Sunday, July 31, 2005

The marriage wrecker

My husband has many nicknames for Cedra, not among my favorites is "the home-wrecker." She earned this one after several of our couplefriends experienced relationship-shaking fights in the wake of a visit from us. The source of the battles was babylust. Michael likes to think it's because Cedra is just so cute.

I think the truth is that many, many of our friends are at the lifestage when cultural pressure and biological desire to reproduce start to clash with years of being told that parenthood is to be avoided at all costs until you're good and "ready." Financially ready? Chronologically ready? Until you've read all the classics and visited Bali? Until you've forgiven your own parents? Whatever, just "ready."

We've gone to two weddings this summer and have two more to go. There were also two to attend last year, and three the year before. We're all 28 to 35, and it's evidently time for the hedonism to stop and the family-forging to begin. In most cases the female involved is dealing with some impending birthday before which she absolutely must be a mother. It's usually 35, although 30 and 32 are also commonly cited. The women are ready, the guys just don't see how a pregnancy is a practical possibility. There are problems with insurance, housing, jobs, the relationships themselves. The only solution seems to be throwing the voice of reason toward hoo-ha and just jumping in. Appropriately, I'd say. Once they're parents they'll be doing it constantly.

There was another wedding yesterday. The groom wore a kilt, the bride is Brazilian but ethnically Yoruban and wore a long red tunic. There was a lot of chanting, a lot of Portuguese spoken, and a lot of wishes for many healthy children from the bride, the grandparents and the two Yoruban officiators. The groom looked uneasy each time procreation came up, and there was a lot of nervous laughter from the attendees as well. There was also some shrieking, clapping, ululating and Apache war-calling, all from Cedra and always during the most poignant and hushed moments of the ceremony. I could have died. Instead I prematurely opened the complimentary bottle of bubbles intended for the reception and tried to inconspicuously blow them at knee-level. She quieted down and the whole thing was much less mortifying than when she morphed into a banshee during a tearful reading of a Pablo Neruda poem at one of last year's weddings. I'm changing her nickname from "The Homewrecker" to "The Marriage Ceremony Wrecker."

The conversations at the reception yesterday ran a wide gamut and included baby names, pregnancy, just how drunk on champagne you're allowed to get when you have a young child on your hip, and the fact that only two of those present (both single) went to Burning Man last year. No one's going this year.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

14th and Van Ness


She ate a worm.

Sabra ate a worm at her playgroup this morning. One of the mothers found it and gave an impromptu biology lecture, encouraging the kids to touch it. Sabra, the youngest, was either the only one brave enough or the only one dumb enough to take her up on it. It was in her mouth within a half-second. I said "Oh, shit!" in front of six toddlers.

We managed to get both pieces of the worm out before she swallowed any, so I guess she didn't technically eat it. I am obviously a little proud otherwise I wouldn't have called four family members and booted up the blog to share the joy.

What disturbs me is that only one of the other mothers seemed to think it was as damn funny as I do. The other four were genuinely shocked and appalled. WTF? I'm mean, it's not like they all don't eat sand like Carter ate little liver pills, as my uncle Roy used to say. Worms eat dirt, Sabra eats worms, and the cycle of life goes on.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


We were in Yosemite last weekend with my parents and nieces, out from Oklahoma. It was an american family vacation in the purest sense from the "I'm here and I paid the entry fee, now entertain me" destination to the mini-van we rented to haul all of us.


A few soundbites from the weekend are probably worth a thousand descriptive words:

9 year old, after wading in water that had been snow maybe 10 minutes earlier:

"My feet are, like, totally numb."
6 year old: "Yeah, my feet are totally dumb too."

"Hey! I think I left my ($120, cheerleading-team uniform) tennis shoes in the parking lot back at Bridal Shower Falls!"

"Can we go to MacDonald's?"(Repeat 60 times, turning to Aunt Kim and adding hopefully:) "They make fruit and walnut salad."

