The jury's still out.

At our house, before my trip to Harris Teeter (Teeter! Hee hee!):

"So tomorrow, I've got that wedding, but in the morning I think I'm shooting the people who won that charity auction, you know, that one last month?"

"Charity auction! Yes! There's one tonight at work, and we're going, right?"

"Robert. It's already 6:00. We've got to get food, feed the kid, get her in bed before she turns into a raging lunatic... we'd never make it."

"Can we get a sitter?

"No, babe, we cannot get a sitter in 20 minutes. I wish I'd known before FIVE SECONDS AGO."


(Norah often claims that she has done this, because she knows I'll take her diaper off, and if she's fast and I'm slow she can escape and run pantsless through the house.)

"Oh, you did not. I'm going to get food. I'll be right back."

Half an hour elapses while I go to Harris Teeter (snort!) and buy groceries.

"So I got strawberries since I can't make it to the farmers' market tomorrow."

"Hey, great. Did you get the canned food?"

"Canned food? What?"

"I have to take canned food for the auction. It's a donation drive thing."

"Wait, what?"

"I'm going to the auction. I needed canned food! What am I going to do now?"

"ROBERT. You didn't TELL me you were going, and frankly the fact that you're leaving here on a Friday night when you came home late last night and I'm not going to see you for two days because I am going out WORKING and making MONEY is really PISSING ME OFF. And NO I did not get you any stupid canned food, you can just go get it YOURSELF!"

Thirty seconds of silence elapse.

"So you think I should get like, corn, or what?"



I got another migraine today, the second one in a week. Usually I only get them once every few months - I start seeing these shimmery little rainbows in a circle that gets wider over about a half an hour, and then all of a sudden they're gone... and then I become conscious two hours later, curled into the fetal position on the living room rug, massaging my own temples, and moaning like a sorority girl with her head in the toilet. This isn't THAT bad when it's once every few months. Kind of like an appointment with the Lady Doctor, or Christmas shopping. You just have to go through it, so suck it up.

This time, though, I was more than a little freaked out. For one thing, I was babysitting at the time, and I was more than a little reluctant to assume the position while I'm supervising other people's kids. Were it just me and my Nonos, of course, I'd hit the floor before you could say "child protective services." She's cool, she'd just play with her Teetos* or possibly her burfeeler* and occasionally that screwdriver she uses to clean her ears. It's all good.

* Teetos = potatoes = Mr. Potatohead and the Spud Buds, a Motownesque assortment of vegetables with rearrangeable parts. The carrot I can go for, but the corn, whose arms hold a cell phone and several dollar bills, is just too weird. Why does plastic corn need a phone and cash? Is he dealing butter and salt?

** burfeeler = bird feeder. We have two, and for some reason, Norah won't let me hang the smaller one back up. Rather, she drags it around the house and uses it as a purse, filling it with whatever flotsam she finds on her route. Yesterday that included my car keys, a plastic spork, and, in a moment of Nonos clarity, a fake bluejay from a centerpiece we used at an old office o' mine.

Anyway. So I had kids plural, and because I was all responsible and stuff, I gulped down several Motrin and hoped for the best. While I was waiting for the shimmers to go away, though, I had plenty of time to consider the other person who used to get a lot of migraines in quick succession: my grandmother. My grandmother who died of a brain hemorrhage.

It's funny how you can get the sniffles and they'll turn into ebola by the time you find the kleenex. I'm sure it was just another migraine, possibly brought on by the bright hot sun, or maybe because I was really tired from staying up to watch Lost last night (which, to digress slightly, was SO SAD OH MY GOODNESS that thing with Sun!). But I've been thinking about my grandmother a lot lately, and so my migraine blossomed into an ugly tumor of panic by the time the rainbows disappeared. And they did disappear, and the Motrin jumped in front of the pain and kept me from hitting the floor, and everyone was fine. Everyone but my inner voice, who cried because she thought she was done grieving, and instead had her heart pulled by a bad headache.

