free hit counter Snacks, please!: May 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Toe Discrimination!!

Do you know what kind of message this sends?? It says to me -- and all the other boys and girls with stuck-together toes -- that we can never be Japanese baseball players! And it makes me very sad, that this is the way of the world, that so little progress has been made.
Separate is not, and never has been, equal.

The New NICU

An interesting story yesterday in the NYTimes about redesigned NICUs, which aim to be more like the mother's womb. The NICU at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, where M & J were born, was one of the new kind -- with private rooms, dim lighting, muted alarms -- and it really was nice. Restful, even. I worried at first that the nurses wouldn't be as watchful, but they actually responded very quickly to the alarms (a lot faster than they did at Georgetown during Josephine's stay.)

Dear Senator Dodd

This is the letter that I'm mailing to Chris Dodd today. I really hope he writes back. I think it would be a great joke!! Maybe better than the Major League Baseball hoax that David and I pulled on my father (and that was a really good one... he thought for sure he was going to be sent to Gitmo for stalking Frank Robinson.) Anyway, if he plays along, he'll certainly get my vote in 2008.

Dear Senator Dodd:

I know you get a lot of strange requests from constituents. I think I will shortly earn dubious recognition among them…
I am writing in the hopes that you can help me play a joke on my father. His name is John F-. Back in the day, he used to own the Maple Café in the South End of Hartford and you campaigned there a few times. I know this is true (and not a whole lot of bar talk) because he has a framed photograph of the two of you in his East Hartford basement. Also, I’m pretty sure he was friendly with Ed Mann, your Connecticut state director, but I couldn’t say whether he’d remember Dad. (I think he’s pretty memorable, but I’m biased.)
Anyway, he’s kind of a practical joker himself. (Among his greatest hits: Writing a fake welcome letter to my 10-year-old nephew from a bogus Cape Cod nudist colony. “Bring a towel. For sitting on only!” Poor nephew started to cry…) But it’s time to turn the tables. He’s getting old and needs a little spark in his life.
So, do you think you could write him a letter (on official letterhead, of course!) inviting him to take an active role in your Presidential campaign? Perhaps you could remember his Irish charm, so frequently on display at the Maple, and suggest he travel with you to events and fundraisers across the country, where his special touch could be employed to woo lady voters of a certain age… You might wonder if his wife will allow it. (She most certainly would not.)
Oh, it would be such a good joke!!!
Like I said, I know this is a strange one. But I am completely serious. I think it would be hysterical. Whether you want to tell him it’s a joke in the letter is completely up to you.
In any case, regardless of your participation in my schemes, I wish you the best with your Presidential campaign. My father, my mother, my sisters, brother and I, not to mention aunts, uncles and cousins, always have voted for you, whenever we’ve had the opportunity, and you can count on our support in 2008. (I do have a brother-in-law who might be a Republican, but he knows better than to admit it.) If we can assist you in any other way, please let me know.
Thanks for your help!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Weird twin stuff

I don't know if you can tell what's happening in this photo, but both Margaret AND Josephine are sucking on Margaret's hand.

Other thoughts from the weekend:

If you knew you had disgusting, filthy rats in your backyard and you knew they were feasting on zucchini stems and rotten grapes in your compost heap, would you continue to provide them with an abundant source of fuel for breeding? No, I didn't think so.

Lucy found our old address stamp from Florida and has been happily stamping all sorts of paper in the house. "This say David G-" she said. "Yes! It does! What else does it say?" She pauses, looks at the letters again and says, "This say Mommy G-" Hm. No. It certainly does not. (My own child? Sigh. It is hard work being a revolutionary.)

Oh, our sugar-free friends came over last week. (How nice! Please come back soon!!) The little cutie-pie, wait, the little cute-potato picked up Lucy's plastic doughnut and said, "Look, Mommy, a bagel!"

Friday, May 25, 2007

As if rats weren't bad enough!

Lucy tells me that there's a monster living in the backyard. It's a boy. It's pink. It has VERY sharp teeth and it eats dirt. And, not least of all, it's bigger than me!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ten Best Books for 2-year-olds

Okay, maybe not THE BEST, but the ones we like a lot right now:

1) Olivia Saves the Circus; Lucy loves shouting, "Whodayathinkya are? Queen of the trampoline??" (Plus, special guest appearance by Eleanor Roosevelt!)

2) Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus; "My cousin Herb drives a bus every day. True story!" Okay, maybe this one is more popular with Lucy's parents...

