Archive for June, 2008

When Comin’ Round The Mountain Goes Blank

Monday, June 16th, 2008


They’re comin’ round the mountain of memory, all those ditties and lullabies my mother performed nightly for eons due to her popping out four children and due to the 7 year gap between me and my youngest sister, and the fact that we could hear my mother’s humming room to room to room (for eons). Her voice carried well (still does, only she doesn’t know it, that I’m holding the phone three feet from my ear as she explains things and emphasizes her own personal pronunciations of words like Ikea, which she calls EEE-KAY-AHHHHH–for some reason this makes me CRAZEE-AH, really, utterly CRAZEE-AH every time I hear EEE-KAY-AHHHHH, because it’s not EEE-KAY-AHHHHH, as everyone knows, but simply eye-key-ah, Ikea, that’s it, not EEE-KAY-AHHHHH, I must go to EEE-KAY-AHHHHH and purchase skimpy chairs and tea lights at EEE-KAY-AHHHHH).

One evening, quieting my son, I burst into lullabies, or rather they burst out of me like hidden grenades waiting, just waiting for me to have a baby needing soothing–EEE-KAY-AHHHHH (sorry). As the songs came forth I did pretty well with verses one and two and maybe three, but after that? What happens to the baby in the cradle besides the fall? Does Bonny ever come home? Who murdered Clementine? And most of all, after she comes round the mountain driving six white horses and we all roll out to meet her–then what? Some babies need to know.

Following are a few extra-added verses to Comin’ Round The Mountain, an obsessively used ditty in my condo. Because if your baby has lungs like my baby, tenacity like my baby, the will to hang with the adults at 7 months old like my baby and a knack for waking up at 3am despite having just been fed at 2am, then you, too, need verses and not just a standard two or three, but an arsenal.


she’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes (Hi Babe!), etc.

she’ll be drivin’ six white horses when she comes (Whoa Bess!, Hi Babe!), etc.

and we’ll all roll out to meet her when she comes (Toot, toot!, Whoa Bess!, Hi Babe!), etc.

Here’s where my verses come in. The first is an homage to Bridget Jones. I read Bridget Jones’ Diary way back when it first came out, the unfamous Bridget years, before Helen Fielding could be Googled. I think I was 25. And I kept on reading the book, over and over, and was so grateful for a sequel and for the first movie, which I have seen–the FIRST movie–a gazzilion times. Thank you, Helen Fielding, for Bridget. When I was a Singleton, Bridget was a huge solace, especially after dates gone bad, like the time I started laughing hysterically in the middle of that one guy’s kiss and he was so insulted he left–oh, wait, that’s right–he married me. Anyway, here’s the verse:

And we’ll put on the turkey-curry buffet (you must pronounce it Brit-style: boo-faye–in fact, try singing the entire verse with a British accent) when she comes (I say!), yes we’ll put on the turkey-curry buffet when she comes, (well, I say!), oh we’ll put on the turkey-curry buffet, why we’ll put on the turkey-curry buffet, oi! put on the turkey-curry buffet when she comes (I say, toot toot, whoa bess, hi babe……)

The next verse is for my husband, the vegetarian, and I think aptly follows Bridget’s verse:

And we’ll also offer Vegan fare when she comes (tofu!), yes we’ll also offer Vegan fare when she comes (tempeh!), yes we’ll also offer Vegan fare, man we’ll also offer Vegan fare, yeah we’ll also offer Vegan fare when she comes (quinoa, I say, toot,toot, whoa bess, hi babe…….)

Then it’s time to work off some of that food (I know, I know–I skipped the chicken & dumplings verse–but turkey-curry and vegan fare go so well together and everybody does chicken–at 3am chicken is, frankly, booooring):

And we’ll all do the hustle when she comes (Barry White!), yes we’ll all do the hustle when she comes (boogie nights!), yes we’ll all do the hustle, oh we’ll get in a line and hustle, yes we’ll all boogie-woogie-booty hustle when she comes (oooh yeah, quinoa, I say, toot toot, whoa bess, hi babe…….)

This verse just plain makes sense:

And we won’t be talking politics when she comes (Hillary, darn!), no we won’t be talking politics when she comes (Bill is bummed!), no we won’t be talkin’ politics, won’t be talkin’ dodo politics, no we won’t be talkin’ politics when she comes (Chelsea’s an adult now!, ooooh yeah, quinoa!, I say, toot-toot, whoa bess, hi babe……)

And in between verses or as I’m trying to remember what comes after quinoa! or toot toot! I fill in with a little babble:

oh here she comes, buh-buh, comin’ right along, buh-buh, and she is hungry, boh-buh, and here she comes, buh-buh, comin’ runnin’ like a bug, buh-buh, that’s right a bug, buh-buh, oh here she comes, buh-buh, he wants the boob, buh-buh, quick-whip-out-the boob, buh-buh, now the other boob, buh-buh, give him the boo-ooo-oob, the booooooob, hi babe, whoa bess, tofu!, etc.


Moments to cherish.


Friday, June 13th, 2008

A tree grows in Noho. 

Noho is prettier by morning light, before midday heat has a chance to searingly illuminate my neighborhood’s myriad of cosmetic challenges: bedding (or tin foil) as curtains on front windows, fly-worried dog poop peppering cracked sidewalk, weeds shimmering victoriously in the many once-prepped-for-new-buildings and now terminally-vacant lots, the homeless released from the shelter miserably loitering, palm trees shedding, the old fronds, heavy as limbs, falling like Skylab, randomly clunking pavement—trash and recycling bins stranded on their sides for the second or third day, fast food containers blossoming in gutters, squirrels fighting viciously atop telephone poles, etc.    

Before 10a.m., though, I spy prettiness–Mulholland Drive’s leafy riviera in the distance, wild parrots shrieking through plush blue sky, a balcony done in carnations and annuals. The air is cool, laced with marine layer seeped in from Santa Monica, the palm trees are nothing but shaggily pretty and the park spreads wide and tree-besotted, a minor sea of shady green speckled in curious squirrels. T and I make our way there. He sits up so well now in the jogging stroller, his tiny, deceptively powerful hands gripping the tray. I watch him look left to right, spotting the kitty when I do, cocking his head at the sound of the kids when we near the little school. As we pass one of the newer apartment buildings, one of the modern, multi-colored sparkly sorts that make the rest of the block dull and dubious (Noho is such a mishmash of old, new and inexplicable in between, like the rectangular apartment building/prison-replica—flat, low and mustard with tiny barred windows—right next to the charmingly shuttered Cape Cod affair heralded by thriving roses), as we pass the multi-colored sparkly building I see a boy ahead on the pavement and he’s probably six or seven and I’m always interested in little boys because I have one and I’m particularly interested in this little boy because he’s got a toy-ish bow and arrow and the arrow is aimed right at us.   

I stop, angling the stroller so that I am between my son and possible incoming. And then I see a mother standing near the boy. She is talking on a cell phone, a finger plugging her free ear. Maybe she says something to her son, maybe not, but he lowers the bow and arrow.   

Here, right here is where crucial decision making takes place. Intuition tells me to cross the street and carry on my way with a small river’s distance between us and that boy. But, as Scott says, repeatedly, at least more than six times a week, I’m stubborn. I continue on my original path, my limbs tensed, my reflexes on High Alert in case the boy takes aim at us again, which, of course, he does. I knew he would. I knew. Everyone knows that many, many little boys like to hold copies of dangerous weaponry and they like to point the weaponry at moving targets. This is where parents and their wisdom come in and it seems the boy’s mother is more engrossed in her phone conversation than her son’s experimenting/testing. I am so curious to see if she will do something, this mother, to stop her son from actually letting the arrow go—so curious I quicken the pace. And when the mother sees me, T and the stroller and her son taking aim at us, here is exactly what she does, all the while talking on the phone:   

She takes a step closer to her son.  That’s it. One step. Phone and plugging finger never leave her ears.  

Here is what I do when the boy releases the arrow: 

My lightning-quick reflexes have me in front of the stroller so fast I block the arrow (so what if it only has a suckered tip!) from reaching my son with post-C-section tummy bulge. I snatch the arrow from the pavement and bend it into a U-shape (it’s plastic and won’t snap in two–arrrgh). I throw the contorted arrow into the street, adding to Noho trash. I march T’s stroller over to the boy, yank the bow from him and ruin it by placing my red Converse, lace-less casual on the bow-string and pulling up on the bow’s handle until everything bends into a grotesque. That, too, goes into the street as I tell the boy he will never, ever point dangerous implements at babies or anyone and berate the indignant mother for allowing her son to utilize a weapon. It’s not your fault, I tell the boy. Your mother should have stopped you. Then I carry on up the street as the woman screams obscenities at me, the boy’s sobs hounding my ears. 

Don’t hate me. This isn’t what happens (although perhaps in certain dreams).    

The mother does take a step closer to her son, but this has no effect on him or his aim. What has an effect on the boy’s aim is that his father appears from nowhere and, his voice startling the boy so that the boy’s aim careens confusedly from me and T to sparkly building, declares the boy should be careful where he points that thing. The father appears before I can a) ask the boy to point the bow and arrow at his mother, or b) ask the mother to please ask her boy to point the bow and arrow at maybe herself vs. us. I would have stopped and I would have done this had the father—for some reason carrying, at 10a.m., a casserole dish covered in tin foil—not intervened, or whoever he was. The boy’s eyes were on me and T as we passed. He had dutifully lowered the bow and arrow. And here is where I feel badly: I didn’t look at him. Not even one flickering glance. No brief smile meted. I gave him nada. Poor little dude.   

And I know that whether Noho, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara or Beverly Hills, T and I could have come across the same bow-and-arrow-toting boy. It’s not Noho’s fault, its foibles and afternoon ugliness and occasional cool spots and stupid smelly roses, that I fantasized for the next hour about how I should have handled the situation, should there have been an arrow-leaving-bow situation, and how I should have looked at the little boy and—winked? Smiled in an I-know-you manner? Raised a brow, Spock-style?    

It’s not Noho’s fault Scott and I have a seven month old in Noho. 

But what I really, really want is to be out of Noho, no matter its Arts District, Metro station, popular lofts, or the promising holding-value on our condo, or that Noho is the future home of The Tonight Show. Before T, we jogged by the dog poop on our way to the park without a glance, happy to be homeowners and near Starbucks, theatres and Pit Fire Pizza and the park, even though it means we drive a long way to the ocean these days. We enjoyed living in funky/freaky. It totally suited us. But the older T gets, the more I want to not have to drive to fun, walkable areas, but emerge from our front door into a walkable area. Because although that boy with his faux weapon is everywhere, dog poop drying on a discarded mattress is not.

We’re moving.

Squirrel Error

Friday, June 6th, 2008

This is not something I wanted to see, nor was it something I could look away from and carry on with giving T the left boob, say, or attempt the trick of making a pot of coffee with one hand. I watched, horrified, the squirrel-circle free fall from the top of the pole downdowndown to——-weeds. If I’d looked out the window a second earlier, or later, I’d have missed it. But no. I gaped the gape of shock and dread. Not a weed shimmied. The whole world was Sunday-still. Even, for once, my son was still. So was I, for about two seconds.

I had my husband up, dressed and the three of us out the door in about seven minutes. Because of T, we took the long way around the ugly blank space vs. crawling through gaps in hideous chain link. Here was my thinking: one of the squirrels was hurt or dead, one lucky squirrel survived, cuhsioned by landing on top of the other one. My husband stopped laughing and feeling carefree and became a believer when I pointed out the squirrel on the ground. He said, quietly: oh my god. I said: it can’t move. And this was true–the squirrel was alive, lifting up its head, eyes bright, but couldn’t seem to wrench to all fours, much less scamper. I covered T’s eyes.

Back home, I called the NoHo Animal Rescue–which, as it turned out, was a user-friendly name for The Pound. An hour after my initial phone call for rescue, I redialed the troops. There you are, they told me. We’ve been trying to call you! Where is the squirrel, again?

Shortly after this phone call I had my husband hightail it across the ugly space to chase away a stalking cat. On his way back, he met up with Animal Rescue–a woman in her late thirties carrying a cardboard box. From the window, endlessly rocking T, I watched Rescue and my husband make their way to the squirrel. Ah, I thought. That’s that. I confess: although I knew better, a part of me really believed that NoHo Animal Rescue was just that, the squirrel would be saved, my work done. I turned from the window, took T into the bedroom and lay down, completely wiped out.

The gun shot had me back to the window so fast T’s lips were still in the shape they make when wrapped around the spigot.

There, in the center of the ugly space of desolation, stood Rescue and my husband, his hands on his hips, her hands wrapped around a gun pointed into the space’s crater, where, I presumed, the squirrel had been deposited. The gape returned as I watched her raise the gun and shoot again. Then Rescue tramped down into the crater and disappeared as my husband made waving motions at her with his arms and shouted things I was too destroyed to decipher. I took my gape and my boy into the bedroom and waited.

Just let me explain, don’t, don’t say anything! Shh! Don’t! Let me talk, let ME talk, for the love of god, please!

He was pretty frantic. So I bit back most of my nasty slang and, drawing upon lessons of patience I’ve tried to apply to my life since last November 12th (vs. fighting patience with screamed gibberish while assuming the fetal position), I listened to my husband.

The tale of the squirrel as told by my husband: She shot it!

Me: I heard.

The tale of the squirrel as told by my husband: She f****** shot it!

The tale of the squirrel as told by my husband as he paces the bedroom: The NoHo Animal Rescue would have euthanized the squirrel, babe. It was worse than when you saw it–going all stiff, alive, but rigor mortis-like. But Rescue–I think she’s German, babe–told me she wanted to shoot the squirrel because cats and dogs come first and squirrels wait and this squirrel could have waited hours before its turn to be euthanized, babe, hours and hours of pain or a painful death–so I told her okay, shoot it and she put the squirrel in the crater and climbed out and took aim. But she missed. I saw the bullet hit dirt several inches away from the squirrel. She asked me: Vy eez it still alive? And I said: because you missed it! And she said: But vy eez it still movink? And I said: because you missed it! And so she shot again and this time, babe, she hit it and I have to say, babe, she wasn’t happy about doing the job, she was shaking and upset, which is why I think she missed it in the first place. Anyway, as I was leaving some lady came out of her condo and asked me what happened. So I told her and she said to thank you for calling Rescue.

I’ve always heard squirrels aren’t very smart. They’re prone to heart attacks when they get too excited and plus they have diseases, I guess. But they’re cute and I’m sad and responsible for so much. Soooooooooo f****** much. So, you’re very welcome, but.

The Whole Food Thing

Sunday, June 1st, 2008