Friday, November 30, 2007

Bloggy Bonus II

I have no idea when this originally aired, but I have to watch this about once a day. It gets me through the ba-night.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

These Dreams

It's the end of the world. There are not many of us that haven't been taken by the disease, the one that has mutilated the entire human race into leagues of rotting zombies that bear telltale holes in their hands and feet. We are the walking dead, bearing the stigmata but with no hope for salvation. A leader has sprung up among the damned. You know him by the figure of the Virgin Mary he keeps with him, the closed eyes, the hands closed in prayer, the sword he has rammed through her side and uses to drag her through the streets when he leads the pack onward to nowhere.

These are the kinds of dreams I have on a NORMAL night.

One of the side effects of zoloft is "vivid nightmares." This I took almost as a challenge as I've endured epic sagas and violent massacres and terrifying movie-worthy plots since I was a child. I'm used to it. However. At 3 AM, just after she nursed, Harlow started screaming. Her hands clutched to her head, she screamed and screamed, clearly in the throes of a terrible nightmare. My whole body was flooded with adrenaline but I just sat there, kissing her, trying to soothe her until she finally nursed and fell back asleep. It was a long time before I did. Was it the medicine doing this to her? Was it a coincidence? It's impossible to know but I'm incredibly nervous about continuing onward with the meds.

Speaking of, there's no shortage of spooky in taking this stuff*. Besides being a Nancy Reagan kid, there's a reason I didn't take drugs like everybody else in college. It's monkeying around with your brain. Now even though its legal, it's no less unnerving. It's like someone hung a Please Pardon Our Dust sign on my frontal lobe. There's something clearly going on up there but I'm just having to wait until the grand unveiling to learn exactly what.

* Although the stats claim that millions of Americans take some kind of anti-depressant or SSRI, I've been hardpressed to find folks who openly talk about it. I think maybe as depression is still viewed as an imaginary affliction, perhaps that's why it's seen as taboo to discuss the treatments. So see me as a guinea pig for any of you considering trying it out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

8 months old

Well howdy, eight month old lady!

You are the lover of raspberries - in solids and with your tongue. Speaking of that tongue, I'm worried that you will forget how to use your hands as your tongue seems to function as an appendage, curling up toward your nose, searching the wind for the scent of your prey, perhaps? You love to wave at people...and at animals and shadows and lint and light fixtures. You are an indiscriminate waver yet surprised when people wave back. Strange women love to wave at you and invariably tell you you have gorgeous blue eyes and the longest lashes they have ever seen. Then they start in with the whole modeling thing and I have visions of you and a 50 year old Tyra Banks barking at you to be FIERCE and I get the heebie jeebies.

You've been saying ma ma ma ma a bit. Mostly da da da da and EEEEYYYYAAAAAAATHESOUNDOFSOMEONETRYINGTOSAWMYLEGOFFWITHABUTTERKNIFEIFICAN'TNURSEATTHEEXACTMOMENTIWANTO. You usually save that one for night time, when the ladies at target can't hear you scream. We've had a rough month, you and I. The separation anxiety seems to have passed for now. You will allow others to hold you. And apparently you read my blog because exactly 2 nights ago, you started sleeping better. I'm really hoping this has nothing to do with the Zoloft I'm taking because I'm really enjoying the one feed a night down from the 6 or 7 we had going there all month. Of course, my boobs don't know what the hell is going on, but who's complaining?

You seem on the verge of something big as you apparently needed to stock up for the winter. You are standing - with help - but once you are up that is all you, baby. You can roll something crazy, and now that you can hang on your belly for a bit, maybe you might start crawling. Not that I am in any rush. Just saying.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Crazy For You

There's this great little bookstore that I like to visit from time to time. Its shelves are filled with all the unproduced screenplays and TV pilots and spec scripts and short stories I 've written, along with the partially completed novels, abandoned plots, outlines upon outlines and scribbled crap that should never ever see the light of day along with the wish list of works that I know I'll never get around to. Like this one called Crazy: A History of Bitches, Saints and Your Ex-Girlfriend. It's all about how women get slapped with the crazy label as casually as you'd call them blonde or a Gemini (also known to be crazy).
"Why did you break up with her?"
"She's crazy."
"Did you see Ellen break down on TV the other day?"
"Yeah, she's crazy."
"What did you think of Hilary in last night's debate?"
"Uh, crazy."
"That woman is breastfeeding her toddler."
"She's CRA-zeee!"
Ok, this one might actually be true.

I always bristle at this label because it's usually patently unfair, usually a projection on the observer's part, and just cruel. But then sometimes they are right.

