Tuesday, October 31, 2006


There’s an International House Of Pancakes by my obstetrician’s office. This is very dangerous. “Pregnant woman” plus “pancakes” equals “rooty-tooty fat in the booty.”

For the most part, I can resist temptation (but only by taking the route that doesn’t go past the place). When I was pregnant with Lumpyhead, Bump came to every OB visit and we made several post-appointment IHOP stops, particularly during my last trimester.

I can remember sitting at that restaurant, nervously anticipating Lumpyhead’s arrival, while Bump freaked out about much we still needed to do. I started dilating six weeks before Lumpyhead’s due date. Three weeks before I delivered, the doctor told us I could go into labor “any minute now.” The first time she said this it translated to Bump as “Gitcher ass directly to Babies R Us and buy everything you can fit in the Jeep. Maybe rent a U-Haul.” I talked him down over the course of eggs and a waffle, and he didn’t immediately sprint to the store upon returning home. (He did, however, become singularly focused on painting Lumpyhead’s room.) We heard the “any minute now” line for the next three appointments, and we eventually stopped getting worked up about it.

Today Lumpyhead and Bump came to my OB appointment. They came to my last appointment, too, and Bump and I were reminded that we vowed then never to take Lumpyhead to the OB again. Like last time, we spent over an hour waiting for the doctor while trying to keep Lumpyhead 1) from being flattened by the waiting room doors, 2) out of the speculum drawer, and 3) away from the biohazard disposal.

But Lumpyhead found my doctor very entertaining, and we all got to go to IHOP afterward. Lumpyhead ate hash browns and eggs and sausage (sausage! Wheee!) and toast. While we waited for our order, he played quietly with the little containers of coffee creamer.

Bump and I looked over to find him carefully making sure all the creamers were oriented the same way. At one point they were all upright, at another they all were bottom up, but lazy creamers who were rolling around on their sides were quickly brought in line. We intentionally knocked over a couple to see what he would do. We got The Scowl and an annoyed grunt as Lumpyhead repaired our devastation.

I’m afraid he inherited this from me. When I was little, whenever I wore something with a drawstring or cord, the hanging strings always had to be the same length. My grandmother occasionally teased me about this, even when I was in high school and had obviously outgrown the need for order. She said she would tug on one end to make it longer, just to watch me obsessively even them out.

Maybe everyone has some compulsive tendencies? The clutter that overwhelms my house is headache-inducing, so it’s not that I’m tidy. I would say that I don’t exhibit many OCD characteristics, but then there is the matter of Aunt Bob’s birthday cake:

Please ignore for a moment that it looks like it was made by someone who was drunk or blind, possibly both. I was neither when I made it. I tried to blot out the numbers so you can’t tell how old Aunt Bob is, which makes the cake look like it has odd boobies or creepy eyes. It’s bad enough that the thing is lopsided, I feel lousy about subjecting it to further indignity.

I was busted by a six-year-old at Aunt Bob’s party, who had been staring at the cake for about 45 minutes straight, hoping her sheer force of will could compel it to be served. “There's a pattern in the M&Ms!” she announced. “Red brown yellow brown blue brown green brown orange brown.”

Her mother was very proud. “They've been learning about patterns at school. I'll have to tell her teacher she recognized a pattern.”

There is no such charming explanation for why there is a pattern in the M&Ms, except that I am a huge dork. Further evidenced by the girl trumpeting, “There’s also a pattern around the bottom! A different one!” What a little narc.

You may also notice that all the “m”s are facing toward the cake. This was actually trickier than creating the pattern, because I had to eat all the M&Ms that were facing the wrong way. It occurred to me later that this was unnecessary; those M&Ms weren’t facing the wrong way, they were simply for the other side of the cake. Oh well, lesson learned.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Fish Face, Headstands and The Scowl

Fish Face
Lumpyhead started making this face. We have no idea where he picked it up, or why he does it.
Just what he needs, for his cheeks to look thinner.

He’s also started doing this little tripod thing. At least it seems to make him happy.

Happy? What I mean is: it cracks him the fuck up.

Scowler Monkey
Lumpyhead scowls. Often. It’s usually when Bump or I fail to comply immediately with one of his demands, or when one of his toys vexes him, or when he’s just not pleased with the way things are progressing.

Bump and I tried to replicate it the other night after Lumpyhead had gone to bed. Usually when we mimic Lumpyhead, one of us is dead-on (which figures, since he probably inherited it from somewhere, right?), but neither of us could do it justice. We thought it was odd that neither of us could convincingly reproduce The Scowl.

