Saturday, September 26, 2009

Language Lessons

For years, I have been communicating my needs to Corey very subtly at times and very obviously in others. Like sometimes, I talk a lot about cupcakes at breakfast and hope that he'll get some on the way home from work, though I don't actually SAY this out loud. I just mention the extreme preference for cupcakes above all other things. Subtle. Or when I'm sad and need a hug, I cry and tell him I need a hug. Obvious. I feel I'm being equally obvious when, after I go to the grocery store, I make little piles of things that need to go either upstairs or downstairs. Then, I put those piles near the appropriate staircase. Take paper towels. We store the paper towels in the basement. So when I buy those 92-roll packages, I kick them to the top of the basement steps.

The message? Next person to go down to the basement should take the paper towels along. I feel this is a rather obvious message. Corey disagrees and will climb over the paper towels or shampoo or tampon boxes or what have you. No matter how I arrange them on the stairs, he will march around or under or over these piles. When I see this, sometimes I get so angry that I also climb over the pile to make a point. This just typically results in both of us climbing around piles of toilet paper for a few days until I cave and put the shit away. It's maddening.

Today, our whole family went to Giant Eagle. It was our first actual family outing, because doctor visits do not count. Miles did a pretty great job, flirted with the cashiers, only cried at the very end. We were pretty joyous. When we got home, I put the groceries away while Corey changed a diaper. I set aside the ass-wipes (we call those moist Cottonelle towelettes "ass wipes" instead of "flushable moist wipes"...why polish the turd, so to speak?) and a package of disposable diapers (we use those for night time in hopes they will help M-Dub sleep a bit longer, to polish his turds, so to speak) and made a sort of barricade at the bottom step. The message? Next one upstairs should take along the ass wipes and the diapers.

I almost fell down and died when, a few hours later, I saw the diapers in M-Dub's closet. I actually did fall down and die when I saw the ass wipes put away in the bathroom. I am typing this from heaven, on a cloud of flushable moist wipes and perfumed disposable diapers. Why he waited until now, when he clearly had a baby in one arm and difficulty stooping to gather the diapers and ass wipes, I will not speculate. But he saw them in the way and knew what to do about it!

It only took six years of living together, but finally my Cookie Pie has learned to speak Katy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Attack of the Super Nerd

So I was riding my bike to campus today (both because I need the exercise and because I am afraid of terrorism and avoiding the buses until the G20 business clears up) and I saw an awning that made me pause. Literally stop pedaling and contemplate digging out my phone to take a picture.

I sat there, chomping my gum with my mouth wide a cow. God! I love chewing gum like that. Just chewing the crap out of a piece of gum. I digress. I thought immediately of my experience tutoring students for whom English is not their first language. Often, these students struggle with articles. As in, where do I put a? An? The?

This sign was a building label. This building label read as follows: The D'Arlington. Now, I am not an expert in French. I haven't studied it for many a year. But I am pretty sure that De or D' in French MEANS the...or at least "of the." So that building, those people who etched the stone oh so painstakingly, reads The The Arlington. Imagine the stoneworkers chiseling in a whole extra, unnecessary word?

I didn't take the picture. I just chomped my gum and rode away. But I sure do hope the French delegates see the building and laugh at us a little bit.

Unless, of course, my knowledge of French is super poor. In which case, the joke is on my sleep deprived self. Either way, I worked on through a great piece of gum and got a nice rest before a big hill.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oh, The Anxiety

Miles fights sleep. A friend of ours told us, bluntly, that he has a terrible case of FOMO. When we learned the meaning of this acronym (fear of missing out), we became entirely convinced that Miles indeed has a serious case. He will yawn, yawn, yawn, and then slowly rotate his head. Left. Right. Left. Center. Left again, eyes so wide they seem propped open with toothpicks. For hours.

Others have gotten him to become asleep in, say, twenty minutes? A half hour of trying? It takes me, usually, 1.5 hours. This generally includes a nursing session, several diaper changes, much marching of stairs, and, recently, very loud waterfall sounds on Corey's ipod plugged in to the stereo. Which replaces the static we used to blare from 91.7. Just last week, Miles' favorite white noise source, like, replaced their empty static sounds with screeching and, sometimes, music! Gah! So now we have waterfalls. Which I prefer.

