Monday, March 23, 2009

Is our 51st state Palestinian?

I was worried for a moment for everyone in Alaska, with the news of Mount Redoubt erupting again.

Fortunately, AP clarified that folks who are anchored down in Anchorage have nothing to worry about, since the volcano is in our 51st state, Alaksa.

But then I started worrying anew. Is this state named after the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade? Will the Department of Homeland Security really monitor my every Google search now that I searched for the AAMB site? Will I really endanger national security by driving the DHS web spooks batty with the number of times we watch certain videos? And most important, who will keep us safe if Sarah Palin can't see this 51st state from her house? What if the eruption is just a...well, smokescreen to keep us from seeing the real threat this state poses?

And what if I don't get more than five hours of sleep every night for over a week? already have the answer to that last one?

Really? How?

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Saturday, March 21, 2009


It was a bright, clear, if chilly, day, so we went for a bike trike ride.

We did a little racing, like our heroes, Bobby Julich, Lance and Levi.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pregnant for 40 years now

We all know that living with a pregnant woman is fun. Or at least, if we think otherwise, we know well enough to keep our damn mouths shut about it.

But it is also somewhat surreal, from the fact that that she has another person in her belly to the fact that she can eat three jars of pickles in one day and never want to touch them again for 32 weeks. Yes, seriously, that was around week eight.

The big changes like the continuous nausea do alter everything about our lives, but we expect them. It's the little things that catch us by surprise, like Mama's sudden craving for flavored potato chips. Cheddar. Barbeque. Sour cream and onion. Whatever, just get another bag if you're going to the store, would you? She's always had a sweet tooth, but never much cared for salty junk food.

And then there's her nose. No, it hasn't changed externally--it's still as cute as a button--but she can now detect a flea's fart in an ice storm. She'll ask, "Do you smell that?" To which I'll respond with something like, "Yes. You can't see him, but there's a guy four cars in front of us, smoking a cigar."

See, the thing is that I've always had a sweet tooth and loved salty junk food, and I've always had a sensitive nose. Mom used to laugh at me for talking to her about the smell of the sage and the creosote plants when I lived in Palm Springs. So, for these 40 weeks, it's great for me, because I don't feel so strange sitting on the couch with my hand in a bag of chips, complaining about the cologne of a man walking his dog on the sidewalk seven floors down.

And all of those chips are giving me something else in common with Mama, although my gut hasn't kicked. Yet.

There is also one big change that's had unanticipated effects: fatigue. As I've probably discussed ad nauseam, Mama is a light sleeper. She has been awakened by cars on the street seven floors below us, Barky's breathing, and moths farting. This makes every night with her like a night with a newborn, less the swaddling.

We run the fan in our central air system for white noise, a fan in our room for more white noise, turn off the phone ringer (sorry if we don't answer your call because we forgot to turn it back on, but who really calls anymore?), turn on the bathroom fan for more white noise, close the window in the living room, close our bedroom door, and of course close all the windows in our room.

It's about as peaceful as sleeping in a wind tunnel.

We both grew up sleeping in equally quiet, if different environments. My house was in the burbs, where I can still hear a pin drop on carpet when we visit, despite all the development of Silicon Valley. Mama's house was surrounded by potato fields and Maine woods on the Canadian border, and it is still blissfully silent when we visit--if you ignore the fan noise in her bedroom. So what gives?

Mama claims that nobody can become a heavier sleeper than they are born being. I think this is a crock, but some battles aren't worth the effort. The battle I can't give up is that I like to sleep with the windows open--provided that it's not sleeting or sweltering outside. I like the fresh air, and the little noises of our hood don't bother me. OK, not even the fire engine pulling out from its station two blocks away bothers me.

But somehow all of that white noise and recycled air sets my teeth on edge. Plus, I don't like the feeling of constantly being in a mild windstorm. It's inescapable and eventually has the same effect on my mood as if someone were running a belt sander on my scalp.