3) When We Were Very Young; Considering it has words like tuppence and mackerel, and very few line drawings, this poetry by Milne is surprisingly well-loved.

4) Maisy Takes a Bath; OMG! What is Tallulah doing? She's naked!

5) We're Taking an Airplane Ride: A book sale find -- and you can tell it's an old one because the kids get full meals on the airplane, including chocolate cake!

6) Morris's Disappearing Bag; All children like to disappear. And while I'm not thrilled that one big sister gets makeup for Christmas, I am happy that she shares it with her brothers. Personally, I prefer Hazel's Amazing Mother by the same author.

7) Chicka Chicka Boom Boom; Best ABC book ever. Although we recently were given another -- Jeepers Creepers -- which is quite entertaining.

8) Go, Dog, Go; She likes to read this one herself. It's not too hard to figure out: "A red dog on a blue tree!" Good job!

9) Llama Llama Red Pajama: One of many books chosen for a specific lesson that a certain somebody needs to learn -- namely, how to go to bed without all this llama drama! I tell Lucy, "Be patient, little llama," and she says, "I am NOT a llama. I am Lucy." Indeed...

10) Doctor Dan; Oh, this one makes my blood boil! Why is the little boy called "Doctor Dan," while the little girl snivels over her broken doll?? (No doubt she hopes to MARRY a doctor...) Still, Lucy absolutely loves band-aids, which makes this a must-read.

Other favorites, but currently out of rotation:

1) We're Going on a Bear Hunt
2) Barnyard Dance
3) Santa's Toy Shop
4) I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!
5) Froggy Gets Dressed
6) Angelina Ballerina
7) Caps For Sale
8) Click, Clack, Moo
9) Hungry, Hungry, Hungry (a British goblin with "a big fat bum")
10) Where the Wild Things Are (I hope this one returns to the starting lineup soon, because I just love to gnash my terrible teeth and wave my terrible claws.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Three months old!!

Can you believe it??!

And what have we learned so far:

1) The three original Haagen-Dazs flavors were vanilla, chocolate and coffee.

2) Breastmilk makes a perfectly adequate substitute for holy water, if you need to baptize in a pinch...and, of course, if you believe in that sort of thing...

3) Sometimes, somebody just has to cry. If I were Curious George, who can flip pancakes with his hands and feet then maybe it would be easier. Sadly, I am no monkey.

4) We have really, really great friends! You all have mopped our floors, washed our clothes, played with our girls, and cooked us lunch and dinner. And my mother, who did all of the above, plus midnight and 6 am feedings, is a saint. My sisters aren't too bad either. Thank you, thank you, thank you all!

5) Healthcare in America is terminally ill. It is chaos. It needs to be fixed. I mean, really, I wouldn't leave Josephine alone in one of the nation's "best" hospitals for more than 10 minutes. And who do I hold responsible for sending us there? Yes, our insurance company. Vote for John Edwards! (Or Chris Dodd, who used to campaign in my father's bar, back in the day. You know he used to date Bianca Jagger!)

6) Baby smiles!! A better high than crack, not that I'd know anything about that. But certainly lots better than whatever's on tap.

7) Getting your groceries delivered is a really good way to spend $10. And, if anybody is interested in doing the same, I have three $20 Peapod coupons to give to friends. I think you have to order $50 worth of food to use them.

8) It is not possible, no matter what they say on the website, to wear two babies in criss-crossed slings. But it is possible to weigh your babies at the post office.

9) In the time it takes to walk off three baby pounds, a team of men can put a very nice second story on one of Arlington's ranch houses.

10) What else? When people offer help, it's best to say yes. Four hours of sleep is not enough. An ounce a day is excellent weight gain. Dawn is a lovely time of day. There's a lot of crap on the internet. Dessert is the best part of any hospital meal. There's something nice about a Mass card. And there's nothing sweeter than a 2-year-old patting her crying baby sister's head and saying, "I know, I know."

And, finally, we're pretty damn lucky.

Trapping Aliens in the Trees??

You might have to be of a certain time and place -- namely, New England or New York, early 80s -- to recognize what this Arlington homeowner is really trying to do with tin foil and Vaseline, but man, did the sight of these trees take me back. When I saw them, I stopped the double strolller in its tracks. Shuddered. Tried to block out the memories, the nightmare vision of our flaming weapons, uniformed soldiers running through the oaks, the sweet smell of poison raining from the sky. For a moment there, I was like Thomas Magnum, treading water in the ocean, hearing helicopters, engaged in a flashback.