The big, sweet smile is fleeting, but The Scowl? The Scowl he’ll hold for as long as necessary.

Oh, and I’m Fat
I’ve already gained 30 pounds this pregnancy, and I’ve got a trimester to go. The fat trimester.

After telling Teresa at lunch on Friday that “at least my hands and feet aren’t swollen this time,” my hands promptly puffed up like frightened blowfish.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Need A Parenting Tivo

As a working parent, I’m not surprised by the sense that I’m missing out on a lot of Lumpyhead’s life. I expected to feel this way. I’m gone for at least 10 of his 12 waking hours during the day, which means I will not be around for stuff.

But lately I feel like I’m not taking full advantage of the little time I get to spend with him, and I didn’t expect that.

On those mornings when Lumpyhead rises before seven, I blearily get him breakfast and spend our first fifteen or thirty minutes together trying to shake the cobwebs out of my head. On those other mornings when I leave before he wakes up, I spend all day pining for those few minutes - foggy or not - that I didn’t get.

When I get home at night, I’m always a little droopy. I feel like I have to power through the hour or two I spend with Lumpyhead before putting him to bed.

I want to be enthusiastic and energetic when I’m with Lumpyhead, able to invent games and sing songs and play.

Instead, I’m tired and boring and slow. I have a tough time heaving my expanded self off the floor to follow Lumpyhead when, after tiring of our current activity, he goes prattling off to another part of the house.

After he’s been asleep for awhile, after I’ve been fed and have spent some time staring at the TV, I miss him. I get a second wind and want a do-over of those minutes when he played with his toys and I just sat beside him with my head on the ottoman. I wish I would have spent that time better.

Rather than watching last night’s episode of Lost, I want to be showing him which stacking cup is blue or encouraging him to say Grandma or giving him kisses. But he’s asleep.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Royal Netherlands Embassy Cordially Invites You

Several years ago I got a strange call at work, asking me if I was of Dutch heritage, by any chance. The Netherlands Embassy was hosting its first annual Congressional reception, and in order to build attendance, they were calling all the people in the Congressional directory with Dutch surnames and encouraging them to come.

I offered how my great grandparents on both sides of the family were born in Holland, and my father still swears in Dutch. The woman sounded very excited when I agreed to attend.

I was sure that on the night of the event, the hosts would take one look at me and ask me to leave. I met the Dutch ambassador, who exclaimed happily upon reading my nametag, "My! Where did you get such a Dutch name?"

"From my parents," I replied, unsure how else to answer the question.

"Of course you did," he said without missing a beat. Then he smiled broadly and looked a little sheepish. (And that's why he's an ambassador. Diplomats come back with things like "Of course you did" and still manage to look charming. If I had done something like that, I would have just stood there, mouth agape and puzzled, until the other person wandered off.)

It turned out to be a huge party, with lots of herring and Heineken and tulips. They shouldn't have worried about boosting attendance; the place was packed. Nobody cared one bit if any of the guests had a drop of Dutch in them.

But I walked around like I was special, because the Embassy had called to invite me.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I Probably Now Owe Harry Belafonte Sixty Bazillion Dollars in Royalties

In full flaunt of copyright laws everywhere, I present to you:

Sooo Big!
Music credits: Jump in the Line, composed by Stephen Somvel and performed by Harry Belafonte

I’ve replaced the audio of the footage so you won’t recoil in horror at the sound of my squealing voice. I think I managed to edit out most of my big butt.

Also behold the World's Skinniest Child. I swear we spend all day following him around with food. We're trying our damnedest to fatten him up, but we haven't had much success. We're limited by the following factors:

1) Lumpyhead won't eat meat. I've been hesitant to tell you about this, because I'm a little horrified that Bump and I seem to have produced a vegetarian child. Bump and I are both dedicated carnivores ("A meal without meat is like a day without sunshine."), and while I know some very nice vegetarians, they puzzle me. ("What do you mean you don't eat meat? Not even bacon?") Bump and I are just so flabbergasted when the boy won't eat sausage ("But it's sausage! It's made of pork! Pork is good!") we don't know what to do. He refuses chicken. He spits out ground beef. He likes tofu. [shudder] We don't know how to begin to prepare tofu. I mean, once you've laughed at it, what do you do next? At the Chinese barbeque hosted by Bump's brother-in-law, Lumpyhead tore into the tofu. We order it for him when we go out, but we're both a little too intimidated to try to prepare tofu at home. Plus, it would mean one of us would have to endure the embarrassment of standing in the checkout line at the grocery store with tofu.