However, while Mama is in her olfactorily heightened, junk food craving state, she could sleep through a buffalo stampede. In fact, during the first trimester, she even felt the same way about the fans that I do, cursing as she marched through the house, switching them all off.

So, for now, Mama and are are in a more perfect union than at any time other than when she was pregnant with 3B. But Mama's only going to be this way for 80 weeks out of her life. I'm like this from here to eternity, plus the balding, the belching and the beer farts. And I never produce an adorable genius.

I know that you're wondering the same thing I am: why did Mama ever marry me? I'm thinking that the month of sangria drinking across Spain clouded her mind, because otherwise Mama's a genius. And for those of you who think living with a pregnant woman is difficult--now you understand why Mama deserves a medal for living with me.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Turn your head and cough

Now that Mama is back from Brussels we're one big happy family again. Especially since Mama returned with Belgian chocolate.

Or we were, until this weekend, when 3B picked up a nasty virus that caused him to cough twice every 22.3 seconds all day Sunday. And into the night. And into Monday morning.

Since Mama and her mom are sleeping in our bed, I'm sleeping in the bottom bunk across from 3B's crib. For awhile on Sunday night, 3B was sleeping through his own coughing, but I wasn't. Finally, after he sat up crying for his Mommy, I got up to dose him to try to give him some relief. This was misinterpreted by 3B as an opportunity to get an early start on our day--at 12:01 a.m.

Callooh. Callay.

Mama mercifully came out at 1 a.m. to relieve me of duty--probably having been awakened by the full volume rock concert 3B was playing in our living room. I had totally forgotten about his whole back catalog.

I felt bad for Mama, since she's just barely back in this time zone and pregnant and working and staying at home with 3B and entertaining her mom...but that didn't stop me from collapsing into that bottom bunk. I didn't wake up when Mama came in to put 3B back into his crib, when 3B kept coughing or when Mama came in to offer that 3B could go into her bed--an offer he didn't hear either, since he was again sleeping through his coughing.

I did, however, sit upright when the goddamn mutt our adorable Barky used his head as a battering ram to blast the bedroom door open, letting the glow from the bathroom nightlight fill the room. Since it didn't wake 3B, however, I just lay back down to sleep as Barky grumbled himself into a fuzzy circle on the futon below me.

A few hours later, I got up and went to work. Grammy got up as I got ready, just in case 3B woke up, so that Mama could sleep in. Mama, of course, couldn't sleep in, so she was up before I left too. 3B slept until 11:30, of course. But then he didn't nap.

So everyone was in a fine mood yesterday evening. Not to say that we didn't have a good time--we adults just shuffled and laughed our way through until we all went to bed early. 3B gets wound up into an amusing mania when he's that tired. The mania, however, was accompanied by the whining. Oh, the whining. The screeching, cringe inducing sound that would ruin Dale Chihuly if 3B were to do it in his studio. And there were microtantrums over every transition, suggestion and turn of the page.

Although 3B wasn't aware of how his fatigue was affecting him, it was clear to all of us, so we herded him to bed as early as possible. It reminded me of all those times when Mom told me, "You just need to go to bed." And of all the times I defiantly replied, "No, I don't. I'm fine. I don't feel tired."

Once again, and as always, too late, I realize how right Mom was. And what I'm in for.

Callooh. Callay.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

He's on third. We're not talking about him.

My favorite conversation with 3B this week.

Me: "What's the magic word?"
3B: "What."
Me: "What do you say to get what you want?"
3B: "What."
Me: "What do you say to be polite when asking for something?"
3B: "What."
Me: "What is the magic word?"
3B: "Can I have some of those what?"
Perhaps during all of those rehearsals with Tom Crouch in 7th grade for our award winning rendition of Who's On First?, I put a bend in my DNA that was passed on to 3B.

Mea culpa, Mama.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

The scent of love

Mama knows that one of the first things I do when I open a box that arrives from Mom's house, packed with remains of her estate, is to pull one of the objects to my face and inhale deeply, breathing in the vestiges of the scent of my childhood home. It's partially a conscious act, but mostly instinct.