Are the Gypsy Moths really back? Lucy and I went on a hike in Potomac Overlook Park last weekend and this other little girl found an amazing caterpillar, gray with beautiful red spots, which she cupped in her hand, teased into crawling along her wrist, and proudly showed the other kids. It was all I could do not to knock it from her hands. The other parents said, "Wow! Good find, Nina!" and I said nothing, but grimly imagined its bright green blood under my Sauconys. "Here, little girl, let me see your precious caterpillar..."

There are three stages in the Gypsy Moth life: eggs, caterpillars and moths. Let's start with the first, which my father tackled himself with a propane torch and a bamboo stick. Aim that sucker at a buff suede spot of moth eggs and the little demons crackle and pop as they burn. To reach them, my father had a two-story retractable, aluminum-frame ladder, and when that didn't reach high enough into our oaks, he tied the torch to the pole and waved his blue flame another six feet higher into the branches. During the fall, he did this every night before dinner.

But, of course, the Gypsy Moth was a wily opponent and thousands survived to spring, grew into wriggly worms, and started munching away. You'd drive up I-84 and it looked like winter, not a leaf on the trees. You could actually hear them chewing! (According to Wikipedia, in 1981, the gypsy moth defoliated 12.9 million acres -- an area bigger than Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined.) So, in the spring, my father would call in the professionals, the Butler Tree boys from West Hartford, who would storm the backyard in protective uniforms, wielding big spray guns that rained poison on the very tops of our trees. My little brother and I would watch them from the bay window in our backroom and it was pretty awesome. Of course, we were not allowed to play outside afterward.

I actually remember them falling from the trees on our heads (disgusting!!), sometimes swinging from a very fine silk thread and aiming for your face every time. And I remember marching around the schoolyard during recess, hoping to find some, hoping to make a neon green smear on the asphalt. If the hairs touched your skin, sometimes they would leave a red rash. I remember feeling that fur inside the sleeve of my windbreaker, hm, what is that -- oh, the horror! To pull out your arm and find a Gypsy Moth on it!

Then, by July or August, the caterpillars would turn into creamy spotted furry moths -- and there wasn't so much you could do about them, at least in a systematic way. My father would snatch them from the air in his hand, throw them to the ground and curse, "Goddamn Gypsy Moth!" and then crow when he smashed it under his Docksiders. (Okay, yes, he's kind of a nut. Wait until I tell you about the squirrels...But really, everybody was like this!)

Anyway, are they really back? Because seriously, I have enough problems between snuffly babies (please tell me they're not getting sick AGAIN!!!!), ants in the living room, and a RAT!!! in the backyard. I can't take it. (Note how gypsy moths merit a whole post, while a big rat feasting on watermelon rinds in our composter gets a mere mention -- and I really do hate rats too. Really, really, really. And I hate baby germs too, with a VENGEANCE!!!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Babies at rest

That's my girl!

On Sunday, Lucy was flying through the living room, arms rotated back for maximum lift, when she stopped short. "Wass that?" she demanded. "An ironing board," David told her. "An ironing board?" she wondered. "Thass for mommies and daddies?"
"For sleeping??"

Yes, at the age of 35, I have finally bought an ironing board. Those of you who see me at work in the mornings can sigh with relief...but, ha! I have no intention of ironing CLOTHES with it! Sillies! My mother wanted to iron our new curtains and I couldn't very well tell her to put a towel on the floor...

Still, Lucy's amazement that such a thing exists -- for what, exactly?? -- provides even more proof that she is, indeed, a child of mine. (As if her birth, which I personally witnessed, wasn't evidence enough.)

Another funny thing she said, while we were driving in my NEW blue minivan, which I had no choice but to buy.
"Mommy. I have to pee."
"Okay, baby, we'll be home in a minute."
"Pee!! Stay in there! Just a minute? Okay?? OKAY!!"

Other baby news, we strolled down to the post office a few days ago and weighed the girlies on the mail-your-own package scale. I think Josephine weighs close to 9 lbs! (And her lung x-ray on Friday looked better too.) Princess Margaret, aka Chubchub, weighed in at more than 12. At the new prices, I couldn't afford to ship her away! That is, if I wanted to, which I most definitely do not.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Naughty baby!

Last night, right before my very eyes, Lucy's baby doll reached out and smacked her on the shoulder. "Ow, Baby!" Lucy yelled. "You hit me! Naughty, naughty, baby, NO HITTING!" It was crazy! One moment, Baby was resting in her arms. The next, she was swinging wildly at poor Lulu. Of course, this can't be allowed. Lucy plunked her down on a desk chair and announced, "TIME OUT, BABY!!"

