Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yesterday, we ended up going to look at the ocean at Marblehead. There were a couple of teenage boys tossing around a frisbee. Gus had part of a strawberry smoothie--we thought about introducing him to an egg cream or a lime rickey, but thought they might be a bit sophisticated for a 2-year-old palate. (Or I did. Edward, being English, doesn't know from egg creams and lime rickeys.)

It was a nice day. And I think that's not a bad tradition, a nice day, though I thought we should have an actual activity of some kind. Someone who'd lost a child told me that she and her children release balloons on the anniversary of their lost child's death, and I though that sounded great--sort of joyful and melancholy, something that kids would like. And then I thought, but what if Gus and Matilda become highly concerned with litter? What if they're super green? And one or the other says, in a few years time, that we CAN'T release balloons because it's bad for the environment? That would break my heart.

My friend Lib points out that the world needs a biodegradable helium-fillable balloon. Get on it, entrepreneuers!

UPDATE (seconds later): I guess latex balloons ARE biodegradable. I found this out at balloonhq.com. The important thing is to leave them "tailless"--even biodegradable string can be hazardous for wildlife.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Many evenings I fall asleep on the sofa instead of making it to bed, and Edward has to wake me up, which is sometimes a battle--if he catches me at the wrong moment of sleep, the unawake me will say, irritatedly, "OK, OK, I know!" & the one time he tried to wake me several times and finally gave up, I woke up in a sleep fog, stumbled to bed at 3AM, and said, heartbroken, "Why didn't you wake me up?" It was as though we'd planned a trip together and I hadn't shown up and he'd gone ahead without me. (Or so the sleep-drunk me felt. In the morning, I, like Edward, had no idea what had got into me.)

Most times, though, it's relatively easy: he calls my name, and as my brain starts rising to the surface of sleep, ready to break through into wakefulness, I think: Be careful of the baby who's asleep next to you. And then the dream and the baby evaporate. The dream-baby has never been Gus or Matilda, though the phenomenon started after Gus was born--that is, after I knew what it was like to have a baby asleep on me.

Tomorrow is the 3rd anniversary of my first child's death. It's the 1st time I haven't been pregnant on the day. We're still feeling around for what to do, but I imagine it will include the ocean.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Diminutive Englishman I'm Married to and I were having a discussion about bad novel titles to be paired with the subtitle, A Novel. Like:

Coulda Been: A Novel
Not Really: A Novel
What Made You Think You Could Write: a Novel

and even fancier subtitles:

Oh Fuck: A Novel of the French Revolution
Nobody Wants to Buy: A Novel of Suburbia


This perhaps is not so different from my favorite game, which I like to call Great Butts of Literature. I bet you can figure it out. Here, I'll go first:

How Green Was My Butt.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Connecticut, anyone?

Next Tuesday I'm talking at the Town Hall Auditorium in West Hartford, for National Library Week.

Lots of library humor!

(As with most readings/talks, I'm terrified that no-one will show up.)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Today I went to Skendarian Pharmacy, a family-owned business in my neighborhood. I love Skendarian's as much as I hate the local chain drugstores. Is there any variety of business as depressing as the urban chain drugstore? I always have the feeling someone wants to bop me on my head for my oxycontin, or because I'm blocking the Snuggli display. There's nothing picturesque about Skendarian's, no soda fountain, but the pharmacists all know what they're talking about, and they seem to actually enjoy their jobs, and I find it deeply pleasant to shop there.

At any rate, one of the pharmacists was talking to a trim elderly man, who was explaining that prednisone had given him diabetes, and then said, "Well, you gotta laugh. You gotta keep a positive attitude. Hey," he said. "You hear my boss is gettin' divorced?" He looked well over retirement age. "Yeah, I was up there at the wedding. Tony Bennett was the singer, and that woman, whatsername, Krill, Cull--Krall? She's married to that Costello. Well you know they just had twins."

It took me a moment to register that he meant that Elvis Costello and Diana Krall had twins. (That's one of those celebrity marriages that I feel invested in. I'd be devsastated if they broke up, like Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed.)

When it was my turn to pay, I asked the pharmacist, "I'm dying to know--who's his boss?"

"That's privilleged information," he said sadly. (At CVS, they woulda told me!) He added, "But he's very rich."

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I've been thinking of memory's trap doors recently. Yesterday I was at Trader Joe's, with four-month-old Matilda in the Baby Bjorn. I was staring at some slightly smashed raspberries when something crashed behind us, and I turned to see a shopping cart upended, with a now-screaming toddler beneath it: he'd been sitting in the kid seat at the front. His mother could not instantly figure out how to pull him free, couldn't see if he'd been hurt; a bunch of people, including employees, rushed to help her. In seconds he was in her arms, and then she was hugging her other child tight, too. "But why were you angry with me," she was asking the sobbing older child, who was probably four. As far as I could tell, he's the one who pulled the cart over. It was upsetting and dramatic as such things can be, but for me, no more than that.

Then I remembered another day in another store, about two years ago. Edward and I were at Ikea. I was pregnant enough with Gus that we were looking at cribs though not so cocky we'd seriously consider buying one. A young couple had wedged the bucket part of a car seat in that kid seat in front, and then, while I was watching--but while the mother wasn't--the seat somehow flipped over and dumped the baby--a little girl, about one, gold earrings in her little ears--into the big basket behind it. Silence, and then screaming, and suddenly I was suffused with panic, and sadness, and 1,000 grades of emotion I have no words for. Suffused? Infused? Soaking wet with it, anyhow. It hadn't been a year since my first child had died: I was still thinking, every day, "A year ago I was dumb and happy." The baby at Ikea was fine, though her parents weren't, and I wasn't.

And here's the thing: at Trader Joe's, I was no longer remembering the day in Ikea. It wasn't that I was reminded of how I felt. I felt it. I was there. We had to leave, my sweet third baby and me.

When I told Edward about it, I described the Trader Joe's incident, and then I said, "And it reminded me of Ikea--" and I didn't have to say anything else.

All of which is to say: the third anniversary of my first child's death is coming up. I've been pregnant the past two, and we haven't done anything to mark it except remember it. So if anybody is reading this who has advice, I'd love to hear it.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

There's a nice article about me up in today's (London) Observer today by Lisa O'Kelly, a writer who had a son who died two weeks after his birth.

That photo at the end? I could be wrong, but I think it's composed of three different photos. At the very least, it's been flipped (I also was posed standing on top of phone books; Lisa is taller than me). But isn't the light strange? We took some pictures outdoors, and then some indoors.

By the way: if you are looking for a nice place to stay in Wellfleet, MA, we had a beautiful time at the Seagull Cottage at Chez Sven, a green B & B. (chezsven.com)

Also--I love this product recall.