6 year old, woefully, to her mother on the telephone,
"Aunt Kim says they don't have KFC in California."

and finally from my mother, in her most authoratative tone:

"If I hear the words KENNY CHESNEY one more time, you girls are NOT going swimming when we get back to the hotel!"

But the conversation I'd really like to transcribe took place on the Yosemite Valley Floor tour bus. I think you probably had to be there, though, and I couldn't do justice to the accents unless you're an expert at reading phonetic script. The protagonists were a group of 18ish French backpackers and some elderly Amish men, the topic: the ins and outs of Greyhound bus travel. Evidently the Amish are considered experts of sorts on Greyhound travel, who knew? Both groups were decked out in their full respective uniforms, the Amish with their hats and beards and the French with the word "PUMA" emblazoned across every clothing item and accessory from socks to packs. Good lord, the Amish and the French! You can spot 'em from a mile away, you can't get 'em to fight a war for ya, and they think they've got the last word on every damn thing. (Just kidding--about the Amish.)

Waiting for the tour bus with Doody (cherokee for "grandpa," and conveniently descriptive in English) and half the population of northeastern Indiana.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The blogger blockade is down

I learned yesterday that my blogger account didn't allow anyone without a blogger handle to comment. I changed it so if you have something to say, shout it on out.

BTW I love it when I'm filling in a text field, I get a few letters typed and my browser (Safari) automatically makes suggestions based on things I may have typed into any random text field over the last 2 years. When I started typing "the blogger blockade is down" above, I was given the options of entering "The Bermans are soooooo L.A." and "The bitch! The bitch!," both of which I believe were titles of posts I made to UrbanBaby, the former last fall and the latter 2 weeks ago after I learned that Angelina-Jo had named her daughter Zahara. Zara was at the top of my list for the new baby I'm plotting.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Soy Vey, it's Sabra in Chinatown

So we didn't name her Stephanie or Tara or Tiffany.

Here's Sabra in front of her favorite Chinatown restaurant (although we've never actually eaten there.) It's near Grant and California, if I remember correctly.

sabra in chinatown

Monday, July 18, 2005

KidPOWER! (SF Playground Review #1)

First in what may or may not become a series, I offer a review of our closest and favorite playground:


"KidPOWER PARK"--so the sign reads-- is located on the backside of the 16th/17th and Mission block, which locals will recognize as one of the rowdiest in town. Nevermind that, once you're inside the playground you're a world away. Well, pretty much; more on that later.

You'll find it on Hoff Street, the half-block between Mission and Valencia, or, if you prefer, between the dignified twin security guards who never fail to wave back at Sabra as we pass. Twin A guards the Wells Fargo ATMs on the corner, and Twin B has held the more frightening station at the door of Pancho Villa's Taqueria ever since someone was shot there in the late '90s. But again I say: Nevermind that. Feel free to drop in on Pancho Villa. Sabra loves to drink horchata there and watch the cleaver-weilding meat man chopchopchop.

KidPOWER Park is evidently relatively new as Sofia, the four-year-old who is present and ready to dote on Sabra most afternoons, informed me that she attended the "gwand opening" herself. It's modern and clean, with one of those squishy turfs made of recycled tires. The adolescent palm trees do little to block the midday sun, so it's a little lacking in shade, but mornings and late afternoons are great for slacking at the picnic tables with ice-creams purchased from the inevitable helados guys.

As is requisite for any good toddler playground, the baby and big kid areas are clearly distinct. A "community garden" and the picnic area with a three tiered fountain separate the two. Sabra adores the fountain and I'm happy to say that I've seen no dead birds in it for more than a month now. Sofia says don't throw pennies in there; city ordinance.