(I swear to you, I do not speak to her like this. Maybe I should! My sister, the psychology professor, says there are three widely recognized parenting styles: Authoritarian (that would be Lulu...), authoritative (oh, how I'd like to be...) and permissive. I will not comment on this any further.)

In other Lucy news, we were driving back from the diner with the visiting aunties when Lucy decided to call me Mimi, instead of Mommy. I said, "How about if we call Margaret Mimi instead, as a short name. Like Lulu."
"Okay...what do you want to call her then?"
"Her name be Alice."
"Alice! I was thinking more of Maggie. Or Meg. Or Peggy."
"What about Josephine? Do you like Jojo? Josie? Fifi?"
"No. Hannah."

Alas, fair Rowena

On Thursday, a bookclub friend nominated Ivanhoe as our summer novel. On Friday, she suddenly died. She was a very, very, very nice person, with a home that I envied and a great chicken couscous salad recipe. Truth be told, I admired her for suggesting Ivanhoe, but there was no way that I as going to vote for it! (And I'm not above dismissing any suggestion to honor her memory with a dedicated read.) Still, in lieu of attending her memorial service today, I offer this quote about the life everlasting:
"What remains?" cried Ivanhoe; "Glory, maiden, glory! which guilds our sepulchre and embalms our name."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What a nice smile!

A Portrait of Bad Parenting

Hee. And I'm not even talking about the Angelina moooovie, but the sugar stick in her hand. (Oh, come on, it has REAL fruit juices!)

I have a very good friend, who is a very good mommy, who does not allow her 3-year-old to have sugar. Not even ice cream! (Which is like its own food group in our house. Currently, we have three half-gallons in our freezer, representing the three major kinds: Pink, brown and white.) When her family joined us for Easter, the little guy cracked open an egg with chocolate chips inside, looked puzzled -- what the heck are these?? -- and happily handed them over to Lucy. (Who happily ate every one.) My friend even shakes her head at ketchup! (Like Tip O'Neill!)

So, with her example, I have felt a little bit guilty about the popsicles and ice cream (and mandarin oranges packed in light syrup). My fear is this: Will Lucylu turn into one of those extra-squishy kids that we see at the zoo, huffing up the hill to the elephant house?

Well, imagine my relief to read in the NYTimes that the answer might be yes, but an it won't be my fault! It's in the genes, baby.

With that in mind, we went to Sushi-Zen last night. Lucylu had miso soup with extra tofu, edamame, avocado, and two giant tempura shrimp. (She licked the raw tuna, is that all right??) And then we went to Baskin-Robbins for blue AND green ice cream -- the eponymous "Wild and Reckless" flavor!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Playgroup politics

Well, I tried to make new friends the other weekend, but again, I say, like my nephew William, after his first day of school, "All the friends are taken." Ha! No, that's not actually what I said. What I said (to myself, of course) was a little more complicated, something like, "Oh, good grief, no, I don't think my life has 'great new purpose' these days... and if you hate your nanny so much and can't stand 'sharing your babies' with her all day, well, do I really have to tell you what to do?...and, ladies, come on, you can still read the HEADLINES at least, can't you??"

And then, I think, "Well, at least the snacks here are good."

Just so you know, I do have mommy friends -- and they're pretty normal (as normal as me, that is...) -- but since we moved to Arlington, I haven't met too many new people and I thought it might be a good idea to go to a new "twins" playgroup, in the interest of making more local friends. I have to say, I don't think it worked out, although I did try. I just couldn't kill the inner monster that says, "Lucy makes more interesting conversation!"

I did see David's boss' wife, who had twins about a month before me. Weird, huh? She's very nice. She and her husband brought the pizza, which was smart thinking. I brought the sugar cookies, which also were pretty good. Of course, the skinny, nanny-burdened mother brought the fruit...

Happy (belated) Mother's Day!

We took a Mother's Day trip to the zoo on Sunday to see the elephant take his bath. "He doesn't like it," Lucy said. "He doesn't like water on his tushie!" Lucy ate French fries out of a plastic cheetah head and I hoped to see the giant octopus eat something -- anything!! Maybe next time.