But anyway, Miles fights the slumber. The FOMO gets going and I start to fear he will never overcome it. Until he does. Often, he will just collapse into slumber so suddenly, mid-wail, that I think he must surely be dead. The house will go from WAAAAAAH WAAAAAAAh WAAAHHHHHHHH to just silence. I never trust that he is not, in fact, dead, and generally have to stick my finger under his nose to feel his breath. Which wakes him up.

And then, every now and again, I get him to sleep. Actually asleep. Where I can put him down and walk away and he continues to be asleep. Theroetically, I could do work during these moments. But I am so paralyzed with fear that the FOMO will get him that I cannot do anything. Sometimes I can switch the laundry or eat or shower...or write a blog post. But my shoulers are super tense and I am like a cheetah on the prowl, each muscle ready to spring should the FOMO act up and my son stops napping prematurely.

I hear the little dude chirping awake right this very moment...but at least this time he slept for two hours first!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Random Thoughts I'm having Simultaneously

1. Is it bad if I drive to campus so that I can get home quickly enough for research for an article I'm writing for a sustainability website? I think I should ride my bike to maintain moral superiority...
2. What should I eat for dinner?
3. Will Miles be a good lad if I walk down to my friend's house and demand he make me a cocktail later?
4. How could it be that Miles drank only 2 bottles on the very day I wasn't up to pumping an extra for tomorrow? Is life getting better?
5. Have I bitten off more than I can chew in signing up for 3 freelance projects AND having student papers due?
6. Will I ever wear a tankini again?
7. Why do my feet smell if I wore socks today?
8. Can my students tell that the gaping sore in my face is from me picking a zit?
9. I really and truly love very dark chocolate.
10. The sweat on Corey's forehead beads up like prop sweat might on an actor

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


When we first moved into our house, there were a lot of little things missing/broken that didn't seem like such a big deal until they were. Like the doorbell. We had this mangled, broken, rusted, corroded piece of crap dangling from the door frame for a long time. And people would hesitantly bury their fingers into its depths, hoping for a sound to chime, and nothing did.

This is because, and we searched, there were no chimes inside the house. One day I couldn't stand the sight of the eyesore any longer and tried to rip the button unit from the brick. Only the screws were so mangled, the thing wouldn't come out. Corey and his friend Harry finally exhumed the thing from the wall and left a gaping hole until we could decide on a replacement.

We bought a fancy wireless doorbell and set up the chimes inside. We set them super loud because when Corey is down in his man cave, he can't hear ANYTHING except, miraculously, the notification that dinner is ready to eat. So now we have a loud doorbell. Then we had a baby. Whoops!

I keep meaning to either dismantle the doorbell or hang a sign near it. Because, my god, when Miles finally gets to sleep it is a shame and a half for something to wake him up. Our doorbell is super sensitive, so sometimes people ring it accidentally every time they walked into our house (not naming names!). Sometimes, it just goes off when a cat walks by our house.

Sometimes, delivery people ring it when they bring some of the metric tons of clothing Miles gets in the mail or the fruit baskets that are sent by angels. But today? Today was my last straw.

Since Miles is now a human being instead of a wailing changeling, he reluctantly takes naps. He started to look tired around 845. I had fed him not moments before, so I changed his diaper and started patting and rocking him. Nothing. Then I put him in the bassinet and just let him suck his thumb and stare at his monkey toys. Nothing.

I took him to the basement and stood by the dehumidifier. I marched up and down the stairs. I set him near his mobile. I played yoga music. I rocked him. I cried. I fed him again. He barfed. I changed his clothes. Nothing. Finally, eighty minutes of love later, he tuckered out. Slipped into slumber. I breathed a great sigh, stood up from the bed, and prepared to do something. Like maybe brush my teeth? Or pee?

But then I peeked out the window and saw them. Evangelists. Walking up toward my porch! Before I could sprint, before I could bellow, before Hell could freeze over, they marched their prairie clothes up my creaky steps, thrust out their plump fingers, and RANG MY DAMN DOORBELL!!!!!! Oh! They rang my doorbell!

