Archive for April, 2009

Its My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To…

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

the boy reads!

So this month, Poetry Month, I’ve taken part in the PAD exercise, writing a poem a day and posting it, usually while my husband feeds T breakfast, posting my little whatever day of April poem, then moving on to the park and Ikea and storytimes and playdates, never looking back. I’ve only just realized that other PAD contributors are—well, I guess you could call it “commenting” on posted poems, occasionally sniping at other contributors for various offenses and, as with today’s Poem-A-Day challenge, whining about the PAD overseer’s request that all contributors write a sestina (apparently too much of a challenge for many), or if not a sestina, a sestina-bashing poem, or perhaps a sestina praising poem (?). Man. Let the bashing begin.

One ambitious PAD contributor boasts of having posted over 200 poems this month. Some of his poems are in the 72 stanza range. Not 72 lines. S.T.A.N.Z.A.S. He is very proud of his 200 poems, this poet. Usually a mini-glossary and history lesson accompany his posts. When another PAD contributor took umbrage with this poet’s multiple postings, he was quickly defended by some loyalist-type PAD-goers who suggested the umbrage-taker simply skip over the 72 stanza-ers and basically just shut up. The poet in question responded to the criticism with: more poems, adding that the PAD overseer didn’t say he couldn’t post more than one poem a day. Okay—we get it—over 200 poems posted—no wonder the PAD server keeps crashing. And there’s more: Several daily contributors post to let everyone know they are going to take showers before returning and posting their poems for the day. Is this information really necessary to impart? A shower? Others use a passive-aggressive approach when resorting to sniping, i.e., I don’t want to incur any bad karma, or hurt your feelings, but YOU SUCK. Hello? I had to stop reading the posts today. My head started spinning around. I felt like I was behind a group of people on a city sidewalk, people who all know each other, oblivious to anyone else using the pavement, spreading out, shout-talking, spreading their arms in their loudly colored clothing, making it impossible for others to pass but for an annoying, awkward sidestep through mucky gutter.

Today, either before or after their morning showers, some contributors who didn’t even try to write a sestina griped that poetic form is “ridiculous.” Oh dear. There went my head again, into a fast, committed spin.

Just write the f****** sestina rather than waste time damning poetic form (which is like damning breath or earth or gold)! I can say this because: I wrote and posted a sestina today. Before my shower and during my first and only cup of coffee, I lifted an extremely heavy, creaky trap door and allowed some creativity to gasp through. Is it a good sestina? F*** no! But I’m glad I tried, I’m glad I had the experience of writing it, without a published gripe.

On a different note (head whips back to normal position), PAD has been a positive daily exercise: I’ve been reminded that I can be a mother and still eke out time to write. I’ve been reminded to read books other than the calming Ladies Detective Agency series. I’ve been inspired to catch up on the New Yorkers piled on the back of the toilet. OMG, PB, shut up, quit griping about the gripers and get back to it.

he reads, he reads more!

Update: The 200 + poem person concluded the PAD challenge with a mega-mongumongous poem attempting to incorporate the names of all contributors. P.B. Rippey is listed in one of the uber-stanzas, along with two words defining her as a poet. The words are as follows:
1. hippie
2. drippey
Interesting—or alarming. Or—

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

What Am I, Pregnant?

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

9th month!


Yet the memory thing rages out of control, as it did when I was in the ninth month and finding my cell phone in the refrigerator and my wallet in the piano bench. Actually, I found my cell phone in the fridge last week, too—and I couldn’t blame it on T. And today, for another instance, I purchased $60 worth of vital items at Toys R Us, including a talking book T was all rabid for. Then I drove off and left the bag of said items in the shopping cart. Upon returning home and placing my snoozing babe in his crib, I realized my error and phoned the store. No bag had been turned in. No bag could be located anywhere. Somebody made off with my goods. Bye-bye talking book. Ciao, $60.

And yesterday I left the cinnamon rolls for the playdate on top of the minivan. As I drove away, they sailed for climes unknown, where they are drinking icy pinot grigio, casually melting into (tasteful) modern art and sharing a good old cinnamon roll guffaw at my expense.

And last night I dreamed I couldn’t find my baby. I woke up hyperventilating, my husband’s worried face in mine. It seems my current streak of forgetting is even penetrating my dream-life. Why???

I asked this question of the gruffish lady checking my groceries this morning, as I ransacked my purse for coupons I’d forgotten to grab from the kitchen counter before leaving home. She glanced at T in the shopping cart sucking blissfully on an enormous piece of fresh baguette. The gruffish lady shrugged and replied, “Him. He’s why.”

Oh, I love my baby. I love going over the replacement talking book I bought for him as he sits on my lap, my nostrils deep in blonde locks reeking of the tomato sauce he patted into his hair at lunch, my arms around his little tubby tummy. I will never lose him, never find myself running screaming around a park searching for him frantically. He is responsible for making me not just hugely, but profoundly happy. Yeah. “Him.”

