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4 kittens

Best leave when your nose starts running.

Posted on 2017.07.18 at 22:54
Greetings from Newark Airport. I spent the weekend in New York, with old friends from when we lived in Austin. Just me - Jammies stayed home with the kids.

I am told I’ll be sleeping back in our yellow house tonight! Our long dark night of the perfectly nice log cabin is over.

While in New York, frolic in the Washington Square Fountain like the locals

I haven’t properly described our workaholic elderly Texan contractor, Pearce, who says things like, “I’ve started getting here around 6 am and leaving around noon so I don’t get heat stroke, I been to the hospital twice for heat stroke. When my nose starts to run, that means that I should leave before I start throwing up and gotta an IV.” He also tore his fingernail out, went to the hospital, got it wrapped up, and returned.

His wife told me once that she saw him shoot himself in the arm with a nail gun. He pulled it out, wrapped the wound with a shirt, and got back to work, because he had a predetermined stopping point in mind. He is a tough guy.

Keep your graffiti Greek and your ideas uncertain

Pearce the Contractor also told me, “I keep daily logs of everything that happens. That way, you wanna know why we’re not further along? I go back, I tell you, it rained this day, on that day these guys didn’t show up. I can show you why it went how it went.”

He’s 60 years old and just had his hip replaced. He built our stairs super shallow - only 5” risers - so that when we’re old we’ll be able to get up and down them more easily, which is how he prefers his stairs. He’s one tough fucker.

The storefonts that smile together, stay together.

Last Wednesday, Jammies and I met with the psych eval guy who will be testing Pokey. When I scheduled the appointment, he was very dry and harrumph-y on the phone. On the phone, he asked about Pokey’s behavior and I gave him the abbreviated version. He paused and I could see the gears turning in his head, “This is the part where you are supposed to express compassion to the parent.” He mechanically said, “This must be very hard on you.” It was like someone patting you without bending their elbow. Pat, pat, pat. I almost laughed.

I told him the truth, which is this: It’s fine. Pokey’s only six, I’m not too worried about him longterm. I think we’ll nip this in the bud. It’s just exhausting to be A+ parents all the time. It’d be nice to be B+ parents again.

Among other things, Pokey is pathologically competitive. I don't think that I’m competitive, but maybe it manifests in some suppressed adult way? Do I compare myself to other people? Neither of the friends I visited in New York have kids. (Although one is pregnant.) It invited a lot of comparisons in my head - what would my life be like without kids? - but maybe I was just musing and not competing. (Comparisons being joy-thieves, as we know.)

Would I feel lost and drifting without kids? My friends don't seem to feel like they lack purpose and meaning. Having kids keeps me too busy to fret about big questions like that. But in the absence of kids, would I have fretted? Will I have some soul-searching to do when the kids leave the house? Both friends have pretty good lives, but would I have been content with a pretty good life, or would I have been obsessed about milestones or production and recognition?

Make America Cyrillic, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic again.

At one point in the psych eval, we admitted that the kids compete for our attention. The psych eval guy said,"Maybe don't have so many kids close together?" That’s a sore spot with me. I’m self-conscious of having so many kids close together, and then not being able to handle it.

Later, in New York, as the pregnant friend recounted all the infertility troubles they’ve had, I felt self-conscious again. If she hadn’t yet gotten pregnant when I visited - if they’d still been in the midst of IVF - my presence might not have been very welcome. What could she say - “don’t come, I will have difficulty containing my bitterness and jealousy towards your ease of baby-having”? If she hadn't, I might have arrived unaware and had an awful visit. Infertility, the awful feeling of wanting so badly, but having no control over the outcome. I am self-conscious of how I might be unwelcome around people struggling with infertility.

New-fangled Ramen

Rascal wore underpants to school! What terrible timing, since we’re driving to Montana next week. But the daycare wants what the daycare wants. We are powerless to refute it.

Canonical Rascal at this age is to run in circles until he slams into someone’s backside, head into their butt, and is knocked backward onto the ground, where he starts rolling around maniacally, grabs something like a shoe or a diaper, puts it in his mouth, shakes his head like a puppy dog with a chew toy, gets a laugh from one of us, and stands up with the object still in his mouth and resumes running in circles. He is basically a labrador puppy right now.

“Can I sit in your yap?” he still says, which I love love love.

