Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blind in one eye.

I’m falling apart. I’ve lost count of how many weird lumps and bumps and pains have turned up in different spots on my head in the last couple of weeks. Today my right eye hurts again, and the vision in it is a bit blurry. Since that’s my “bad” eye, if I hadn’t been through this a couple of months ago I would be panicking. When my vision suddenly got very blurry then, I ran to my retinal doctor to have it checked out – only to discover I had an eyelash growing inward that was acting like a dirty windshield wiper on my cornea, scratching it up. They plucked it with tweezers – very advanced science.

Anyway, it turns out months without sleep will send a person into early decrepitude. I can only pray that the last two nights, during which both children have slept reasonably well all night long, are not a fluke. This has been a LONG road. We tried Ferberizing Alex, only to discover that the supposedly gentler method of coming in at increasing intervals did nothing but enrage him. Every time I came in to let him know I hadn’t completely disappeared, his furious screams would ratchet up another few notches, he’d shake his clenched little fists, and generally make himself incredibly unappealing. After a few nights of that unsuccessful tack, we said, “Fuck it.” Who was it helping for us to keep getting up to reassure him that Mommy and Daddy were there for him when it only served to make him madder? So R. reverted to his earplugs, and I just stopped waking up. I don’t want to jinx things by saying that maybe we’ve crossed the bridge, but… please let it be so.

So what do you think about this Roman Polanski thing? I have to say, I am amazed that he has so many “supporters” who think it’s terrible that he was arrested after all this time; people who think that 30 years of making films somehow eradicates the fact that he repeatedly "had sex with" a 13-year old girl after plying her with drugs and alcohol. As if his “art” cleans up the filth of rape, like so much Lysol. What about the fact that he’s basically been on the lam for 30 years, specifically to avoid incarceration for his crime?

Apparently there was some question about the objectivity of the judge in his original case, and whether he was about to renege on a plea bargain agreement that had been reached. I suppose that could explain Polanski’s feeling the need to flee, wondering if he was about to have to do hard time. However, it doesn’t excuse the original act, and it doesn’t make the act of his fleeing legal. It seems to me that at this point he should just face the music; after all, he is a celebrity of sorts, with some incomprehensible wellspring of sympathy from the film community on his side – how much time would he have do anyway?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's me, already.

Hello, my friends. This is called "lousy parenting."

Everyone knows you don't just leave a baby with a propped bottle. How can you bond when you're not holding them? How can he drink when the bottle is pointed the wrong way? Ah, he can stand to lose a few pounds anyway, and denying kids human touch toughens them up. Plus, who would even want to hug a kid who looked like that?

So, yeah, it's been awhile. But given the state of my last couple of weeks, which includes a full family bout of the swine flu (or some other flu with exactly the same symptoms) and busy, busy work, well, I've been lucky to even think any words much less put them to paper.

I had been waiting to write about this, because it was supposed to be a surprise for R's birthday, but then he guessed it and it's a little spoiled from that perspective but will still be fun in the end:

We're going to New York for a couple of days in December. Yes, we're leaving our darling children with their extended family in Charlotte while we jet up to that chic gateway that is the Newark airport and get cracking on 50+ hours of solid fun and romance. I snark, but in reality I am terribly excited. How long has it been since I have traveled anywhere at all other than to the hospital? Granted, those little 4-day "vacations" were pretty awesome, what with the blood and the painkillers and the unfamiliar babies, but they weren't quite a trip to New York.

I can't believe I am getting so crazy for a two-day vacation, but I'm betting that if you too have or have had small children you know exactly of what I speak. Love 'em - but I also love my husband, and man could we use a little break (I'm still hopeful for a trip to the Caribbean in March, but we'll probably need to spring that proposal on Grandma after she's had a chance to deal with this one). It seems like forever since we were alone together, and in fact it's been about 16 months. So this will be nice.

If things had gone according to plan, this Friday I would have been giving R. a birthday card with a copy of a reservation for Saturday night at the Ritz in Beaver Creek. Since I had been going on and on about how much he would like his present, a night at the Ritz would have been nice but likely a bit of a letdown since we've been there several times before. Then, as we were seated alone at some bar in Vail on Saturday night, I would have handed him another card - this time with the tickets to NYC and a copy of our hotel reservation. I was very pleased with my plan, which now that I think about it benefited me awfully nicely as well.