2) Lumpyhead loves fruits and vegetables. He'll eat cherries until his stomach explodes. If he's refusing everything else, he can be convinced to eat some green beans or edamame.

3) Lumpyhead has bottom issues. Hence we don't want to stuff him with cheese. We've just started giving him bananas, because he loves them (see #2) and they don't seem to stop him up.

We try to butter everything. We've replaced most of his water with juice or milk. We're constantly haranguing him to Eat Something. He does like sweets, but a lunch of brownies and M&Ms doesn't seem like a good idea, even though the baby would be all for it. Any suggestions, other than putting half and half in his sippy cup?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Should I Have Tried a Limerick Rhyming “Gurgle” with “Burgle"?

Yesterday was a shitty day.

I went to another funeral. A friend and colleague’s father fell ill a few weeks ago and passed away on Tuesday. Even though the service was three hours away, I decided to attend. I worried my friend would feel alone during this difficult time, and if a few hours in the car was all it took to show a little support, then it seemed the least I could do.

Bump and Lumpyhead were going to accompany me, (I mean, com’on: a toddler, a six-hour car ride, and a solemn, tearful event scheduled right smack dab in the middle of naptime? What could go wrong?) but I ended up going by myself. It’s not that I came to my senses about the plan to take Lumpyhead, (“We could go to Monticello after the funeral. And there will be farm stands along the way, we can buy pumpkins and pick apples! It will be an Autumnal Road Trip, the envy of scrapbookers everywhere.”) rather, we had a plumbing emergency that required the involvement of a professional.

I was saved from my own stupidity by a clogged drain.

For the past couple weeks, the tub has been making ominous gurgling noises when we flush the toilet. We addressed this problem in the usual fashion: by muttering “that can’t be good,” shrugging, and walking away. We eventually switched tactics from Ignore Ignore Ignore to Liquid Plumber Down the Tub plus Plunger in the Toilet along with a sprinkling of Hopeful Incantations. Shockingly, that didn’t work either. (You’d think that a haiku containing the words “flush, toilet, drain, and shower” would do the trick, but no.) We called a plumber and $250 later, we’ve got a shower that drains and a toilet that flushes. I think Bump might have paid $250 simply to avoid taking Lumpyhead on the Autumnal Road Trip/Funeral Trek of Doom, but we got working plumbing for that price too. Bonus.

Because of the midday “strange man in the bathroom making lots of noise” activity, Lumpyhead napped late, so when I got home we decided to go out to eat. We went to a Salvadoran place close to the house, where I once had a dish so hot it made the back of my eyeballs hurt. I keep ordering it, but it hasn’t been that hot since, and I’m always a wee bit disappointed.

We ordered plantains and flan for Lumpyhead, thinking he could also have bites from our plates. He rejected both of his dishes, of course, instead only opting to eat the maraschino cherry from the flan and the tomato and beets from our salads. He also ate some yucca and sucked on the lime from Bump’s beer. That kid is a little weird.

Afterward, I decided I needed some pie, so we went to the diner next door. When I was about halfway through the pie, Lumpyhead dropped a deuce most pungent. There was no changing table in the mens room (I never thought to look in the ladies room, I was focused on pie) so Bump took him outside, where Lumpyhead’s bottom continued to rumble and Bump’s eyes continued to water. We had to drive home with the windows open.

For a shit-themed day, it actually wasn’t so horrible. The trip to the funeral was quite pretty, it was a sunny day and the leaves are turning. The funeral was sad, but since I didn’t know the deceased I didn’t feel as though my insides had been ripped out. The worst part for me was when, during the VFW’s graveside service (the deceased was a WWII veteran), I realized similar rituals were probably being observed all around the country. Rituals not for eighty-year old men who had lived full lives, with caskets surrounded by grandchildren and frail friends; instead for men younger than me who had so much more life to live, with caskets surrounded by parents and grandparents and friends who can still easily sleep off a two-day drinking bender.

My toilet flushes reliably, and I didn’t have to change Lumpyhead’s Level 2 Code Brown. Bump did it, imploring the little guy to find some middle ground between a poop every two weeks and thrice-daily old man hobo shits.

