Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Manipulation of Men

I have, since a very young age, been uncannily adept at getting people--men, mostly--to take a 'special' interest in me. Maybe it's because I'm small (5'1" at my full adult height) and I look younger than I am. (Even at 40, I still occasionally get asked for identification to buy alcohol.) I think I bring out the paternal figure in some men--and the old lech in others. OK, mostly the old lech.

Some examples, from days gone by: my 8th grade algebra teacher, who used to joke about wanting to adopt me, and liked to pick me up by the belt loops on my jeans and swing me around (perv), but who also used to sit next to me during algebra tests to help me through my test anxiety (which I developed because I sucked at algebra) since he just KNEW I was capable of A work; my 10th grade physics teacher, who let me and my friends have lunch every day in his lab because the lunchroom was so loud and jam-packed that we hated having to go there; and then of course there was my 7th grade science teacher, who used to give me and my friend passes out of class so we could come hang out with him in his lab and listen to music and talk about our teenaged angst and who I had a wicked crush on and who used to drive me home sometimes in his orange convertible Corvette and who used to have picnics in the park with us on the weekends. In fact, I remember one picnic where we got into an ice fight with the ice in the cooler he'd brought, and we ended up rolling around on the grass together, shoving chips of ice down one another's shirt. Can you imagine? I was 13, people. He was in his 30s. But hey. Free passes out of class! Rides in a cool orange Corvette! For a geek-girl, I was doing good...

There is a point here. And I'm getting to it.

Last night, I went to see the psychiatrist. And I liked him, I think. Hard to tell in just one visit, but he seemed sure of himself, and he was comforting, and he said to me, "You're going to get better, I promise." But as I left his office two hours later, my first thoughts were, "Wow. He was easy."

See, my goals going in there were several-fold: I wanted to name for what's going on for me (and I got it--I got three, in fact) and I wanted an educated plan of action for making it stop. But also, I wanted someone else to care as much as I do about getting this taken care of; I wanted someone--this guy, if he was to be my doctor--on my side fully, invested in my recovery, going above and beyond.

And so, without even thinking about it beforehand really, I did what I needed to do. I made sure to mention early on that I work in the public relations office at the same institution at which he is practicing. And then I made sure to mention that I "really do need to talk to you at some point in the near future about what's going on in this practice, because I don't think psychiatry gets the attention it should around here." In fact, at one point I even handed him my business card, urging him to let me know when the plans he was telling me about came to fruition. All of which was sincere, by the way.

Like I said, I was there for two hours. We talked about me for one hour, and then we talked about him--about his plans, his hopes, his career to date, the politics of where we work, the ups and downs. By the end, we had thoroughly washed each other's back: I had expressed great interest in making his group more visible on campus, and he had put in for permission from my insurance company to see me again next week to teach me some relaxation techniques, and was in the process of getting a list of qualified providers in the area who do cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is what I think I need, and he agrees), and promised he will make sure I get in to see one, and soon. He's going to remember who I am. He's going to want to make sure I get the best possile care.

This isn't nefarious, by any means. I didn't dupe him into giving me drugs I don't need, or trick him into a diagnosis that isn't true. I just did a little maneuvering, consciously and unconsciously, to get him on my side. Isn't it what we all want when we see a doctor or someone like that? Isn't it what we all want when we ask for help?

So why do I feel so dirty?

Too Smart

So I go yesterday evening for my first-ever appointment with an actual psychiatrist. And I give him my spiel, and it takes him less than 15 minutes to diagnose me. He started by debunking my contention that I wasn't have panic attacks because I'm not afraid of dying or going crazy, I'm just having these physical anxiety symptoms. He then debunked my contention that I was no longer depressed. And then the coup de grace, the point at which the man then looked at me and said, gently, "And, you know, there's a definite obsessional quality to both your panic and your depressive symptoms."

Not to mention that he took very seriously the possibility that I might still go down the road to bipolarity one of these days.

There was a part of me--an admitted sick part of me, though apparently there aren't so many parts of me that aren't sick--that was a little proud. Because I don't like to do anything half way. Not even being crazy. So walking out of there with a bunch of letters after my name--PD, OCD, depressive, bipolar status TBD--was pathetically gratifying. Because, isn't that the whole point? To win at the crazy game?

