Archive for the ‘Usual Drama?’ Category

Lowes Is A Many Splendored…

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

This store is so near us and so helpful in so many ways.

He was munching on rice cake as we wheeled him around. Occasionally and more often than not, he would shout for joy, startling others, cracking us up.

We got a lot of shopping done thanks to the dual steering wheels.

Blog Break: Baby Again…

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Current spate of Blog Breaks featuring the baby are due to parents renovating new home while watching a toddler, meaning we prime/paint/clean/hammer/paste glow-in-the-dark stars on ceiling beam/etc in shifts. This does not leave time for: writing poetry, blogging, sanity. I don’t believe I’ve ever felt so tired in my life. However, the good news is: it’s all good. We are extremely grateful for our new home and to have a yard for T. We move in this weekend and look forward to getting a new routine going for us, T and the 3 shi***** on everything, pissing on our shoes, regurgitating, discombobulated, terrified of change cats. Ponderosa? Here we come! (not soon enough!)

It was hell to assemble, but worth the result.
The New Sandbox

Smile, smile, smile…

Monday, May 18th, 2009

My dear friend Moot Mommy’s husband, Moot Daddy, was recently laid off. This after a duly diligent (and possibly psychic) Moot Daddy approached his CEO and asked, point-blank, “Am I okay here?”, only to be emphatically assured, “OF COURSE!!!”—but a mere two weeks later? Down came the axe. For Moot Mommy and Daddy it’s a familiar story—many people they know experience similar situations. Suddenly grocery lists grow money-fangs and roar and gnash impolitely, the land line is ditched, COBRA comes into play and the spouses do their best not to turn on each other in moments of extreme WTF. Moot Mommy takes it into the bathroom when she must depressurize the tear ducts. Moot Daddy brings on a few hard laps around the block when he must vent his WTF. They both try very hard to think of the sacking as a blessing—for instance, Moot Mommy is convinced Moot Daddy was never appreciated properly by his Management and since the sacking he’s already had several promising job interviews and been thrown some nicely paying freelance gigs. Well, all righty! Moot Daddy himself admits he wouldn’t mind a change of working venue and a pay raise. Super-duper! They are very positive, Moot Mommy and Daddy, considering they’ve lost half their income and have a toddler entering the need-my-own-swingset phase. I learn from watching them, the way they listen to each other without scorn or exasperation, even when the other is saying something completely ridiculous and irrational, like, “Maybe we should move to Vietnam,” or, “I don’t need health insurance–you and the baby can have the health insurance,” or, “I guess we’ll be eating peanut butter for the rest of our lives.” Following is a little list of Whistle While You Work-ish items Moot Mommy finds extremely helpful in this time of crisis. She passed the list on to me and I’m now going to share it with you:

1. When you wake up, no matter how you feel, smile. Seriously—you have to try it to comprehend the impact smiling when you wake up can have on your entire, entirely unpredictable day.

2. Brush your teeth (hair, not so much—but a clean mouth coaxes the psyche up from that horrid dark lake called The Blues).

3. Shout the word JOY at traffic instead of F***** or F***head or F****** A****** M***** F*****.

4. Remind yourself that you forgive everyone who ever did anything nasty to you. You don’t ever have to condone their behavior, or tell them in person that you forgive them, but do tell yourself, “I forgive everyone. I forgive everyone. I forgive everyone.” (Another trick on old-man psyche, makes him want to put on a dress and flirt shamelessly with his reflection.)

5. Play music. Often. Some personal favs are:

Madonna’s “Ray Of Light”
U2’s “Beautiful Day”
Anything by Jess’ca Hoop—music so weird your psyche doesn’t care what’s happened in the real world, it just wants to listen and pretend to be on LSD.
Jill Scott “Livin’ My Life Like It’s Golden, Golden, Golden…”
Indigo Girls “Closer To Fine”
Fred Neal’s dolphin song (good luck finding it, but if you can…)
Dixie Chicks (so many)
Beethoven’s 9th
Dvorak’s 9th

6. Look at your child(ren). No, I mean: LOOK! Those developing limbs, deft fingers, coconut-white teeth, beautiful, elastic skin. Your gift(s).

7. Flip through your wedding album.

8. Talk to family or friends, or phone, or email, or blather briefly on Facebook—just keep in touch so you don’t feel alooooooooone.

9. Pamper yourself inexpensively (cookies and milk, glass of wine, bath and a book, a new T shirt from Target, a few “minutes” at People

10. Decrease the caffeine in your morning half-caf coffee (for now).

11. Don’t stop working out.

12. Say this: We have enough money.

13. And this: All is well.

14. Remember: This, too, shall pass.

15. Remember: This, too, is wicked exciting!!! Ha ha!!! (more maniacal laughter as is also good emotional outlet…)

16. Remember: Breathe.

17. Remember: Your therapist has good ideas and has seen plenty of people-in-crisis. Make an appointment to check in.

18. Remember: Tell your husband you love him.

19. Remember: Say, “Thank you.”

And finally, number 20: Remember to remember (somehow).

Thanks, Moot Mommy! Good luck to you, Moot Daddy and Hamlet Jr, my favorite little family. I know everything is going to be just fine (don’t throw that frying pan at my head, Moot Mommy—metaphorically or otherwise: all is well, all is well, all is well).

Bigggg Smile!

Ah, Marine Layer…

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Weekend Edition nattering pleasantly, I cruised up the coast to SB, two bags of donatable items in the back seat of S’s infuriatingly sparse, no-frills-whatsoever economy car (that he adores), a low quilty helmet of marine layer overhead from NoHo to the piece of coastline actually flanking the ocean, past La Conchita and its deadly sagging cliffs, past the pier leading to the faux island hiding oil derricks, past Rincon Point and its diehard surfers and the sweet, many-windowed house there I privately covet, through Carpinteria, Summerland and voila: fire? What fire? Not a burn area was to be seen, gray sky gauze medicating old mountains and foothills. It was as if gargantuan flame-walls had never terrorized the city.