But alas. I was so stupid as to leave a copy of Lucky magazine open on the table, foolishly opened to a page of New York boutiques. Now, I don't think most men, seeing a copy of some random fashion mag opened to a page of stores would have automatically leapt to the conclusion that their wife was taking them to NY, but that's my darling!

"Is my birthday present a trip to New York?" he asked as he came into the room. I could feel my jaw clench and my eyes glass over.

"No," I said.

"Yes," I said.

"God damn it," I finished.

I suppose I could have stuck with "no" and he would have believed me, but then when I gave it to him, he would have just been like, "I guessed that." So I just went ahead and told him, and even though I had pictured we would chatter about it excitedly every day from now until December, we've barely mentioned it since. He hasn't had time to even think about it (again, with the swine flu), but hopefully soon we'll start to figure out what to pack into our short adventure.

Here's the hotel where we're staying: Ink48. It's in Hell's Kitchen, which I'm told is an area of town much improved in the last few years. I got a great deal at this place because it's only opening this month, which means it could be a total cluster when we're there, but it looked pretty nice. It's a Kimpton hotel, which usually means I'll like it.

Uh-oh. I just looked it up for the website and now it's opening November 1. Hmm.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lack of sleep breeds discontent and profligate spending.

Rue La La strikes again. My credit just gets larger as I impetuously buy things and return them. This is what I fell for today:

Yes, I know. Kind of cute, kind of tacky, kind of instantly dated. But hey, they only cost $40 after applying my credit, so why not, right? At this rate I’ll soon be able to use my credit to buy a Gucci handbag.

Meanwhile, my smallest child is the devil. Last night he screamed non-stop from 2 am until 5 am, at which time I finally fell down on the Ferberizing job and plugged his pie hole with a bottle. He promptly fell asleep, which means I, too, could have promptly fallen asleep at 2 am if I had only cut out the nonsense in the middle. To make matters worse, he has developed a hideous new pitch to his screaming that I’m surprised didn’t have the neighbors calling 911 on us. Needless to say, this development in the sleep-taming wars sucks – particularly when it’s inflicted on two parents still suffering from the Swine Flu or a cold or whatever.

I’m getting the sense that whatever rewards there are to being a parent could be quickly squashed by all the complete and total shit you’re expected to endure, unless you put some serious Pollyanna-power-of-positive-thinking strategies to work:

“Just think - if I hadn't stepped in this steaming pile of horse crap, I would never have found this little gold nugget! We’re going to be rich!”

Oh, and I forgot to mention I got this girl's haircut:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Inmates running the asylum.

Um, ew. So Nicole Richie had another kid, which she gave another completely frightful name: Sparrow James Midnight Madden.

What is it with these celebrities and their bizarre naming conventions? Where do they even come up with these things? SPARROW? This is a little boy's name? Thank God they at least threw a "James" in there for him to fall back on when he is old enough to reclaim his own identity.

It seems to be a requirement now that even the most normal-seeming parents have to pick sucky non-names; see, e.g., Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner's choice for their daughter "Serafina." OK, it's not the worst of what's out there (Apple and Moses' mommy, I'm talking to you), but it's still silly. Do they consult with each other before landing on their chosen moniker ("Jada, Tom and I are thinking about "Suri" for our baby's name. You haven't heard that anywhere else, have you? It means something in Jewish, I think."), or do they get drunk and write nonsense words on little scraps of paper that they take turns pulling out of each others' asses?


Things have been pretty grim in our house full of normal-named people. We were all bed-ridden this holiday weekend, and because I have contracted such delights as West Nile Virus in the past, I'm inclined to think we were all touched by the piggy flu. There were varying degrees of symptoms among us, but there were plenty of bodily fluids to go around. Which is always nice. What was nice, in a sad little way, was curling up on the couch with Eeyore to watch marathon episodes of Elmo's World. He was happy as a sick little clam and I got a little rest. Unfortunately, Alex is already a teevee fanatic, and even if I face his bouncy seat away from the screen he contorts himself to look back at it. So I just choose sometimes to suck as a parent and face him more conveniently so he doesn't strain his neck. I mean, he's going to watch it either way, right?

Now we are recovering and there will be less TV and more normal activities. Ian's latest phrase, which gets me every time, is, "I LOVE that, Mommy!" It can be about anything, from a song such as Ring Around the Rosy ("I LOVE that song!") to last night's turkey burgers ("I LOVE that hamburger, Mommy!"), so it behooves me to offer up a variety of delightful experiences such as those rather than to stifle him with incessant viewings of that scraggly red monster.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Yum yum globalization.