So, tell her what she's won, Joe. "Well, ladies and gentlemen, TC will now be the proud owner of some of the best psychopharmaceuticals available: a DOUBLED dose of Zloft, a lifetime supply of X*n*x, and a prescription for lithi-yum with her name on it, just in case." Party at my house, dudes.

And as a complete aside, here's the conversation we had when he started talking about obsessional qualities:

Me: It's funny you say that, because I used to have a lot of truly, unequivocally obsessive and compulsive behaviors, like leaving my office in Manhattan at lunch time and taking the train to Brooklyn to check to be sure my iron was turned off. But I always assumed that it wasn't actually OCD, because I was able to cure it just by getting an automatic shut-off iron.

Dr (laughs, then shakes his head with a smile): That's the problem with being too smart. You can rationalize anything.

And there in a nutshell is me, the girl who once uttered the immortal words: "I'm not a hypochondriac. I have things." I sort of hate that I can be reduced to a single throw-away line, but I've got to give it to him on that one...

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Tell Me It's Normal...

Tell me it's normal to feel a brief but white-hot flash of jealousy when you hear that your almost-7-year-old daughter is spending the day at the beach with her friend and the friend's family as part of the 'play date' you set up for her, while you're sitting in your windowless cubicle trying to work and trying not to think about your 5-o'clock psychiatrist appointment. (Oh, oh, oh to be a child in the summer again...)

Tell me it's normal to want to hunt down and physically throttle the people from the county who decided to pave all the east-west streets AND the north-south streets in your area--except for yours of course, which is a private street, and so you and your neighbors each had to pony up more than $700 a year and a half ago to have the street repaved--and to do them all on the same day, making it impossible for you to park within a half-mile of your home.

Tell me it's normal to want to run screaming in the opposite direction of the phone when your father is on the other end, because you just know he's going to tell you another story about how his pig-headed, manic-driven behavior has created even more heartache for him and everyone around him. (Too long a story to tell here, and it's not my story to tell anyway. But believe me when I say my father is, at times, breathtakingly dumb.)

I know it's not normal to have to concentrate on every breath you take, or to be completely unable to sit still without jiggling a leg or rocking back and forth. I know it's not normal to need tranquilizers and antidepressants just to get through a day. I know it's not normal to want to throw up everytime you think about going to see this shrink tonight, because you just have this feeling he's not going to be the one to fix you, and you really, really need fixing.

But tell me it's normal...please tell me it's normal...to despair of ever feeling normal again.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


So, as it turns out, N does indeed have a PDA, but it's an extremely tiny one (the size of a pin, says the cardiologist) and silent (i.e., no symptoms, not even a heart murmur) and requires no further follow-up. Oh, and his heart is back to perfectly normal size. So, yay.

Except, of course, that now I have this PDA thing in my head again, and reread all my research from last year, including how some people say even the silent ones should be closed. And so now it'll be just one more thing for me to obsess over on occasion, when I have nothing else to obsess over. And because of the fact that I had none of the PDA risk factors, and PDA is much more common in preemies and girls than in full-term boys, I'm adding it to my list of "for crying out loud, hasn't this kid been through enough?" along with the hernia (very rare to get the type he has) and his hemorrhoid (almost unheard-of in a child this young) and his failure-to-thrive cum constitutional growth delay. Because why would I want to look at the silver cloud--he's fine, he's discharged from cardiology--if I can focus on the dark lining?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

N's Heart

Baroy is taking N to the cardiologist today for an echo and a consultation. I'll be at work, then driving into the Valley to pick Em up from a playdate at a friend's house.

Before N was born, if you had told me my child would be seeing a cardiologist and I wouldn't be there, with stacks of research and a dozen written-down questions in hand, I would have laughed you off the planet. But in the past three-and-a-half years (as of yesterday, to be precise), N has taught me more about the difference between sickness and health than I could have imagined. In his short life, my very healthy little boy has been poked and prodded and x-rayed and ultrasounded for no less than a dozen different issues, ranging from hernias to growth delays.