I stopped off to see Gallerina Sister. Bleary-eyed behind the counter, surrounded by amazing paintings, she was dressed in the same jeans she’d been wearing for 3 days and a borrowed tee shirt. On the computer she showed me photos of fire-ravaged neighborhoods (“here’s where so and so’s house was, and here’s so and so’s and here is so and so’s house standing, but look—next door the so and so’s lost theirs and here…let me know if you come across any furniture or other big homey items in LA so I can pass the info on, look–here was so and so’s home…”, etc.). She confessed she was nervous about returning to her home once the evacuation order lifted. “Yeah, I do need clothes,” she said, slumped on her seat, “but smoke damage, rubbled houses on my block, worrying about the displaced—all the damage is exhausting.” And it was basically the same with everyone I spoke to—the red, bleary eyes, the exhaustion from monitoring the fire, from avoiding falling ash and heat, everyone wrung from the shock and empathy for those who had lost their homes. “The newspapers and TV are alarmingly non-informative,” Blood Sister told me when I stopped at her house. We were standing amid the ash coating her lawn. At the house behind hers, we heard water running and splashing as neighbors hosed off their patio. “They’re not supposed to do that,” Blood Sister said, concerned, rubbing her eyes. “We’ve been asked not to water outside until the fire is more contained. People have been really great about it.” Startled, we noticed sun on our arms and looked up. The marine layer was melting. Not enough, though, to see the mountains. Helicopters muttered in the distance. Yesterday, Blood Sister delivered Costco vittles in bulk to the local humane society overrun in animals, some boarded, some separated from their owners and dropped off by good samaritans. Then Blood Sister made her way to the local pound and scrubbed bunny cages and helped cool the rabbits down with “ice pillows”, baths and soothing combings of ash from bun-fur. “There are plenty of volunteers,” she told me with a sudden smile. “That’s the good news.”

Later, after delivering my donations, heading for LA, battling paranoia about being away from my baby for so long for the first time ever, SB glinting in the sun, beginning to emulate its most charming picture postcards, becoming once again the terminally pretty toy-town I grew up in—I missed, in my LA residency, the sense of community so prominent in SB, where despite a lack of information from the local news media, many residents—displaced or not, homes destroyed or not, exhausted from damage or not—roust the good samaritan inside and become proactive in a time of crisis. They open up their shops and hotels and homes to shocked tourists and the evacuated, down to the smallest displaced bunny. It occurs to many residents to reach out and help. In comparison, LA in day-to-day life often feels stuffed with the types that, no matter what crisis is going on around them, will hose off their lawn chairs. All I wanted to do was get to the condo, grab my husband and child and return, once and for all, home.


Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Fire Santa Barbara May 2009

Gallerina Sister took this on her iphone. The power was out everywhere this afternoon, including her gallery, so they shut down and she fled to the Mesa, to Blood Sister’s house: aka Fire Central. What should have been a 10 minute drive turned into an avoidance of city gridlock and deposited Gallerina Sister over 20 minutes later (outrageous for our small town) on a street right above Blood Sister’s. She got out of the car and walked up the precious rise of a view-ridden park—a tranquil, greeny place resembling a little piece of the top of the world. Her legs were still shaky: From her downtown gallery she’d seen flames on the nearby Riviera, enough of the fire to give her a sense of its ferocity—enough to put the shake in her legs. She’d been evacuated from her home the day before, to her surprise. She’d tried to drive up her street and was told “no,” even though official mandatory evacuations hadn’t been made public, yet. Luckily a neighbor was able to grab some clothes and things for her and for her daughter. Luckily she doesn’t have any pets to worry about. Hopefully her house isn’t burning. Blood Sister joined her at the park and they watched the drama for a bit, then retired to Fire Central and watched the Jesusita rage on TV with Blood Sister’s family, Blood Sister’s ex-husband and his dog (also displaced), comfort food and the kind of libations you choose when shock is testing your norms. They’re still watching. This fire, both of my sisters assured me, makes the Tea Fire tiny.

Tomorrow will be interesting. The winds are supposed to abate for the day and the smoke clear until the next sundowner. No one seems to know exactly how many acres and houses have burned. Talk about a reveal…

jesusita fire from downtown

UPDATE: 5/7/09 Still no word on whether Gallerina Sister and her daughter have a house to live in. The winds will most likely kick up again later today. I can’t watch the news anymore after the reporting on horror stories about animals.
UPDATE: 5/7/09 (still!) Gallerina Sister’s house is standing. She viewed it through a friend’s birding binocs. Her daughter’s boyfriend’s family home, however, gone. Winds aren’t kicking up like yesterday, yet fire rages at the top of the mountain. There is scant local reporting and much confusion. Heartening stories of some animals being beautifully saved.
UPDATE: 5/8/09 The fire has launched in two different directions. People are being evacuated who never, ever thought they would be. If the winds come up again today as expected—-
UDPATE: Click here

Obviously Even More Sleep Is Vital…

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Kill daddy!

Conversations With My Husband

#3,213: The Outsider

Yes, you heard me correctly. There’s no need to turn so pale, PB. It’s a simple truth. When it comes to your writing, you have me operating just on the outside.

You’re crazy! (pause) What do you mean?

I’m peripheral.

What? You are not peri–oofal. Shut up! You’re T’s daddy.

Who’s on the outside—

You’re NOT on any frikkin’ outside, metaphorical or—or otherwise! You’re—

Let me finish, PB?


Don’t go all Gollum on me. Calm down. There, there. Here’s a smelly fish head. Shh, precious, shhhhhh.

(meek, whimpering) you’renotontheoutside…

It’s okay. I understand.


Of course.

Oh. I’m so relieved. (pause) What do you understand?

That I’m a tool for your undertaking.


A tool for your undertaking, yes. Oh, stop it. You know exactly what I mean.

Are you saying I write—faction? How could you! How could my own husband accuse me of—f-f-faction!!!

Get off that silly horse and talk to me face to face. And you might hold back on the exclamation points. I thought poets only got three of those in one lifetime. You’ve used at least 40 in the last minute—


You’re loyal to your story. That’s fine, PB. I like your writing.


Shhh. You’ll wake the baby.

(head spinning around) Errrlggbraaannnnnlllfffff !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(sigh) Excuse me, PB. I’m going to hang out with some emmentaler slices and the New Yorker. Call me when your spaceship gets in.

luf mummy

Slooooooow Down…

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Give me that camera, lady!

The result of getting slightly more sleep lately is that I wake up in the morning feeling peppy as a cheerleader on Snapple. In the space of several hours T eats breakfast, visits a park, is whisked through the aisles of Ralphs or Trader Joe’s, endures a brisk stroller ride culminating in another park and, upon returning home, stares at mommy in amazement as she squeals for him to chase her and darts off (laughing wildly) to hide behind a minimal choice of doors in the infernally small condo.

