Sunday, July 16, 2006

Zo's Birthday

Dear Zoƫ,
All over the blogland, women write letters to their babies on their birthdays. Even their one month birthdays. I am not so good at birthdays, as 31 and KJ will tell you. I tend to write people checks. And yet, I do like my own birthday to be celebrated with well-thought out gifts. I hope you get your aunts’ and grandmothers’ talents for generosity and celebration.
The good thing about writing on one-month birthday letter is that nothing gets missed. I will only remember a few things—but maybe I can get your dad and grandmas to remember a few things too and I’ll write those down later.
It’s been a great and hard year. You are such a good baby— you’ve already endured what I think is a lot. Being preemie (20 days in the hospital), me going back to work six weeks after you were born, me going on the job market, all that travel, another hospital stay (8 days), dad and me moving to Michigan, selling the house—fixing the house. But I wonder, as you sleep your good 11 hour sleep each night and eat the 17th grape for the day, if any of this fazes you. Is this list of hardships just projection of my own bullet-point list of “hard year?” Still, you are brave, as 31 says.

And she’s right, you do eat onions. You eat everything first with caution—“What the hell have you put in my mouth?” And then the next bite, you reach for it with abandon, saying “Give me another one right now or I’ll unhook my bib and huck it in your general direction.” You like steak, salmon, veggie sausage patties, yogurt, bananas, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches (OK, you haven’t met a fruit you didn’t like), hotdogs—both tofu and Hebrew Nationals, chicken nuggets, ice cream, cookies, and, most of all, M & M’s. (You also eat a lot of dog hair. Sorry.) At this point, there’s not much you don’t like though you’re occasionally not in the mood for it—avocados are kind of hit & miss which makes your grandma Ellie and me wonder if you maybe were switched at birth in the hospital, since that’s our favorite food. This openness to new foods, I fear, will not last, so I plan to feed you foie gras and calamari before your palate closes down like a time capsule that won’t re-open, if you’re like me, until you’re 19. You love black beans and chicken and, of course, your favorite is sweet potato. I made 8 sweet potato pies for your birthday party. I hope your dad’s whole side shows up. I also bought 60 pieces of fried chicken for the family. Happy birthday to all of us.

In the morning, you wake up and talk to yourself for about half an hour. You have much to say about the letter “a”. When I come in to get you, you smile. And, since you were ten months old, you sit up for me to get you. And in the past few weeks, you’ve pulled yourself up to meet me halfway. When I pick you up, you point at the light switch. And then the picture frame. And then your hippo. We go around the room every morning, touching each thing in precise order, preparing youfor early onset OCD.

I bring you into our bed and your dad and I feign sleep while you drum away at our backs. You pull yourself up by my hip skin even though I’ve told you that’s not a handle. In the bath, you like to pull out a pubic hair and hand it to me as if I’ve misplaced it and you, Dr Watson, have found it.

You have two teeth on the bottom and you like to jut them out. It makes you look serious. In some ways you are a very serious baby but when you get laughing, it’s hard for you to stop. Or, rather, it’s hard for us to stop what you’re doing so that you’ll keep laughing. Maestra got you laughing like crazy by pulling the screen door’s chain and letting you reach up to get it. Your grandpa likes to tip you upside down, which makes you giggle. Your grandma dangles a necklace and you watch it, then grab. She pretends to be surprised and you laugh even harder.

You’re very busy. You must get to everything right now. You share all your toys. You continue your pointing ways by sticking out your index finger at every one—to say “you.” We say,“No, you” in return. You play Leapfrog noisy machine and with your blocks but you really prefer my cell phone and the remote control. When we moved the TV downstairs and began to spend most of our time up, one of your trademark busy business toys disappeared. Whenever we go back down and you see the remote, you clamor for it like you’ve found a long-lost friend.

You crawl like crazy. Sometimes, you stick your right leg out as a special rudder that propels you at the speed of light. Your dad chases you on his hands and knees but you still outrun him. You crawl to the dog food. You crawl to the stairs. You crawl to the cords that stretch seemingly from every light socket. But you don’t wear me out. Chasing you is never frustrating because so much of your time thus far has been stuck in beds and carseats and high chairs. That you can move on your own makes me know you will be the fierce woman I want you to become. Also. I carry you less, so much energy has been saved.

You like to go on walks either in BOB the stroller or in your baby backpack. You like to crawl around outside on the grass which doesn’t seem to sticker you like it does so many babies. And adults. And all of they who need a blanket to sit outside in the summer.

