Monday, June 30, 2008

Katie Rabbit.

Oh, people, I don’t know what to tell you. I appear to be a Michelle Duggar in training:

Ian turned 10 months old yesterday.

I am pregnant AGAIN.

Apparently I am some sort of fertility machine. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bush/Cheney axis of evil kidnaps me and uses me as a breeding vessel to repopulate Iran with baby Americans after they attack it later this year.

Not-so-fun facts:

1. I will be spending my summer alcohol-free.

2. Baby X is due 2 days before my 40th birthday.

3. I had planned to be in Hawaii for my 40th birthday.

4. Our house has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath.

5. 2 kids in day care = $2500 per month.

Fun facts:

1. Did I mention I’m almost 40 and I’m having another baby?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Making lemonade.

Did I tell you that I was doing the “No-S Diet”? I don’t remember how I found it, but it’s a very simple premise: no sweets, no snacks and no seconds, except on Saturday, Sunday and special occasions. The theory is that because you can have whatever you want for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as long as it’s not cake and it fits on a human-sized plate, and because you can have what you want on weekends, you can stick it out during the week. Weight loss will be fairly slow, but presumably sustainable. I’ve been doing it for about 3 weeks now, and seem to have moved my weight down a couple of pounds. That’s not much, but that could be because I have added Swednesdays to the sweets column; apparently I can’t make it 3 days without ice cream. I figure that’s still an improvement, and I do have on another of those old skirts today, after all. Anyway, if you’re looking for some way to wallow in the deprivation pool, this plan is a lot more humane than some – and believe me, I have a shitload of diet books to compare it with.

On another topic, I am NOT looking forward to the Democratic National Convention being held here in Denver. It’s bound to be a total cluster around here. We won’t be able to get reservations anywhere because the bars and restaurants will be swarming with self-important, asshole inside-the-Beltway types, dressed in their shitty DC uniforms that make me still look like a fashion goddess in comparison, various technological paraphernalia welded to their ears and fingers.

Traffic will suck, and I’m a little concerned about protest activity downtown where I work and my baby is in school. We were planning to try to keep Eeyore home that week, but then yesterday I read the most ridiculous article ever: there’s going to be a “tent city” in the park near our house. According to this article, the 20,000 – 50,000 expected protesters will not be permitted to sleep there overnight, but who believes that? Are the police going to check in every tent? I don’t care about that so much, but apparently there will be no facilities for all these delightful campers – so officials expect that they will be knocking on doors in the surrounding neighborhoods looking for places to take showers and … stuff. Are you kidding me? I’m as anti-war as the next member of the intellectual elite, but it’s not 1969 and that doesn’t translate for me into some sort of brotherhood of man shit where I have to let dirty strangers into my home.

Anyway, I would much rather be at the beach in Hilton Head with my mom at that time, but because our union’s contract is up for renewal at that time we’re not permitted to schedule vacation in case they strike. Which, now that I think about it, could mean that I won’t be here anyway – I’ll be in BFE Idaho somewhere answering phone calls from disgruntled customers and saying “Uh-huh,” while I examine my fingernails. Or, I could be, like, patching cables over at the convention. How hilarious would that be:

Kate: “I’m here to test your circuit?”

Brian Williams: “Yeah, we’re having trouble with the feed.”

Kate, leaning over so her butt crack is fully visible: “OK, just a second here…. I think I’ve got it.”

Tom Brokaw: “I thought your union employees were on strike?”

Kate: “Yes, it’s true, I’m a lawyer, but I thought you’d feel more comfortable that you were getting knowledgeable service if I dressed the part. Hey – I’ve always wanted to be an anchor, can I give it a go?”

Maybe this could work out for me yet!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fashion say what?

