My thoughts on abortion haven’t changed since I’ve had a child. You’d think they would, having a deeper understanding of the machinery at work, and the miracle that eventually surfaces, but alas, they have not changed one whit. Until I became pregnant, I can say with relative certainty that I never truly understood what it was like to be a prisoner in my own body, held captive by a tiny parasite that did little to thrill me, but instead seemed hell-bent on making my life as miserable as possible. It was all worth it of course, but I wasn’t in the mood for such platitudes while peeing through my pants as I hunched over the toilet for the twelfth time in as many half-hour increments.

I was a late to bond with my unborn baby; truth be told, I never really did until I saw her face out in the world. I hated being pregnant more than I can really articulate here, and my hormones were so horribly out of whack that I think if you’d asked me mere days before delivery if I wanted to change my mind with the promise of making it all go away, there’s a solid chance I’d have taken you up on that offer and called it a day.

Pregnancy, abortion and the decision to become a parent is so personal. Everyone reacts differently, although obviously my view on how I would handle an unplanned pregnancy is much more clear-cut as a parent growing a family than that of a teenager or even a twenty-something. But I maintain that this remains the most personal of decisions, and that no one — truly, no one — can say for certainty what they would do in another person’s shoes, which is why I find any sort of legislation on the matter so laughably deplorable. And this is before we go into the argument from conservatives that the government should keep their hands off of their healthcare! Except you, there, lady with the uterus! Mind telling me what’s in there? Oh, and Medicare. We love Medicare. Don’t cut our Medicare, are you crazy?

But I digress.

This post from Elizabeth made me realize something I’ve been meaning to articulate since the minute Sam’s been born. In summary, it’s an incredible account of the life of — and her relationship with — her sister, who has Down syndrome, and the moments during her pregnancy when her daughter was shown to have an elevated risk for Down’s.

I will repeat what I said in Elizabeth’s comments, and my emotions surrounding articulating this are so conflicted, but it’s as honest as I know how to be, so I’ll tell you: If Sam had been shown to have genetic abnormalities, there is a strong possibility we would have terminated. Naturally, as that was not the case, I can’t tell you anything for sure, because as I said, it’s nearly impossible to predict one’s precise reaction in such a complex, terrifying situation under the circumstances we were in — those of first-time parents with little more than an abstract understanding of what was headed our way that spring.

I’ll also tell you this: should we be fortunate enough to have another child, I can think of very few circumstances that we would terminate, and Down’s certainly wouldn’t be one of them. But of course, it’s easy to say what you would do in a situation that you’re not actually in, isn’t it?

(Before I go on: I’m not pregnant.)

I find it nearly impossible to fault anyone for making whatever decision they choose to make in those situations. As I said before, I am pro-choice to such an extreme that I am loath to put any limitations on abortion, barring elective procedures past the point of fetal viability. If you would — or have — made a different decision, I do not judge you in the least, and I mean that with all the sincerity in my heart, truly I do.

But for me, and truly, I am shocked by this, being Sam’s mom made me more confident in my ability to deal with things I’d previously thought myself incapable of, but it also made me acutely aware of how vulnerable we all are to being put in situations we hadn’t planned for. Yes, there is genetic testing and there are ultrasounds and a seemingly endless number of tests to prepare for whatever inevitability lies before you, but ultimately, even if that ultrasound comes back 1 in 3245 (like Sam’s did), there is that ONE baby who beats the odds. The world is not foolproof, least of all modern medicine.

And then there is Katy, one of the best moms I know, and not because of the challenges she faced with her son, but because she just is. All the genetic testing in the world would have been meaningless, as a necessary medical intervention during birth left Charlie with cerebral palsy. She didn’t plan on this. And yet, look at her. Look at him.

We’re all just a hair’s breadth away from a different life — a harder life, an easier life, a richer life; no one really knows what’s in store for us down the road. It’s part of what we signed up for when we agreed to be born (you didn’t get paperwork?), and it’s crazy and it’s terrifying and it’s wondrous beyond measure.

Jonna & Samantha

60 comments October 3rd, 2010


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