This cardiology thing was an offshoot of all that. More than a year-and-a-half ago, N came down with pneumonia, and had to be hospitalized for a couple of nerve-wracking days. A couple of weeks later, we went to see the pediatrician (who works in the hospital) for a repeat x-ray to make sure his lungs were indeed clear again. She called me into her office to show me how beautifully clear they were (because she knows how fascinated I am with all things medical), and pulled the x-ray up on the screen. Then, carefully, she said, "But there's one small problem..." His heart was enlarged. Not huge, she said. Probably at the high end of normal, or the low end of abnormal, depending on how you looked at it. She was going to get a second opinion on it, she said, just to see whether it needed to be followed.

Two weeks after that, I found myself in a dark room with a technician, watching my son's heart beat on an echocardiogram. It looked, to him, like a PDA--a patent ductus arteriosus. I dove into the research while waiting for the 'best cardiologist in the hospital' to have an opening for us. The day we went to see her, we were there in full force: myself, Baroy, even my brother-in-law, who was worried about what all of this was going to lead to. As it turned out, the cardiologist didn't think it was a PDA, but rather an even more benign condition in which N had simply developed a few extra blood vessels in the area, which might have been causing his heart to work a little extra hard, which migh have led to the enlargement seen on the x-rays. Nothing to worry about. No surgery. Come back in a year.

A year came, and N came down with pneumonia again. (He is, many doctors have said, an extremely healthy child who gets sick a lot.) During the workup at the hospital emergency room, they did a chest x-ray, and I asked to see it. Because it was only a small pneumonia, and you could see the margins of his heart quite clearly, I asked the resident if he would measure it for me, and let me know if it was enlarged. "No enlargement here," he replied.

Which brings us to today, and why I'm going to sit here in my office and finish out the day, while N gets another echo and he and Baroy see the cardiologist again. I thought we could skip it altogether, but the pediatrician really wanted us to follow up--and apparently so did the cardiologist, who recently had asked the ped about how N was doing and when she was going to see him again. So we're following up. But, to me, it's over with. There's nothing wrong with his heart. He's my strong, healthy, tiny, hemorrhoid-and-hernia-ridden boy, whose heart is whole and pure and loving. The only heart enlargement going on here is mine, which swells each and every time N tells me he loves me or puts his head down on my chest and strokes me hair. He's fine. I'm sure of it.

But, yeah, I'll have my cell phone on all afternoon. Just in case.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Just the other day, a semi-funny, semi-pathetic experience from my past came back to me because of a dream I had in which one of my ex-boyfriends appeared briefly. And I was sort of thinking to myself, "Gee, should I tell that story on my blog? It's pretty funny, and it was pretty telling about the relationship and what would eventually happen to it..." and I started planning out how I would write it. I was going to tell you about this ex-boyfriend, a dental student (me, holder of the title of World's Worst Dental Phobic--that's a story in and of itself) who I dated for almost seven years, and how he had these roommates the last year (or was it two?) of dental school, and what those two dental-student-girls did to me--with my permission, because I Am An Idiot sometimes--one Halloween.

But then I got off on a tangent, just like I'm doing here. Because while I can clearly remember one of the girls--of course I can, since she's who the ex-boyfriend dumped me for, and they're now married and living their little dental lives with their little dental children--I can not for the life of me remember the other one. Not her name, not her face. I have this vague, niggling feeling that I even had another, slight, connection to her, but that may not be true at all. But it sort of weirded me out. Because I spent almost every weekend for a year (or was it two?) in a house with these girls. We went to parties together. We had meals together at times. And I have ABsolutely no memory of her, except that I know there were two girls in that house.

This is no isolated incidence. My memory of my past is so sketchy as to be almost worrisome. My sister recently recounted a painful memory of hers from childhood, and it was like hearing a story about a stranger, though I supposedly was IN THE ROOM when it happened. A girl I went to grade school with for years contacted me a few years ago, and even after looking at my school photos, and even after meeting her in person and having a lovely lunch with her and all that, I simply couldn't remember her. Not at all. And she says that she and I did a skit or a song or something in a talent show together. No memory of it. No memory of ever being in a talent show, either.

