December 29, 2005

Our bodies age, but we stay the same person.”

She was right.

In her example she talked about relating with the twentysomething new mothers. Those days are still fresh in her memory, her stories are still real, and she relates well with me.

But she was wrong.

While she still remembers being a young mother, young wife, and trying to get started in “life” she has the benefit of several years experience tacked on to that. She can see beyond the day to day diapers. I appreciate that. She remembers being me, but she has perspective and wisdom. And she realizes that the world has changed.

Not everyone fits her initial description. There are some younger than her who act decades older than her. They look at us, struggling out of school and trying to be established in a career, start a family, and make roots somewhere, as transient trash that just can’t get our acts together. They think it’s still the 50s and 60s where it is taken for granted that the husband supports the family and the wages reflect that. They see us as being foolish for renting. It’s true that the world has changed and they can’t put on their twentysomething shoes and be me, but these people don’t even try. When a baby cries at an inopportune time in church do they remember struggling with a toddler or are they annoyed that some silly young mother can’t control her child?

I’m finding that I can be exceedingly bossy. It’s not a trait that makes me particularly proud, but I need to own it to change it. I look at my siblings, family, friends, strangers, and think, “he needs to do this.” If I don’t change this soon, I’ll be one of those grouchy, old ladies from church, instead of my compassionate, youthful, mother-in-law. The first step to making a change is recognizing it.


A Series of Unfortunate Events

December 27, 2005

It’s only fitting that the perfect ending to a weekend too perfect for blogland was imperfect.

It began ominously with the announcement for pre-boarding followed immediately by “we will not board right away because there’s a minor problem they have to fix on the plane.” Minor or not, that man should have said that they had not finished prepping the plane. On Boxing Day/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/the day after Christmas, when holiday travel is at it’s peak, that’s not the best announcement to make.

We boarded within minutes from the announcement; some of us boarded much more efficiently than others and those who were forced to wait due to stupidity were patient. But twenty minutes after they closed the doors we were still parked at the gate. The pilot announced that they still had two more carts of luggage to load and that the delay would be brief. (Clearly someone went overboard with their Christmas shopping.)

We were not the only ones travelling with a young child and anyone that has done so knows that a mother’s schedule for her baby travelling well is even more precise that the job done by an air traffic controller. On our end we held off on snacking and drinking so that he could do so during take-off and thus relieve the pressure in his ears. But twenty and thirty minutes after getting on the plane he was getting more than a little anxious –no one blamed him for that, and he really held it together well.

Because of the heavy turbulence over the Rockies we had to take a southernly route through Arizona and New Mexico and then come into LA from the 29 Palms area, which added on at least an extra half an hour to the length of the flight from our flight out and didn’t, in fact, save us from the heaviest turbulence I had felt in six years.

I knew we were nearing the end when I saw as the horizon the orange haze of the megalopolis that is Southern California. As we approached the city (the city of Southern California) we saw that the orange illumination from the street lights mixed violently with the smog, and stopped abruptly with a couple of clouds that held it all in. The closer we got the more disgusting the sky and city looked and now I understand the inspiration behind all the apocalyptic movies that Hollywood produces. As if on cue, as we decended into the surprisingly dense smog, my baby regained the same residual cough he’s had for three months.

And then we saw the red forks that cut through the city: the clogged freeways.

Landing was no comfort because we flew into LAX so there was a half hour lag before we even saw our gate (and another ten minutes to park.) By the time we were finally able to take off our seat belts we all had had more than our share of time on the plane. Little Red vocalized what we all felt and he was met with sympathetic smiles from the fellow passengers. My body half numb, I awkwardly grabbed the diaper bag and put my baby in the sling and got out of there as quickly as I could.

But I couldn’t shake the feeling as we walked through the airport that I had forgotten something. The sippy cup? No, Paul had put it in the diaper bag. The book? No, I remember zipping it into the bag and seeing the sippy cup there. I had an empty feeling but I was so eager to get on our way that I suppressed the feeling until we got to baggage claim and I put my stuff down.

