Monday, August 28, 2006

These are the Times That Try Women's Souls

We're having kind of a rough week here at Chez WTF and I need some cheering up.

Please leave me a comment with something that makes you happy, no matter how sappy, silly, mundane or profound. Even if you've never left me a comment before, show me that you're out there lurking in the ether and my ramblings are not just the literary equivalent of wanking into the void.

Go hug your kids and tell them that you love them. Go do something nice for a stranger: pay a toll, open a door. Go be kind, because today the world feels like a wild and wayward place and we're all needing some love.

Friday, August 25, 2006


One of the mothers in my online community of babies born in May 2005 lost her child the night before last. I find myself crying in grief for a woman I never knew and a child I never heard laugh. I couldn't imagine what life would be like without Arabis now. The thought of losing her, of my beautiful Evil Dwarf actually dying is unbearable and has been an impossible concept until now, when it has been brought painfully home that it could happen.

She sleeps on my chest, contentedly sighing in her dreams. Wolfie sees I am upset and has come to drape his massive bulk over my shoulders and purr.

I am going to put Arabis to bed and try to get a little work done around the house, but my heart is heavy with love and pain. Mothers weep in solidarity.

As my friend Adrienne always so touchingly says: May his memory be a blessing.

Monday, August 21, 2006

An Artist's Dilema

Last year, the warehouse where I live inaugurated an annual Holiday sale showcasing the artists in the building. I am trying to get a jump on this year's show and making lots of stuff now for selling in December.

At the last minute I laid out a table with odd bits of knitting I made rather quickly (mostly kid's hats) and my origami boxes (I'd been making them for years and had a stash of easily a hundred of differing sizes just sitting around). My neighbor watched over my table, since I was also performing in a production of "Macbeth" and couldn't be there.

A few hats were sold, but the surprise of the day were the boxes. People bought them in droves! Without my even explaining their history or delicacy (modular origami, no tape, glue, or staples, ranging from six to 16 pieces of paper to make up one box, imported papers from Japan, etc). I put them out as an afterthought, and even though they are by their very nature expensive, people gobbled them up.

Mojo and I were talking last night and I mentioned I was getting a head start this year. I'm knitting lots of hand/arm warmers (people love them around here) and probably some toys and sculpture. Mojo is encouraging me to do more boxes and he is absolutely right.

The dilemma is how to do this with a 15 month old hellion running loose in the house?

I can knit around her with no problem. I've been doing it since she was born and she has a good respect for the needles and yarn (although the row counter is another story as she thinks it should be her special chew toy). But modular origami? That is another beast entirely. The papers are delicate, even the thicker ones, and expensive beyond belief. Often I only have a few sheets of one pattern with which to work and if one is crushed or wrinkled it ruins the entire piece. And Arabis *loves* to eat paper.

I've also converted my work table to her changing table. The irony of living in a work/live warehouse and being unable to work is not lost on me.

Hmmm, what to do?

Right now, off to be mom to the baby. Journalus interruptus, yet again. But today she has been such a charmer that it is a joy to be with her. She is much like her old self (pre teething hell) which is a great relief after a weekend of pure and unbridled demonic rage. I did meet a doula yesterday who gave me a few more teething tips (frozen blueberries) that I'd not yet tried, and I thought I'd tried them all.

Monkey Boi goes home to his mother in Ohio on Wednesday and we are all a little sad. Mojo's taking tomorrow off work so we'll do family stuff, laundry and pack in the during the day.

Arabis and I have been invited to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium with my friend Lisa and her son who is only a few months older than the Bit. We will drive down with her on Tuesday night and look at the fishes and stuff on Wednesday, which is a far better plan than sitting around at home moping while Mojo takes Monkey Boi to the airport (since we can't go back to the gate with them).

So away we go to run errands and play out in the world: the Weasel Grrl, Monkey Boi and me.

Friday, August 18, 2006

New Name

Okay. This is it. This has been weighing heavily on my mind for the last few days and I realize I need to do it. It came to me in a dream, and I am from a background where you don't ignore the messages that come to you in sleep.

I'm changing the name of my blog.