I think I just sat down on the floor and melted. I know I hollered something out the window. Something about my baby, who HAD been asleep, and not having time to speak with them just now. Could they please leave? I might have been polite like that. (Although I was terribly impolite with Peyton, who worked the parking booth at the Irish festival this weekend, so who is to say WHAT I said to those buxom ladies who woke my damn baby?) It's ok, though, because they slipped a brochure about Armageddon in the screen door for me to peruse later. Like when my baby is napping I guess.

And, because this is what you do when you have a baby, I went back upstairs and started again. Luckily, he just needed a wee toot on the tit to drift back off. And as soon as it was very clear that he was under, I made a sign to hang near the doorbell: "SSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHH BABY SLEEPING! Please knock SOFTLY! Do NOT ring bell!"

I didn't take the bell down. Why? Because it's so sensitive that I am deeply afraid I will breathe near it and cause it to ring. And damn it, I need him to sleep at least until I can wash my face and put on deodorant. Maybe later, when Miles wakes up, I will dismantle our fancy, loud doorbell.

The moral? Be careful which DIY projects you wish for, I guess.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I like to think I am in charge of things. I like to plan ahead, take care of people, get shit done, etc. I am accustomed to being the person who has the sunblock or the chapstick or the extra garbage bags on days it rains and everyone's rugby crap threatens to get soaked. I am also the person with a mapped out life plan, who has spreadsheets and goals and really extensive to-do lists. And then I had a baby and major abdominal surgery and couldn't get out of bed. And then my baby cried all day. ALL DAY. Literally ALL THE TIME unless there was a breast in his mouth.

I went home to my parents' one weekend and he cried for 16 hours save for his nursing stints. For the first six weeks of this, people offered to do things for me and I said no thank you because I could do it all myself, right? I could totally handle the screaming AND do the laundry AND get ready to go back to work AND take care of Corey. Until one day I couldn't and I sort of collapsed into a really, really dark place. I called up my family and asked them for help.

And that, friends, is the hardest thing I have ever done (perhaps tied in first place with constantly nurturing Miles around the clock...but maybe even harder than that!). I mean, when I was in the hospital I allowed my sister to give me a sponge bath. And I peed blood on her feet in the bathroom and she just wiped it off and pretended it didn't happen (although she did photograph me later with a sheet boner, so perhaps she got her own after all). That was ok, because I was on drugs and everyone on drugs needs help.

But since then, people have been DOING things for ME. Things I usually do for other people. Like friends show up and cook me food. Or they sit with Miles and bounce him on a ball to radio static for FOUR HOURS so I can take a walk or just not be the person to do that. They come over and they bring pie and ice cream on the very day when there is nothing I need more than pie and ice cream.

And my teammates seem to miraculously appear around 5pm most days, when I want to be cooking or eating food, and they hold my son so I can eat with two hands. They just show up *POOF* like I pulled them from a hat.

But there really is nothing quite like family. I called them on the phone and they drove out here and stayed for ten days with plans to come back in a few more days. And man! Did that make a difference. It was like I could breathe oxygen again. I worked out a few times. I went to meetings. I stood in the back yard and picked gourds. And the best part? Corey's mom got Miles to sleep! During the day! Not on a human being!

And then a lactation consultant and I discussed Corey's lactardedness and how it might affect Miles and I stopped eating dairy. And then, suddenly, my son started smiling. Here is some evidence:

And this, in turn, allowed ME to smile. Which is huge, because most of the time I had been sobbing these deep, gutteral sobs like a wounded mammal and I was running out of tears. But yes, I can smile now. Here is some evidence:

So this, THIS is why people have children. This is what it feels like! How do people do this without family and friends and accepting help???? Why the eff was I declining offers before?

Perhaps because I have this strange German Protestant work ethic sort of pounded into my DNA, that combines with my type-A personality and leads me to believe I have to not only control everything, but be in constant motion, working every second that my body is awake because otherwise, I'm being lazy or useless. Anyone who has ever had a 5.5 week old baby knows that sitting on the couch producing breast milk IS work, but try telling that to my internal monologue. I have never felt as lazy and bone tired exhausted in my whole life.