Take that, Memory, and sleep on it.


Memory Challenge…

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Little guy!

Oh the questions spewing from my mouth when I was pregnant! I interrogated a couple of seasoned mamas, friends of mine, only to be told by them repeatedly (dazed confusion clouding their eyes), “I’m sorry—I just don’t remember.” What!!! How could they not remember vitals like how many times their babies woke up during the night in the first three months, battles with diaper rash and—so much more. Actually, I can’t remember what the heck I asked them—I had to dredge the banks for what I’ve just written here.

Because I, too, have memory blocks since giving birth, since those first three long, intense, post-C-section months. Though S took digi-cam footage and 3,000 pictures, still I can’t remember actually changing diapers that small, or dressing T in those mini-mitts we couldn’t live without. If I think too much about what I can’t remember, I turn into Tim Robbins in “Jacob’s Ladder,” when his face goes cuckoo every time he passes a mirror.

I have the screensaver on my computer that plays photographs from My Photos. Do you have that? Often, as I’m feeding T, my laptop perched next to me on my perch on the king size bed forever dominating our living rooom, beside which I’ve positioned T’s high chair—as I encourage T to try steamed baby carrots, often my eye is caught by photos wafting across my laptop’s screen, ones taken on or around 11/12/07-ish and I gasp. Who is that woman cradling that urchin? My son was never that small! My ass was never that big, surely! Where did that onesie come from? Oh yeah, his hair was black when he was born—I forgot!!! And there goes my face into “Jacob’s Ladder” mode, sproinging every which way with a sped up “yuk yuk” sound as accompaniment.

After 9 months and 1 week of pregnancy, I became fathoms-lady, swimming slowly through incomprehensible depth: birth, taking T home, calling the doctor 12 times in 3 days, showing up at the doctor’s several times a week, driving, driving (once I was mobile after the C section) to calm the strange and exotic little creature consuming my personal hours—despite all the activity, for 90 days life elongated and slowed Einstein-ish-theorem style. I delve through My Photos and the 5 photo albums I’ve filled in 17 months and I can’t believe the changes. These days, life with T in hyper-drive, we don’t even use Dreft and think nothing of putting him to bed without socks on his feet. “The baby might freeze!” “The baby could receive spinal cord damage if we don’t put extra padding in the jogging stroller!” “Our baby will never eat a french fry!” Those days are all over. Done. Gone. We are experienced parents, now, with memory loss. And I know why. There are studies and facts and findings regarding this memory loss issue that I’m way too tired to research and read (also, I forget to), but I know the bottom-line answer. It is:

f e a r

When you don’t know why he’s scream-crying even after you’ve fed and changed him, don’t know what those tiny red bumps are on his chest, his cold prevents him from breastfeeding easily and you’re terrified he’s going to suffocate AND starve, SIDS, first fever, projectile vomits…It’s hard to be a baby. Much harder than being parents. Still, the memory loss thing must be protection for mommies, a salved-up band-aid on true pain, because if we did recall absolutely clearly every single detail from birth through those first scary few months, when every sneeze means certain death, why the HELL would we ever have more than one child.

Memory loss is Mother Nature’s way of insuring the babies keep coming—bless their obviously precious cloud-pink, diaper rash prone bottoms.

The guy!

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…


Practicing Oops…

Monday, April 6th, 2009

The beach is his personal backyard. And he knows it.

Warming up.

And he’s off. We follow to keep him alive and undrowned as he races straight for the ocean’s tumble. Like sheepdogs, we herd and never, ever take our eyes off of him or covet a second to gaze at entrancing horizon, blithely assuming the other parent is watching. We both watch him. It’s the only way. He’s consistently astonishingly fast, deft and eely when wet.

Sometimes he’ll give us a break and run inland.

Often, though, we’ll swoop in and interrupt and redirect and distract and coax and offer suggestions and frequently bribe with a sand bucket or little goldfish cracker.

It’s a rush to see him happy and thrilled and stimulated by the beach and the tide. He loves the beach, already, as much as his parents. And we love that he loves the water–even though he loves it a little too much at the moment and, in April, we worry he’ll get frostbite or hypothermia from the icy, ruffled surge. We worry, we worry…

But so far so good—all he gets is worn out and nap-ready and although we’re new parents, 16 1/2 months after the mongumongous event we’re trying to worry less and “flow” more when he experiences faceplants or pinches fingers upon closing cell phones or bumps his head on the undersides of tables. Instead of verbalizing OMFG!!!, we internalize panicked expletives and practice emitting mild, non-plussed, “flowing”, oops-es, and turn our faces aside so he won’t see our pale skin and pinched expressions and lips oozing blood from our teeth sinking deeply into them.