By noon, however, I’m yawning as I slice T’s grilled cheese sandwich into finger-foods-sized pieces. I phone my husband and beg him to hurry up and get home for lunch so I can have a catnap. By 2p.m. if T isn’t ready for his lengthy late-afternoon nap, I’m sprawled on the doggy-bed that is my son’s personal couch, begging him—as he bangs interestedly on his little electronic drumset, or presses the “repeat” buttons endlessly on his 2 talking books—to go make me a cup of coffee. Make mama a cup of coffee, baby, I beg him, adding, Please, baby. Make mama a cup of coffee.

When T does go down for his nap, I collapse on the king size bed forever dominating our living room, close my eyes, sigh with Calgon-ish relief and: am wide awake. I grab the laptop, check email, check Facebook, check The Pioneer Woman, check CNN headlines, check the mommy group calendar, check Huffington, check Dooce, check Facebook again, check the weather, then check the weather in Santa Barbara, then London, just to see, then—oh my god, the baby is awake.

I spend half an hour getting us both ready for a walk, then push him in the stroller to the park, the stroller blown to the size of a clydesdale, though heavier. I kick the soccer ball to T and am shocked that it weighs at least 2,000 pounds. I wonder, as I watch T investigate small, staked treelings by roughly shaking their skinny, developing trunks, if getting more sleep is better than getting no sleep or if there really is such a thing as getting too much sleep or if once one starts receiving minimal broken sleep, will one ever go back to normal sleep, whatever that is, and, if one does, is this healthy? I call my husband and ask him if getting lots of sleep after having no sleep is like placing a starving person in Sizzler and telling them to go for it. He laughs. He thinks I’m kidding.

Perhaps I’d be wise to pace myself and not dart about so much in the morning. I will try this. Because not having energy in the afternoon makes me feel like Sloth Mom: Pass mama the squeaking ring tailed lemur, baby, Pull that trucks book from the shelf, baby, Hand me that xylophone, would you, baby, Make me a cup of coffee?

Perhaps mothering is all in the pacing once a semblance of a sleep pattern arrives. I’ll see what I can personally research, using myself as a human sleep experiment, and report back. If I’m not too tired.

“Case” Against Breastfeeding Update

Friday, April 10th, 2009

see this response


Both links have excellent responses and comments (the second link especially) and are far more eloquent than little old pissed off pro-breastfeeding-although-formula-is-not-a-dirty-word me. In my bubble, breastfeeding or the formula route are extremely personal choices and either is respected because it’s about what works best for the family. O my bubble! O—whatever. I was going to try for something witty, but I’m too tired. Must sleep…


Getting Older…

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Travel Town lecture series

My son is 16 months old. My father? A mere 66. In 2001 my dad had a stroke that should have killed him–but he was too stubborn about living to die. The doctors herded my sisters and I into a tiny room at the hospital where my dad struggled, stubbornly, in the ICU. They showed us eerily glowing scans of my dad’s brain. See here? And this mass here? they asked us and we nodded, wincing–who wants to see their dad’s BRAIN? Not us. Brain cancer! we were told and we nodded again, upset. But my dad was too stubborn about–about everything, apparently–to have brain cancer. To this day my sisters and I muse to each other, Hey–remember dad’s brain cancer? Whatever happened to that? And we give little shrugs that mean: I have no f****** clue, Man…

For 8 years since his stroke and misdiagnosed brain cancer my dad has lived a retired man’s dream in a seaside condo in silly, tiny, OC-surrounded Dana Point. He doesn’t smoke. He doesn’t drink alcohol. He reads. A lot. The New Yorker, the New Republic, the New York Times, many novels going at once: the John Adams biography, the latest tome on string theory, re-reads of the Master and Commander series and a biography on O’Brian, Gruen’s Water For Elephants (oddly!). And he watches CNN. And accompanies us to the Scripp’s Institute aquarium. And takes the train to visit us and we wander Travel Town so he can lecture on the creepy old steam engines, or we wander LACMA, or the Getty up there on its kingly hill. I want my son to have memories of his Gdad. And since the mysteriously vanishing brain cancer incident, I’ve just assumed my dad is invincible, despite his gout, his need for frequent bench-breaks when we’re wandering, the occasional wheeze between his lengthy, five-minute sentences.

This week my dad was diagnosed with COPD, a double-whammy disease–emphysema and chronic bronchitis (hence that wheezing). COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in this country. Apparently you can have it for years and not know it–then, one day, it blooms full force and your doctor prescribes an inhaler, later an oxygen canister, later assisted living as the disease, incurable, progresses at its private pace. Next week my dad will have a Cat Scan and an MRI as his doctors look for: lung cancer and that old, elusive brain cancer. I’m thinking the COPD is enough for my dad to live with. I’m thinking whatever deal he made with the cancer to stay away will stick. I’m thinking if my dad can just make it for another few years, or 10, my son will have definite, ingrained memories of his Gdad. I’m thinking I knew this was going to happen, my husband and I have discussed it, our parents getting older, diagnosed with “things”, and at some point—to put it not unkindly, but bluntly—checking out. Such discussions make us feel incurably adult-like and mortal. If we feel this way, how does my dad feel? Don’t ask him. He won’t tell you. Oh he’ll lecture to you all about COPD, but he won’t tell you how he feels about having COPD. He prefers it that way…So stubborn…

T and I will pick up his Gdad from Uni Station next week and motor up to Santa Barbara. We’ll take the Gdad for a wander on Hendry’s Beach and that weekend his daughters will gather and we’ll have a kind of party with grandkids and sons-in-laws and dogs and the BBQ and bottles of lemonade. We’ll have a party for my big, talkative, slightly stumbling, COPD dad who never smiles for the camera, even though he is having a good time. And—because what else is there to do except emulate a Greek Chorus and that gets old very, extremely fast and would completely annoy my dad in any case—for now we’ll just keep on with the old, Him? Oh, him! Don’t worry about him. That stubborn dude will live forever…And I’ll keep stubbornly thrusting T into my dad’s awkward, deceptively capable, arms.

Gdad almost smiles

Celebrity Sighting: Travel Town…

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Travel Town!

A problem with Los Angeles is that you can’t always have a low-key family outing to Griffith Park’s Travel Town (of all the funky, super-unglamorous, kid-infested spots in LA, yes there’s the sweet—considerably creaky—train ride, but please, the rest of the site is weird, is where trains come to die and if you’re inside a train it’s so musty parents and children rock the antique cars with their sneezes), can’t have a benign family stroll in your grungy clothes with other sleepless parents in their rumpled clothes, bed-head, splotches of morning banana cereal on our jeans, can’t just stroll in the odd, out-of-the-way LA venue without, even here, running into celebrities toting their born-famous brood, designer diaper bags and, sadly, completely all got-up.