At school, Lucy and her friends put together a Mommy bulletin board. Somebody (who would do this??) gave their teacher a photo of me -- looking very bad in a sleeveless hippy shirt with my bra strap hanging out. (It can't have been Lucy. She's very particular about her look, rejecting THREE outfits this morning before settling on a new Winnie-The-Poor cherry-print dress and hot pink socks.) Anyway, each child had to say something about their mommies for the board. My favorites: "My mommy is beautiful!" or "My mommy keeps me warm!"

If asked, I would have suggested to Lucy -- "My mommy reads me books and always says the biggest animal is named Lucy!" or "My mommy holds my hand when I fall asleep," or even, "My mommy always takes the olives out of her salad and gives them to me!"

But here is what she said instead: "My mommy plays tricks."

In other mommy news, Josephine gained a whole pound last week! woo-hoo, Josephine! She weighs 8 pounds now.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

More on second grade

My best friend was Michelle Skowronek. She was very blond and very sweet, and looked like an angel when we made our Holy Communion that year. Her father worked for Pratt & Whitney and her mother did not work. Nobody's mother worked, but Mrs. Skowronek distinguished herself because she refused to answer the phone between the hours of 1 and 2, while Days of our Lives was on.

Anyway, three possible reasons why Michelle stopped being my best friend in third grade, and specifically stopped inviting me to swim in her inground pool -- with slide!! One, I lived too far away to walk. (Nice reason because it has nothing to do with ME). Two, when we were in second grade, my brother was in kindergarten, and that was the year he ate nothing but peeled hot dogs and sliced cucumbers, and still threw up every night at the dinner table. Maybe she thought I was gross when I said, "Save the cucumbers!" Or three, another time when she was over and my chemistry set experiment didn't work right, maybe she thought I was immature when I hid under the kitchen table and refused to come out. That was such first-grade behavior!! (God. No wonder she preferred Jennifer Marchese, who played with makeup and I'm sure never hid under the table because her eyeshadow looked bad.)

Anyway, in case you're interested, Michelle works for the post office now, and is married into the Pagano family around the corner from my parents. Mr. Pagano is from Italy and he used to walk around the block with a blue parakeet on his shoulder and poop stains on his white t-shirt. They had one son, Billy, who they used to yell at all the time, and one day, when he was trying to escape from the house, he jumped out of his second-story bedroom window and broke his legs.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

When I was in second grade...

When I was in second grade, Danny D. made me cry during reading. He told me to point to a word with my middle finger and then, when I did it, he laughed at me (evil! evil!) and told me that I had just swore at him and he was going to tell Miss Landers and I was going to get in TROUBLE!

He was smart, but maybe a little mean too. In third grade, he told Stephen H. that he picked his nose with a log. In fifth grade, he swore at our favorite teacher. In sixth grade, he told my best friend that her breasts looked like "sparrows" -- what does that mean??? And then he told Miss Pucci, our Spanish teacher, "Don't be surprised if your car blows up." (Can you imagine if he said that today? He'd be expelled!! Seriously.)

He was the tallest boy in the class, with a long nose and dark, curly hair. (I always wanted to be the tallest girl, but was not). In middle school, he started wearing knee-high, tan suede, lace-up boots that looked like something Davy Crockett -- or some other kid with a big knife -- would wear.

Danny was friends with Allyn, who was really smart -- in fifth grade, he got the second highest reading score in our grade on the Iowa skills test. (Hmm, I wonder who got the highest score...) He was not mean. He was a little goofy. Sometime around sixth grade, I think his parents divorced -- they were famous, in a local paper kind of way, for an epic feud with their next-door neighbors -- and then Allyn got in lots of trouble for taking the blue art-supply clay and making a penis and vagina with it, and making them have sex at his desk. (I saw it. But when my mother asked if I knew what Allyn had gotten in trouble for -- she was friends with the teacher -- I said NO! And thankfully, she dropped the subject.)

He was not so tall, blond, and maybe a little bit fat. My mother would say "soft."

So, you might ask...whatever happened to Danny and Allyn?? Well, I last saw Danny about 10 years ago, at a gas station on Burnside Avenue in East Hartford, and he told me he was training at Gold's Gym to be a kickboxer, but also planning to be a commercial airline pilot for Northwest Airlines. (I thought, hm, really... but then again, the kickboxer thing seemed POSSIBLE.) He was actually very nice. I last saw Allyn around the same time in the Stop & Shop. Was he working there? I can't remember. I know I said hi, but he didn't say much. Then, not too long after that, I heard from a friend, who used to live a few houses down from Allyn, that he was "into drugs."