You’ve been swimming twice, both times in the last two weeks. You are, as expected, a water bug. We ferry you around on our backs and you look like you might go ahead and kick and blow bubbles. You wear your yellow sunhat and splash like a frog. You even leapt off the side into the water. Your dad scooped you up before you sunk too far, but we knew we were in trouble when we saw fearless in your shove off the concrete pool’s edge.

They say you can tell how much you are loved by the number of names you are called. This is a short list:
Zo, Zoster, bliggedy blig, turtlebutt, busy bee, wild woman, big head, rabbit roo, trouble, bubble butt, sweet potato, big kid, blue eyes, monkey (you do make this wild screeching noise when you want something and we haven’t read your mind quite yet—or followed your pointy finger), goose, and pterodactyl, (both also due to the very primordial sounds you make).

You blow bubbles and raspberries. You slap your fat thighs when you think something’s funny. You clap when you realize we’ve figured a little of you out. You spin around on your butt while drinking your sippy cup. You laugh while I watch you turn. You stick those two teeth out in front and dare me to come and get you. And I do.

Happy Birthday baby.

Friday, July 07, 2006

In which I complain once again about moving


What to do for the next month? Read “Underworld.” Already by page 12, I see a new way to be. When Cotter’s gearing up to jump the turnstile to get into the Baseball game, he summons a force, and, more important, a style, that is completely unaffected and internal.
“He surprises himself this way every so often, doing some gaudy that that whistles up out of unsuspected whim.”

This month will be odd. I’m done with everything except a few niggling details at QW and packing. It’s a little bit like waiting to die. Of course, I believe in reincarnation: I’ll be reborn again in Michigan. I hope. But I am leaving this life wholesale. I’m even leaving Zo and Egg, in a way. For whoever they are here, they won’t be there. The way Zo’s grandpa calls her a “Wild Woman.” The way her grandma says “You come here. You come here right now.” The way my mom makes her laugh by turning her backwards, upside down, and letting her little one year-old body hang there. Only grandparents love your kid as much as you do—and, as my friend Steve Tuttle says—no one else wants to babysit them. Others will, but no one else actually goes so far as to ask. No one else will want to hear, “she ate three grapes and a hot dog today.” Or, maybe they will want to hear it but they won’t exclaim and enthuse as if she had just solved Fermat Last Theorem.

And Egg, what will he be like without his skis or his camera? With his chair facing south instead of north or with a boat? What will we do on holidays? On weekends? On Tuesday nights. I don’t think I realized how much time we actually spend with our family until both my mom and his mom went out of town last week. We’ve spent every waking minute with Thirty-One to fill in the gaps. And the one night since Thursday we didn’t hang out with her? We spent it with Egg’s cousin Em.

Of course all this doubt will also lead to new adventures and new manifestations of self. Hence the “surprised himself” excitement while reading “Underworld.”

So I’ll wait. Wait for the truck to come. Wait for the house to sell. Wait for someone rejection and acceptance letters. Wait for Zo’s first birthday.
Maybe I’ll surprise myself by waiting with good character and patience.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Umbrella trouble

It is raining in July. I know I said it never rains in July. I attribute all of my previous misstatements to global warming. Even those that weren’t weather related. It IS raining. Hard. On the fourth. Egg’s at work and Zo is asleep so I’m writing this while it rains. It’s almost done now, but I can imagine all the barbecuers in the valley running into the house—half-cooked burgers in hand, chairs pulled in, tents blowing, then falling down. In the mad rush, ketchup is knocked to the ground, the potato salad gets dumped into the coleslaw and the barbecuers turn to look at the already-stopped rain and get mad because they jumped the gun. Five seconds of rain can ruin a picnic as bad as real rain.

It looks like it’s clearing up. We’re not cooking at Thirty-One’s until five anyway. I’m bringing a six-pack and a bottle of wine. It’s not much but Val should have wine herself and Dr Write and folks might bring something I’m sure. I shouldn’t panic but the liquor stores are closed today and in Utah, you can only buy wine at a state-run store.

Now it’s thundering which makes me think this may be a bigger storm than I thought. I would give anything for it to rain a lot today. I read in the paper that at 12. 76 inches this year, we’re almost an inch short for the water-year. A huge storm, one that would coat both the cars and the driveways, would be such a bonus.

In times of great scarcity, such as store-closings and drought, I like to compensate with a bit of excess.