It was a pretty good shitty day.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm Really Embarrassed by This, So Maybe I'll Just Tell the Whole Internet About It

NPR, please, for the love of god, bring back your regular programming.

I know I've complained about this before, but pledge drive week has a surprisingly hefty impact on my life. I can't listen to the NPR shills after the news at the top or bottom of the hour, so I surf around the dial until I find something that doesn't make my ears bleed.

I took a break from futzing around with the stations when I had to merge or do some other driving-related task this morning. A few minutes later I realized that I had wiped out on a station playing Howie Day's Collide.

And that I was humming along.

I think it was an acoustic version. It's still stuck in my head. I'm gonna need an intervention or something.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Baby's New Tricks

Lumpyhead can say Mama. Consistently. And he seems to be referring to me when he says it. I’m considering this a big milestone.

When Bump or I tell Lumpyhead that we love him, he responds by saying “Mama.” I’ve taken this to mean one of the following:
1) He equates love with me. Yay.
2) I often follow “I love you” with “Mama loves you” so he’s starting the next line in the litany.
3) “Mama” can also be interpreted as “Right back atcha, babe.”
4) He has no idea what Mama means and is just throwing the term about willy-nilly.

He also clearly and reliably says “Spongebob,” but only when he means Spongebob. I’m trying not to be offended.

Lumpyhead has started shaking his head, which sometimes means “no” and sometimes means “I want to shake my head vigorously back and forth and possibly fall down.” He grins when he does it, but is very peeved when you misconstrue the headshake as no when he doesn’t mean no. Like when you ask him if he wants a grape and he shakes his head so you don’t give him the grape and then he’s all “Where’s m’damn grape, Woman?”

Last night’s new trick: signaling “touchdown.” It sounds very cool but sadly, in practice, the trick is actually sing-songy and annoying. I ask, “How big is Lumpyhead?” and trill “SOOOOO big!” when he raises his hands above his head. It’s something my mother used to do, and the sound I make when I say the last part splits my eardrums and bugs the crap out of me. But it’s awfully cute to see the boy tramping about the house with his arms in the air.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I Spy

On the drive in today, I saw a fellow commuter brushing his teeth.

That’s weird, right?

I see a lot of amazing things on my way to work that no longer strike me as incredible.

The Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument? They blend into the background. A convoy of black SUVs with flashing red and blue lights? Boring. The grey-green helicopter headed for the South Lawn emblazoned with the words “United States of America”? Not much more noteworthy than United flight 600 headed for National Airport.

But a middle-aged man driving an old Toyota while brushing his teeth? That’s worth telling you about.

I have so many questions. Was he using toothpaste? Where could he spit? How would he rinse? Why didn’t he wait until he was no longer behind the wheel? He couldn’t take care of this before he left the house?

If this is the most interesting thing that happens to me this week, should I be relieved or worried?

Thursday, October 12, 2006


That loud popping noise you heard was me getting my head out of my ass on the video front. It was wedged in there pretty firmly, so you can imagine the difficulty I faced in removing it.


Lumpyhead tells my parents about Akutaq

Lumpyhead tells Bump's Mom about Akutaq

Lumpyhead gets licked by a ribeye

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Easy Cheese

My friend Joel, the World Champion of Medieval Catapult Firestarting, sent me a link that outlined the contents of Easy Cheese. There's nothing like a description of embalmed cheese to really get me excited. And did you know that the fluted piping tip on processed cheese food is not just to make the cheese look pretty? It also serves as an Idiot Guard, so if you place the tip directly on top of the cracker and squeeze, the Brilliant Canister of Yum will still dispense its wonderful goodness.

Damn. And here I worried I'd have nothing to post about today.

Now I need to find some damn easy cheese. And some crackers. It's also remarkably good on tortilla chips. And apples.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Snippets of Weekend Conversation

Bump: Tampa Bay lost again.
Me: Poor Sarah.
Bump: Yeah, poor Sarah.
In unison: [snickering]

I don’t mean to make fun (okay, maybe a little), because I really do feel sorry for her. Do you know how sad it is to go to her house and bear full witness to the four of them, all cutely decked out in their Bucs jerseys, watching their team lose? It is really, really heartbreaking. You can smell the chicken or ribs or whatever Gabe’s got cooking, which is divine even when you’re nauseous, but then must watch the writhing and garment-rending and gnashing of teeth. It is quite horrific.

And kind of funny. In an anguished, cannot-watch-but-cannot-avert-my-eyes sort of way.