The scent is a comfort, a reminder of my childhood. What it brings back is not so much a vision of home, but a sensation. Part of my instinct is driven by the knowledge that as we disperse the contents of the house, we disperse all of the sensations from that house.

I may put up some of the pictures in my house, but they won't look the same there, without the particular slant of the sunlight and the cluster of other frames surrounding them. I may walk up a million stairs through the rest of my life, but none will have the particular thump-thump that resonated through the timbers of that house when Mom skipped down the steps. Every time I walk into our new bathroom with its beautiful tiles, I'll miss the radiant heat warming the floors that I enjoyed growing up.

But none of those are so ephemeral as the scent of home. As we disperse the items from the house, we also disperse their collective presence, which is what created the unique aroma of home.

That aroma is a faint, fleeting taste in the air, unnoticed when I'm there, that dissipates almost immediately into the smell of our condo. While I can continue to hold and use the physical items from home--read 3B the books, sip tea from the mugs and flip through the photos--I can only hold the scent of home and the sensation it creates for a moment.

And for a moment, I feel the freedom to walk out the front door and play hide-and-seek, climb a tree, ride my bike around the block, or swing under the oak tree. I feel the excitement of a friend coming over to play, the arrival of the UPS truck, or the dawning of a weekend with a soccer game in the morning and a bike ride over to watch Bill Walsh and John Elway lead the Stanford football team in the afternoon. For a moment, the world is new again and I am as light as a snowflake again.

A recent box from home was packed with baby and toddler clothes as well as linens, all of which were packed up for years at home--in the case of the toddler clothes, approximately 38 years, since I'm now 40...longer in the case of the girls clothes. All of these have held the scent of home through a washing and several weeks now. Some of the clothes were too small for 3B, but some fit perfectly, and so as I move through my days at home, I'm seeing and smelling home. For now.

3B will soon outgrow the clothes and the aroma will dissipate into his home, indistinguishable from the scent of the pine trees outside his window or the warm imprint that Barky leaves on the couch after napping. The scent of home will become absent, just as home itself becomes absent as we dismantle and distribute it, piece by piece.

I have long understood that I cannot go home again. While it was still physically intact, the people, the events, the society that made it home, were long gone. As I tangibly understand--in my gut, like one understands a kiss or a hand on the shoulder--that home no longer has a physical presence, it sets me free, little by little, like a ship with a loosening anchor.

And so it is that by bringing along the physical burdens of the past, I am set free by them.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Getting bunked up

The much awaited event arrived and it was close enough to perfect that I won't blemish the memory of it with details. 3B arrived home from Mrs. K's with Grammy to find brand new bunk beds in his room.

OK, for a moment he was more fixated on watching Down in the Valley, but once he saw his new room, he was happy to play in there, both on his new beds with their cool IKEA linens and on his old futon with a 10-year old sheet pulled over it.

I love the new look of his room. The linens are a sort of Twitter-logo-meets-Juno-animation depiction of a menagerie. The white beds are perfect against his red walls and alongside his white dresser and closet doors. It was disheartening interesting to find when we bought these that white furniture is reserved for girls--the salesman went so far as to tell us that we didn't want white for our boy, that we wanted brown...because he's clearly been to our house and seen how it's decorated--and that white furniture costs more than shit brown boys furniture.

Has the free market really determined that parents aren't willing to spend as much on their boys as they are on their girls?

Before I ruin the moment more than I already have, here is 3B cavorting in his new room, and for those of you willing to wait a minute or two, there is footage of me, taken by our budding cinematographer who is now more interested in taking pictures than being in them.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One for the road

This is a long distance dedication going out to Mama in Brussels from her mom and her 2.5 boys--Barky's the half since he's missing half of his squishy bits--back here in Northern Virginia.

Things are going so well that I was even able to finally capture 3B singing the song he's been obsessed with this week...but which he won't sing as soon as a camera is within the same zip code with him.

I like how he explains sinners at the end. I've been telling him that a sinner is someone who transgressed, but obviously Mama's explanation is winning out. Whenever I say "transgressed," 3B mutters something about "Occam's razor, old man."

Maybe you can make out what he's saying:

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The profound loneliness of parenthood

I usually think more about how lucky I am to live with my two best friends, both of whom can bring a smile to me when I simply picture their faces.

But with Mama's departure for Brussels tonight, my mind has turned again to the separations that come between us and the voids they hollow out within me.

I don't recall many details, but I do recall that after Dad died, I felt that I might never recover from his absence. I also recall thinking that nothing could ever hurt so much. As I got older, I thought that this might have been a self-fulfilling prophecy, that the weight of the hurt had crushed whatever it was in me that sensed loneliness.

Had the prophecy only been true, it would have been the thinnest of silver linings in the darkest and largest of clouds to pass through my life.

It might be the case that the aching void that filled me when I had to leave 3B and Mama to return to work after 3B was born was not so painful or consuming as what I felt after Dad died. After all, I was coming back to them at the end of the day, right?

But 3B didn't know that, and I wasn't thinking of myself--otherwise I would have been dancing to work where I could sit through meetings, eat leftover birthday cake in the kitchen, and drink all the coffee I wanted without having to make any--I was thinking of how 3B must have felt, wondering where his father was, not knowing if I'd ever return.

And that thought just about crushed me.

It still does, although it's gotten somewhat better since 3B understands that I'll be back at the end of the day, even if he's not happy about the arrangement.

But then a longer trip like this comes along and the loneliness fills me again. Sure, I understand that Mama's coming back after her time in Brussels--we'll ignore for now my nagging, illogical, Rain-Man-like worries about Mama flying off alone--but does 3B know that she's coming back?

Even if he does, I see him acting out of the absence he's feeling, with a greater need for cuddles, more breakdowns, and a greater propensity to hit out of frustration, fatigue or hunger.

It reminds me of myself after Dad died.

And I think of Mama, who has only been away from 3B for a few days here and there since he was born, and how she must be feeling, looking out her airborne porthole down onto the slate face of the ocean at dawn as she descends into a foreign land.

I try to remind myself that it only hurts so much because we love so much, which is the thickest of silver linings, which envelops the cloud it sails through the sky with.

I also remember a quiet poem about a separated father and son written by Michael Hogan while he was in prison that I loved long before I knew what it was to have a son:

Legends overstate the fact.

A good cowboy told my son:
if ever lost and dying of thirst in the desert,
there was water in the barrel cactus.
But imagine the child actually lost someday.
Imagine him alone, dying of thirst,
when he comes to the plant: squat and stout,
branchless and dusty in the Arizona sun.
To get a drink he first beheads the plant:
a task repugnant and dangerous,
bristling as it is with vicious spines which
Papagoes and Pimas use still for fish hooks.
Then he mashes the pulp inside:
long, perspiring work that yields
only a thick, unpleasant liquid.
He will lose as much as he gets or more.
And what he has gained if he survives
is not to expect too much or believe too strongly.

If he survives.

Parenthood is profoundly lonely.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Out of the crib, into the bunk bed

This is the big week. The week that everything changes. The week we burn the candle at both ends to get more rest.

That's right, this is the week that the bunk beds arrive.

Yes, bunk beds for our one child who is still sleeping in a crib.

Our reasoning went like this: Grammy needs a place to sleep when she visits and currently the only spare bed we have is a futon on the floor of 3B's room. We sold the frame on Craig's List and had intended to get rid of the futon shortly after, but with the mattress flat out on the floor, 3B began to use it as a multipurpose play place. It was a great place to be rough and tumble and for all three of us to stretch out and read bedtime stories, so we left it there.

But it's not much of a place to sleep for an extended stay, like Grammy's current two-week visit and her upcoming stay when the new baby is born. On top of that, 3B will move to a big boy bed somewhat soon, and if we got it now, Grammy could sleep in it. Even after 3B's sleeping in it, she can sleep in it when she visits, and we can set him up with an air mattress on the floor for a "fun adventure."

At least that's what we're telling ourselves we'll call it, right before we tell ourselves that he'll love it.

All this got us to thinking that in about three years we'll need to repeat this drill, and wouldn't it be nice to have matching beds, and maybe we could get bunk beds now that we could unbunk later because that wouldn't take up any more floor space...or maybe we should get even more versatility for our money and floor space and get a couch that folds out into bunk beds...and it should be easy to pick up some bunk beds in the four days before Grammy arrives, right?

They were easy to order, but not so easy to receive before Grammy got here, so she's sleeping in our bed with Mama while I'm on the aforementioned futon. It's not so bad, but my knees and back are younger than Grammy's.

On Wednesday that all changes with the arrival of the bunk beds, which I'll get to assemble--here's hoping that even though we were bargain shopping, this bed bargain isn't as perilous as 3B's crib bargain was.

It should be an interesting transition. I've already gotten plenty of advice and some frightful bunk bed vs. toddler stories on Facebook. We're planning to leave the ladder off until 3B is old enough to sleep up there, which might help us avoid some of the perils since Mama is convinced he won't try to climb up the frames.

Time will tell.

We were more worried about the transition from full-size futon playplace to no futon and only a twin bottom bunk bed to jump on, which is likely not as much fun without a helmet. We've decided, however, to try leaving the futon in the room, partially tucked under the bunks, figuring that if 3B does monkey his way up higher on the beds, he'll have some cushioning if he falls off. Provided he falls off of the side with the futon.

So, although everything is changing, we're trying to keep things as similar as possible. Although we still haven't figured where we'll put the toy shelves. Or how we explain to 3B that the baby gets a new crib because his is too hazardous to sleep in.

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Past is prologue

What second children may not know until they have second children of their own is that they get less attention from their parents before they're even born.

Today Mama has her fourth...or is it fifth?...appointment for baby to be, which will be the second one that I attend. With 3B, I went to every prenatal appointment.

While having 3B now does keep us busier, making scheduling and attending appointments together more complex, that's only part of the reason that I haven't made it to more of them. A major part is that I now work slightly farther away, which is enough to make it a 45-minute one-way trip to the doctor's office, versus 5 minutes one-way from my old office. However, for 3B, Mama had to make a 45-minute one-way trip for each visit, so it's not impossible. A minor part of the equation is that I've got much less sick leave accrued at my new job, and I'm trying to build up as much as possible so I can get paid for at least a day or two of my time off when the new baby arrives.

What this second child may not understand until he or she has a second child is that a major part of the reason I haven't made it to more of their prenatal visits is that this time around is that I'm much more relaxed about pregnancy. Sure, it's fallacious reasoning--each pregnancy is as risky as the next--but it's a much nicer feeling than the constant "What if...?" worry of our first pregnancy.

What's particularly nice about it is that we're just as excited for this baby, and without so much worry, I feel like I'm better able to enjoy that excitement. Plus, last time around we weren't parents yet, so we were still working as much as possible--and it's possible to work much more without a child, of course. So this time around I feel like Mama and I have more time together and that we enjoy it more, spending less time hunched over our laptops late into the night and more time enjoying belly laughs.

I hope that as the new baby feels the gentle jostling and merry music of Mama's laughter, it can sense our being more chill and just as excited this time around, even if it doesn't understand it consciously.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

While I boil water and get sheets

Perhaps it's the Northern California summer weather that's made this weekend seem so wonderfully long despite it only being 47 hours long.

But I think that it has as much to do with the company I've kept this weekend, starting with the arrival of Mama's mom on Friday night, which was followed up with brunch on Saturday with Steve and Larry and a visit today from Mr. and Mrs. Books & Crackers.

Or perhaps it was the hour and a half that I spent waiting at Jiffy Lube today, after which I drove home, realizing that they washed every window except the windshield. Then again, I didn't have this to clean up, so thank goodness for small mercies.