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, am I uncomfortable. This morning, I decided I was sick to death of my work clothes, which are a little limited because I haven’t wanted to buy a bunch of new things when I have two large storage bins full of very cute clothes in my basement. Those cute clothes have remained out of reach for me since I seem to be incapable of dropping the last 5 pounds of pregnancy weight, not to mention the last 20 pounds of weight gained since I was a svelte, alcohol-swilling smoker (weird how alcohol + smoking = skinny, but alcohol on its own = goddamnit). Today, though, I thought it was time to torture myself again by trying on a few things I wore 2 summers ago, in the hopes that maybe my body had somehow magically morphed into a different shape since my last masochistic fashion show. And somehow, I managed to fit into a couple of skirts without looking like someone who doesn’t own a mirror, and so I am wearing one today.

But now I think it was premature: I feel like I’m wearing Spanx a size too small and made out of PVC. I don’t want anyone to walk into my office and see my stomach trying to escape from my skirt like the Incredible Hulk. Not to mention, when I was walking across the lobby this morning, sucking in my birth-destroyed stomach, I couldn’t help but think: “this outfit is so 2006; or really, even 2003 if I’m honest. Do I look like mutton dressed as lamb?” I used to pride myself on being relatively tuned into fashion, and felt pretty confident I was the best-dressed attorney in my office. That’s no longer the case – my clothes are mostly generic and bought at the mall. WTF happened? Being a 39-year old mother of a baby isn’t a license to turn into Queen of the Dowds.

Last night I was at book club and my friend was telling us that almost everything she was wearing was from a consignment shop. She had on a fabulous skirt and shoes, both very stylish and of the moment. Another girl there had brought some clothes for the hostess to borrow for a cocktail party: a teal, Missoni-style knit dress and some great, caramel colored Coach sandals. Everything was cuter than what I had on: a black, ¾ sleeve Banana Republic fitted sweater, black J. Crew capri pants, and black, kitten-heeled ballet flats from Nine West. It was a pretty classic style, even kind of Audrey Hepburn, but look at those brands! Could you get any more boring? No, my friends, you could not.

I think I need a stylist.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm a writer, see?

Good lord. Normally I don’t feel compelled to qualify my posts, but when I got home last night I heard that what I wrote yesterday depicted a life of total drudgery.

“Are you that unhappy?” asked R.

And the answer is, Jesus, no, of course not! First of all, there’s usually a little literary license in my posts – I may actually have up to TWO hours to do what I want in an evening. The truth is that my life right now is extremely repetitive in a lot of ways, and I have very little time to myself. But no way would I ever trade it for my old life, where there was more money, more time, more travel, more “freedom.”

At 5:30 or 6 most nights, you’ll find me seated across from Eeyore’s high chair, watching him figure out how to pick up a butterbean and get it to his mouth, or make little stabbing motions at the bowl with his spoon to imitate how I scoop out his food. Last night after he finished his eclectic dinner of turkey, avocado and sweet potatoes (I’m still working on how to balance a meal), he and I sat out on the front steps and watched our cat roll around on the walkway while he ate his very first homemade cookie. We practiced standing up. We checked out our neighbor’s flowers. I gave him a bath and he tried to climb out of his little tub, the head of his hippo tub toy wedged into his mouth with the help of his two teeth.

So, repetitive and yet not. It’s fascinating to be along for someone else’s ride, and I figure the books and magazines I don’t have time to read for myself right now will still be there when this phase is over.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Yes, maybe I did.

Oh, hello. Perhaps you were wondering where I’ve been – maybe you even thought something terrible had befallen me. And if by “something terrible” you meant living to work and make bottles, you’d be right. Except, of course, that’s not terrible (at least not the parenting part), it’s just the current state of affairs. My boss is out for several weeks and that has translated into days full of... work! God, the horror. I signed up for that writing class fully believing I’d have time during my work day to write the most fabulous and inspired fiction EVER, which would easily segue into a career writing best-selling blockbusters, but somehow it hasn’t happened. In fact, I have the start of a short story due tomorrow and I haven’t even started it. That thing isn’t going to write itself, so I’m not sure why I’m getting all this pressure to actually do my job.