Me: Can you say Mama?
Lumpyhead: Mama
Me: Can you say Papa?
Lumpyhead: Papa
Me: Can you say Grandma?
Lumpyhead: [blinks]
Me: Can you say Grandpa?
Lumpyhead: [blinks]
Me: Can you say Nana?
Lumpyhead: (whispering) Nana
Me: Very good! Can you say Mama?
Lumpyhead: (grinning) Papa

Already he's a comic.


Bump: So, you gonna be wearing that bobby pin from now on?
Me: Yeah, probably. At least for a little while. I know, it looks dumb.
Bump: It’s not so bad.
Me: It looks pretty dumb.
Bump: [pause] Maybe a little dumb.

I have a hair issue. I've developed bangs. Well, pseudo bangs. Let's just say it's not good. If you've got any advice that doesn't involve me looking like (more of) a complete dope, let me hear it.


The following is as reported to me by Bump; I was taking a big fat nap at the time. Lumpyhead has a set of blocks with little shapes inset in them. One is round, with a blue and yellow ball inside.

Lumpyhead: There's a ball trapped inside this damn cylinder (voiced as "Uhh!).
Bump: Is that a ball?
Lumpyhead: Get it out (also voiced as "Uhh!", as Lumpyhead hands Bump the offending item).
Bump: Yeah, that's a ball.
Lumpyhead: No. Get it out of the cylinder. Set it free so I may play with it (again, "Uhh!", accompanied now by angry gestures).
Bump: Do you like that ball?
Lumpyhead: Get. It. Out. (you can guess)
Bump: Yeah, it's stuck in there
Lumpyhead: GET IT OUT NOW! (like before, only louder)
Bump: I'm afraid I can't get it out of there.
Lumpyhead: NOOOOO! Get it out, Father! Set it free! (louder, and now with whining!)
Bump: [briefly considers breaking the plastic cylinder to set the ball free, then reconsiders as it is perfectly sized to lodge in a baby esophagus.] Sorry, Little Guy. That ball is stuck in there.
Lumpyhead: [wails]

The thing is, when we actually understand what Lumpyhead is saying, he gets very excited. He doesn't have many words, so when we interpret "bah" correctly as "Read some of those enchanting books to me, please," he gets a very wide grin on his face. Bump describes Lumpyhead's expressions during the above conversation as the "Yes! You understand!" grin mixed with the "Why do you fail to comply with my demands?" scowl followed by the "Woe is me!" whine/wail.

How was your weekend?

Friday, October 06, 2006

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Pregnancy-Related Bitching and Moaning, Already in Progress

Both Amalah and Holly told me to go read Emily this week, so like the obedient drone I am, I complied. Emily is expecting her first baby in the next few minutes, and her posts reminded me how excited and full of wonder I felt when I was pregnant with Lumpyhead. (Also completely out of my mind with worry and fear, but we’ll gloss over that since we’re being all nostalgic and shit.)

It’s different this time.

I expected this pregnancy to be different, but I miss the exhilaration. I feel bad about the lack of curiosity. Am I already giving Baby #2 less attention?

I used to obsessively check Babycenter’s pregnancy timeline, cursing that they only gave me an update once a week. Once a week? I want to know what’s happening now! Surely there must have been some new development since Tuesday. How about new liver cells? Tell me the baby has grown new liver cells. Or maybe the baby has grown from a small kidney bean to a medium-sized kidney bean. I need to know these things!

This pregnancy, I’m not even completely sure how far along I am most of the time. 22 weeks, right? Yes, 22 weeks. Or something like that. In my defense, last time the pregnancy coincided perfectly with the NFL season, so I could just ask Bump, “Which week was it on Sunday?” and know how far along I was without having to count back from the due date.

Last time I religiously slathered my belly with a shea butter cream twice a day. I knew I couldn’t really prevent stretch marks, but certainly the cream couldn’t hurt. I was also itchy all the time, and I felt like putting the cream on was addressing the issue, even though it didn’t really help.

This time the itchiness is gone, and I’m a lot less uptight about stretch marks. (If I didn’t get them the first time, I probably won’t get them this time, right?) I thought I saw some stretch marks the other night, but it turned out it was just an imprint from a wrinkle in my shirt.

Last pregnancy, as soon as I could justify it, I pulled out the maternity clothes to accentuate the “look, it’s a baby not a beer gut!” tummy bulge.