This is just bizarre to me:

That, my friends, is a Whole Foods store in my old neighborhood in London. I knew there was the big outpost in the Barkers building on Kensington High Street, but I didn’t know that American Corporate Organic had started to reach its pebbly Twiglet-tentacles out into Zone 2. That’s just surreal.

I remember when I was a kid living in Paris and the excitement I felt when a lone store opened that sold (at exorbitant prices) American staples such as Kraft macaroni and cheese, Oreos, and Nestle chocolate chips. Before that my mother had let me load up my suitcase with such culinary delights whenever we took a trip back to the States. Otherwise, I would have had to make do with snacking on my Parisian concoction of potato chips in a dip I fashioned from mayonnaise, mustard and some paprika, or with the giant bars of Milka chocolate I would devour in an hour of sitting on the couch after school watching French music videos or playing Atari.

By the time I was an adult and living out in my neighborhood of Battersea known as “Between the Commons,” there was plenty of processed American kids’ food you could buy at specialty shops in central London, but not too much out in my neck of the woods. That was OK with me; by then my love for UK supermarket fare had long surpassed any desire for the chemically created “food” I’d learned to crave from a childhood full of Saturday mornings in front of the TV. I could dither in a Marks and Spencer food shop for hours, loading my basket with chicken tikka masala, jacket potatoes with tuna and sweetcorn, and other such exotic ready-made fare.

Organic food wasn’t really on the radar as a big marketing tool in London in 2001. There was one sort of “health-food” shop in Notting Hill that had a grotty ambience I associated with dreadlocks, B.O. and bedsits, even though it sold expensive meat and produce and probably had quite a wealthy and “enlightened” clientele that spent its winters on yachts in the Balearic islands.

Now, however, it appears the push to market the expensively healthful, whole-grain lifestyle has arrived in England full force. Ain’t globalization grand! Now I just need an unadulterated version of my favorite Prêt-à-manger right here in Cowtown.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Busy bees.

Oh, dear, but things have been busy around our house. Exciting goings-on:

1. Eeyore turned 2.

We opted to have an “end-of-summer barbecue” for our friends with kids rather than a strictly child-oriented birthday party, and ended up with a kind of limp mish-mash. It was successful enough for the kids, who ran around the yard chasing balls and blowing bubbles and smearing Elmo cake on their faces, but it wasn’t quite the adult party I had imagined. In retrospect that probably ought to have been apparent; making sure nobody loses a tooth (which one girl did while trying to pry the plastic plug out of a water pistol with said tooth) doesn’t lend itself to drinking with abandon. And I’m not used to the vibe of a backyard party not fueled by alcohol – Mormons must have very dull parties indeed.

2. Ferberizing Baby.

We started this last night, since at 6 months Baby has become ruler of the household with his need for firm butt-pats, liquid refreshment and pacifier-reinsertion upon waking in the night. R. and I have created this monster while trying to keep him from waking up his brother when he wakes during the night (they share a room), but while we have managed to preserve Eeyore's sleep we have totally ruined both Baby’s and our own. So last night began the whole “progressive waiting” thing where you let the baby wail his miserable head off and you visit him at intervals of increasing length until he passes out from despair over the fruitlessness of his attempts to summon parental love and affection.

He cried for about an hour last night, but what would have been comical were it not 3:30 in the morning was the sheer fury in his screams. He wasn’t whimpering with sadness or fear; he was PISSED OFF that there was nobody there to stick that binky back in his mouth for him, or peel his grapes, or whatever it was that he wanted. It’s our own fault for getting him used to having slaves, but it’s time to nip it in the bud. We’re having to conduct this operation by moving him into a crib in the living room when he wakes, which probably makes him even more out of sorts. The whole thing blows, frankly, but we can’t back down because we need sleep desperately. I bet I could drop 10 pounds just by sleeping through the night for a week. And avoiding the malted milk balls at the shop near my office, but that’s another issue altogether.

3. Happy Anniversary.

Today is my wedding anniversary; 3 years ago today R. and I got married in an outdoor square in Savannah. That evening we drank pink champagne, celebrated with our families, and later sat alone together in our crowded hotel bar, still gussied up in our wedding togs. What happened next is a gigantic blur, but it involved a trip to London, getting knocked up, and then that’s pretty much all I remember until this: