Archive for September, 2008

Problem in outline form.

I. We have no television.

    A. Well, we have one, but it doesn’t get networks or cable or anything, it just plays DVDs.


    A. Maybe not the first debate, because it falls on our anniversary, and I don’t know if Husband will go for a Special Anniversary Debate Date

      1. But definitely the rest of them
        a. And maybe even the first one, if I can coax him into it.

III. The debates start at 9pm and babies are usually falling asleep around then EASTERN STANDARD TIME, which means babies should be awake and chipper at 6pm our time.

IV. So we need to find someone who:

    A. Lives in Los Angeles
    B. Has a television

      1. Which actually receives a signal

    C. Will let us watch the debates on their television

    D. Won’t mind babies being babies during the coverage

      1. We can usually keep them pretty quiet with boobs and Winkels and other nifty stuff
      2. Bedtime is unpredictable
        a. I am absolutely willing to take them into another room if they get loud
          i. Even if Obama is totally on fire.

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On life, activism, and TV writers getting it right.

Recently I heard or read or absorbed through the collective consciousness the idea that you should live your life as if it were twenty years from now, and you were looking back on this year and thinking, “If only I had done [or not done] X . . . ” This, it seems to me, is a Good Plan. Think about what you’ll eventually regret having done or not done, and fix the mistake before it’s made.

In that regard, I think I’m going to find some canvassing or other activism opportunities for Obama’s campaign. Twenty years from now, when my kids ask me what I did during this historic election period, I want to be able to say more than, “I complained a lot and then I voted.” Sure, I have six month old twins. Sure, I have a full time job. Yeah, I’m pretty busy. But have you seen the state of the world lately? It ain’t good. And if there’s one small thing I can do to improve it, I want to do that thing.
From Maureen Dowd’s NYT column, in which she asked Aaron Sorkin to write a conversation between Barack Obama and fictional President Jed Bartlet.

OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET Well … let me think. …We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know … I’m a little angry.

OBAMA What would you do?

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

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Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day.


Robin the NICU pirate
I posted this photo before, but it seems time to post it again. Avast, it be the Dread Pirate Robin, curse of the NICU seas!

(Do pirates say “A wa ba ba”? Because, if so, I might just have to buy Robin a cutlass.)

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How many racist stereotypes can we fit in this box?

A little background: Lawyer is a hard-core right-winger. I’m a left-wing “moonbat,” as I was charmingly called recently. Somehow, we get along great.

Lawyer: John and Cindy McCain were on The View the other morning, and of course they had to ask her, “So, Cindy, how many houses do you have?” And she was great. She said “What do you want from me? I come from a wealthy family.”

Me: Leaving aside the question of Cindy McCain’s finances or ethics, I generally think that candidates’ spouses should be irrelevant to the election.

Lawyer: Well, I generally agree with you. Except for Michelle Obama. She’s an angry Black woman, and I don’t want that in the White House.

Me: Are you serious? She’s a Harvard educated, politically astute woman of color, and obviously that’s threatening to a lot people, but what’s she got to do with Barack Obama’s qualifications for the presidency?

Lawyer: Everyone knows she wears the pants in that family. She’s got a chip on her shoulder.

Me: This conversation won’t end well, you know that, right?

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Forsooth! A tooth!

Mama tries unsuccessfully to photograph first tooth
“Gah, Mama, what are you . . .? Aaaaaagh, geh ouh oh my mouf!”

Robin's first tooth

The tooth broke through last night, after several days of The Cranky and The Bad Sleeping. It has proved difficult to photograph, as the inside of a baby’s mouth is a dark place, and a camera flash just bounces off the shiny new enamel. But it’s there! All sharp and fearsome and ready to chew on trolls.

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In memoriam

I was just looking back at the two previous years of 9/11 posts on this blog, and realized that, oddly, I don’t mention my own experience at Ground Zero in any detail here. Maybe that’s because I assume that everyone who knows me in the flesh already knows, and I forget that some of you don’t know me. And now that we’re seven years out, and I am a little better equipped to talk about it without completely losing my shit, maybe it’s a good time to share.

To start, here is an e-mail I wrote on September 12, 2001:

I’m an EMT, and was there today to provide medical attention to survivors and emergency workers.

What you see on TV is not an exaggeration. It doesn’t even give a full impression of the devastation. Not just the WTC, but buildings for six blocks in every direction are all blasted open – windows shattered – for at least a mile in all directions, dust and debris lying two feet thick over everything.* Chairs are sitting outside of restaurants, bicycles are still chained to parking meters – everything covered in the same grey snow.

For those of you who know New York, you wouldn’t recognize it. I didn’t. And when you come across a familiar landmark, it shocks you. You can’t imagine that this is really the same place. The ancient graveyard on Rector Street is littered with papers, files from the decimated office buildings, silent in the fluttering dust. When the ambulance I was riding in drove north to drop someone at Penn Station, I was honestly startled to see Astor Place, and Broadway. I couldn’t believe that I could go from the war zone to normalcy so quickly.