The current name is a joke anyway. Originally I got a blogspot account so I could leave snarky comments on the blog for my boyfriend's radio show. Since I have two other blogs that I use regularly, I needed a third blog like I guessed it...a hole in the head.


But then, I didn't expect it to become so important to me.

I am a big Jack Kerouac fan. Have been since I was a kid (yes, I read Kerouac as a child). It's a little like reading about my dad. You see, he did the whole Kerouac/Cassaday thing at the exact same time they were doing it: hopping freights, working as carnies, selling blood to live, listening to lots of good jazz. I believe he was also at the first reading of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl."

My dad rocks.

I also think the name embraces the spirit of duality that exists within that I am struggling with, that of being a mother and an artist, an actor, a surfer, a sea kayaker, a fire performer, a fight choreographer, a knitter, a writer, a shit-disturber...we seem to be drifting out of the realm of duality and into multiple-personality disorder. Perhaps "Sybil's Blog" may be more appropriate?

But no.

So in homage and solidarity with all the other Dharma Bums, I give you:

Dharma Mum.

(Besides, you'd be amazed at how many hits I get from people googling for info about "babies with holes in their heads.")

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Need. More. Sleep.

Another night of no sleep, flippy floppy baby, teething pain, screaming and blood. I'm not kidding about the blood. There was blood.

Arabis delivered a Samoan Headbutt to the Mouth on the Mojo Man last night. Around 2:00 AM. He woke up screaming. And is now sporting a fat lip.

To get revenge he ignored the cat puke at the top of the stairs this morning, gingerly stepping around it, while I, in my sleep-deprived fuzzy brain trod right through it, baby in tow. Ewwwww.

Thank God for Monkey Boi, who is entertaining the Evil Dwarf as we speak. This teething thing sucks. And now, thanks to another mother's travails, I am fearing the eventual pacifier separation and the transition from family bed into own crib.

One trauma at a time.

We are going to the grocery store today. I need real fruit juice. For the rum. That I still haven't drunk, but sounds better and better every day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Believe Those Who Are Seeking the Tooth...

Believe those who are seeking the tooth; doubt those who find it.

--Andre Gide (whose wisdom of teething knows no bounds)

I started writing an hour ago and only managed a fraction of a sentence. Now it is all lost in my brain and I've not the mental capabilities to reconstruct it.

Arabis continues to be miserable and I do all I can. This multiple tooth cutting business is hell. The doctor predicted months ago (when I lamented the fact that my baby had no teeth) that she'd probably get them all at once. I, in my naivete, had no clue what that would actually mean.

It means discomfort. Of the extreme variety. And pain. It means nights of no sleep and days of getting nothing done. It means grasping at every possible remedy to relieve the discomfort. It means screaming and crying and gnawing.

She is cutting four teeth currently. Two of them molars. I suspect a fifth tooth of the molar persuasion to be lurking just beneath the surface. I do what I can and it is never enough.

I have no brain and very little time when the child is not clinging to me for comfort or wailing at me in pain. So forgive my absence a bit longer and commiserate with me in spirit. I'm still here. Just busy doing my Mama-act.

I promise, once this instance is past, I will write a long and witty post wherein there will be no mention of teeth whatsoever. Maybe it will even be baby-free. I am beginning to feel like one of those women who can only ever talk about their kids, but she takes up all my time. And I love it. know...I don't want to bore my friends.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Long and Drawn Out Silent Scream

We are awake and have been for the past hour plus. Because teething sucks. But molars? Qualify as torture under the Geneva Convention.

So we sit wrapped in a blanket. Arabis has buried her head between my breasts and has one hand laying against my neck. I have her completely covered over with a soft, fleecy blanket and she is moaning softly.

Teething sucks. That is all and that is enough.

I am beyond tired.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Eeny Meeny Greeny Beany

"Eeny meany greeny beany. The green beans are about to speak!"
"Are they friendly green beans?"
"Friendly? Juuuuust eat 'em!"

