Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stranger Care

I left Lyra with total strangers today. On purpose, too. I tried out a new with a nursery. It was a Healthworks, a highly rated, and highly priced women's gym in Cambridge. A friend joined me, and it was truly pleasant. It's a nice big gym with lots of daylight. The dressing room even has a big hot tub in it. It was all great except that moment as I walked away from Lyra in the arms of a stranger when, I admit, I really kind of wanted to throw up.

I worked out with the volume a bit lower than usual on my iPod as they call you over the intercom if your kid is freaking out or needs to be changed or anything. I thought about how it's the right time for Lyra to get to know certain people, like the ones who work at the nursery, because it's possible that in a couple of months she'll have separation anxiety. I thought about what a nice break in the day it was and how I might actually regain some stomach muscles and shed some more pounds. I thought about how this is something to do in the cold weather.

But when I walked down and checked on her before showering, she was sitting in the lap of the main nursery woman (a mother of 11 and grandmother of countless wee people) and I'd never seen her in a foreign context like that and I had the opposite of the throwing up feeling...I had this odd fleeting second of incredulous disconnect, like "hey, that little smiling baby there? I think, yeah, that's her, wow, that's actually MY KID!" It really made me feel weird.

I wish I could ask her how it went before deciding whether to sign up. Right now I belong to a gym that is just a couple blocks away so I can dash over there when glenn takes Lyra running. This one requires driving. The other drawback to this one is that the first thing you see up on exiting is a very good ice cream shop. . . .


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How to Roll a Kayak

Lyra is here to show you exactly how to move your body when rolling a kayak. She says you don't need any books or videos or professional instruction. Hell, she doesn't even need a kayak. You just have to give a mighty flip of your hips to get your body going over, let the rest of your body follow, and only at the last moment lift up your head.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Safe Biking

At last someone has found a way to bike safely without fearing Boston traffic or even needing a helmet.

Just bike ON the Charles instead of next to it.

Package Hobo

I ordered a package that did not arrive, and eventually I used the tracking system to find it. It seems to be lost in orbit like a decommissioned satellite. It's been all over the country, including half an hour away. To solve the problem, the company is simply sending me another package. It makes me wonder...just how many refugee packages do you think are shuffling around the country endlessly hopping trucks?

Sortation Center Departure MARTINSBURG, WV September 21, 2007 7:43 AM
Sortation Center Arrival MARTINSBURG, WV September 19, 2007 3:24 PM
Sortation Center Departure DALLAS, TX September 18, 2007 10:10 AM
Sortation Center Arrival NORTHBOROUGH, MA September 15, 2007 5:01 AM
Sortation Center Arrival DALLAS, TX September 14, 2007 8:49 PM
Sortation Center Departure NEW BERLIN, WI September 14, 2007 2:04 AM
Sortation Center Arrival NEW BERLIN, WI September 13, 2007 6:00 PM
Sortation Center Departure LOS ANGELES, CA September 13, 2007 8:14 AM


At 10pm a couple of weeks ago 18 people severely beat two men half a mile from my house.
At 10pm the other night the quiet in our house was shattered by BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG as a man was shot (not fatally) about fifty feet from where Lyra was sleeping.
The police are "not at liberty" to tell us any information. As my brother said, "They're not really in the liberty business, are they?"

Cambridge is such a brainy town. That's why it's school system blows and I have to worry about where I walk at 10pm.

Of course most of these crimes near us seem to involve people who know each other. And if we moved to the burbs, our quality of life would decrease some and our risk would increase some due to the commuting involved. It's confusing.

I don't know how to protect my daughter from sudden violence on a "safe" street with people driving by and shops and restaurants open at 10pm.

9/25 UPDATE: The police were at liberty to tell our local newspaper the story of what happened with the shooting. Apparently they responded to calls and found a guy who had been shot in the ass. He had lots of percoset in his pockets and had just shoved a bunch of crack behind some garbage cans before police arrived. Dunno who shot him, but supposedly he was talking to a couple of people on the sidewalk and they backed slowly away about nine feet and shot at him five times but only hit him in the ass, so somehow he just seems like a really pathetic excuse for even a dealer.

The police seemed to think that the fact that the bullet will not be extracted from his ass is going to inhibit their investigation. <Insert your own jokes here.>

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

You, Me, and We

I spend a lot of time considering different perspectives. Most creative activities require this skill. I enjoy managing groups of people into systems that play on the various strengths of individuals as well. And of course marriage requires this skill, and clearly understanding our parents or being parents does. So, as I age I’ve been attempting to expand this ability. I am aware that I am mainly only tolerant of those who share the same intolerances, and I keep trying to change this.

I believe that my key to growth is to comprehend fully that we can share the most intimate times and still our individual experiences of this reality are different. It’s hard to accept this in private, cherished relationships, but it’s obvious when you discuss the past with siblings or become a parent and suddenly have a new gratitude toward your own parents. I try and try to incorporate this into my day-to-day life, but still I struggle. I also harbor a fear that we as a people may need to have a similar reality in order to change our habits in drastic ways right now.

I had all this in mind when Lyra and I went to see the movie In the Shadow of the Moon. I always respect people who gain perspective by going away for a weekend to write, or live abroad, or spend time in serious wilderness, or have walked through serious trauma and emerged anew on the other side. And this movie offered perspective from the handful of people who have actually left the planet entirely and looked at it in its bigger context.