(i just tagged a bunch of old posts, and rereading a lot of them made me sad and all focused on the dreadful things I thought about earlier. Happy things tomorrow, I promise. Or maybe even in a little while - Rob's working and I'm waiting up, and so I've got far too much time on my hands. I'm on my third episode of SVU - and this one has the PRECIOUS Abigail Breslin! Who knew!?)

And you can't make me

Norah's picking up words like a fat kid picks up Twinkies. Her newest thing is "not gonna do that," which is almost as infuriating as "I don't like it." Either she doesn't really know what she's saying, or she DOES know, and she says it to make me insane, as in:

Me: Hey, Nonos. You wanna go play in the sandbox?
Norah: No, nooooo. Not gonna do that.
Me: Why not? You love the sandbox.
Norah [with a sly, sideways look]: I don't like it! Dirty! Messy! BYOWN! (Or, in English, "brown.")
Me [maintaining my shit and hiding frustration at her denial of an activity she loved yesterday, and feeling intense fear that she is becoming her father, who can't bear to even eat a popsicle because he gets his fingers sticky]: Well, okay, then let's go inside. I need to start dinner.
Norah: Yeah. Yes. Dinner time. NO! SEEBOX TIME! I LIKE SEEBOX! I LIKE BYOWN!

And then we go play in the seebox. OF COURSE. Here I am, in the parental twilight zone.

Otherwise: Rob finished his board exam today - apparently, you have to take three of these before they let you be a for-real doctor instead of just a charlatan with a Palm Pilot and an embroidered ice cream man coat. It was a two-day ordeal that cost us $700 - needless to say, I am glad this is over, because we have had many a difficult night doing practice tests and waking up the baby with "Oh, dammit, I don't get this OB-GYN stuff AT ALL." Good thing I didn't do that home birth, huh?

Life goes on, on top of my head

Today, while babysitting:

Child A (4 years old): Do you know that I like to brush your hair, Annie?
Child B (also 4): Yes, me too, I like to brush your hair too.
Me: Okay, cool. You may brush my hair. [hands Child A a brush]
Child B: I can wait my turn.
Me: Gooood. That's very good.
Child B: Because we are going to need to do this for a LONG TIME.
Me: [knowing this is going somewhere that is not going to please me] Um, why, because you like to do it?
Child A: No, because SOMEONE has to do it.

Because clearly I don't. Thank god they're teaching them something at that Montessori school.

This picture has nothing to do with the abovementioned hair incident. I actually took it days ago (note the presence of that blue shirt from my new header - and thanks for the praise, too, you guys.)Norah just looked especially sassy in it, and it made me happy. And couldn't we all use a little more happy?

Also: congratulations to my friend, who had something exciting happen, which will require some extensive travel... You know who you are, and you also know how hard it is for me to NOT blurt this news out like verbal vomit. PLEASE break the news already, would you??

Tech breakdown

There are a lot of angles to cover in the Virginia Tech story. There's the grief, the empathy, the fear for my kid in a world where this happens, the gun control issue. There's the horror of the cell phone videos floating around the internet, in which kids filmed people running and screaming for their lives. There's the fact that I couldn't sleep last night because I kept imagining how it might have been to sit in a classroom and wait to die while you watched the other students get shot.

What's really getting me, though, is the uproar about the "lack of communication and warning." Students and others are upset because they think that the university dropped the ball, and that they didn't warn people in time for evacuation.

I understand that grief is an ugly and irrational emotion, and that people feeling grief need someone to blame. In July, I blamed God; in October, I blamed doctors who didn't catch a blood clot they wouldn't have looked for anyway. You have to have a target for the finger-pointing, or the inability to point will kill you from the inside.

I'm watching web feeds of the Today Show (WHY? Why can't I just stop watching this show, because it makes me angry every single time I see it) and Matt Lauer is verbally smacking the president for that "communication breakdown," and questioning him mercilessly about the email that went out after the dorm shooting. The president is fighting to explain that they first thought it was a murder-suicide, that they needed time to investigate, that if they had immediately locked down the dorm, they might have locked the shooter inside with 800 other kids in their rooms. In his way, I'm sure Matt Lauer is looking for his own scapegoat (I'm going to skip the rant about the shit-stirring, muckraking media, even though in some way I'm sure it applies) and he hurts as much as the rest of us.

