Archive for Everything Else

Testing the water

Oddly, a year and a half or so after I abandoned this blog completely, it appears to be more popular than ever. Mostly with anti-choice trolls, to be sure, but I suppose I should be pleased someone’s paying attention? Okay, not enough attention to realize they’re commenting on posts that are two years old, but still. With two three year olds constantly trying to outperform each other for my delight (or, occasionally, horror), any attention paid to little old me is kind of exciting.

So, hi! I don’t promise to post often, and I can’t guarantee I’ll be exciting, but here I am again.

Life update: Robin and Wren are three years old. They are full of hilarity and angst, often simultaneously. I am still working full time. I’m taking classes with a super-secret career goal in mind, and I’m channeling my passion for reproductive justice into a pretty nifty volunteer gig. I’ll share what I can, when I can. The more comments I get, the more likely I am to post.

Not that you should feel pressured or anything.



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Today is the babies’ first birthday, and I have so much to say about this last year. But the internet is down at work (I KNOW!) and I will be late(r) if I write this post from home before going in. Stupid work, interfering with my sentimental reminiscence.

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All in all, a very good year.

What I didn’t do in 2008: write enough, travel outside the country, make a lot of money.

What I did:

March 11

March 11

March 14

March 14

May 4, 2008

May 4

June 22

June 22

September 13

September 13

November 4

November 4

November 26

November 26

(Yes, I’ve taken more recent photos. No, I haven’t uploaded them yet.)

A resolution: I will birth more stories in the coming year than I did babies in the last.

What do you want for 2009? Share your new year’s resolutions in the comments!

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Speaking of hostility.

Just in case there’s anyone left out there who hasn’t yet seen FuckYouPenguin:

I get it, Whale, you’re busy. I’ve only been on this FUCKING BOAT for three and a half hours waiting for you, and the only thing I’ve seen so far is my lunch from earlier. It’s not like you spend your entire goddamn life in the ocean, so I see why you would only come up for basically a split second. Personally, if someone was going to all this trouble specifically to see me, I would take time out of my BUSY ASS SCHEDULE to at least stop by the boat and make some small talk, maybe have some salmon. But I understand, Whale, places to go, 500 pounds of food to eat. I’ll be fine. The real question here, Whale, is will you be fine? Can you really live with yourself? Maybe you need to make a change.

You’re welcome.

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Pray for us.

We’re taking two eight-and-a-half month old babies on a plane – actually, two planes – back to my parents’ house in New England. If we make it without being murdered by other passengers, we’ll be there for ten days.

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Step away from the phone.

There is a discussion over at Annika’s blog about following your mommy instincts when it comes to the all-important question of Strangers: Good or Bad? And in that vein, I thought I would relate to you a small story.

I am on an e-mail list for LA moms. It’s mostly exactly what you think it would be: nannies, casting calls, casting calls for nannies, and queries about what the fuck that helicopter was doing circling my house for three hours last night. Just often enough to keep me from unsubscribing, though, an interesting tidbit comes through. The other day there was a frantic e-mail from a woman who had been in Trader Joe’s, minding her own business, when she heard a little boy say to his female caretaker, “I miss my family.” “I am your family,” the caretaker replied. The two finished their shopping, and when it came time to sign for the credit card, she let the little boy sign the name.

The woman who wrote in to the list was appalled. Clearly, the boy had been kidnapped by this monstrous beast! Kidnapped, taken to Trader Joe’s, and forced to sign for groceries he not only had not chosen himself, but which included no sugary cereal at all! Now only she could save him. She rounded up store employees and shared what she had heard with them. She tried to get them to follow the woman out to the parking lot and get her license number. She asked the list whether she should call the police. Eventually she did call the police, and they refused to do anything. Would. You. Believe. It.

What surprised me even more than one person overreacting was the number of people who wrote back in support of her, saying Follow your instincts! Go with your gut! Call the police! I believe that instinct is important, and generally guides us well. But where do you draw the line between Going With Your Gut and Going Totally Nuts? Because, to me, this thuds right into the latter category.

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Thoughts on fire.

The air tastes like ash. My throat hurts each morning. A haze of yellowish-brown hangs over the hills; I watch from my office window as it glowers at the city. From my window, I can see a great tower of smoke curling into the sky. According to the internet, that tower is 22.5 miles away.

Robin says “oom!” at the fires, at the smoke. Robin says “oom!” at everything. “Oom!” A kitty! “Oom!” A bottle! “Oom!” My daddy! What a marvelous word, that can contain so much.

This morning our co-counsel sent me yet another e-mail blaming me for something that is completely not my fault. That is, in fact, the fault of a third party unassociated with either of our offices. I sent him back a long e-mail recapping the events that have led us to this point and ending with “I just don’t see why you need to keep placing the blame on me, thus forcing me to write long e-mails defending myself.” In retrospect, I should have just written back, “Oom!” and let it go.

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Out of the mouths of babes.

Strange woman, grabbing Robin’s feet as they dangle from the stroller: Awww, tell your mama you’re cold! ‘Mama, I’m cold!’ Tell her you’re cold!

Robin, sticking out his tongue: Phbbbbbthhththththhh.

Babies standing

Wren arm around Robin

(I am nearly over my cold, Husband is nearly over his, and the babies seem to have escaped with only a few sneezes each. Thanks for all the advice, guys!)

(Älso älso: good job, home state!)

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Help me, internets!

Y’all were so helpful with my last problem that I’m turning to you again for this one.

I have a horrible sore throat and my head feels like glue. People at work say it’s going around. I don’t want it to go around! What do I do to keep my two cheerful, nursing, co-sleeping babies from getting this?

[Non-begging blogging will resume shortly, after I am rid of the creeping crud.]

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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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