Facing things far out of our control, forces just plain bigger than we are, these are the things that can define our existence, point out our boundaries. People may choose to understand and adapt in different ways, but no matter what, those who look the storm in the eye are typically the people who are more likely to have foresight, who take action without being caught up in self-involved pettiness.

Those who have really lived, really love, really lost, and are still forging their way vividly forward -- well, they just have a different sort of flow. They sometimes turn to an existing construct to explain the chaos, but occasionally they articulate a new one. And sometimes this is what we need to make or save history. Of course I want to know what someone who has stood on alien soil has to say.

Me, I want to float in my big picture perspective, but I often feel dragged down by my baggage. I have a gorgeous, funny, amazing baby, yet I don’t go to sleep sighing happily. I have nightmares, I worry, I mourn losses. And I cannot stop being terrified about her survival, and as a result the speed with which we are destroying our home on the pretty blue marble.

I am looking for a perspective and some extra tolerance to move forward in the face of fear. I need to keep onward when I cannot see the way. I need to accept my life may be a a bit of a rantum scoot, so I may as well do what I can and enjoy it. I need this; my daughter needs this from me. We need balance: we need to accept the ebb and accept the flow of more than just our own lives, whatever direction we end up sailing.

The astronauts in the movie still looked completely wildly moved by their experience 38 years later. One discussed his new devotion to the religion that helped him understand the largeness of his experience, and one considered how fragile the little blue planet looked. But what struck me most was when one of the men described feeling the great vastness of space, and he felt the moon below and the Earth beyond and it was so clear that all of this, including him, was one thing. We are all part of this one thing. And he felt lucky.

This is what I want to hold on to: that together we are whole, and I am lucky to take part. People in my life this year have spoken a lot about the physical and spiritual benefits of expressing gratitude on a regular basis, and perhaps this is the same as accepting our luck.

I am lucky that I am here, I may have experienced a great deal of various kinds of perspective that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, I may struggle every day to grow my pool of tolerance. I may face danger and despair. The balance of the biology we are part of may be aging toward an end. And I do think every one of us must take action. However. despite every terrible thing, every day I am lucky.

Today I am grateful for the cold Saturday afternoons when I spread out my dad’s map of the moon on the living room rug in the sun. I would trace my fingers over the named features on the map and marvel at how we could be so familiar with such a big alien place.

I was one-and-a-half months old when men walked on the moon. I got to grow up with a generation of people who saw the image of our whole planet as one, together in a great flow of space for the first time, before it was a ubiquitous symbol. Maybe that will help us now.

Today I am also grateful for the warm Saturday afternoons when my dad rowed our dinghy The Eagle out to our boat, Tranquility Base, and we sailed to where I couldn’t see anything but blue in all directions.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Like to Cook

I Like to Cook. I have to keep repeating this sometimes. See, lately it's hard for me to suddenly be in some traditional gender roles I did not intend for myself. Glenn is a more involved parent than many men I know, but still I'm at home more and he's at work more. He brings home the bacon, and I fry it up in a pan.

I'm hungry. I'm always hungry, but while nursing I'm extra hungry. Glenn works until 6ish and I do not want to wait for him to putter around looking at what food I've bought (while I shopped because I'm the one who had the ability to make the time to do the shopping) in order to make something that he'll be done with two hours later. It's too dangerous; I might eat the baby. So I do almost all of our cooking. (Glenn *is* a good cook, I should point out.)

I'm not comfortable with this weird stereotypical situation, and we may do something about it. However, at the moment it is convenient. And if I wouldn't fight it, it would be fine. See, I really enjoy cooking. I like inventing things, I like trying new recipes and foods, I like creating. I read Bon Appetit front to back, I make comments on Epicurious. I have an organic farm share and I often buy carefully chosen local meat. I make travel plans around food and restaurants I want to try and markets I want to visit. So, I should be content with cooking. Oh well. I suppose I wouldn't be me if I wasn't always at odds with myself.

Anyway, one of the yummiest salads I made this summer had lettuce, ricotta salata, plums, and fresh figs in it. I put some Trader Joe's dressing I rather like on it instead of making my own. It is Champagne Pear Gorgonzola (my TJs sells it in the produce section).

Tonight I had a fairly plain salad as the mix of greens from the farm this week deserved attention on their own. Also tonight I made some really cute little chicken pot pies from a recipe in Bon Appetit. They were a decadent decision for someone watching her slowly thinning waistline. They'd be amazing served after coming in from snow shoveling or in a cabin after cross-country skiing. They involved cream fraiche and bacon. What's not to love?

And of course I had some extra puff pastry I just had to use to be resourceful, right? Mmm, jam turnovers...

Ahhh. I like to cook, but I love to eat.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Lyra Gets a Tutor

Lyra is a very quick study. I see her attempt something and then she's suddenly expert at it. I know babies learn things at some alarming rate, but I've been getting suspicious. I mean take rolling -- sure she's tried it accidentally a few times over the months, but out of the blue it's What She Does. She executes perfect rolls like a kayaker, lifting her head last and ending up ready for action in crawl position. So, I took a look at the photographc evidence to see if maybe she secretly already knows how to read and has been studying or something -- and as it turns out, she's got a tutor. See here as she arranges with Moki for a rolling lesson. If only I could figure out what she offered him in return.

She states her case for why he should help...

They shake on it...

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