But goddamn, Matt, leave that poor man alone.

I worked at two very different universities, in various levels of their respective hierarchies, and I can tell you without a doubt that they had one thing in common: they geniunely gave a damn about their schools, and the students and faculty and staff inside them. Whatever students and alumni might think about their moneygrubbing, their sharklike drive to be first in fundraising, participation, whatever, their first and main goal was to enrich life for the students - the people in general - who walked through their gates. No president would have deliberately or otherwise allowed a breakdown like the one that people are alleging occurred at VT. If there had been a way to protect the VT community, IT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

I don't believe that this is "another Columbine," like everyone is saying. Columbine was a high school, where two boys with two very horrific mentalities did something awful. This shooter was not another Dylan or Eric - yes, he was young, and yes, he was obviously mentally disturbed in some way, but there is a world of difference between 16 and 19 or 20. This, in my opinion, is another 9/11. The first plane hit the tower and everyone looked up and said, "What the hell was that?" No one knew to leave the second building because no one knew what happened to the first one. At VT, no one knew to evacuate or lockdown because no one knew what happened in the first place. And we didn't blame the management company of the Twin Towers when the second one fell - just as we shouldn't blame the administration at VT for not knowing, just as I shouldn't have blamed the doctors who didn't find the clot that killed my grandmother. Who would have looked for those things? Who would have known anything other than the rest of us?

To the Tech community, I say that my heart and my mind are with you today. I think about what happened and it gives me goosebumps, and I can't imagine being part of something as monumental as that. But place your blame on the guy with the gun, and believe in a president and a school that wanted the best for you. I'm sure the shooter had some issues, and I'm sure as time goes on that we'll discover an abused childhood or an inability to adapt to college life or whatever. But he held the gun and he did the shooting, and we all had to look around and say, "What the hell was that?" Blame him, and grieve with your school and its administration - whatever trouble you had with the registrar, however much the food sucks, however many annual fund solicitations you get in a year, grieve together. They're as broken as you are.

To Matt Lauer, I say only this: let the president grieve too. His school suffered a loss, and as such, so did he. Yes, he gets paid a huge salary, yes he gets to wear nice suits and drive a shiny car, but he could do that at Smith Barney or Disney or Dell, too. He chose that school and he loved it, and his heart broke yesterday, too.


A year ago, Norah looked like this - not much different than she does now, in fact. Aside from that fuzzy little head, she hasn't changed much, huh? It's the cheeks, I think.

Anyway. Hi! I have decided to ignore this whole "posts appear below the sidebar" thing I've apparently got going on, largely because none of you claim to be seeing it. (I think this is just a conspiracy, orchestrated by Adrienne, to make me think I'm insane. In which case, I tell you: the conspiracy is utterly unnecessary.) I don't know what's up, but the site looks the same on both my laptop and the desktop upstairs, so whatever... our house just has internet cooties.

You haven't missed much during my screwed-up-blog-related hiatus. Norah has successfully added "I don't like it!" to her list of favorite sayings. Today at Harris Teeter (do you giggle a little when you say that out loud? I do, because that's the kind of mature babe I am) she identified broccoli, rainbow chard, canned sundried tomatoes, and Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches as things that she does not like. And believe it or not, she's right: she really DOESN'T like those things. I guess the kid is starting to understand that what comes out of her mouth is a reflection of her internal monologue; when she starts asking where I keep the tequila, I'll know she REALLY gets it.

Things I probably haven't mentioned, or may have, who knows, in an orderly bulleted list, because I have to do the dishes and don't have time to expound:

  • Rob got his cardiology fellowship at Duke, which means we'll be here for another three or four years. Happy dance! I didn't want to move again.

  • I booked a beach wedding today; the bride's willing to pay my mileage to get over there, which will be a nice little bonus. This one is the result of a referral, so I'm happy - guess that means I did an okay job at the referrer's shindig, huh? That brings the total to six done, nine to go before Thanksgiving. Badass.