(With many thanks to Jay Ward and Rocky and Bullwinkle)

Green beans are Arabis' faaaaaavorite food. I cannot begin to express the joy of this child when presented with green beans. We have just started giving her actual pieces of green bean to eat, rather than feeding her the mushy baby food stuff. She has been in green bean heaven. Greeny beanies for breakfast. Greeny beanies for lunch. Greeny beanies for dinner.

Is it possible to get too much of a good thing?

Yes. Yes it is.

I can illustrate why with four words: explosive green bean poop. With little green chunks of bean.

Can I hear a collective "EEEWWWW" from the congregation? Tell it to me, brothers and sisters!

Which, as soon as I removed her diaper, she proceeded to roll around in whilst attempting to flee, sending green poop flying in every direction.

I decided to put her right in the bath. It was the only way to deal with the mess. Since her previous bath time accident I have been waiting until after she's defecated before giving her a bath. I mean, she's pooped three times today. What are the odds?

After giving her a quick rinse under the running spigot, I filled the tub and jumped in with her.

This isn't quite going where you think it is.

She peed. Now, had she just sat in the water and peed like any self-respecting baby would do, no one would've been the wiser and the bath would've continued just fine. Not my daughter. She had to stand up and face me. Smiled the most beatific smile in the world, bent her knees slightly and peed like a race horse. Grinning the whole time. Did I mention the grin? Like the Cheshire Cat meets Sardonicus. Like she was saying "Piss on you, Mom."

I drained the bath and we finished in the shower.

Mojo is home and watching the baby. We all (Monkey, Weasel and I) had meltdowns just about as soon as he walked in the door. I managed to make a decent dinner. The Weasel Grrl has been an Evil Dwarf all afternoon until I realized it's the four damned new teeth that she's cutting. So she's been dosed with both Tylenol and Baby Orajel and is finally sleeping contentedly.

I'm drinking fruit punch flavored Kool-Aid with a shot of rum in it since that's the closest I've got to a fruity rum drink around the place. Now, if only I had a little paper umbrella...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Random Ramblings (or "Two Posts in One Night? Holy Guacamole, Batman!")

Sunday night and it is blissfully quiet. There is not much traffic outside. The baby is held fast in Morpheus' loving arms and Monkey Boi is at one with his Gameboy. Mojo is at his normal Sunday night gaming evening, getting his geek on. And me? I'm bloody exhausted! There is so much to do that I indulge in the mental equivalent of standing in one place and spinning round and round until I fall down where I am, overwhelmed by the dizzying enormity of it all.

I want to write about our trip to Santa Cruz to be with my cousins. Of having reached a place within myself and with Monkey Boi where I am actually enjoying his company and we are getting along *really* well. Then I glanced at the calendar tonight and realized that he goes home to Ohio in two and a half weeks and became overwhelmingly sad.

I want to write about the ongoing dreams that haunt and sometimes torment me at night. And how I will occasionally have a grandmother walk through them to set things aright if I get too upset.

How I noticed tonight that Arabis has three new teeth that have just poked their way through her bottom gum. The child now has 11 teeth. All grown in the last five months. Nine of them in the last three.

I composed journal entries in my head as I watched her playing with her cousins in Santa Cruz. She is officially a toddler, walking confidently in the world. I would let her wander around the balcony, among the safety of the 20 or so relatives scattered about, her small form receding in the distance as she explored, not looking back to see where I was. Then she would suddenly be there, throwing her arms around me as best she could and burying her head in my lap, grinning her goofy smile at me before wandering off to play again.

She is talking and signing more and more. Today she even climbed the entire staircase to the sleeping loft, all 16 steep stairs (I was right behind her the entire way, of course). Up to now, she's only gotten about half-way up.

She loves to play in the cats' water dishes. The swimming pool at the motel was an unheard of treat. We didn't get to the beach, unfortunately, as it was too cold.

And the 200 photos on my camera! All need to be downloaded and sorted. Then the gems of the lot must be edited in Photoshop for uploading onto Flickr, to you all to a photo montage of our trip.

How to write about my family? To find time to transcribe Auntie Mim's tapes and find my research notes (Mojo moved all that stuff somewhere).

How do I do all this and the dishes? Take out the garbage? The laundry? How do I be a mother and run a household and still be a woman and a writer?