And then there’s the small matter of when you’re working all day, bookended by chores and feeding, educating and cooing at baby, nothing of interest to the outside world really happens. I’m getting the distinct impression that I can expect to spend ages 39 – 44 in something of a fugue state. Maybe after that I can get back to being a contributor to society, but for now I feel like a shade of my former self. Or more appropriately, I feel like the subject of one of those articles I used to see in women’s magazines but could never identify with – you know, the ones about how important it is to make time for yourself to take a bath, or some other 30 minute, weekly “indulgence.” As my life before baby was not much else besides a series of indulgences interspersed with and funded by work, I just didn’t get how a person wouldn’t have time for herself. But now…

Every evening after Eeyore goes to bed and we’ve eaten the dinner I’ve made (and R. has cleaned up), I have about an hour to allocate toward some activity of my choosing. On some days, if we haven’t chosen sex as that hour’s activity, then part of this hour might be spent discussing why we’re not having sex during that hour, or whether it might be something to consider extending the waking calendar for. Obviously, it would be preferable to either just be having it, or not talking about it, because when the clock is ticking down on the day’s only respite from duty, talking about it risks turning it into one of those same duties. But if that’s not the hour’s choice, then I generally have to choose one thing to focus on/enjoy out of the several things that might need attention . That means choosing between: watching the news, reading a book, catching up on my stack of magazines, working on my writing assignment, cutting my toenails, plucking my eyebrows, touching up my roots, looking at cookbooks so we don’t eat the same thing every day forever, doing laundry… when you can only do one of these things, maybe two, there starts to be a lot of backlog. Hence, the fugue state.

You may be thinking: “what the hell is she griping about? If I had an hour every day to do what I wanted, besides ordering Chinese food and eating it watching Jon Stewart again, because my high-powered finance/law/whatever job has me working all hours,” I will suggest to you that somehow it just isn’t the same. As someone who was in private practice in DC and London for the first six years of her career, I’ve experienced that, and it’s different. At least with those sorts of jobs, sometimes you get a break on weekends.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A smorgasbord of c-r-a-p for you.

I bought a little cookbook in London of “200 easy suppers” that I liked because the recipes are as advertised and because there are pictures of all the dishes. Some people like their cookbooks to be these gigantic tomes, packed to the gills with prose on every page and nary a picture in sight, but I’m the opposite. I like simple recipes with lots of brightly colored pictures of the easily achievable results. Last week I made a recipe that I thought sounded pretty good, and indeed it was:

Pork filet with mushrooms

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb pork tenderloin, sliced into ¼ inch discs
10 oz mushrooms, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 lemon
½ pint crème fraîche
2 sprigs of tarragon, leaves stripped (I used a lot more)
Salt and pepper

Heat 2 tblsp of the oil over medium high heat and fry the pork slices for 3-4 minutes, turning once so they are browned on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add the remaining oil and cook the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden.

Cut half of the lemon into slices and add to the pan to brown a little on each side, then remove and set aside.

Return the pork to the pan, add the crème fraîche and tarragon and pour in the juice of the remaining lemon. Season well, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and leave to bubble gently for 5 minutes. Add the prepared lemon slices at the last minute and gently stir through.

Serve with white rice or crispy potato wedges.

I just added that last line because it sounds so English – “crispy potato wedges”? Like I’ve got those lurking about to serve with this dish. Anyway, here it is on the stove:

It was awfully good.

In other news, this was a very big weekend for Eeyore: R. put up a swing for him in the backyard, which he loved, and he went swimming for the first time. Unfortunately, we forgot our camera when we went to our friends’ house to swim, so we are relying on her sending us the photos she snapped for us. I did get Eeyore in his new swing, however:

And finally, I posted my next assignment. For this one, we were given 3 or 4 sentences describing a scene: a couple driving down a highway, they think they hit something, they bicker because she thinks he’s been drinking, then they get out and can’t see anything. We were supposed to flesh that out with the same start and end points, using some dialogue and other secret literary techniques I can’t remember. So here’s my exercise (and I did not make up these awesome names):


Loretta bit nervously at the inside of her cheeks as Mick drove in stony silence, the icy, moonlit trees clicking by like a slideshow of still photographs from a horror movie. Loretta leaned forward and switched on the radio again.