  • My sister called today with the ENORMOUS BREAKING NEWS that she has updated her Myspace profile from "single" to "in a relationship," and bumped her ex from her top friends list. The range of Myspace is amazing; either I'm getting spam friend requests from someone named CassidyHumpsalot, or my sister is basing her entire relationship future on whether or not her current guy removed "looking" from his profile. If only Al Gore had seen the future of his invention; how proud, how mighty he would have felt then. You go, Al Gore, and you go, sister Kate.
  • Um, what?

    Has anyone else noticed that my blog posts are appearing WAAAAAAAAY down the page, or is it just my screwed-up computer? I'll work on figuring this out - however, if you're not seeing it this way, could you let me know? Gracias, chums!

    Things to ponder...

    ...while your baby throws up in the sink, thus making this less the Lord's Day and more Mr. Clean's Day.

    Why do rolls of paper towels have warning labels that threaten baby suffocation? What dumbass is going to sit there and watch the baby roll itself up tight enough in paper towels to actually suffocate? Can you imagine how tightly the baby would have to be rolled? Jesus.

    If I spray the countertops with this cleaner, and it disinfects them, can I also spray my boobs with it? Because they are coated in baby barf, and I haven't felt this dirty since the SAE Foam Party of 1999.

    The Shirley Temple marathon is on AMC today, and I missed the entire first half of Curly Top because I was cleaning the aforementioned boobs and also holding a sobbing Nonos. Can I just watch the first half of Bright Eyes, and assume that the story will essentially fill itself in (plucky orphan, crusty old codger, etc. etc.)?

    What exactly was the Easter Bunny thinking when he dropped off a chocolate rabbit, several plastic eggs worth of Mardi Gras necklaces (that's my girl, with the jewelry-loving) and what might possibly be the most horrific vomiting spell I've ever seen?

    Happy Easter, indeed. Hope yours is better.

    Humoring me for a day

    Because I am a big old braggedy-braggerhead, I had to put this up - my kid, she's a pretty one. Even when she's throwing my $7 fake flower that I use for photo sessions directly onto the muddy ground.

    I think she behaved herself this morning because, oh my, it's my birthday. I'm a creaky old 28, which I celebrated with a trip to the gym and a humongous doughnut, thereby negating the gym entirely. (But these doughnuts, if you could just SEE them! For my last three years of high school, I had one every morning before first period, because the bakery was next door to the school. My friend Darren remembered this, and sent me a box two-day mail, and the nostalgia - or possibly the frosting - was enough to send me into spasms of glee. End of sugar-coated story.)

    I don't feel older, honestly. We went back to Duke Gardens this morning with Jasmine and her girls, and although we were as worn out as they were at the end of the morning (possibly more so - who knew it was so hard to constantly chant, "Look UP, Lillian! Smile and you can have a COOKIE!") I still wanted to run around barefoot in the grass. It's a good world, when you can have a birthday that should feel threatening - 30 bein' right down the pike and all - and still be able to focus on the dew between your toes.

    Anyway. Happy birthday to me, Washington Irving, Boss Tweed, Jane Goodall, Marlon Brando, and Eddie Murphy. That there is one distinguished bunch.

    April Fool's Day out

    We spent the first day of April dodging rainclouds at Duke Gardens, one of my favorite places for pictures. (Also a great place for turning your kid loose in a giant field of grass - just beware of the rogue swans. They hiss, you know. It would be threatening, except that THEY'RE BIRDS.) Rob took this picture of me'n my baby at the duck pond, where 84,000 other families were feeding bread to the various birds; I was pleased with it, because I look like I might have thin legs, but I was horrified to see how tired and pasty I look. Time to either hit the electric beach or sleep for about three weeks in the sun, I dunno. I'd take either, cancer-causing properties notwithstanding.

    I wish I had more news for you guys, but I really don't... I've got a courthouse wedding tomorrow, which should be pretty cute, really. We're headed to Fletcher Park for the pictures, so ideally we'll have flowers and yummy trees and green grass... and if not, we Photoshop! Happy April, y'all - who's got flowers at their house?