Today, as we neared the only passenger car without a Thomas The Train or Sponge Bob party raging inside of it, a car where we usually let T run from one musty end to the other with the secret plan of wearing him out for his afternoon nap, I became vaguley aware of IT emanating from parents leaving the area, their faces frozen in the didyousee, didyousee expression that can only mean CELEBRITY—IT, i.e., body-slamming waves of celebrity-sighting-euphoria. Still not totally conscious of what was happening, I lifted T to take him up the awkward steps of the train.

Before we could go up, she descended with her kid in her arms to a bunch of her peeps waiting for her outside the train, peeps who had glared at me when I pushed politely through them in my zeal to get my son inside the train and running nap-laps, glares I realized later signaled that the peeps were being protective of their mommy celebrity, in case I was some star-gazing stalker-mommy who didn’t care she was committing a major celebrity-personal-space violation, because everyone who lives in LA knows that once a celebrity enters Travel Town it is no longer a public venue. Rules change. Cameras flash. People mutter and stare blatantly, jaws slack. Distances are kept. After she disembarked from the passenger car (slow motion descension, her coiffed celebrityness penetrating my sunglasses: ribbon-shiny platinum hair, chic black shawl, combat boots, the signature red lipstick–so important to wear lipstick in Travel Town) and made off with her protective peeps, my husband grabbed my arm. “Did you see who that was??? Did you see??? Now THAT’S a major celebrity sighting!” he hissed, IT emanating from him so intensely T and I were almost body-slammed to Travel Town’s loose rock surface.

I regained my footing, shifted T in my arms, shrugged. “So?”

To which he responded, disgruntled and disbelieving and suspicious, “Come on, babe! You’ve got to admit that’s a pretty major sighting.”

To which I did not respond, but ascended into the train and set our son loose, focusing on him and only him, the subject of the celebrity sighting have gone on way too long for my peace of mind. Later, waiting to ride the creaky train, we noticed heads turning in unison to our right—and there she was again with her kid and her peeps and suddenly those in line were making snide-ish comments about her, from her platinum hair to her boots to her “stupid bright orange bag” (a man said), a bright orange designer diaper bag slung from her shoulder. And then I turned and then I looked.

The bag was bright, clashing I’m not sure how smartly with her chic black shawl. Her peeps, I noticed, weren’t dressed like her. No lipstick. No combat boots. Her dad or father-in-law carried her other kid, a sweet-faced little baby wrapped in a fuzzy blanket. All I could think about was seeing her in that music video where she wears a cape, silly leotard, tights and boots, marching around, uttering the same inane, de-feminizing lyric over and over. And I recalled an article I skimmed in some magazine where she claimed to drop her clothes all over the house and luckily had “people” to pick everything up after her. Her big house. Her hugely huge mansion. With, no doubt, a park for a back yard, ponies trotting around freely, fountains, roses, frolicking labradors…

I hate seeing celebrities. It’s not that I want to be one. I do want a few things, but it’s not that ever-hopeful wanting that irks me and will bring on the recurring nightmare that I’m Brangelina’s stressed-out nanny once I close my eyes in the king sized bed tonight. It’s IT that irks me: the hype and the lipstick and the gazes and the cameras and the snide comments and the slack jaws. Look to your own backyard. Who said that? Because in your own backyard is a little boy with amazing blue eyes and a laugh that goes into your bones and shakes them into a revitalized You. Is this really so hard to remember when confronted with celebrities out in public? I don’t know. When you’re sleepless parents, it’s hard to remember anything, easier just to look, slack-jawed, rumpled, then look away. Take your husband’s hand. Squeeze it. And go and have some lunch.

Travel Town Train!

House Hunting Hell…

Friday, February 27th, 2009

The buyer’s market is buzzing in Los Angeles, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. At least–it is in our modest home buying bracket. Competition is ferocious for houses with shredded interiors, houses with mild hills in their kitchens, droopy ceilings, scarred wood floors, most houses with ominous holes in all closet walls (why???). Frankly, it’s discouraging after a day of house hunting to be informed that the hovel-interiors we could fall in love with and joyfully restore are bombarded with offers far above the sellers’ asking prices, bumping us out of the game. However, the good news is that after visiting these hovel-interiors we return to our one bedroom condo with its HD walls and enormous old-fashioned TV and king sized bed in the living room and Ikea inspired baby’s room and S washes the dishes and I dust and vacuum and just check to be sure there are no holes in our closet walls and there aren’t, ever. And we realize with relief that we have hope, despite cramped quarters, and that we have respect for our living space, despite cramped quarters and that we have a lakeside view, despite the evaporating water line in the silly sad vacant lot next door. And we carry on in our hope that the right hovel will choose us as much as we choose it and place our offers anyway and then we put the baby to bed and share a tub of popcorn, watching whatever latest release Blockbuster has to offer that doesn’t involve excessive dire gun-drama or Armageddon. We carry on, not bothering to wonder how long we will be carrying on until we get a house. And in this carrying on, the movie playing, the popcorn not burned for once, we look at each other and realize we don’t do this quiet, togetherness stuff nearly enough. And we squeeze hands. And then dump the popcorn in the trash and switch off the movie and the lights because how the f*** did it get so late and he’ll be up for the midnight hump in like half an hour, so be quiet, quiet, quiet, just go to sleep, quick, sleep. Shh. S***! Brush teeth. Sleep. But the brain, the brain—zzzzzzzzzz.

And today, we’ll do it again—and again—and we’ll just see what happens—all vitals (popcorn, movies, Chunky Monkey ice cream, a bag of organic apples that taste like candy and my no-holes closet stocked in cheerful T shirts from Target) standing by. Why?

Because, essentially, we have everything.


Boy Eats Dog…

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009


For the third night in a row T threw up in his crib. Midnight. On the phone to first the 24/7 nurse, then T’s doctor, my husband explained and explained our son’s situation in his deep, uber-clear, frightened-parent voice. Finally our doctor told him to zip it. Her rapid-fire diagnosis:

Slight rash on body, flushed cheeks and knees = possible MMR reaction (Gahhhhhh!!!)

Vomiting = virus that’s going around

RX = BRATY diet, but amputate the “Y” for yogurt because definitely no way no-how nuh-uh give T any cow’s milk.

We crept to T’s crib, watched him snooze as we ran the doctor’s diagnoses through our minds. Little guy, we thought, his hair still damp from us sponging out the barf, his pj’s clean and cozy, his crib sheets changed, a barf-free blankie in his little arms. Little guy. Then we crawled, shakily, mouths slack, 1,000 years old, into bed.