This past week was spent doing my favorite things- traveling, eating and hanging out with family - and I am hardpressed to recall moments where I was actually enjoying myself. I was so tense, so sleep deprived, so miserable that it was hard just to get through the day. Of course, I didn't want anyone to know so I put on my happy face and tried to be normal. Even staring at the ocean was no longer peaceful. The waves seemed to be a pretty good indicator of my mental state - choppy, chaotic, and unceasing. In addition to no longer sleeping well at night, Harlow started screaming right about the time our meals would arrive at restaurants, so going out to eat felt more like a task to be endured than a pleasurable experience. I was already in a black mood when we left for our last dinner Saturday and finally I just couldn't handle it anymore. Harlow started shrieking, I started crying and there I was. The lingering stress of her broken leg, the attack and robbery at the store, the perpetual feelings of failure, illness, the traffic jam of unwritten stories in my head, the lack of sleep, the dark circles, the heinous diet and complete lack of exercise all added up to one big crazy lady sobbing at an Italian restaurant and stabbing at arugula with her fork. I've struggled with depression and low self-esteem before, but never have I felt so completely rock bottom, so completely pointless. It's difficult writing these words because I'm so painfully conscious of who will be reading them - my family who I have scared to death with all I've shared over the past few days, old friends who I've been shutting out by not returning calls for fear of revealing how messed up I feel, and new friends who I'd like to introduce to the old me, the confident, smart, pretty, interesting girl who I hope still exists under all this emotional bullshit.

And then there is my daughter. This is her baby book, my attempt at chronicling her first days, her milestones and triumphs, her defeats and her challenges. My hope is that one day she will be able to read these words and peer through a window at her new self, her new world, her new parents. And that's why I'm choosing to include this. I want to get back to the task at hand, which is being a mother and trying to be the best one that I can be for her. I'm tired of junking up this blog with sad, poor-me tales of woe when I really should be telling you about how when Harlow eats, she gleeks so impressively it's like the dancing water fountain in front of the Bellagio. How she is working on crawling and has blonde hair that dusts the tops of her ears and still has no teeth. There are many moments of the day when her light shines through the fog and suddenly I am me and better. But most often I am numb and sad and utterly joyless. I don't want to look back on her first year of life as sheer misery. So I'm making some changes, I'm taking some meds, I'm announcing to the world that currently I'm a little crazy but I'm working my way toward normal. As normal as being a mother can allow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I've been feeling a little crazy lately, crazier than normal. When the crazy spikes, so does my desire to get the hell out of a dodge, so its never been unusual for me to just jump in the car and drive. Caleb remembers this well from the first time I called him from a Mexican restaurant in Palm Springs, explaining I just needed some air and hey wouldja look at that I'm in the desert. I don't have a desert to escape to anymore, so I chose the next best spot. My dad had bought a van to take down to Florida over Thanksgiving, so I had my getaway car and a destination. New Orleans beckons the crazy, clutches the looney-tunes to its powdered sugar busom, so I coaxed the hubby into a family roadtrip to the happiest place on earth - happy if you are half out of your mind, craving beignets and looking for answers in the tattered deck of a con artist psychic.

We rolled into the French Quarter Sunday night, and baby girl was wild with excitement. She was probably just thrilled to be out of her carseat, but I like to think that she, too, has her mother's gypsy blood in her. She squealed and waved to every passerby and eagerly grabbed at every piece of fried New Orleans grub within striking distance. Monday morning began at Petunia's, a pink gayer-than-gay breakfast spot featuring deafening showtunes, singing waiters, lots of men checking out my husband, and, naturally, homemade sausage. An 80 year old tarot card reader regaled me with tales of her peeping Tom before giving me a bland, general reading - though she kept asking me about the "blonde" I work with. (Andria is your aura burning?) Apparently we knew each other in a former life. I finally got to visit Faulkner Books only to learn that I had just missed the Faulkner writers conference the day before. The owner thanked me for shopping there and for not buying into the bad press. Come to think of it, I didn't see a single looter or war zone anywhere. The rest of the day was spent wandering around cemeteries and shops along Magazine Street in the Garden District. We ogled the giant mansions, coveted the cool boutiques and chowed down on fried chicken at Jacques-Imos to make it all feel better. Oh - that pumpkin pie gelato complete with pie crust at Sucre didn't hurt either.

Monday we got our requisite beignets at Cafe du Monde, watching men in clown makeup smoke cigarettes and a hustling trumpet player hold long-ass notes for applause. Then - a trip 7 years in the making - we drove out to Odd Fellows Rest cemetery. I spent the rest of the afternoon wondering how I managed to get the geography of Crimson House so messed up and if my story was even salvageable. More shopping and eating took the edge off. We had an incredible lunch at Lillette - sizzling,lemon-oregano shrimp in their creepy shells, a buttered brioche parma ham sandwich with buffalo mozzarella and leyer lemon. After such a yummy meal Caleb seemed a little more amenable to the idea of pulling up stakes and moving closer to foodie heaven. Dessert were truffles snagged from Prince Michael chocolate on the way out of town. We said a sad goodbye to New Orleans as we pointed the minivan toward the Redneck Riviera. I have a feeling I and my crazy train will be back soon.