I did miss a few things, like 3B's first Purim celebration, which was the Purim festival on Friday, which he went to with Mama, dressed up as a king. Although 3B had a blast in the super cool tunic that Mama made for him, complete with shiny, happy jewels, the festival doesn't bode well for our careers as school parents. We were up until past midnight on Thursday night--Mama sewing those jewels onto 3B's tunic, me cutting a crown out of a cereal box and wrapping it in tin foil.

The shiny, happy tunic was awesome. The crown...well, you could see the creases from the box atop 3B's forehead, but at least the tin foil didn't peel off, revealing the Puffins logo underneath--but only thanks to half a roll of tape on the back of the crown.

King for a day

Although it looks like 3B is enjoying a bite of food here, Mama reports that he didn't eat a bite of the food. Just part of life with a two-year-old's skepticism--which also explains the looks on his face, I think.

The other item I missed was 3B's first major bike (ok...trike) crash, which resulted in a pretty well skinned knee. He was riding circles around Mama--way to pick on the pregnant lady, kid--and pulled the corner too tight and flipped off the side onto his knee. Fortunately, they were out on the cul-de-sac near our parking lot, so Mama retrieved a cute band aid from our car boo-boo kit and all was well in a few minutes.

I missed this because I was upstairs, waiting for our dinner to be delivered. Yeah, it's just been that kind of week. OK, few weeks. OK, months? But hey, we're making a baby here, people. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it. To my credit, I did go shopping briefly last week, and I placed a full Peapod order as well. Where did all the food go? I don't know, but I'm thinking Barky's crate may have a false bottom.

God forbid we ate it all because then I couldn't claim that my expanding bottom is false.

Some food that I did unfortunately miss was the hamantaschen that Mama and Mrs. Books and Crackers. But we all did, because after paying over $200 for Sears to replace our oven igniter three weeks ago, it went out again today. So, while I was at Jiffy Lube, I got to spend over half an hour on hold with Sears (non) customer service trying to get an appointment this week, only to have to finally hang up and call back.

I stayed calm by walking around outside in the beautiful weather and remembering how relaxing and energizing brunch with Steve and Larry was and that Mama wasn't at home alone with 3B, that she had her mom there to help her. It is true that it takes a village, and I was glad to have one around our house this weekend, and also to get confirmation that part of this weekend's village will be moving in a mile from Casa Bradstein by the end of this year.

Maybe they'll move in on that weekend when we get our hour back, although I'm not sure if we'll be able to help...after all, we're having a baby here, people.

And by "we're having a baby," I of course mean "Mama's doing all the work while I boil water and get sheets."

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Now a three-parent household

Mama's mom arrives tonight for a two-week stay so that I can keep working a regular schedule while Mama returns to Brussels for another meeting. As I've said before, we're all always glad for Grammy's company. In addition, just as I enjoyed hanging out with and getting parenting tips from my sisters recently, it's always insightful to hear Grammy's parenting perspective. Plus, it's amazing what gets done around the house when there's a 3-1 parent-child ratio, and one of those parents isn't working full time.

Of course, having Mama go to Brussels for five days is a steep price to pay for all the good times we'll have. While I believe everything Rain Man said about air travel, Quantas doesn't fly to Belgium and it's nerve-wracking to be so far from Mama. I feel the same way when I leave; it makes me feel powerless. The reality is that if 3B bumps his head or gets sick when we're together, it's still Mama who has to deal with it, since I'm at work during most of our waking hours. But still, not being within 1,000 miles of Mama leaves me feeling marooned.

Fortunately, there are enough distractions during the day to keep me from getting preoccupied with those feelings--like a toddler who can climb up onto his toy bench and reach the knife block on the kitchen island and who wants to see what it feels like to put a screwdriver in his ear and who thinks that any open space in a parking lot is an opportunity to attempt to lower his personal best time in the 100 meter dash.

Whoever posited that humans have a survival instinct never met a two-year-old.

One of our recent brunch guests laughed when he overheard me bargaining with 3B, "How about you give me that knife and I'll give you your chain saw." Who knows what 3B will attempt this weekend, when we're having brunch with Steve and Larry. They have more wit in their little fingers than I'll ever possess, so it's likely the witticisms will come from their side of the table. We're all looking forward to catching up with them and hearing the news about their new house which is about 3 light years closer to us than their current one.