Next morning: Poop more solid! Healthy BRAT-for- breakfast appetite! No MMR rash! Crisis over! Everything back to normal! (whatever normal is…)

Then: Nappptimmmme

After 20 minutes of annoyed sounds, frisky coos, more annoyed sounds, then total silence, I peeked on T in his crib, assuming he had finally succumbed to the afternoon nap, confident my frolicking-naked-in-the-Oasis time could begin.


T’s eyes met mine. Whoops! Wait a minute–why is he holding his stuffed dog like—OMG! Eating doggy’s paw! Eating doggy’s paw!

I dashed to the crib and snatched doggy from baby, by doing so raining a hail of pellets on T’s head, to his delight.

Doggy was not filled with pillowy cotton-candy-type stuffing. Doggy’s paw, wet from my son’s “Alien”-like saliva was wide open and leaking millions of tiny plastic pellets. I looked at my son. A pellet was on his way to his mouth.

On the phone to poison control AGAIN , I explained and explained the situation in my deep, uber-clear, frightened-parent voice.

Poison control laughed: Ho, ho, he said, those pellets will poop right through him. However, he added, suddenly serious, Is the child currently choking?

I called Blood Sister. She told me not to worry, that the pellets would pass through T. Apparently Blood Sister’s son once swallowed the gel pellets found in those squarish packets that come in shoes and vitamin bottles. He pooped them out, she said.

I emailed Dubya-Mommy in Thousand Oaks. She wrote back about her 5 year old: I have never had to call poison control. I want her life!!! (plus, she has a swimming pool…)

I called my husband. Call the doctor!!! he said. I called the doctor and was transferred to the nurse’s voicemail. She never called back.

Evening: Three pellets in the diaper! Okay, okay, I told my husband. He only ate a few. I got there in time. Ha, ha. We’re okay.

That night: No vomit. We’re back to normal! my husband and I whooped joyfully. (whatever normal is…)

Morning diaper: Holy smokes!!! (my husband said) OMG!!! (me) Pellets! Lots and lots of little plastic pellets.

Afternoon diaper: Bingo!!! (I said, chokingly). More pellets. Little bugger worked fast on that doggy’s paw. How can a toy store sell doggies stuffed in pellets and get away with it? Why weren’t “pellets” listed in the doggy’s ingredients? Bastards! Why?

Why ask why?

Next poop will be interesting to examine. Reminds me of guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar…

And on to the next!

UPDATE: 1 more diaper bearing pooped pellets. 3 nighttime vomiting episodes, then 1 night off, then 1 night of 2 vomiting episodes, then 1 night off of vomiting, but diarrhea kicks in, the all-the-Great-Lakes-bled-into-one of exploding diapers. 1 Dr. visit where I was told, sternly, STOP IT after confessing to Googling nighttime vomiting and coming up with horrific scenarios. 1 tsp Benadryl before bed 2 nights running = no nighttime vomiting. Diarrhea persisting, but hopefully BRAT will help. Where’s my tropical island interlude! No, no, it’s okay, it’s okay. What a trooper (pooper!), this little guy. Little guy! zzzzzzzzz.

BRAT Eater!

Early One Morning…

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

(the i heart pasta face)

Wake up. He barfed in his crib.


Barfed. In crib.


Diaper’s leaking diarrhea.


On my arm.

I’ll change him. Oof. I’m okay! Fell from bed.

What color is it?

Is what?

The diarrhea. What color is it? I can’t tell from my arm.


Hm. So is the barf.

Maybe it’s the baked yam from lunch?

I don’t see any of his dinner in the barf or the diarrhea.

What did he have for dinner?

Whole wheat pasta wheels in organic tomato sauce!!! Remember???

Oh yeah. No, I don’t see any of that in his poop–only yammy shi—I mean, crap. That’s weird, isn’t it? How could the barf completely bypass dinner and only expose his lunch? How—phew. Must gag…

He doesn’t have a fever.

He’s singing.

Do you think it’s a reaction to the—(gulp) MMR?

No! Absolutely not! No way! Do you?

So I guess we don’t need to call the 24/7 nurse?

Oh, hee, hee—wet go of my nose, silly bunny!

Or take him to the ER.

Unless he does it again pretty quick?

Right. I’ll change his sheet.

I’ll see if he wants some apple juice.



Dr. Sears says BRATY: banana, breast milk, rice cereal, APPLESAUCE, not apple juice, toast and yogurt for when baby has barfing and the squirts!

Hmmm? Ho! Hee, hee. Look how cute he is. What does the doggy say? WOOF. WOOF. WOOF.

I’m gonna put him down now.

See you in bed. Oh, hey—what’s your name again?

(Sighhhh.) Mud.

You know, Mud, you’re pretty sexy all diarrhea-splotched. My wittle walking Jackson Pollock, my wittle exploded can of organic pumpkin, my wittle—


Other conversations with my husband (zoo perils, Queen Mary escape plan, more poop, etc.): CLICK HERE


Sunday, February 1st, 2009


THE NEW NEWS: We’re at long last house hunting.

WHAT WE SEE IN OUR PURCHASE BRACKET: Squatter’s digs. The creepy dark, the uber-dank. The “Oh my goodness, I can see through that wall and right into the kitchen!”

THE ONE FIXER-UPPER WE PUT A BID ON: We didn’t get. O my sweet cottage-type 3 bedroom house with an enormous back yard candle-stuck in a huge interesting tree! I miss you. Despite having to replace floors, fix holes in walls, gut and redo the kitchen before moving in, I misssssssssss you.

THE TRULY TORTUROUS BITS WHEN HOUSE HUNTING: Foreclosures. Evicted families. Seeing a kid’s room empty and utterly trashed. Some houses are their own brand of eerie post-war-zone. And the banks want money for them. Lots and lots of money. Contrary to popular hearsay and Internet-speak, many banks are not accepting offers below the purchase price, even though in the coming months that price will be lowered (again) anyway. Sometimes the bank may say whoops, made a mistake, and raise the purchase price even though a happy house-buyer’s offer was accepted, forcing the buyer to withdraw. Banks, in our experience thus far, are not prone to desperation and they have magic cameras that make hovels look like spritzy mansions on the Internet. These are the realities waiting for the naive house hunters as they pull up in their minivan with their bounding toddler and are greeted by exploded middle-America. To speak plainly: it’s a mess out there.