Where is the time to be me?

Sweet Respite

Eight-thirty and the baby is blissfully asleep. I've put her in Monkey Boi's bed downstairs, not wanting to take her up to the sleeping loft until I retire for the evening as well.

"How is that big old bed working out?" I hear you asking.

Mojo enlisted Monkey Boi's help to bring it in from the hallway and haul it up the steep stairway to the bedroom while I entertained the baby in the living area. I studiously ignored the bangs, swearing and occasional cries of pain and let the boys do their thing. (The fact that I grew up in a furniture store and can move furniture like a pro is often lost on large men intent on "Doing Things Their Way" so I am content to sit and giggle if the situation calls for it.)

After the bed was set up, the bedding had to be laundered. Once again, I let the boys do their thing, only asking that they put an extra quarter in the machine for the bonus wash, since the sheets and comforter had been sitting in a storage shed for the last two and half years.

Eventually I cuddled up with the baby on Monkey's twin bed and fell asleep.

"Wake up." Mojo is shaking my shoulder. "Bring the baby upstairs and come to bed."

It is past midnight, but the bed is finally assembled, made and sits in splendid glory waiting for its occupants. And glorious it is, a lovely rosey-hued wood with four tall posts that taper gracefully at the top and head and foot boards with clean, arched lines. The bed is tall, almost three feet off the ground. I actually giggled climbing into it.

"I feel like the princess and the pea," I told Mojo.

The mattress is a delightful change from my ten year old futon and 22 year old metal bedstead. I sunk into its pillow-top and sighed. Mojo settled beside me, the baby in the middle.

Cut to the next morning. I am on the edge of the bed with my butt hanging out in the cold. I spy Mojo across the immense landscape of the bed, mirroring me. Arabis has moved herself sideways, her head under my chin and her feet in Mojo's armpit. Both cats have joined us and take up prime real estate in the center of the bed.

But the creme de la creme? It's Monkey Boi. Wrapped in a fleece blanket and stretched out at our feet.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ah, the Joys of Urban Life

We got one of our windows shot out yesterday. As many of you know, I live in a warehouse that fronts a major street. The windows are typical industrial warehouse windows, a bank of panes perhaps one foot by two feet in diameter, about eight panes high and 12 panes across.

Yesterday a little before six o'clock in the evening, there was a large bang, the sound of an impact, like something hitting the brick of the building, followed by another loud bang and the crystalline cries of shattering glass. Cats running, baby screaming, mayhem ensues. I got the baby in the Pack-n-Play, made sure the cats suffered no ancillary damage and called the building manager.

Mojo built a large, 16 foot long, five foot high wooden deck in front of the windows to act as a storage space. I had to climb atop this to ascertain which pane had been shot out and get it covered over as quickly as possible with cardboard, before a cat tried to escape. I also gave a cursory and almost impossible swipe at cleaning up the broken glass. I got most of it that could end up in the bottom of little cat feet.

No sign of the projectile. It was probably a bb gun or an air rifle that did the damage.

The glass was replaced today. I now have one clean pane of glass. If I suffered from OCD rather than ADD, I'd be up there right now, attempting to clean all the rest to match. I've got more important things to do.

Today, Mojo is emptying out his storage unit in the South Bay and packing it all up here, including his bed. His California King-sized bed. With the four posts. I am beside myself with joy. Trying to fit a 6'2" man in a double bed is bad enough, but add a woman a foot shorter, two cats and a squirmy toddler to the mix and you have a recipe for advanced sleep deprivation. I just hope he knows where the bedding is.

I have great hopes of getting the Bit used to sleeping on her own in a crib so that I can have a regular sex life again. It's pretty impossible right now, anyway, with Monkey Boi here for the summer. Warehouse living: one big room, sleeping loft, 26' ceilings, strange acoustics=sex not a good idea with a 12 year old boy downstairs who will be able to hear EVERYTHING.

I have begun having fantasies of a real house. With interior doors. And closets. Cupboards, even! Wooden floors. Linoleum in the kitchen. Bliss. Ever tried mopping cement? I don't recommend it.