Did I say free baby and dogsitting? No, I didn't, but thanks for offering, guys.

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Cutting off their noses to spite their faces

There's been a lot of snottiness in Casa Bradstein recently, due to winter and the fact that it's cold season. However, it will surely pass when the sun returns to the northern hemisphere and bakes it away.

I can't say the same for Georgetown, however, which has a tradition of snottiness that likely predates the common cold. Although people now say that the blueblood uprising had nothing to do with Metro's decision to not put a station in GTown, the fact remains that GTown residents did protest the placement of that station, declaring their desire to keep out undesirables and riff raff.

Schadenfreude leads me to laugh at these same residents who now complain that their beloved hood is being bypassed because of a lack of parking. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, "I'd love to go, but it's in Georgetown and it would take longer to park than we'd spend at the event," I could afford to live in GTown.

And it's GTown residents who have been blocking the building of a new Apple store in their beloved enclave because it's too modern looking. Hey, McFly, it's not a Restoration Hardware, it's an f'ing computer store. I'm fine with retro and postmodern juxtaposition and irony, but I'm not sure that I want to buy the latest technology from a store located in a Victorian mansion.

Apple did finally save residents of the GTown compound from choking on their own snottiness, caving to their architectural demands. I guess that in a tight economy, it's time to cut losses and move ahead, but I would have loved to see Apple take the loss, sell the property and drop in the modern store they want over by the Studio Theater, around Dupont Circle, or up in Columbia Heights.

Then again, Apple's a little too snotty about picking their store locations for those hoods. So really, their beef with GTown was all about the snot calling the kettle black.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009


Despite clamoring from tweeps to the contrary, I resisted the urge to take a picture of 3B's first ever poop in a potty. Mama was at prenatal yoga, so she missed the moment.

Then again, who wants to come home all blissed out to a picture of a turd?

Besides, with any luck, she'll have plenty of chances to see him poop in a potty in the near future.

For the record, everything was cool. 3B loved being able to use toilet paper and flush--two of his favorite surreptitious hobbies, but now fully excused.

He also loved waving good bye to his poop, and although there was a brief moment of horror that crossed his sweet little face when his poop disappeared out of the toilet, we just kept talking through the moment and it passed without further ado.

Chalk one up for being a chatterbox.

However, I'm not sure what brought this on so we can repeat it. It might have been a comment I made about one of his stuffed animals using his potty, which might have inspired his fierce toddler competitiveness and possessiveness. Great. Now I have to read my Freud to see if I'll have a competitive pooper on my hands for the next 18 years, or until he can afford to pay for his own therapy.

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Stuff it

The paradox of parent blogs is that as our kids get older and do more interesting things, we are too busy with all of their activities to actually write about them.

When 3B did nothing but nurse, poop and nap, it was relatively easy to find time to write. At that age, even when he was awake, he could spend an hour fascinated with his tongue or trying to jam his fist into his mouth.

Not that I didn't engage him for every minute of those activities lest he not get into Stanford because my lack of parental support during infancy eliminated his hopes of a 4.5 GPA, a perfect SAT score and a list of intellectual extracurriculars as long as my leg...but I might have somehow found the time to blog during one of those interludes.

It's a little harder to blog while playing hockey, maze, jump, cave, paint, PlayDoh and carrying on conversations for a regular menagerie of stuffed animals, all with unique voices. Hence Twitter, I suppose.

The problem is made a little more acute by Mama's general fatigue and increasing workload. She's much more energetic than during her first trimester, but still, growing a baby while chasing a toddler is tiring. I mean, from what I can observe.

This, combined with Mama's increasing workload in preparation for her upcoming trips--Brussels, NYC and London--means that there are many more chores to do in the evenings: shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning. It's exhausting just to list it. It would be even more exhausting if I were doing any of it.