Key word, practice.


Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

He sleeps! He sleeps!

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!

For two nights in a row T has rousted all who live here once, only once , vs. that 1a.m. waking followed by wakings every 15 to 30 minutes until 4a.m. We have tried Orajel and Infant Tylenol. We have used sippy cup and the boobs. We have diligently stuck to a pre-bedtime routine of bath and books and lullabies with the rocker keeping time. We have, as a last ditch effort, tried the crying it out method (Just do it, said the doctor) and ultimately tried to be consistent, whatever consistency consists of in the middle of the night. I doubt that any of our efforts explain why T has slept well for two nights. Exhaustion, an easing up of the cruel little buggers messing with his gums, and hopefully simply a turned corner as he approaches his 17th month—these are more likely factors, I believe, than the efforts of his parents. This morning, T slept in until 7:25a.m. Never happens! The difference in his mommy? I’m ready to jog him over to the park and teach him to kick the soccer ball. I’m ready to haul him in and out of the carseat as we roam from park to Travel Town to Trader Joe’s. I’m ready! As soon as I finish my cup of coffee and Elmo finally shuts up…Ah, sleep—how I’ve missed you.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not counting on T sleeping through the night from now on. Never would I count on consistency, despite fumbling our way towards it. But I’ll take what I can get. Little guy! zzzzzzzzzz

RE: The “Case” Against Breastfeeding

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Did you catch the piece by Hanna Rosin? It’s in the Atlantic right now, April 2009 issue. I, like many others who read the “Atlantic”, find it an unfortunate bit; contrived; one-sided, with questionable research. And just plain sad. Apparently Hanna Rosin felt like a parasite for intimating aloud that she was so, so over breastfeeding. Who made her feel this way (besides herself)? Other mommies, she claims, breastfeeding-nazi mommies she met in a park.

As the baby books tell you, including La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Dr. Sears (whom Ms. Rosin pretty much villifies), breastfeeding is not for all moms. Coming on the mommy-scene 16 months ago, it was my impression and still is that in the PC world of mommies and breastfeeding formula has not been a dirty word for some time. Procuring the best system for mother and child is the primary concern championed in today’s reading material, whether a book is about breastfeeding or post-partum depression or bottles or pacifiers or thumbsucking or soy milk. Get what you need! the books say, Oprah’s experts, even Tyra’s silly little show agrees, and the canny mommy-blogs, too. But the “get what you need” message didn’t fit in with Hanna Rosin’s (in part) “I-am-a-victim-of-breastfeeding-nazis” agenda. Instead of “get what you need” she makes La Leche League and Dr. Sears responsible for creating damaging breastfeeding hype and for making not breastfeeding your babe a societal taboo.

I wish Hanna Rosin had mentioned how lucky she is to be able to breastfeed at all, unemcumbered by physical setbacks, or cultural mores. She describes the lengths a friend of hers goes to in order to breastfeed, snarling sarcastically that her friend looks nothing like a romantic portrait of Eve-With-Babe because of the “tubes and suctions and a giant deconstructed bra” her friend must wear. Hanna Rosin is lucky if that trying-hard, giving-breastfeeding-a-go-despite-the-hurdles mom is still her friend. Breastfeeding can be an enormous challenge for mother and child, especially in the beginning and even if there are no physical complications involved. But if the bond created through feeding has to come via tubes and suctions or a bottle’s nipple and formula, right on. Either way, the baby Will Be Fed—and even if Hanna Rosin switches from breasts to bottles, unless she has a nanny, or unless daddy plays a part, or unless she throws the job to her other children, Hanna Rosin will be the one feeding her baby, something she obviously resents having to do all by herself.

Hanna Rosin’s biggest enemy in her Atlantic piece is herself, her inability to take a stance on what is best for her personal situation. Instead, she blames breastfeeding-nazis for her discontent and anyone, really, who thinks breastfeeding a baby is a good thing, those hype-gobbling idiots. Hanna Rosin was interested in creating an article that would cause a ruckus. Blaming Dr. Sears for “too many years of conditioning”, presenting the reader with “research” gathered for the piece via a “friend” with a password to an undisclosed medical library, likening breastfeeding to prison—if breastfeeding is making her so unhappy and resentful, Hanna Rosin would be doing her family and readers a favor by practicing an alternative, especially if such a move would change her sour mood.

Thanks, Atlantic for publishing a (whiny) gripe masquerading as hard-core reading material. In closing, I give you the photo below of the World’s Biggest Breastfed Baby.
Big Breastfed Baby!
UPDATE: see this response
Both links have excellent responses and comments and are far more eloquent than little old pissed off pro-breastfeeding-although-formula-is-not-a-dirty-word me.