WHAT I DO: As of today—put on a happy face and say “Yes, lovely, oh yes, lovely” to everything, despite my husband calling me a Stepford-Whacko. It’s better than the alternative.

THE TRUTH: It’s stressful, house hunting. It’s appalling what happened to so many families. It can’t just be a matter of not reading the fine print when people purchased their little bit of American Dream. The scheister factor must have played an enormous part. Seriously. Sorry, Suze Orman. But I believe this. Oh, It, It, It. Witnessing “Its” results up close and personal is—lovely, ooo, oh lovely, lovely. Lovely.

Yes, lovely. Oh, yes. Lovely. Lovely. Lovely. Have a beautiful day!

little snoozer!

Interlude: Pancakes

Saturday, January 31st, 2009


O Pioneer Woman! Grasshopper has failed you. Everyone knows your pancakes would never come out brown. Okay, black. Try as I might, I can’t reach golden/fluffy. I think because I get paranoid the cake isn’t cooked all the way through, thus—burnage (reminds me of my cookie exchange experiment). I hated eating half-cooked pancake when I was a kid (and attempting my own cakes because Pater and Mater were—not home). I shall keep trying. Some day, perhaps when I have a griddle and not an electric stove from the 1950’s, I shall—no, I will definitely be successful.

Luckily, though, the little boy loved them. His first multi-grain-sauteed banana-OJ-plain yogurt-wheatgerm pancakes. Wolfed ’em down. I love my baby.

Happy Barfing New Year!

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

2009 Baby!

The PF (pater figure) visited NYE and day, taking the train up from the fabulous ocean cool of Dana Point, arriving with a Trader Joe’s bag chock full of that store’s mmmmms, including amazing pecan toffee types and a tall bag of white popcorn to go with serious Rose Bowl watching 1/1/09. I’d had the foresight to drag my vaguely recovering cold/flu hiney to pick up potato soup fixings, remembering the cilantro, even, and cooking sherry and a super soft ciabatta bread tucked in garlic and cheese and lo and behold despite a stuffy head needing to explode, despite being a sleepless mother, I made my first potato soup of 2008, enough for left-overs in 2009. The PF arrived shortly after T’s morning nap and we headed for the inert trains of Travel Town, where my camera died just in time for T’s first miniature train ride, but the sun was glorious and Griffith Park green for a change and the train driver waving and friendly, so the camera was forgotten in lieu of family funnish things, like setting T loose in a train car, where he toddled delightedly from one end to the other as the PF expounded about steam engines so old they are disturbing ghosts unto themselves—even in the glorious sunlight.

Not to wax on, but perhaps it was all the running in the train car, or December sun overload, or just too soon after T’s cold (nose still leaking like a sewer) for him to be out. Because he ate the fresh yam I made him, enjoyed his post-dinner bath, ignited in a fever and, all changed into pajamas, barfed up his meal on me as I was carrying him to bed. S quickly ran the shower and I rinsed T, fresh pj’s were procured and all was well, meaning T went to sleep, and we even witnessed Universal Studio’s fireworks show from our balcony, and though we stayed up until 1am, all was okay, the PF jolly, myself: jolly-in-my-Advil—until 3am when one of the cats started barfing and wouldn’t stop until three separate barfings had been committed, fortunatley not on the king sized bed. Exhausted, we vowed to clean it up in the morning and S did so and an hour later PK(psycho kitty) was barfing on the kitchen table, right in the middle of the Rose Parade and the PF’s feasting on browned-butter eggs and during nap time T woke up sobbing and barfed over the edge of his crib onto the primary colored mat and shortly after that my bare foot stepped on a recently regurgitated hairball and then I really, seriously wondered why I’d greeted the New Year when I should have been sleeping having had the stomach flu and then the cold/flu and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and it was definitely time to lie down and I did, while S and the PF watched football elsewhere, and I tried not to think about being all on top of each other here in the NoHo condo with the terminally vacant lot next door and to remember all that I have—devoted barfing cats, beautiful barfing baby, a husband who is great with the shamelessly candid PF and previously barfing, irritable wife and so, so tender with his barfing son and we don’t live in a bombing zone or the wretched Congo and now we even get KCET since the TV turned digital.

In short, I have become one who counts blessings and have determined I have everything to be grateful for. 2009—the year of the family. I’ll give it all I’ve got. Happy New Year!

Eve Ensler’s VDay Campaign
Mia Farrow in the DRC via UNICEF: Help!

Cookie Exchange: Ouch

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

One of the mommies in the group I’m a part of posted a Pre-Thanksgiving Cookie Exchange on the mommies-message-board. I’m in, I thought immediately, even though I had no idea what a cookie exchange consisted of apart from the obvious: I get to have cookies—maybe lots and lots of cookies.


According to the message board, I was to bring one or more bag(s) containing 6 of my own cookies. Breezy!


T has been sleeping for longer periods at night due to a little tough love on our part. Thus, I’ve felt more awake lately. When I RSVP’d a big enthusiastic “yes” for the cookie exchange, I was sure I could make at least 3 dozen cookies if necessary. From scratch.


What I couldn’t account for was the nasty colds T and I picked up the week of the cookie exchange. Nor did I account for a lapse in his previously encouraging sleeping habit due to not feeling well: all that tough love out the window. Nor could I (as I languished on the king sized bed continually dominating our living room, nose on fire, baby passed out in his crib) remember the last time I made cookies from scratch. Too bad. Because it’s a lot of work for cookie-making-impaired types. Like me.


So I bought a box of Trader Joe’s gingerbread mix which also doubled as a cookie mix and started off the baking experience the night before the cookie exchange by adding an egg when I was supposed to: not add an egg. Then it hit me to add shredded coconut after the first batch of plain-jane cookies with oddly cakey centers came out of the oven. And then I added dried cranberries with orange flavoring which I had in the cupboard for my salad making ventures. Then I added powdered sugar. Then cinnamon and allspice. And my cookies taste okay. Better than okay, according to my husband (he’s a nice guy).

But they’re the ugliest cookies I’ve ever seen.


Like the bride of Frankenstein casting her eyes upon her groom for the first time, I freaked and immediately Googled “cookie exchange rules”. There are some pretty tough-nut mamas out there participating in these things each year. Very strict rules—like no pre-made cookie mixes. These mamas would label me a cheater for sure. And never allow cookies as ugly as mine in the exchange. They, like me, would run screaming from ugly cookies, or perhaps spray them with Raid. Speaking of labels (Cheater, Corners-Cutter, Maker Of Misshapen Cookies) we are short on them in this condo. But I scrounged up a sheet left over from a previous life in the 9 to 5 world:


Once T wakes up from his nap, we’re off to the cookie exchange at the park with our ugly cookies. I hope I’m not the only Cheater. And I hope I get to choose a few fresh bags of tasty cookies and not be disqualified and so return home shamed with only my own cookies in their stupid bags.

At least our colds are gone.


Saturday, November 15th, 2008


Once again, fire in Santa Barbara/Montecito. Blood Sister phoned two hours after the blaze ignited. Her power was out and I became her eyes with our TV and laptop. She and her family had rushed to the hill at the top of their Mesa street. They watched flames illuminate the ridge of Santa Barbara’s riviera. Then the smoke hit. Then ash. KCAL 9 was the only station in LA reporting consistently on the fire when I tuned in–but they didn’t know much, I told Blood Sister. One of the KCAL newscasters asked a Santa Barbara official on the official KCAL 9 Newsline/Hotline if the Starbucks on OLIVE HILL ROAD was threatened. Slight hesitation from the Santa Barbara official. No, the official replied in a terse monotone, Olive Mill Road is not threatened as of now. Well, thank the stars Starbucks is okay, Blood Sister commented wryly. Then the newscaster wanted to know about Oprah’s mansion. There are many homes up there, the Santa Barbara official stated (as would other Santa Barbara officials in days to come for newscast after newscast). From mansions to modest. I don’t know about Oprah’s place at this time, the Santa Barbara official concluded. Well, the newscaster pressed, how about Rob Lowe’s estate?

Montecito roads are narrow and winding—very pay-attention roads, especially at night. Horrible roads for fire trucks to maneuver in a major fire crisis.

Um–they’re evacuating above Westmont College, I told Blood Sister. All I saw on the TV screen was wind-fanned blaze. I touched my forefinger to the screen, counting out loud for Blood Sister. When I got to 24 houses burning, I stopped counting.

Not only the rich live in Montecito or the foothills of Santa Barbara. There are plenty of fixer-uppers, funky ranchstyles and tracts from the 40’s/50’s. It’s hard to make a living in Santa Barbara, but plenty of people find a way that doesn’t involve major moviestardom. My family have been there since 1968. My mom is a piano teacher. One sister, a realtor. The other, a gallerina. I have friends who are teachers up there. Poets, writers, artists up there. I’m going back for good one day with my little family.

When we can afford it…

Blood Sister’s power snapped back on and we disconnected. This morning she tells me my niece was evacuated and showed up on her doorstep at 1am, panicked, hoping she’d grabbed the “right” items—photo albums, her mom’s important file box. No one had been able to reach my niece’s mom vacationing in Virginia. She’s due back today, but won’t be allowed up to her home. Blood Sister’s ex-husband was also evacuated and many of her friends. Her house has become Fire Central (how her husband answers the phone). It’s terrible. It’s awful. And we’ve been through it before. My sweet little toy-town hometown is a fire magnet.

In 1977 the Sycamore Canyon Fire (Santa Barbara) burned 195 homes in something like a scant 7 hours. I remember looking up from my beach towel the day after and watching the wall of smoke approach the ocean at my back. At the time, I had no idea how devastating that fire was, or just how close it came to roaring into downtown-ish.

When we were kids and living with my dad on the Mesa, he was always spotting wildfires from our house and packing us up in the car—day or night—to go and have a look at the flames. Look at that, girls! he’d tell us as we gazed dutifully out our station wagon’s windows at firefighters battling vicious flames (these days my disaster-fanatic dad would be busted by CPS). This is a once in a lifetime sighting! my dad would proclaim, although it never was.

After hanging up with Blood Sister, I stared numbly at the fire on TV, then called it a night when my husband stuck “Madascar” into the DVD player, his copywriting homework for the evening. Around 3am I woke with a start. My son had been quiet for almost 7 hours. Unheard of. I snuck into his room and detected reassuring breathing, so returned to bed. At 5am he woke us with the usual gaspy/angry cries. I fetched him into our bed and noticed with horror that he was hot–hands, feet, head. On went the lights. We administered the Tylenol. We took his temperature. 100 degrees. We discussed the fever. T had been given 2 shots the day before and I worried he was having a reaction. We decided to wait until morning and call the doctor, vs. totally freaking and rushing him to the ER with our heads spinning around on our necks. We turned out the lights and all slept. By 7am my baby’s fever was gone and, according to the TV, 100 homes burned to rubble by the Tea Fire.

It’s 90 degrees in Noho today. The A/C is once again humming and rattling away as though having an agreeable conversation with itself (one we’re all forced to listen to). The devastating, scorcher Santa Ana winds are supposed to reach us any second now. I’m preparing for dust devils in the silly sad vacant lot that sticks around next door. How do I prepare for dust devils? With a sigh. I’m preparing for the eruption of more brush fires by keeping the TV on. My dad calls: Do you remember the time….He reminds me of various infernos he drove his little girls to witness. I glance at the TV as my dad reminisces from the extreme-ocean-cool of Dana Point, CA. Oprah is on. She is talking to Rob Lowe…

11/21/08 For more information on the Tea Fire and the Santa Barbara Ten (I resort to: OMG!!! What were they THINKING???) check out the best source of information for all of Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Independent The goats are here, the goats are here…

Boo Break #3: Pirate Revisited

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Me, when I don’t get enough sleep.
oh the horror

Mommy Weirdness

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

gross LA leaf example
los angeles leaf study in black & white

Perhaps because these were the days prior to the annniversary of 9/11. Perhaps because the wind arrived and blew the drought-stricken leaves into confusing spirals, making it suddenly feel oddly like an East Coast Fall in Los Angeles (no matter our leaves are the dead-gray of thirst-stricken foliage vs. that special prismatic amber) wigging us natives out since all week was I’m-frying-your-bodyparts, summer-heatwave-ish territory. Or perhaps it’s simply the usual weirdness. I can’t decide. But I’m haunted. Oh, no, I don’t mean that haunted, I’m over that, whatever that hauntedness was. Here’s what I’m talking about:

T was enjoying his stroller ride for once and I was thrilled I’d only negotiated one mattress dumped on the spotty pavement vs. plenty more junk, when a woman with a young girl neared us. The woman, without breaking her determined stride, yelled over her shoulder, “SABRINA, NOW!” The young girl walking with the woman was so concerned about scouting for said Sabrina that she didn’t see me, T and the stroller. With a quick and kind, “Careful, honey,” I stopped this girl from walking into us. “ARE YOU SO STUPID YOU DON’T LOOK WHERE YOU’RE GOING? YOU ALMOST–” the girl’s mother (I assumed it was her mother), shouted at the girl. I interrupted with a quick, ultra kind, “It’s absolutely all right.” To which the mother replied, gruffly, and with a dirty look at her kid, “Well, okay then.” As T and I carried on with our walk, the mother again yelled, “SABRINA!” Adding, “GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!” I glanced across the street. Sabrina was ducking behind a battered minivan, audibly sobbing. “No,” she responded feebly. “You’re mean to me!” To which the mother replied, “F*** IT, SABRINA! I’M NOT YOUR F***NG MOTHER! THIS IS MY DAUGHTER RIGHT HERE! THIS IS MY DAUGHTER! YOU’RE NOT MY F***ING DAUGHTER! GET YOUR F***ING ASS OVER HERE OR I’M F***ING LEAVING YOU THE F*** BEHIND!” By this time I had stopped and was gaping at the mother, which she noticed, and which is why, I think, she made the distinction of who was and was not her daughter, as if the distinction justified the “f***ing” this-and-that meted to Sabrina. The woman’s daughter, sucking nervously on an index finger, her expression both rapt and terrified, stared mutely across the street at her sobbing friend. “COME ON!” the mother reiterated to one and all and marched off around the corner. Sabrina, sobbing, sobbing, loped reluctantly across the street and followed–a good several yards behind mother and child, but she followed. I’d say the girls were about 9 years old.

I met the mommies at North Weddington Park. For two hours our kids gurgled and crawled and pawed each other. Then that bizarre wind arose, leaves spiraled Wizard of Oz style and everyone hastily packed up the diaper bags and strollers. A mommy-not-of-our-group materialized. She was frantic, holding a small girl in her arms. “Hey, do any of you belong to that kid over there?” We looked to where the mommy pointed. A boy, probably six or seven, Frankenstein-walked around the grass. I mean, he didn’t bend his arms or knees as he moved, his chin pointed at his skinny chest. If he’d been ten feet tall, we would have screamed in unison, in terror, fled. “He’s got blood on his face!” the concerned mommy not-of-our-group exclaimed. What??? Blood??? Suddenly mommies were as flurried as the wind-torqued leaves. A small cooing mob encircled the boy, the mommy-not-of-our-group roaming the playground in search of the bloodied boy’s parent. Every time a mommy touched the little boy, tried to help him, he jerked away, his stiff gait taking him farther from the swings and slides. The blood seemed to be specifically around his chin, as though he’d had a run-in with a jelly donut. “There!” a mommy near me cried. We had stayed behind with the blankets and strollers and babies. “I think that’s her!” the mommy cried, pointing at some picnic benches flanking the playground. The mommy-not-of-our-group was speaking earnestly to a mom calmly packing things up at a picnic bench. I watched the mother nod as the mommy-not-of-our-group mimed blood gushing from her chin, then pointed at the mommies corraling the little boy. The picnic-bench mom nodded again, slowly raised her face to the leaf-swirled heavens and yelled, “MICHAEL!” Then she continued packing up. “But,” I murmured in my shock and awe, “why isn’t she running over to Michael?” “I don’t know,” the mommy next to me murmured, equally blown away. Picnic-bench mommy never did go to her son. He made his stiff way to her as the rest of the mommies returned to retrieve their babies and gear. We murmured sounds of worry, watched as Michael stood before his mother, who did not touch him, make a fuss, but glanced at the blood, nodded and continued packing. “Does she know something we don’t?” I asked, but mommies were moving towards the parking lot. Everyone was leaving. Picnic-bench mom left, too, with several kids and Michael. She threw a glance I swear was humbly smug my way, but is that possible? Humbly smug. Smugly humble. Smrrrrg. When my usual nagging hindsight kicked in, I realized that smile was my cue to offer assistance, or wave, or smile back. My defense? I was: tired, so, so tired, so tired–as tired as Michael’s smrrrgly smiling mother looked. I numbly watched Michael’s mommy leave with her brood as the leaves tornadoed up again and T pinched my leg.

The zoo is a marvelous place now that school has started. If T and I are there when the gates open, stroller traffic is nil and we can gaze at the mountain gorillas sans a stampede from herd after herd of summer camp kids. T has been tolerating his stroller all September. One day, we’d been at the zoo for at least a good thirty minutes with no protest from him, no get me out or I’ll scream like I’m being knifed, just gurgles and kindly coos, a new stroller record so thrilling me I could have ripped my sunhat from head and tossed it in the air like Mary Tyler Moore her precious beret. Oh, the giraffes! Look how close that one is to the fence! I’ll take T up close! Was my thinking. I yanked out my camera from the diaper bag stuffed under T’s seat and started snapping away, trying to get just the right shot of the giraffe to show my husband later, so he might really appreciate how close we were, how–“Oh my god! Maam!” I peeled my eye from the camera to see a woman pointing down the hill, where the stroller, with T in it, his face lit in a goofy, adorable smile, rolled—fast. “Oh my god,” I echoed and bolted after my son. It’s not like he rolled into the lion pit. Or into the alligator pond. The stroller didn’t smash into anything, overturn, hurl my son onto zoo pavement before the wheels of the oncoming Zoo Tram. No, no–nothing horrid happened. Except that I was embarrassed, humiliated and forcing back tears as I retrieved the stroller and pushed it back up the hill, past the woman who alerted me, who I thanked and muttered, “Obviously I need more sleep,” which she didn’t find funny, nor did I, slinking away with T, the worst mother in the world—or at least in the zoo, surely. I always check the stroller’s brakes. I always automatically flip the brakes on whenever I stop anywhere with that stroller. How could this have happened? Furthermore, what kind of a mother screams “F***” this or that to a child, doesn’t run to her son whose chin is bloodied, allows a stroller to get away from her in a place where the baby is surrounded by wild animals? Back in the minivan, I gushed my fears to my husband on the cell phone. “Well, but people are weird, babe,” he said. “So what. You’re a fantastic mother. Focus on the positive. I mean, stuff happens.” Stuff happens? Come on, global warming–bring me an East Coast Fall. I’ll suck it in and spit it out in heated dreams I never, ever complete. Okay then—blow wind and crack your bossy autumn cheeks. I’ll rake your twisted leaves until they’re raked into oblivion. I can tell you: my son will never roll down a hill and into the lion’s den—or to the wall, electric fence and moat surrounding the lion’s den—ever. My autumn newsflash: bring it on. Bring it ooooooon.
But not too much.
So, where do I purchase a rake?