And then, just the other night, Baroy and I pulled down all the photos from when Em was a baby (poor N; his entire childhood is digitally stored, so he's never going to have the fun of going through boxes and boxes of mixed-up photos and trying to figure out how old he was in each one, the way Em was doing), and in there were pictures from Before Em, including me talking to a couple of girls I used to work with...AND I COULDN'T REMEMBER THEIR NAMES. That was MAYBE 10 years ago. What the fuck is wrong with me?

I had a rough childhood, I guess, in terms of 'things' happening. My parents were among the first in the neighborhood to get divorced, then my stepdad's first wife died (I've talked about how close I was to her), then my father remarried, then my half-sister came along and got sick (I've talked about that, too) and things turned upside-down in that part of my world, then my dad left the country for years and rarely, if ever, came home...but, really, I was a happy kid. Bookish. Nerdy. But happy. There's really no reason for large swathes of my life to have disappeared like this. And it doesn't end with childhood. Heck, the story I was going to tell happened maybe 13 years ago; I was in my mid-to-late 20s. This shouldn't be like trying to remember your kindergarten teacher.

I'm sure there's some deep-rooted psychological reason for this. And I'm sure that it's somehow connected to my--and my sister's--near-pathological ability to banish people from our lives with little to no emotion. But I'll tell you, it's a little weird when you're sitting and looking at a picture of people you KNOW you really liked and you KNOW you spent time with, and their names just won't come, and the memories are so hazy that the only thing you know is that you have memories.

It's a little weird. And it's a little scary. And it's a little sad. If only I could remember what I'm sad about.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


I'm boring myself with this panic-and-anxiety stuff, and I'm pretty sure I've taken a few of you with me. Onward.

I'm feeling virtuous today. This morning, I posted a bunch of notes on my local Freecycle list, and this afternoon, a nice lady with three children under 5 came by and picked up a pack-n-play, a glide rocker, a push tricycle, an outdoor swing, and a few other things as well. For, you know, FREE. 'Tis nobler, after all. And besides, one of the things I always hate about carting that sort of stuff off to Goodwill or something is that I just never know how it's going to be used and whether it's going to benefit someone directly. And because I'm a pinko commie liberal, I'm also limited in the number of supposed good-deed doers that I'm willing to contribute to, because so many organizations discriminate based on religion or sexuality (coughBoyScoutscough; mutterSalvationArmymutter) and I'd rather put my eye out than give them props for bad behavior.

In any case, today I know I gave stuff to someone who can use it (though I'll admit I didn't ask about her political leanings first...hmmm...) and who will likely pass it on when it's no longer of use to her since, after all, she's a member of the Freecycle community, too. And now my garage is noticeably emptier, which means there's all that much more room for Baroy and me to junk it up. (We're packrats; it's never going to be NEAT in there. But at least the crap smushed into every nook and cranny can be newer crap, or crap we might use again some day, right?)

This is fun stuff. You should do it, too. Let me know if you end up signing up for your local list, OK? Especially if you wind up getting or giving away anything good.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

Panic's back. I am literally too embarrassed to really explain why. Let's just say it has to do with the new computer worm that's been going around and with my stalker, with a dose of surreal and illogical thinking. In a way, that's good news: I know where it's coming from. So, in theory, I can work on it, use relaxation and visualization techniques, that kind of thing. In reality, I'll probably just end up riding it out.

In any case, that's where I am. Oh, and I have a call in to a psychiatrist who was recommended to me by the psychiatrist who was recommended to me by my internist. (No, that's not a typo. The psych my internist recommended is leaving the practice, so she suggested I see her colleague instead.) And he doesn't have an open appointment until the middle of August. No, no. That won't work. So his nurse said she'd talk to him to see if he might be able to see me sooner. Frankly, right now, tomorrow wouldn't be too soon.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Knocking Some Sense Into Myself

It was Saturday night, and I was at a friend's house. I'd stopped taking the Kl*n*pin on Friday evening, but was still feeling groggy and dumb and slow, though not quite as groggy and dumb as slow as I'd felt while taking it. The downside was that the anxiety was still there, still weighing me down.