Anyhoo...if that were the end of the story, it wouldn't be too interesting...So, get this! Allyn and Danny have been arrested for running a drug ring! Late last year, the DEA arrested Danny, "a graduate student at Central CT University" in his Audi, with his very young girlfriend, in front of his house -- he still lives with his parents?! -- with $80,000 cash and 22,000 Ecstasy pills. They also arrested Allyn at his New Britain apartment, which the DEA called the "headquarters" of the ring, with more drugs, more money, and an assault rifle with scope at the front door and a shotgun in a closet at the back door.

My guess is Allyn was the brains of the operation. (Yes, I'm still mad about that middle finger trick!) My other guess is they'll probably go to prison for a while. (Federal drug sentences are CRAZY. It's not like they KILLED anybody...they sold silly drugs to college students.) From a distance, the whole story is quite exciting. Up close, it's much more sad. How does a sort of squishy, very smart third-grader end up in prison? If I thought he was staying in there forever, I'd send him a note.

I can't wait to tell my mother. She will cluck-cluck with regret about Allyn, but I'll bet you $100 that she says about Danny -- "I am not surprised!"

(If anybody can figure out the sparrow thing, do tell...)

(Oh, and David says this is not a big deal. He went to high school in Northport with an actual devil-worshipper who tortured and murdered another kid, forcing him to say "I love Satan," with his dying breath, after a black crow told him to, in the Long Island woods. I agree. That is much more interesting. But I don't know anybody like that. Thank God!)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Snack time!

I like a snack mix with three elements.
My best yet? Chocolate chips, dried cranberries and Cheerios.
It lacks a salty element, but still is pretty good.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Coming out!

I love this new book I'm reading! Fellow Travelers by Thomas Mellon, about gay men in Washington D.C. during the 1950s -- the era of McCarthyism and his hunt for all things red or lavender... In an early chapter, one of the men -- the older, more sophisticated, Gregory Peck sort of character -- is subpoenaed to testify about his "manliness" before the "Miscellaneous M Unit." They ask him to walk across the room, read a passage from Somerset Maugham, and submit to a lie detector test. (He lies, but passes anyway.) Anyway, the history parts are wildly interesting, the Roy Cohn dialogue, the shake of McCarthy's bourbon bottle -- and the personal parts are excruciating. I suspect it's going to end disastrously, especially for the milk-drinking, scapular-wearing young lover.

Anyway, the older guy is a Foreign Service officer, which reminds me of my one and only friend in the Foreign Service...who also is gay! (He and I have lost touch. He may not be the FS anymore, but he most certainly still is gay.) He and I went to the Senior Ball together, and then camped in a tent in my backyard. He was funny. And very smart -- his ability to learn foreign languages amazed me. Anyway, his first posting was Siberia, where his most singular task was arranging the return transport of a very obese, dead American reindeer hunter.

At dinner, shortly after graduation: "Mary Ellen, I have something to tell you. I was a party with everybody in my thesis class, and I kissed Professor S- in the kitchen!" (Ever notice how everything good at a party happens in the kitchen?)
"Wow! That's Katherine, right?"
"No... Howard."
"Oh, WOW!"

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The other Mary Ellen

I just finished reading True Story by Michael Finkel, the former New York Times reporter whose identity was adopted by a true admirer of his written work. What a compliment! (I don't think anybody ever pretended to be me when I was not the lead education reporter at the Herald.) Or...was it? His identity thief also happened to be a quadruple murderer -- he strangled his wife and oldest child, and dumped the two youngest off an Oregon bridge, still wearing their footie pajamas. (Certainly, anybody who would pretend to be me would be a much more moral person, and hip, and good-looking, and smart, and, oh yes, very very funny.) Anyway, eventually the identity thief/killer was caught, living in a beachfront cabana in Mexico and pretending to his new German photographer girlfriend that they could work together on travel stories. He was extradited to the U.S., and then, in 2003, sentenced to death.

But that's not the whole Michael Finkel story! The killer didn't actually choose that well. Yes, Finkel had quite a portfolio of exotic-sounding stuff-- and his story aboard a Haitian refugee boat to the Bahamas was pretty impressive (although much too much about Finkel, as opposed to the refugees, IMO) -- but, eventually, he too was caught making up stuff for the NYT Magazine and fired.

I always have mixed feelings about plagiarists. They're bad, obviously. But then I feel sorry for them too -- that they ever felt that desperate. Anyway, Finkel is not my favorite liar -- that would be Stephen Glass, whose totally fictitious story about a telephone psychic was a great piece of work! Still, it has always been my opinion that you don't NEED to make stuff up. Life is pretty interesting, as it is. Which brings me to today's game: Two of the following stories are real ones that I wrote about and one is fake. Guess the fake!