Friday, November 16, 2007


If love is a battlefield, parenting is an IUD*-laced Shiite/Sunni turf war in Iraq. While the best advice I've ever received about parenting is to simply trust your instincts, I've somehow made it my mission to read every forum on natural vs. drugs, co-sleeping vs. cribs, crying it out vs. attachment parenting et cetera ad nauseum, and anything my gut is trying to tell me is silenced under the deafening roar of furious, outraged, self- righteous parents on either side of the fence. It's like wading into unmoderated presidential debate that doesn't have the grace to stop the bickering when the election is over. Parents are mad as hell and clearly not going to take it anymore online.

One side berates the other for being too fringe for the sake of the trend while the other sniffs back about being right with such a certainty that it makes me awed and not a little jealous. I have been urged by my family, friends and my own inner voice to stop reading, stop seeking out information and its resulting tug-of-war as it usually sends me spiraling into depression and uncertainty. But I can't stop. Knowledge has always equalled power in my book, and I think that maybe if I just look up one more thing online or read between the parenting lines in this forum, I will find that little holy grail that will exonerate me of my shame, free me of my guilt over letting her cry or feeding her constantly throughout the night or one of the myriad other offenses we've committed as clueless, desperate parents.

See - Harlow was ramping up to be a great sleeper. We live in the US of A, and it's our god given right to have babies that sleep through the night at 12 weeks. For us, it was down at 8 up at 4 or 5to eat and then right back to sleep. Every morning I said a thank you to the god of babies for being merciful. Breastfed babies are notorious light sleepers and lactating moms are hormonally altered not to enter the deep sleep cycle, a funfact I learned somewhere online - but Harlow hadn't gotten the memo. We had a few weeks of baby girl blissfully asleep in her crib with a 5 AM visit to the bed where we'd all wake happy and refreshed. And then we took a trip out of town and the schedule changed permanently. She quickly went from waking once to an average four times at night, and nothing would soothe her. Not dad, not mom. Only the boob. So I went back to the books and the internet. She was waking like clockwork, and according to the Baby Whisperer, this was the result of "accidental parenting," one of the more insulting, potentially damaging expressions to ever be levied on a parent. We had been given a perfectly easy child but through our repeated fuck-ups, we now had a needy, desperately panicked child who could no longer soothe herself. Way to go, mom.

We tried for a couple of nights to let her cry it out in a "controlled" method as advocated by our pediatrician. We let her go balls-out crying with no intervention for 40 minutes. This resulted in frayed nerves all around and more self-flagellation when we discovered she now skipped the whine and went straight to blood curdling scream if I was 2 seconds late popping a boob into her mouth. Then there was the "pick up/put down" method of Dad soothing the baby by picking her up and holding her until she stopped crying. Then she was put back in her crib - never, never the bed according to this one expert - and picked right back up if she cried. This actually went over ok - I mean, I got to sleep for once at Caleb's expense. In fact, I was so refreshed I actually got to read a little before I went to sleep the next night. I read all about how incredibly damaging it is to an infant's central nervous system to let her cry it out and how babies are truly designed to co-sleep for at least the first year. I mean, it should be obvious to anyone who does some research and actually gives birth that a itty bitty baby needs to be curled up with their parents at least in those early months, but she was actually sleeping really peacefully in her crib. Why shake things up? Unless I was supposed to keep her in the bed even though she was happy in the crib.

I read on. When western society became prosperous, bigger houses with additional rooms were built. For the first time since the dawn of civilization, babies were being scooted down the hall to sleep in their own room. As time marched on, the nursery design business boomed, moms went back to work and were coached that their independence was of the utmost importance. The baby needed to be taught from an early age to be independent, too, so none of that co-sleeping nonsense. Do you want your kid sleeping with you until they get their drivers license? The writer was horrified at what she had observed. Terrified, vulnerable parents were being taught to ignore their child's biological needs in exchange for a gleaming convertible crib and 8 hours of sleep.

I wanted to shoot myself. How dare I want sleep? 11:30 came and baby girl started screaming. I couldn't get her in the bed with me fast enough. She slept wonderfully that night, except when she'd wake and immediately scream for the boob. I slept on the edge of the bed, awakening every couple of hours with her to Elvis Costello's This is Hell in my head. Sure, lots of parents have it worse. Particularly those who have chosen to breastfeed and co-sleep. The other day I hung out with friends who have rigorously scheduled their children's sleep schedules, let them cry and bottle-fed them from birth, and everyone in that club sleeps really well. Their kids are well adjusted and happy. I see them and wonder why all the drama. And then I look at myself. I was bottle fed and left to cry it out and I am an anxious, perpetually nervous mess. Is my sleep worth my daughter's mental health? Parenting is supposed to be, always has been hard. But it's getting hard to cherish the rewards when all I want is my daughter to go to sleep so I can read more and find more answers.