Now I gripe constantly about maternity wear. Can I get something that doesn’t do that weird wrap thing over the chest and therefore expose my goddamn navel from the neckline? How about something that’s not fucking pink? Why do all these shirts need to be ironed every time they come out of the wash? Don’t get me started on pockets.

So I’m schlumping around in my regular polo shirts, because most of them still fit. (Hint: maybe this means you’re wearing your regular clothing too big, Dumbass)

I’m feeling large. You know when you’ve eaten waaay too much spaghetti and really need to unbutton your pants or put on sweats or something? That’s how I’m feeling. I’m hoping this sensation goes away pretty soon, because I’m sighing a lot.

I spend a lot of time thinking, “Did I feel this way last time? Isn’t it a little early for this?” I remember being miserable the last month of pregnancy, how is it that I’m already sleeping in Bump’s recliner?

Akutaq is kicking pretty vigorously, especially at night. I get home, chase Lumpyhead a little, and put him to bed. Then I sit on the loveseat with my puffy feet up, rubbing my distended belly and exhaling loudly, thinking, “I could really use a vodka martini and a can of salted mixed nuts.”

On a brighter note, the nausea seems to have abated.

On an even brighter note, It’s Aunt Bob’s birthday tomorrow!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Chair of Heart-Stopping Terror

Nana V gave Lumpyhead this great chair. She painted and decorated it for him, and he loves it.
He doesn't move his butt, rather shakes his head back and forth to get it to rock. He's very proud of himself.

Except that. . .

Yeah. . .


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Friend From A Lifetime Away. And Two Blocks From Here

One of Fuh’s neighbors held the front door open for us as we left. Someone was smoking a cigarette on the stoop. Ten steps away was Bob, walking toward us.

“I know you,” I announced.

Bob looked up, as stunned as I was.

It was such a strange coincidence. We were in Brooklyn Heights for two hours, outdoors for less than five minutes. Had we not hurried away from Fuh’s to make a clean getaway after sticking Lumpyhead’s poopy diaper in Buttmunch’s pocket, we would have missed Bob by twenty steps.

The entire encounter was surreal. I stammered and repeated myself. I couldn’t remember Bob’s last name. It never occurred to me that Bob didn’t know Bump and I should have introduced them until Bob stuck out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Bob.”

I neglected to give him my contact information and didn’t get his, except to learn he lived two blocks away. He was still a teacher, and on his way to meet his wife and child.

Bob looks exactly like he did ten years ago.

I used to equate New York with Bob. Brooklyn, in particular, Brooklyn Heights specifically. He was the first of our friends to move there, and John went to see him whenever he could. On Sunday as we drove to Fuh’s place, I never thought, “that’s where Bob lives.” I’d forgotten him.

I lost touch with all of John’s friends not long after he died. The last time I saw them together was New Years 1996. The time before that was John’s funeral, when six of them made the trip to Arkansas to say goodbye to him.

The New Years celebration was planned before John’s death, and he was looking forward to it. I felt I needed to attend, for him, even though I didn’t particularly want to.

I did not make the gathering merry. Had I not been there, John would have been missed, but I think his friends would have enjoyed each other’s company and had some fun, not focused on him the entire night. Without me around, they could pretend their friend was just absent, not dead. Instead, I was a constant reminder of what they had lost.

There was no escaping John’s death for me. For them there was, or at least there could be, but not with me sitting in their midst. While they always welcomed me warmly and supported me in any way they could, I hated being a vestige, a painful presence that made people cry. I liked them all very much, but they were John’s friends, not mine. I lost them when I lost him.

In a similar way, the friends we went to see in New York last weekend are Bump’s friends. While I never feel like an outsider and I adore them, I realize their primary connection is to Bump.

That parallel struck me as we walked away, and I glimpsed a life in a different present. I saw a trip to New York to see a different set of friends. I was two blocks away, leaving Bob’s house in the rain instead of Fuh’s. John had not died; I had a different son on my hip. A different child in my belly.

It was chilling.

I like my life and I’m happy with it. The path I took to get here had some hardships, but those events have made me who I am today. If I had the option, now, of avoiding certain horrible things, would I take it? What if it meant I became a different person? What if it meant losing what I have and love?

All this is silly, of course. I can’t make a choice and change the past, resurrect someone and fill the space of the last ten years.

But the idea that my current life could be very different if not for a single event (if the passing of a loved one can be considered a single event) makes me cherish what surrounds me today.