But then, I have also never felt as grateful to have a community. Each day, when I think I am on the brink of despair, when there isn't anything that could possibly allow me to survive for another nanosecond, the doorbell rings* and there's a dude there with a fruit basket or Corey's mom scrubs my bathtub or someone takes my baby and tells me to just walk around the block.

You know what it's made me realize? People feel glad to do these things for me--they wouldn't offer otherwise. People love me (or at least my offspring). Human beings don't have to live in these tiny little self-controlled vacuums because sometimes, it's ok to be vulnerable (Not that I remember this all the time, but more hours of each day than before...).

So fear not. I am getting some help/love. And it's ok to allow my loved ones to express this love, because it makes me want to just pay it all forward to some other mom with furry, unbrushed teeth and milk stains on her good shirts. Mark my words. As soon as MW gets some neck control, he is going in the Ergo on my back and I am going to a new mom's house to paint her toenails and then wash her shirts. And I'll show up with pie!

*more on doorbells later

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Wee Hiatus

As it turns out, raising Miles has made me feel like I got hit by a truck. And then the truck backed up and ran me over again, while the driver yelled, "Face it, Katy! I am older and I have more insurance!" Or maybe the truck driver would have said something about relinquishing ideas of control or the notion that babies nap during the day, thus making it possible to carry on a normal semblance of a life.

I am at a place where I begged my family for help. And they came out here. Which is great, because I have become a woman who has to pencil in DUST LIVING ROOM a week in advance, so I really need the spare hands rocking my high needs baby.

While all this transformation and sleep deprivation is affecting me, I am simultaneously trying to return to work. I have taken three writing assignments and begun teaching two classes. And it is A LOT for me to handle.

All of this is to say I am taking a hiatus. I am not going to Facebook or Tweet or blog or even read blogs until I get my shit together. If I have 19 spare seconds to read Facebook, I could have been napping or clipping my toenails. If I have several minutes to post a blog, I should have been emailing my editors. Or commenting on student papers. Or peeing (still have to remind myself to do this, as that part of my anatomy hasn't regained functionality).

I will be back when Miles starts napping and I start getting crap done. In the words of the great Eric the midget, Bye for now.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First Feature!

My very first feature article in a national publication has printed!! Fly Midwest this month and check out the 8 page photo spread! I feel like such a rock star.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


This morning, I zippered myself into some pants. This is significant! I have whittled myself down to a point where there is a pair of pants in my home that zipper. Of course, I have to dangle my spare flesh over the top of the waistband in order for the zippering to happen, but nonetheless, here I sit. In pants.

Because I went to work today. I left Miles at home with Corey and headed to campus to teach and tutor for a full day. I was not heartbroken about this after all. This morning, I rocked my sweet screamy baby to a fitful sleep before leaving my house. I was forlorn for the first few minutes, but the closer I got to my bus stop? My steps became springy. I smiled at people. I sat in the non-handicapped seats and, like, read a book on the bus.

And then I got to campus and peed without a screaming kid dangling from the Bjorn. And wiped! Properly! By the time I got in my classroom, I felt like a million bucks. The more I talk to grownups about real grownup things, the more I can forget that somewhere back home, the static is blaring and there is a person frantically begging my baby to stop holding his breath.

I know a lot of moms have a hard time making it through this day, the first day apart. But man, this is a welcome respite for me. This is me recharging my batteries so I have the energy to parent my little dude in the evening. And I bet he will sense that I am coming to him with renewed vigor and maybe not scream for as many hours tonight. Heck, he might even nurse peacefully, enjoy his tubby, pee on my face and then laugh about it.

In the mean time, I am discussing comma splices and complaining about the transit system and griping about office politics. And it feels so light and free and amazing to stand in the sunlight and look both ways and cross a busy street as a totally nondescript person. Gosh.

Probably, 46 days from now when Miles is three months old and theoretically better able to handle being in the world, I will cry about being at work. Today? Work feels like a vacation.