1) A Florida school district is building a new school and discovers gopher tortoises, a protected species, on the site. They can pay a "kill" fee to the state, but that sounds bad, doesn't it? Or they can find them a new home. The local nudist colony offers their back acreage. Because I am an intrepid reporter, I go to see their new digs (haha) and helpfully brush a mosquito off the naked back of my tour guide.

2) A school bus driver isn't making enough money (a living wage, if you will...), so she decides to take advantage of her split shift schedule by, ahem, entertaining guests during the lunch hour. In the bus! She is discovered by a mailman, whose first-grader happens to ride that very same bus. Subsequent investigation, by yours truly, reveals a host of traffic infractions by Madam Driver -- giving the district an easy reason to fire her before her other charges are adjudicated.

3) A Haitian high school student contracts TB on a visit home. It's discovered during fall vaccinations and she's installed in a local hospital for treatment. But then, her mother breaks her out! To seek a voodoo cure in their community! For days, she's missing and health officials are scrambling. I broke the story on Day 1 -- but, by Day 3, my role has sunk to this: Sitting in front of the hospital, hoping they'll return. I can't quite figure out how I'm going to recognize them and can't quite stomach the idea of going up to every black person to say, "Are you, perhaps, the voodoo mother?" So after an hour or so, I take off for the local coffee shop.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Rock, paper...uh, I forget...

The other night (or early-early morning), I was looking up info on vasectomies for...a friend, of course. Imagine my surprise to learn the surgery may cause dementia!! Now my friend has an interesting dilemma: Another baby most certainly would drive her husband nuts, but the simplest solution (at least, for her) might also make him wacky.
(Or wackier...)

I know you're hungry!

Princess Margaret weighs TEN pounds! And still, she says, "You never feed me! You never feed me! You never feed me! and I am angry!!!!" Josephine weighs seven pounds -- exactly what she weighed two weeks ago, and pretty much what the starving children in Africa weigh. On the bright side, she has been eating a lot more since she came home from the hospital. That's her in the picture with the bottle. And that's Margaret saying, "Whaaat?! I'm hungry too!"
I know, Margaret!
(That red spot on Josephine's face is a hemangioma. They described it as "pea-sized" in her hospital chart, but I think it's not quite THAT big. Maybe a LeSeur. Anyway, it's supposed to go away eventually.)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

My friend Medela

That's my breast pump. My companion for at least three hours a day...and I'm starting to hate her. She does a fine job and all that, but she wants too much of my time! Remember Donna on 90210? Sweet, of course...but in way too many scenes. That's Medela.

(Personal record: Fourteen ounces in one pumping!! I could have made creme brulee to serve six!)

Here's what would help. Making pumping more socially acceptable. I think it's pretty much okay these days to breastfeed in front of friends and family, and in lots of public places -- say, playgrounds, Starbucks, airport lounges... But pumping? Oh dear. One needs a door... There's something about it, isn't there? I have exactly two friends who don't flee when I start up the engines -- and I've known one for 10 years and the other for...oh my god, 21 years?

So, what the hell? It's not right, I tell ya. If I had more time I'd start a campaign! Public Pumpers Unite!
(Because my boycott of Tom Hanks films was ever so successful... Seriously!! What's he been in lately! huh? )

One more thing, when I was feeding Lucy-lu, I dragged my Traveller (in its stylish AND discreet black backpack) all over the country. I pumped in airport bathrooms (Welcome to Huntsville!); in my rental car, parked down the street from Eudora Welty's childhood home; in the bathroom at Mount Vernon, during a DOE press conference on NCLB; and, in more than one school parking lot...which brings me to my one piece of advice to fellow pumpers:
Avoid the school bus loop.

Missing: One Blue Cat

Have you seen this animal?
He limped out of the house yesterday, in search of sunshine and a patch of grass (to eat). I know it hasn't been too long, but keep in mind -- this little guy was born during the Carter administration. And his idea of aggression is guarding the water bowl from the other cat.

He does not answer to Blue.
He has two funny thumbs.
He really does limp.
He also wheezes and frequently vomits.
He will remind you a little of Sarkozy.
What else? If he likes you, he'll bump you with his head. If he doesn't like you, he'll poop in your stuff...which is why I'm not actually looking too hard for him. (That, and the vomit...) For the past month, he's been pooping on Lucy's new pink rug and on the babies' play mat. Naughty! But he does tolerate Lucy picking him up and carrying him around, and he also allows her to put him in time-outs in front of the heating vent, and he's mostly a very sweet cat.