The community garden is apparently always locked unless a certain dark-haired woman and her very cute and spunky sixish-year-old daughter happen to be there. They evidently maintain the garden and no one else has access. They may also have the keys to the front gate which is occasionally padlocked, especially on Sundays. But note that the two other doors open from the inside, and it is standard procedure to scale the 8 foot fence and prop open the doors if you find the park locked during the day.

garden lilkidsside
The community garden and toddler play structure

The big kids' side has some of the most appealing play structures I've seen. I once saw a two year old stop in her tracks under the flowered archway entrance, stare dumbstruck at the jungle gym and repeat in a quiet, incredulous voice: "It yooks yike a 'pider web.... It yooks yike a 'pider web." And it does. There are hammocks under the spider web of which my hub Michael is particularly fond. Another city ordinance discourages the lounging on of hammocks by adults if you are not accompanied by a child in the immediate vicinity.

piderweb whirlmachine
The Spider Web and the Morgan-and-Sabra-Go-Round

It's a veritable oasis on the underside of one of SF's most colorful blocks and for the most part the gritty side of urbia stops at the gate. You may still get the occasional soundbite, though. Example: Overheard as I pushed Sabra on the baby swings on a recent warm summer afternoon:

CITIZEN STREET-INHABITANT OF THE MISSION, FEMALE: (Barely audible proposition, along the lines of:) "Buy me a burrito. What's wrong, you don't have the money? Asshole!"


CSI o'the M, F: (more inaudible harrassment)

CW o'2D, M: "Shut the fuck up! Crack whore! I'm gonna call the police!"

CSI o'the M, F: "You're gonna call a five-oh? I'M a fucking five-oh, motherfucker! Yeah, that's right! I'm a fucking five-oh, and you better get those dogs on a leash!"

Something tells me she wasn't a cop. But remember that the security guards Hekyl and Jekyl are always right up there on the corner, armed and wishing to god something would happen.

Come on over, you'll likely find us there on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons and Sofia will be happy to give you a tour and read you the rules. And don't forget to bring two bucks a head for helados.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Pietro and Re-Pete

This weekend we learned the names one of my husband's high school friends has given his brand new identical twin sons. I was a little taken aback at first, but now that I've sat with the news awhile I say props! props! props!

Background: The mom's last name is Italian, for the sake of her privacy we'll say it's Zamboni (it's very close to that.) The Dad's last name is something close to Mulligan. They've given the kids different last names, with first names that are a shout out to each side of the family tree:

"Matteo Zamboni" and "Aidan Mulligan."

Remember, these are identical twins. And Zamboni and Mulligan aren't the middle names, they're the for-the-record respective last names.

Their father is a stand-up comedian and a former segment producer for The Daily Show and their mother is an actress with my all-time favorite show Strangers With Candy to her credit (call me a name dropper, but then remember I'm not actually using their names.) Both of them, as you would expect, are natural born smart-asses and collectively represent my best hope for bringing my lustful preoccupation with Steven Colbert to fruition.

Babies and mom are healthy and doing great, and I guess Dad is too. Although we all keep laughing about the time his arachnaphobia got the best of him during a job interview when he was faced with a tarantula-inhabited terrarium on the desk of the potential employer. He ended up in tears.

So now we're all like, "Hey Paul, you crybaby! Twins, like tarantulas, total eight arms and legs!" Good luck to 'em.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Soliloquy: For Guh

I think the first word out of Sabra merits a few words from me:


This is Gus:


I would guess it's common for couples to have a child-pet before they try out parenthood on the real thing. In our case, the child is Gus. I refuse to use a term like fur-baby, but raising the topic of Gus usually turns me into that Looney Tunes monster-manchild that used to love on the reluctant Daffy Duck: "I want to hug him and squeeze him and kiss him and love him and comb his hair..."

Gus came to us four years ago, within weeks of our temporary move to Portland, Oregon. We had a big new house and no bossy pet-hating landlord and it was clear that what we needed to make our domesticity complete was a cat. We went to the pound and checked out plenty of cats, but it was a just-for-the-heck-of-it stop in the small animal room that ended in the misty-eyed bliss that comes with love at first sight. He was stuck in there with a bunch of cute but pissy and antisocial chinchillas, and we just had to bring him home.