I do a fair amount, but I'll be honest: I'm not a big fan of grocery shopping of late, I often only have the energy to clean up the kitchen, and generally put off excavating the weekly laundry massif until the weekends, when I really don't have the time or energy either due to the aforementioned hockey, maze, jump, and so forth.

You'd think that since I don't do any of the big four that I'd have plenty of time to write, which could be true if I wasn't trying to keep up with work and life. I have no desire to get dooced in this economy so I won't go into details, but there has been some stress at work recently, which is nothing if not inspiration to work that much harder, even in the evenings. As for life, well, it keeps coming every day, doesn't it?

Going to see my family with 3B was an energizing break, but it came with its own stresses as well. Recently, however, the big timesuck was the cabal in our condo building who took over our board. Although I don't agree with their agenda for the building, they were fairly elected, so they get their shot.

I do disagree with the underhanded and antagonistic way in which they go about their business, however. They distribute unsigned letters under doors throughout the building, and then remove all of the signed--with my name, unit number and phone number--fliers that I placed under doors. They collect petitions that are required for certain actions, but never release the petitions or a record of who signed them. They announce special meetings to conduct critical building business with the bare minimum notice required, which was reduced further by their mailing the notification over a holiday weekend.

Probably the capper was when one of the cabal called me at work to tell yell at me for five minutes before telling me to "leave [the board secretary] alone." I asked her on what authority she was commanding me to not contact the board secretary. "On my authority as a board member, an attorney and as a person."

Really? As a person? If it was so easy to issue restraining orders, you'd think that nobody would be able to get within 25 feet of anybody else.

Not that any of her arguments made sense. My favorite piece of logic was this: "When you find out what's been going on, you'll thank me." Not bloody likely in this lifetime, I thought, as she continued, "You have no idea how big this is. No idea what's going on." I thought that between the two of us, I wasn't the one with no ideas, but I asked to be polite, "What's going on?"

"You have no idea. It's whatever."

Whatever? That's it? That's the summation of your argument for everything that you've been doing? Apparently my building's been taken over by Beverly Hills High School students.

Then she yelled at me, "What were you doing up at 7 a.m. walking the halls to see if your fliers were still under doors?" The proper response would have been, "What were you doing up at 1:10 a.m. walking the halls pulling them out from under doors?" But I hadn't yet received confirmation from the board members who viewed the videotape. And this lawyer was even more subversive than just removing my fliers--she only removed them from under the doors of her supporters, hoping that those who agreed with the contents of the flier would see one under their door and assume that everyone in the building received one.

I have the same question for her and her cabal that I do for anyone engaged in a coverup: what are you trying to hide? Oh, and one more question, I suppose: So, is it safe to surmise from your angry tirade that you weren't aware that there are video cameras on every floor of our building?

Turns out they had plenty to be afraid of, since they barely lost the election, although they're now appealing, despite no provision in our bylaws or the Virginia Condominium Act for such action. If you can't even scrape together 50 of your neighbors to vote in your favor, perhaps it's time to reconsider why so few people like and agree with you. Probably best to start with the common denominator in their decisions, which is you.

However, the day after the election, one of the board members who opposes the lawyer pulled an incredibly petty and dickish move, telling Mama and me about it with glee. Heads up, dude, I don't support dicks on either side of the divide in our building.

And it was then that I started to take to heart what a wise man in our building had said to Mama about this kerfuffle: he told Mama that with all the problems in the world--the economy, war, entrenched poverty, lack of education, environmental degradation, and so forth--this isn't worth his time. That reminded me of why I'm not on the board anymore--as soon as 3B was born, I resigned because, even when 3B was doing nothing but nursing, pooping and napping, he took more time and was a far higher priority than the business of the board, especially the petty vendettas.

So I am once again refocusing myself on those things that I want to do rather than allowing myself to get tugged to and fro by my neighbors' over-litigated squabbles--things like writing, and reading and making our house look more lived in and less like a tornado just passed through.

And maybe putting something on the bottom of our front door to prevent anything from being stuffed under it.

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