"How many times are you going to do that?" asked Mick. "There's no reception out here."

"It's just so quiet out here, I can't stand it," said Loretta, snapping off the radio and inching away from him on the seat. The smell of alcohol had wafted across the car on his words. "I feel like we're miles from anywhere." Willing herself to relax, she leaned back and closed her eyes to avoid looking out the windows at the canopy of leafless branches arching around them - gnarled, bony fingers intertwining as far as the eye could see. She hated tonight.

“You stink of booze,” Loretta said.

“Jesus Christ, Loretta, I am not drunk! I only had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner,” Mick answered angrily.

“Glasses? Those were practically tumblers. And don’t forget the two martinis you knocked back before we even sat down.”

“Forget them – how can I forget anything when I have you around to remind me?” Mick spat, shaking his head.

The couple lapsed back into silence. After several minutes, and despite the sour electricity of the tension hanging between them, Loretta felt her eyes starting to close. The droning of the engine and the repetition of the scenery panning past were too much to resist; she fought to hold her eyes open, but they fluttered shut. Suddenly, though, they were wide, and she felt the tight catch of fear in her throat.

“Did you see that?” she asked.

“See what?” said Mick.

“I thought I saw something run across the road up ahead; it was white.” Loretta replied, her voice rising.

“I didn’t see anything,” said Mick, “you were asleep. You imagined it.”

“I don’t know,” said Loretta, “it looked real to me. I think it was a person.”

“There wasn’t anything, Loretta,” Mick said, rolling his eyes.

“Look!” cried Loretta, “there it is again!”

Mick drew in his breath sharply; this time he had seen something, too. It had only been a momentary flicker at the end of the range of their headlights, but it had sure looked like somebody standing in the road and then darting into the thicket of trees to the left. Or maybe it wasn’t anybody; it had just been something kind of thin and white. Could it have been someone’s laundry blowing across the road? But it was winter, and who hung their sheets out to dry anymore, anyway? And sheets didn’t dart like they had a purpose.

“Shit,” said Mick, “what was that?”

“Keep driving,” said Loretta, “don’t stop!”

“I’m not stopping!” Mick said. “Are you kidding?”

Suddenly, the car jolted sharply as its front wheels rose off the ground and quickly hit the pavement again with a slam. There was a loud thudding from under the car, then the back wheels rose and fell.

“What was that!?” Loretta screamed, turning frantically to peer out the back window. There was only blackness behind them.

“I don’t know!” said Mick, easing off the gas and pulling over to the side of the road.

“What are you doing? Please don’t stop; let’s just go,” Loretta pleaded, her voice rasping with dread.

“Just wait here,” said Mick with more confidence than he felt. “I think we hit something.”

He opened the car door and stepped out into the winter night, the road ahead still lit by their headlights. Loretta’s heart was pounding, but she grabbed the flashlight they kept in the glove compartment, slid across the car seat and climbed out after him. She clutched his arm, and they tiptoed hesitantly towards the back of the car.

Mick shone the light into the darkness behind them, but they could see nothing in the road. He leaned down to look underneath the car, not knowing what to expect but sure it would be bad. Again, there was nothing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Good morning!

This morning at the continuing legal education seminar:

Kate: "Oh, hi, partner-at-the-last-firm-I-worked-at-and-left-with-hatred-in-my-heart, how are you!? It's been so long!"

Partner: "It really has! I see you're pregnant - congratulations."