This is a bunch of fancy condos, housed in what used to be the Jewish Forward Daily Building. We went on a tour hosted by the Tenement Museum of the Lower East Side. I swear the tour guide told us "a tale of two banks" of which this was one, but now I can find no evidence that the Forward building was also a bank. At any rate, that is Karl Marx, Frederich Engels, Karl Liebknecht and Ferdinand Lassalle.

Ace got what she wanted: swim lessons at daycare. Last year she wouldn't get in the water, so we didn't sign her up this year. All June, she watched the other kids leave to swim, and felt sad about it. So we signed her up in July.
“How’d swimming go, Ace?” we asked after the first day.
“Bad!” she replied cheerfully. “I hated it all! I wouldn’t go with the boy in the deep water,” by which she means the swim instructor.

After the second swim lesson last week, this note came home with her:

All about Ace's Swim Day
1. I walked out of daycare.
2. I liked walking into swim class.
3. I like the water ramp.
4. I liked playing in the shallow and the deep end of the ramp. NOT THE REAL DEEP END.
5. I liked taking a shower.
6. I liked standing in the water ramp.
7. I like drying off.

Note: the class does not take place on the water ramp.

Today when I arrived home, I asked her about her day, and she said, "Best part? I DIDN'T HAVE TO GO TO SWIMMING!" She basks with pleasure in being contrarian. It's a real source of joy. (In contrast, Hawaii seems to find it bitter and unpleasant - but irresistible - to be contrarian.)

One night in New York, I went to my mom’s cousin’s for dinner. They live in a brownstone in Queens that has been in the family since the 1920s. My mom’s cousin grew up in the house, then raised his kids in the house, and now his grandkids. At least two of his grandkids. The landline phone number starts FL, for Flushing.

All his kids - my generation - have stayed in New York, and they’re all very close and loving. They turned down jobs away from the city because it was a priority to stay in New York. Maybe it’s city provincialism, but I also think it’s family ties. I want my grown children to come over for dinner, and I want our dynamic to be affectionate and chaotic and funny. Make it so.

My mom and my great-grandmother, age mid-30s and maybe 80.  I had big feelings looking at her dewy youth.

My uncle also shared a journal he kept back in 1990, of a trip that we took. (He is my first cousin once removed, but let’s call him my uncle, right?) When I was 12, my grandmother and I, and this uncle and his daughter (also 12)(she is my second-cousin, but let's call her my cousin), all went to Mexico together for about ten days. This uncle has a cousin on the other side who had a furniture factory down there, born of a vaguely Kerouac-ian adventure with his wife and some family seed money. I haven’t much thought about this trip in the 27 years that elapsed. Whereas my uncle and cousin seem to have revisited it together from time to time.

My uncle read his journal, and they brought out a photo album, and my brain exploded, remembering vividly all these details that I couldn’t have retrieved otherwise. The bouganvilliea-filled compound that exploded with rainbows of flowers, like a crazy Lotus land in the middle of fields of cows and donkeys.

One day, my cousin and I went to school with the eldest daughter, to play a game of soccer. I remember this game very well. It was an all-girls game, and in hindsight it was supposed to be amusing, like a powderpuff game, and none of them had really played much before. It was the first time I’d ever been good at soccer - I could dribble around them and do whatever I wanted, and score - and the first time I vividly remember not being able to catch my breath. We blamed it on the altitude, but it actually turns out that that's just me. When I sprint, I succumb to dry heaves. The other team complained that my cousin and I weren’t from the school, and so my cousin was not allowed to play her half of the game.

That makes it sound like a wonderful trip, but I mostly remember enduring the trip until it was over. My uncle’s described me as leaving to read in my room whenever the eldest daughter’s Spanish-speaking friends were around. In contrast, my cousin stayed and listened to the girls speak Spanish. I am pretty sure I found it unbearably awkward to be twelve and not understand a thing.  I was mildly surprised to hear my current antisocialness described back to me in my tween years - I thought that at age 12, I would have feigned extroversion. Also I spent a lot of time with all the animals in the compound - the dogs, the cats, the kittens. I particularly remember the kittens. My cousin was very solicitous of the younger sisters, particularly the three year old; I wasn’t.

I don’t think the cousin and I got along very well on this trip. We didn’t fight, and superficially you would expect us to find common ground, but we just didn’t. I didn't enjoy the trip very much, so I was probably a bit of a pill. I like to think that we’d be friends as adults, if we were in closer proximity - I like her - but maybe not. Some people I’m very fond of but can’t figure out how to hold a conversation with, even if they’re chatty.

Oh! I passed my tattoo interview! I’m so pleased! The current artist is roughly my age, and had a sort of quaalude earth mother vibe to her. I don’t think it ever occurred to her that she could reject me. I showed her my cats, and she said roughly, “Well, this will take a lot of collaboration to get it to a place we both love! Let’s get started.”

I’m slightly skeptical of her ideas, but entirely confident in her collaboration process. That no ink will be poked until I feel good about the design.

After I paid my third deposit - I now have dropped $500 in deposits to three different artists - two other tattoo artists emailed me out of the woodwork to follow up. Too late, suckas.

Vase in Korea Town

I have a very tiny weird spot where my skin is tugging, on my chest near my left armpit. I have visions of breast cancer forming in some left behind gram of tissue. It makes me nervous. Maryam Mirzakhani died this week at age 40. I never met her, but it was one of those famous deaths that hurts as if you did know them faintly.

Big props at Governor's Island, which was unpleasantly and surprisingly hot.

I am home now. Really home, in our yellow house, with the cats and Jammies. It feels more surreal than it did during my quick visit. There's ten feet of empty space under the floor! The views are thick with leaves, light dappled! I'm enjoying it quite a lot.

Finally, this is from before we went to California. Hawaii packed her own clothes.

Very tidy!

I had to open up her nested packing cubes the next day and ascertain whether there were the right numbers of socks, underpants, etc.

The filing system of alternating underwear, with allocated spaces for socks, made my job a breeze.

She's like a Doogie Howser of organization. She and Jammies get into passioned arguments about the best way to organize things. Afterwards, he vents, "I can see why she thinks that's the best way to organize it, but if she could step back and see the whole picture..."  It's so great.


(Anonymous) at 2017-07-19 12:01 (UTC) (Link)


That psych eval guy sounds like a real winner. Don't have so many kid so close together? (1) Like that's something abnormal? Most families that have more than one kid have them close together. And (B) What's he think you should do about it at this point -- adopt out every other one?


I too am fretting about cancer. One of my friends, a woman from my writing group, died of cancer this spring. She was diagnosed in February and died at the end of March. And (as you probably remember) I had thyroid cancer about 20 years ago. So ever since my friend died, I've been having these weird feelings, like I've got a tumor in my throat.

Which I don't! I went to see my PCP, who checked me out, and then prescribed some Valium. The Valium is nice. I'm still obsessing, however.

I guess what I'm saying is, if you're worried, go see your doctor. They'll reassure you and also maybe give you some nice drugs.

It could happen!
(Anonymous) at 2017-07-19 12:02 (UTC) (Link)

Well, rats

I'm anonymous again. WTF.

That was me, delagar
heebie_geebie at 2017-07-24 04:26 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Woes

The lump in the throat is particularly freaky to me - that was my mom's presenting symptom back when Hawaii was born and my mom was diagnosed with esophogeal cancer.

I did end up getting the chest tug checked out. My local PA could also feel it, and sent me to get an ultrasound. That was validating that she could feel it, and terrifying. And then the ultrasound came up clean. Just some tissue regrowth. I'm still weirded out but willing to do the "watchful waiting" thing.
(Anonymous) at 2017-07-19 15:40 (UTC) (Link)

J, Robot

I wish Hawaii could come organize my life. I love packing cubes, but they're nowhere near as efficiently packed as hers.

If the spot is worrying you, get it checked! I've made appointments with my gyno to check out what turned out to be tiny little fat deposits, and she always says the peace of mind is worth it.
heebie_geebie at 2017-07-24 04:27 (UTC) (Link)

Re: J, Robot

Thanks for the encouragement. I couldn't get in to the dermatologist, but the local PA sent me to get an ultrasound, and that came up clean. So I'm feeling more relaxed, but I'd feel even better if it resolved itself completely.
(Anonymous) at 2017-07-24 14:35 (UTC) (Link)

RE: Re: J, Robot

The two spots I've had checked out (chest and top of spine) are both still there, unfortunately. I've had three different doctors feel them for me, though, so I suppose I'll believe that they aren't cancer.
(Anonymous) at 2017-07-22 13:58 (UTC) (Link)
Same as Delegar on thinking the psych evaluation guy sounds like a dumbass. First, it sounds really implausible to me that your family size has anything to do with this, and second, whether or not it does, could there be a more useless comment to make? What are you supposed to do with that?

heebie_geebie at 2017-07-24 04:28 (UTC) (Link)
I know, right?! I'm supposed to get self-conscious and feel awkward, I think, which I did beautifully.
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