A chance meeting. An untimely death. Gratitude for what is mine.

Monday, October 02, 2006


The New York weekend was fun.

Scrubly recently moved to a new house with his wife and two kids: Supermodel, who is almost five, and Tumbler, who's almost two. The place is great. It’s beautiful, in a great location, and huge. They have a rental apartment upstairs, which needed some work before they could lease it. We cleverly timed our visit to the precise moment after the work had been completed but before they found tenants, so we stayed in the empty apartment. Luxurious digs, for certain.

Lumpyhead even slept well the second night. I attribute it to having his own dark, quiet room to sleep in, where he didn't have to deal with his stupid parents traipsing in and out and waking him.

Buttmunch and BoingBoingFuh joined us on Saturday morning, with Buttmunch’s wife and two kids (a year older and a year younger than Lumpyhead) meeting up with us later.

Saturday afternoon we went to the park where we saw a birthday party with lots of children and pony rides (Supermodel: “Horsies!”) and balloons (Lumpyhead: “Ball! BALL BALL MY BALL!”) and a large Spongebob toy (Buttmunch: “That’s one ugly kid over there. He’s very square.”) that turned out to be a pinata (Bump: “Cool! You get to whack Spongebob with a stick, and then he spews forth candy from his open wounds.”).

We kept having to re-direct our kids from the mind-blowing fun. “Those balloons aren’t for you.” “No, I’m sorry, we can’t go ride that pony.” “I keep telling you, there are some things in life you’ll never have, but other people do, because they have more money than us. Which makes them better people.”

The children burned off energy and the adults who weren’t chasing kids threw a football and frisbee around. It was a good afternoon, even though it rained a little and the grownups are so old and out of shape that a) they looked a little ridiculous demonstrating their athleticism and b) there were sore shoulders and legs Saturday night.

We went back to Scrubly’s for pizza and bedtime and poker, which was interrupted by an emergency room visit. Lumpyhead was on the second stair when he slipped and bumped his head. He was fine but I felt awful, and after Bump took Lumpyhead up to bed (where he slept like a drunk college freshman for twelve hours), Tumbler showed us how someone who is serious about falling down stairs gets it done.

He hurled himself, face forward, from about 3/4s of the way up. Thank goodness the basement door was closed, or he would have gone down another flight. It was a horrible thing to see: the outline of this little guy through the banister slats, doing no-handed cartwheels down a staircase accompanied by loud thumping noises. He cried instantly, never passed out, and didn’t throw up. He had scratches and bruises on his face, which started to swell, so Scrubly and his wife took Tumbler to the ER while Buttmunch and I stayed with Supermodel.

Scrubly called from the ER to report that the boy was obviously fine. He was climbing on the waiting room furniture, jumping around and laughing. They were waiting to see the doctor anyway, to rule out any facial fractures and relieve their fears. The next morning, Tumbler’s face looked much better than I could have hoped, and he was perfectly cheerful, despite battling a long-running cold.

On Sunday we went to Fuh’s new place for brunch, where we also saw Ridgey and his wife, who is pregnant with their first child. Over eggs and bagels and juice and coffee, the assembled group talked about pregnancy and birth plans and child care situations. We discussed whether Bump would be able to hang on to second place in the roto league, while doing our best to keep toddlers from screaming and/or destroying Fuh’s modern, tasteful decor. I just realized right now that there was no alcohol served. A few years ago this fact would have been grounds for every person in attendance to storm out in a huff, or at least to make his or her exit as quickly as possible, before it was polite to leave. Yesterday no one seemed to notice.

As we left Fuh’s for the drive back home (after leaving Lumpyhead’s dirty diaper in Buttmunch’s coat pocket - pranks! Ha!), I ran into one of John’s closest friends on the sidewalk. It threw me for a loop -- the coincidence of it all, the shock of seeing him again -- and I’ve been a little wigged out ever since.

So we’re back, all fighting off colds from new germs and not quite enough sleep. We saw the top of one of Lumpyhead’s molars (finally. Good god almighty, will you come in already and make the drooling and runny nose and general whining and misery stop? Because damn) and I left a very cranky baby and pretty cranky Bump this morning. I’m still reeling from the chance street encounter and my head has been in a pretty dark place for the last 24 hours. I’ve piled on with the realization that I attended a dry brunch yesterday and just figured it out now. I’m glad we’re not very busy today, because I don't quite feel like myself.