Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reanimator baby

Nap time is a horror show these days. Walker has a cold, broke his first tooth on Tues with a second about to break through, and hasn't pooped since Monday. Despite these trying conditions he remains fairly cheerful. He just can't sleep very well. It takes ages to get him to sleep, and, like every proper monster, he reanimates only when you have fully let your guard down, convinced the battle is won. Then there is the alien afterbirth goo that is constantly flowing from his nose. When I see how much comes out of his nose after some of his sneezes, I am glad they have determined that brain size doesn't correlate with brain capability. Nasal cavities that large, can't allow enough room for a normal sized brain. But really beyond the goo and the reanimation, the monster analogy breaks down. Monsters in movies are never appeased with cooing and a few cuddles. Nor are they irresistibly cute, waving every time they hear the word "bye" with a big grin and a full arm wave so gleeful and enthusiastic the whole torso is in on the act. But, nevertheless, please let this cold be brief.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shout out for fossil fuels

Happy Thanksgiving! Any holiday that centers around food and giving thanks is tops with me. I am, of course, very thankful for all the usual hackneyed stuff that we all are, and that if I think about for any amount of time gets me watery-eyed. There is that. Thank you.

Then there is the stuff I don't traditionally ponder on Turkey Day, because I'm not usually on the verge of moving off-the-grid. It paradoxical, but logical, that as my carbon footprint is about to shrink, I am ever more grateful for fossil fuels. Despite myself. It is so much more comfortable to decry the profligate use of oil and coal here in the United States. The oil spill this summer and the decapitation of mountains, to name two obvious examples, are so upsetting to me, I avoid relevant news stories. But, man oh man, life is good with all that extra help.

Today, I am grateful for the coal that is burning so I can have electricity to power the baby monitor that allows me to write without freezing at each stray noise, the sound machine that allows my toddler to frolic without waking his younger brother, and the dishwasher that makes cleaning while under the influence of tryptophan ever so much quicker and easier. And I am grateful for the oil that is burning to keep my parents house comfortably warm, that afforded me a hot shower this morning, and, most especially, that was processed into the gasoline that enabled Aaron to come from Maine to be with us and enabled some dear friends to zip over from the next town for a visit earlier today. It almost feels silly to write about these things, they are so mundane and so easy to take for granted. But what a different Thanksgiving this would be without all this and if we had to make dinner in a wood cook stove, heat with wood, eat without electric lights, and clean up afterward in the semi-dark, heating our water along the way. (And just to be clear, I am not giving up all of these things in our cabin. So, thank you also for propane!)

Does anything stand out for you this particular Thanksgiving?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New York really is a helluva town

The morning of my departure from NYC, I had a rare and unexpected chance to listen to my ipod. (Child-free for a few hours!) As per usual, I listened to a podcast of Fresh Air. Terry Gross was interviewing Jay-Z, an artist I've heard of, but barely heard. The show ended with "Empire State of Mind." And that was that. I spent the rest of the day swimming in nostalgia. It had slipped my mind for the past decade or so, what a cultural center I live in. New York City is not chopped liver. For months, I've been mourning leaving my friends. But I thought I'd leave New York itself with no more than a big sigh of relief to have blown that ginormous popcorn stand. Not so. (And, really, I have to ask, what are the odds? Jay-Z on Fresh Air?)

Then, to top it all off, it was a knock-out of a day. The buildings of Manhattan, in vista, can evoke magnificent cliffs: solid, immovable, majestic, static. All the action is buried down at the bottom of the canyons along endless miles of streets and avenues. But given the right weather conditions, The City itself comes alive and is so beautiful any crust of jade you may have grown cracks right off. The sky was crowded with iron-blue bottomed clouds, almost overcast. But there was enough cheerful blue showing here and there to reveal the white fluff tops of the clouds and let the sun in. The clouds were moving fast across the sky, and that wind was hitting us down below, also, freeing Fall leaves from their restless branches.

The heart of the drama, however, was the light. Sun and shadow flowing over us all, as if the gods were saying, "You put on all your little plays, film your little films and tv shows, you want to see lighting? We'll show you lighting." A divine spotlight: Look here, now here, and now check this out. The Williamsburg Savings Bank glowing creamy, yellow-white against a matte background of variegated ominous blue clouds, not a speck of sky blue peeking through to mar the effect. Then the Willie B Savings Bank fades into shadow, blending in with all the other cliffs. And a flock of pigeons, flying their spirals, white patches flashing, gray feathers gleaming, is all there is to look at. Already the spotlight has moved on and a tree glows bright against the flat underbellies of the clouds, the golden yellow a perfect compliment to the stormy blue.

I ended up so mushy about it all, I posted an uncharacteristically emotional status up-date on Facebook, which triggered further weeping. "Good bye, New York. I love you." No jade, just a heartfelt farewell. Then we drove to get Forest at school and got on the BQE an exit earlier than usual, which brought us past the Statue of Liberty and an excellent view of the southern tip of Manhattan. I sat squeezed between two car seats veritably steeping in nostalgia until we hit stop-and-go traffic over Williamsburg. Doing the creep-crawl out of The City, yet again, had me cheering in short order. We're finally blowing this popcorn stand. Hot diggity dog!