Gus was litterbox trained even before we met him. He moved right into our kitchen, with his little box under the computer desk, and Michael proceeded with plans to install a cat door nearby. Gus spent most of his days slacking on the deck and making the squirrels nervous before climbing back in through the cat door/Gus door at nightfall to lie under the woodburning stove while we carried out our nightly rituals of three hour dinners and wine drunks. He made the move with us back to San Francisco, where he weathered the brunt of my pregnancy-induced maternal infatuation with his well-being. I made him five salads a day, stuffed him with yogurt chips, bought him wind-up zoo animals and a little yellow matchbox Hummer to toss around the kitchen. I brushed him and clipped his fingernails much more often than was necessary, and he patiently endured.

As my pregnancy progressed and we began thinking about birth plans and labor strategies, I compiled a little photo album of our best Gus pictures that I planned to meditate on when the contractions became too much. As it turned out, when the contractions started I couldn't bear to look at it. Gus, so calm, so quiet, so sweet, so composed... it just seemed wrong to stare at pictures of him while I was writhing, screeching, wheezing.

I worried that little Gus wouldn't get enough lovin' after the new baby came. It's true that he did get much less attention after Sabra moved in, and I'm sure he was relieved. But that only lasted until Sabra was old enough to take notice of him. Now, "Guh! Guh!" is the morning song we hear from her crib at the break of dawn. Getting out of bed means going straight to the kitchen to give Gus his morning salad, and she wouldn't stand for any variation in routine.

Now that she's more mobile I'm having to step in more often to protect Guh from her copious affection, and now that she's more verbal her vocabulary has expanded to include her other favorite things: "(ba)Nana!" "Cat!" (a stuffed one) "Da!" (never the oft-coached Dada) "ClapClap!" and, occasionally, "Mamamamama." But Gus was her first word, and he was her first love. Which just stands to reason, and just reconfirms that Sabra is taking her place in our little family; Gus was our first love, too. Love ya, Gus!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

6:15 on a saturday night

Nothing like it.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Walkin' the floor

See this hallway here?


If you've seen many San Francisco homes you know that all the old buildings have apartments that are variations on about four standard themes, and the Long-Hallway-Apartment, or "sleeping car apartment" (so-called because all the bedrooms open off that long hall) is a popular one.

Well, I've walked the length of this sleeping car a genuine minimum of 720 times in the last six weeks, bent over in neanderthal stance all the while. That breaks down to 40 times a day, seven days a week in the six weeks since Short-And-Naughty-No-Walk started toddling while holding to one of my fingers. She just won't let go of that finger, even if I've let it go dead-fish limp so that it gives her no support whatsoever. When I shake her loose, she stands confused for a split second before bending over and placing her hands on the floor and breaking into a squall.

The girl is thirteen months old, plus the nine days I always give her to compensate for her arrival a week and a half before her due date, and she's yet again dawdling on the threshold of a major milestone. Don't tell me "she'll walk when she's ready." I know she will. But she's damn lazy, just like her daddy. And hypervigilant just like her mama, "hypervigilance" being one of my defining characteristics according to my current therapist. (Aside--I find this label useful and cite my hypervigilance as an excuse for everything from selective agoraphobia to the refusal to take responsibility for cooking expensive slabs of meat.)

My grandmother, by way of Oklahoma, suggested I find one of those old-fashioned clothespins and subtly use it to replace my forefinger. After she acclimates to walking with the clothespin in hand, I am to let go of the clothespin on the sly allowing her to walk free. Course she'll have one hand in the air, pointlessly waving a clothespin; hearty har-har!

We're fresh out of old-fashioned clothespins, but I led her around on the end of a Sharpie all morning. She's napping now, I plan to try releasing the Sharpie on her this p.m. I'll let you know how it goes.