The most terrifying part of the day was when I was hanging out in the triage center, doing my EMT thing, and suddenly heard, “Go, go, go!” Turned to see people flooding off the wreckage of the Towers, into the building where I was. We all ran for the back of the building, but the door was blocked, so we jumped out the window. I didn’t know why I was running, but I had no choice – a flood of people carries you as surely as water. Out the window, and running down the street, blocks and blocks, jumping the debris piles and running. Finally we slowed. I turned around to see what I was running from; the tall building next to the triage center was swaying. Apparently some of its internal floors had collapsed, and they were afraid the whole building would go. We were pulled back for couple of hours, and while we were out two *different* buildings went down. I heard two popping sounds, and then someone said two buildings had just fallen. Pop. The other popping sounds we heard were from the guns of police officers trapped in the building. It’s still burning under there – the heat exploded their ammunition. At least, that’s what we think.

As for the work I did, well, there wasn’t much of it. I washed out firemen’s eyes (the dust is really awful – full of fiberglass, asbestos and concrete), taped up ankles, administered oxygen. I wish I could tell you I treated survivors. I didn’t. There weren’t any to treat while I was there – seven hours. Other than the abovementioned work, I moved bodies. And pieces of them. I’m not going to describe all of what I saw and did and thought. I know some of you don’t want to know, and the ones who do can ask me. But I’ve been in three morgues today, and it took a half-hour shower with scented soap to make me stop inhaling the stench of death.

*With the perspective of a few years and a lot of reading, I now doubt my original assertion that the heavy debris was a mile in diameter, and that the windows were shattered for six blocks around. When everything once familiar has been so dreadfully altered, your senses of space and direction get very confused.

Disjointed reflections and memories, from a disjointed time:

1. While I was writing this, the rest of you knew more about what was going on than I did. There was no TV down there, no news feed. All we had was rumor, and a lot of it. This building had gone down, that one was about to; a survivor had been found, no, they hadn’t; war had been declared, war was about to be declared. On site, we knew nothing but dust and fear and frustration.

2. A couple of days in, I saw a short man in black picking his way toward our triage center, followed by a cameraman. It turned out to be John Walsh. Did he ever do a show about it? Was I on TV? I have no idea.

3. When we finally had cell phone service again, I called my grandmother, who lived on the Lower East Side, to reassure her that I was all right. I had barely told her where I was when people started running, and I looked up to see a building swaying. “Oh, fuck, I gotta go, I GOTTA GO!” I yelled, and then hung up as I turned and ran. Then cell service cut out again, and I couldn’t call her back for about two hours. Boy, did I feel guilty.

4. I spent my time down there wishing I had clean socks even more than I wished I had an efficient dust mask.

There is so much more I could write about those few days. Maybe next year. Right now, I have something else to say:

I’m not looking for praise or sympathy. I didn’t come away from this experience a better or more noble person, just a more damaged one. I think that’s true for most of us. In my opinion, 9/11 was, more than anything, a failure of empathy on the part of the U.S. It was a failure of our citizenry to look around and say, My God, this is what people in Israel, in Palestine, in North Africa, in Chechnya, this is what they go through all the fucking time. Instead, we got angry, and supported our government in perpetrating similar atrocities in other countries.

So I guess what I’m saying is, if you want to thank me, vote for Barack Obama.

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Want some cats? Cheap?

I used to be a good cat owner. I rescued them from the street and from shelters, gave them tins of tuna, petted them frequently, let them sleep on the bed.

I was sure that I would still be a good cat owner after the babies got here.

I think I was wrong.

When you’re carrying a sleeping baby up the stairs, it’s hard to be gracious toward the cat occupying the entire third-from-the-top step. Who can resist a kitty sweetly poking you in the arm with his paw, asking to be petted? I can, apparently, when that kitty is poking me while both babies are nursing. When two babies are wet and crying, I don’t want to listen to two cats whining to be fed RIGHTNOWRIGHTNOWRIGHTNOW.

And when the cats bring home fleas – despite a recent application of Frontline – and then generously scatter them over the couch, lo, my patience is sorely strained.

And when they pee ON MY PURSE in retribution for the reapplication of the flea treatment, my wrath, it is great.

And when I am so distracted by the fleas and the pee that I leave for work without the bottles I need for pumping, well, I think you can imagine how charitable I’m feeling toward kitties right now.

I love my cats. I don’t want to give them up. And I know no one will take two middle-aged cats anyway; at least, no one who wouldn’t subsequently stick a needle in them, which is obviously not something I would allow to happen. But I would like a hole to climb into now, please. Preferably one without fleas, or cats.

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Much to say and no time in which to say it.

So I will just shout a quick HAPPY HALF-BIRTHDAY! to my two little monsters.

Twins with twin monsters

Oh, and to the babies, too!

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