My purse.

Yes, I, super-anal-triple-check-and-then-check-once-more-Heather, had left my purse containing my wallet-with-green-card, passport, and son’s birth certificate, on the plane.

They found it without problem and brought it to me even before my husband had collected all the bags, but the spike in my blood pressure took an hour to ease and spikes again as I recall the events.

With all of our belongings we went outside to wait for our ride in the fresh Los Angeles air.

Our flight home was exactly what we needed to keep balance in the cosmos; our weekend had been that perfect.

I Love LA (part 2)

December 27, 2005

Even in an airplane LA traffic is stop and go.

I Love LA (part 1)

December 26, 2005

WE went back inside the baggage claim area to sit on the stationary carosel. We had been waiting outside quite a while and the traffic was heavy, we knew there was still more of a wait. The smog was low, the exhaust, heavy, and the smokers, smoking. We went inside, but still in view of my husband, to protect my son’s lungs.

HE lit up the second his first foot stepped outside the building, the door still open. He stood in front of the door, facing inward, blowing smoke inward, for the duration of his cigarrette.

THEY stood in front of the sensors of the automatic doors, having a conversation. The doors stayed open in anticipation of their departure.

The benefit of being inside was that I got to sit down.

It Just Isn’t Christmas without an Electric Menorah

December 20, 2005

There are only three more sleeps until we get to Detroit! I’m so excited. It’ll be fun to have the whole clan together and for many of my in-laws to meet our son for the first time. It’ll be fun to be with everyone. And I’m really hoping that it’ll snow.

The holidays are all about family, but a trip to Detroit is also all about the food. We salivate everytime we think of Steve’s Deli or any of the superb cuisine in the area. I like to visualize our next trip to Steve’s Deli, where we would park in the parking lot, toting my over-clothed toddler into the over-crowded Deli. Noise and steam and people and food create a cacophony for the senses. And there, on the corner of the curved counter, stands the plastic, electric menorah. Suddenly I feel at home, and ready for Christmas.

I haven’t spent a Christmas with my own family since my husband and I met. After this many Christmases together I guess a lot of him has rubbed off on me.

Mazel Tov and Merry Christmas!

(I feel I need to clarify: Paul isn’t Jewish, but he grew up in a community that celebrated Ramadan, Chanukah and Christmas equally.)

A Baby Boy for Christmas

December 20, 2005

Last year I spent December on the couch. I was too weak to do much else, and too tired. My infant son cuddled with me and we enjoyed the season together. Having a brand new baby boy just in time for Christmas really brought the Christmas story to a more personal level for me. His first Christmas is one I will never forget, and I hope that all parents, no matter how old their babies are by Christmas, can personalize Christmas with their children. It was sublime.

Weekly Anamnesis #4

December 19, 2005

Information to this cyber writing project can be found at Natalie and Pete‘s sites. This is the fourth week (my third) of this endeavor.


I casually asked, at the start of our parent-arranged sleepover, whether the ladder to her bedroom window was a fire escape. Evidently we had just had the firefighters at our school talking about alternate exits. The next thing I can remember, her father was downstairs with us, comforting her new-found fear of fire. I could not have been older than seven, but I clearly remember the look on his face as he looked over at me. “What was that girl thinking?

I developed sporadic nightmares of fire some time after that. They were the psychedelic, surreal type of dreams that wake you in a cold sweat and with the clarity of cognizance make you wonder what was so frightening in the first place. Just run. Why create a snow cave and cover yourself up only a few feet from the smoke? Just get further away.

Several years ago I came home from a long day of student teaching and checked my email to find the narrative in my mother’s own words of the house burning down. All of the family members, and most of the irreplaceable stuff like journals were fine (or, in the case of the journals, salvageable.) The house was completely destroyed. When the snow melted and summer came they would rebuild, and finally Mum could have a house laid-out in the manner she desired. This was, in a way, a blessing.

And my nightmares stopped.