I'd love to hear what my gut is saying but its staying mum.

* edited to say that I was going to change IUD out of its current Freudian-slippy form to IED, but I really like the mental image a battlefield littered with birth control options brings to mind.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Give and Take Cont.

What is going on with this year? The give and take, the yin and yang, she's up she's down strikes in typical Monday fashion. Started the day off learning my mom, the healthiest person I know, had been taken to the ER and spent the day there being poked and prodded after experiencing intense pain in the could this be a heart attack variety. It wasn't a heart attack or any of the scary words thrown around today, which is great, but she was discharged not knowing what it was, so there's the rub. Ended the night with Harlow gleefully drinking from a cup AND a bottle with me darting in and out of the room like it was no big thing. I'm drinking a rather large glass of wine to celebrate. And to medicate.

Cutest Banshee in the World

I'm starting to figure out how the system works. These babies are designed to give while they take take taketh away. My little seven pound peanut was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen and then there was this explosion of girth and rolls and suddenly peanut was babysaurus and I mourned the tiny creature who was no more. But hey - this new version smiles and seems to look right at me, like she KNOWS me. And that roly poly babydoll suddenly started moving and flinging herself off furniture and she scared the shit out of me, but look at that head control! And all the while there was this underlying easygoingness, this hey man, I'm cool, you're cool, so let's go shopping, let's eat out at a restaurant or go visit your friends because I'm just gonna chill. And regardless of all that recklessly fast, unsettling change, that cool, that baby Fonzie I'll call it, stayed the same. Until a couple of weeks ago. The day after the robbery if you want to get specific and read way too much into it. Suddenly Fonzie gave way to this holy screaming terror, this shrieking banshee that terrified customers at the store ("She sounds like she is in so much PAIN") not to mention her clueless parents. Suddenly none of the tricks worked. No pacifier, no daddy, just "I will scream like someone is repeatedly stabbing my leg with a fork until I am in mama's arms." The books are no help. On separation anxiety, it counsels to treasure the sobbing, blood curdling screams because in a few short years she won't give two shits about mowing you down with her car if it meant getting to your wallet on the way to the mall, so treasure this time with your little one. WTF?? How could somebody you've gotten to know so intimately change so fundamentally with no warning? Seasoned moms to whom I've posed that question just smile and look at me with a mixture of pity and triumph. What does that smile say? Silly mama, the one constant about babies is that there is no constant. It's the kind of advice I hope I'll be able to casually offer one day to a future quivering, clueless mom. Right now I must content myself with the knowledge that when she's not signalling the coming apocalypse with her bellowing, she makes the cutest little babbling sounds. Like dadadadadada. When she claws at her daddy's face to force him to deliver her to mama, I think he takes the dadadada to heart.

p.s. Toof, you are officially on my shit list. I don't blame you for not showing up yet. Buddy, you are going down.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cat watch your back

Is it wrong to fantasize about the slow, painful death of your household pets? The ones that howl outside your door at 6 AM on a Saturday morning? When you finally went to sleep around 2?

While I resume thinking about destroying my cat, here's a cute picture of the cute kid.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Procrastination Nation

My readership of 3 knows what happened last week, right? I just don't have the energy to do the details. Scary man attacked me with my chlid in my arms. Store got robbed. Man got caught. Man is in jail. Man is in karma jail. Mama and baby are hanging in. Both are a bit crazy. I'm trying not to read into Harlow's INTENSE separation anxiety as anything more than just the stage she's in, but the constant screaming if she's not physically attached to my body can't help but make me wonder if she's picking up on my whacked out energy. I am tired. I am sad. No, I was sad and now I'm angry. I'm a sad/angry/all is forgiven I am compassionate motherfucker is going down ping pong ball. But you know why I'm really angry? Motherfucker had to go and f up my writing groove. Seriously. Writing takes work and discipline and all I want to do is eat chocolate and take baths and watch Lisa Williams talk to people about their dead loved ones on TV. I mean, that kind of counts as research, right? My novel is all about psychics..well, the novel that I'm not supposed to be working on as I made an agreement with myself that I would be working on the other one. Definitely not the werewolf story. Or the dance movie. Sigh. I suppose if I'm gonna procrastinate, it may as well be by working on other stories.

And to all of you that have called and written and sent a prayer out into the universe for me, I want to say that your thoughts, advice and love have filled me up and make me feel floaty....when I don't feel like punching a hole through a wall and eating a small city. A small city made of chocolate.