"Do you think he's like an elephant? He's wandered off to die?" asked David.
"Do elephants do that?"
"Maybe it's Eskimos..."

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Good food

One thing I lost to Josephine's hospitalization (besides three pounds -- good! and my sanity -- bad!) was our reservations at Restaurant Eve's Tasting Room. I made them a month in advance, as required, for a Tuesday night (how long would we have to wait for a Saturday night??) And I was SO looking forward to dinner and fancy drinks at a restaurant that WaPo's Tom Seitsama calls "witty" and "imaginative" (and "expensive"...oh wait, no, that was David).

Anyway, another time...maybe 2009.

In the meantime, my three best dinners ever:
1) Po in NYC, in 1998? 1999? This was Mario Batali's first restaurant -- before he got famous (and before Bill Buford revealed what a kitchen bully he is). Anyway, I had the roasted monkfish. It swam over in a pool of light green olive oil and it was yum, yum, yummy.
2) 11 Maple Street in Jensen Beach, 2001? 2002? Not the most happening corner of the world maybe, but the chef had his own organic garden and he put edible flowers in my salad! Fancy-pants! Anyway, I had loup de mer with preserved lemons. The wolf of the sea! (Better than chicken of the sea!)
3) 1789, DC, 2006. Not so much about the food -- although the chocolate bread pudding was quite nice -- but the place. I always, always wanted to go here when I was at Georgetown, but never, in a million years, could have afforded it. Now, you know, I could go every Tuesday night...yeah, right!

Okay, can't stop...

4) Some nameless place in Ollantaytambo, Peru, 2002. The man made guacamole at our table -- and it was AWESOME. And we had bowls of creamy calabaza soup. (That's pumpkin, gringo!) We made friends with an Australian TV anchor at the only other table in the place. I think TV reporters must be smarter in other countries, because he knew an awful lot about our Congress... Plus Canada too! Who knows about Canada?! (Um, well, not me, anyway...)
5) Palena, DC, 2007. Goat cheese cheesecake with a glass of Prosecco. And no children!
6) Elizabeth's, Savannah, 2005? The herb salad with melon shavings.
7) Oooh! How could I forget? Oysters in New Orleans! Bottles of beer and dozens after dozens of really cheap, really sweet oysters. When was that? Maybe 2001? I hope that place is still there.

Okay, there are more, but seven is a lucky number. Must stop here!

And the three worst:
1) The white meal, some small town in the Sacred Valley of Peru. Everything on the plate was white and I think most of it was made out of potato. Very weird.
2) Warm sushi! Central Florida. Need I say more?
3) Oh, this one goes way back... 1988, maybe? There was this place in Hartford called Brown Thompson's that served potato skins, fried zucchini, stuff like that -- and there was crap all over the walls that we thought was very cool. My friend (you know who you are!) and I went for lunch and didn't have enough money to pay the bill. We called almost everybody we knew (except our parents) but ended up running for the door. Ack. I still feel bad about this! You know the nice waitress had to pay for it herself!

Reunited! And it feels so good!

Josephine, Josephine, where have you been?
I've been to London to see the queen!

She's home! We checked out at 9 pm last night.

Things I will not miss:
Total strangers, at least a half-dozen a day, calling me Mom. As in, "I'm just going to check her vitals, Mom. Wake her up, make her scream, then leave very quickly through that door there."
The alarms. Oh, the alarms!!!
The dry diaper wipes that you have to wet yourself in the sink. I mean, come on... They can't afford pre-moistened wipes?
The hospital breast pump -- it wheezed, it squeaked, it exhaled like a 30-year smoker. And then, instead of regular storage bottles, they gave me tiny "centrifuge bottles" with round bottoms. Now I've got at least 50 of them rolling around my cellar freezer!
I could go on... you know, the frustration, the fear, blah-blah...but why bother?
She's home, she's home, she's home!

One thing I will miss:
The little bald-headed girl who would come to our room window and wave at Josephine. I hope she's feeling better.

In other news... oh heck, there is no other news.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Hey, who moved my dam?

So, Josephine and I are watching Family Feud. It's the speed round and the question is: Name a mischievous animal.
Quickly and confidently, the contestant answers.

Survey says? Oh dear. Zero.