Kate: "Uh... no."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Exercise No. 1

When I first started taking Eeyore to day care, I could never get the school’s little machine to validate my parking ticket. I would rub it on my pants leg and try again, but after 5 or 6 tries the director would have to come over and do it for me. Somehow, it always worked for her on the first try. But somewhere along the way the machine started working for me every time, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t have it repaired or anything. This morning as I validated the ticket again with no problem, it occurred to me that as I’ve gotten more comfortable as a mother, things like that have gone more smoothly.

How’s that for a silly indulgence of a thought?

Speaking of the whole drop-off experience, when I got back into the elevator today to return to my car, I rode with two men who had also dropped off their kids. One of them, whose face was oddly sweaty and who was dressed in shorts and sandals as though he didn’t have anywhere to be, kept looking over at the other as if hoping to catch his eye. He had a little smirk on his face that I interpreted to mean “hey, man, we’re both dads dropping off our kids – it’s kind of a pain in the ass and surely you think so, too, so look at me so we can exchange glances and confirm it. We’re men and we’ve got to stick together.” The other man didn’t look at him once, and when the sweaty guy got off the elevator, the other one gave me a little smile. Since I am all about the interpretations today, I chose to read his glance as a confirmation that he LIKED taking his kids to school and that the sweaty guy was a buffoon.

So I posted my first little writing assignment last night, only to wake up to a new one. I wonder if this class is going to get me writing anything beyond the assignments themselves? If nothing else, maybe the class will clue me in to a style that most fits my natural abilities. I can’t say I think my magical talent shines through the following:

The Window

The escalator propelled Helen upward and deposited her onto the pavement outside the Metro station. On sunny days, she would often detour into the Baskin Robbins just to her right, eager to remind herself she was American and living in Paris was just a circumstance like any other. On gray evenings like this one, however, when the sky was so heavy and damp it nestled clammily all the way down into the narrow streets, the ice cream store was no more than a warmly lit reminder that she would rather be inside.

Helen pulled her coat tighter around her, hunched her shoulders and tucked her chin against the chill, and hurried toward her bus stop. Ice cream cone in hand and book bag slung over her shoulder, the walk to her apartment would only have taken fifteen or twenty minutes, but at this time of year even the hothouse climate of the crowded bus was preferable to the cold.

As she approached the bus stop, Helen eyed the scene in front of her dubiously and weighed her options. She could wedge herself onto the bench between the lanky, stringy-haired teenager and the middle-aged woman in glasses too severe for the softening lines of her face, but today was Thursday. In her limited experience it seemed that French people only opted for a clean set of clothes on Mondays, so she chose instead to slope to the side of the shelter. Pressing her shoulder against the glass to support the full weight of her fourteen years, Helen looked up and across the square.

The window was a beacon in the gloomy evening, aglow and sparkling against the darkening stone walls around it. It was a picture window, a display for the jewelry store behind it, and it had been swathed entirely in silk taffeta as deep a pink as Helen’s favorite bubble gum ice cream. Diamonds glittered from every fold and curve of the silk, and Helen sighed under the window’s spell. She pictured herself framed behind the glass like a tableau vivant, an exotic creature oblivious to the cold, wet city streets outside as she basked glamorously in the warmth of the lights. Her only movement would be to run a languid finger across the jewels as if she were used to them, picking up just a few before letting them fall through her elegant fingers and tumble back onto their vibrant display. Passersby would stop short upon discovering the scene to exclaim with delight that the beauty luxuriating among the waves of silk was “a raven-haired Veronica Lake!” and she would return the compliment with the favor of a knowing smile.

Helen snapped out of her reverie as her view was abruptly replaced with the side of the bus, and she pushed off from the glass with her shoulder. As the bus pulled away from the stop, she lurched down the aisle to an empty seat near the back. She swung herself into the seat by the window, rubbed away a circle of fog with her fingertips and wiped it on her jeans. It was darker out now; so much so that the light inside the bus made it an effort to focus on the shops speeding by behind her reflection. Rather than make herself dizzy, she only pretended to watch Paris pass by and instead gazed at herself in the window all the way home.