Still, it was a nice evening, as it always is when I get together with my bestest friends and their bestest husbands and bestest children. We laughed and joked and made snotty comments to one another. It was late by the time we got ready to go, and N was tired, so I picked him up and headed out the door. As I stepped off the porch, I half-turned to throw some comment back at my friends, and then in a flash, I felt myself going down, and quickly. I instinctively tried to turn to protect N, but there wasn't enough time; I heard his head hit the flagstone with a horrific thunk. And then I heard this primal sound coming from me..."Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oooooohhhhh." I was crying, I was hunched over myself, and I could only form the ooooohhhhhh sound.

Baroy swooped down and picked up N, who was already crying, loudly. "He's OK. He's OK," he kept telling me. I finally found words. "I tried to stop it. I tried to protect him. I couldn't do it."

My knee was pretty scraped up, and one of my friends helped me to my feet and took me back into the house, into the bathroom, where I automatically grabbed some tissue and antiseptic and started cleaning my knee, then suddenly sat down on the toilet and cried, good and hard, for several minutes. Not as many as I'd have liked, though, because soon Em and her friends were there, and Em was crying, too, scared out of her wits by seeing her mom lose hers. I held her for a few minutes, told her that I was OK, that I'd just been scared, and we collected ourselves and went outside, where N had an ice pack on his head (which had a nice bump), but was completely fine, not crying, chattering away about his "owie," and telling me he could "hold my ice myself."

I went to bed that night with an ice pack myself, on my ankle, which had begun to throb ominously. And I woke up with a foot that could barely hold my weight. (N woke up fine, just fine, nary a scratch or bump to be found.) But that was OK, because there was much less weight for it to hold...emotionally speaking. It took me an hour or two to realize it, but the anxiety was almost completely gone. It was almost as if having something to really worry about had relieved me of the burden of worrying about nothing. Maybe it was just having a good cry that did it. Maybe that fall literally knocked some sense back into me. Whatever it was, it was a good thing.

There is, right now, a little knot in the back of my throat, a little tightness. I can feel it there; it's hard, but it's small, like a tiny anxiety metastasis. That's probably a good thing. Knowing it's still there will make me follow through in getting help, to prevent it from becoming a full blown emotional malignancy again. But getting a respite from the symptoms is also a good thing. Today feels possible, doable. I'm not dreading today. That, too, is a good thing.

Friday, July 16, 2004

I'm Not Sorry

I was sitting down to write another long rant about how I hate this panic stuff and I hate being out of control of my body and its reactions and I hate all this medication stuff where the side effects are annoying and yet the actual effects are minimal. When I started that rant, the first thing I did was apologize for going on and on about this, especially since it doesn't really prompt the sort of response and interest as does a book review, and so I figure I'm either boring you all or making you uncomfortable. So I was apologizing in advance. And then suddenly I thought to myself, 'What the fuck do I have to be sorry about? It's my blog. I have something to say. That's the whole point of it.' And so, I'm not sorry. And now I am liberated, right?

Except not so much. Especially since the next thing I started to write was how I'm sorry that I just don't have the strength or ability to focus long enough to really write about this with any insight or thought or anything that would make it worth reading. Again, I realized how ridiculous that is. What do I have to be sorry for? And do I really feel sorry? Well, I feel sorry that my brain is all over the place right now. And I feel sorry that my chest is tight and I have this pain that's intermittently travelling across my chest. And I reallly feel sorry that I feel both dulled and hyper at the same time, and that I'm filled with a sort of luke-warm anger at the world in general for completely inexplicable reasons. I'm sorry for all that. So I guess what I'm really saying is that I'm feeling sorry for myself. But I'm not sorry about what I'm writing, or what I'm not writing. That would be ridiculous. And pathetic. And not worth any of our time.

Bah on Blogger

So what's with the new interface? Where are my tools? How am I supposed to link to people now? How can I do funky things with typefaces? OK, I know I never did do anything funky with my typeface. But I could have! It was possible! But now...it's hidden or gone or inaccessible or something. Phooey.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Be No Evil

I truly and passionately believe that anyone who could support the stupid-ass marriage amendment is evil-hearted. And if I lose you as a reader because of that, so be it.

For the rest of you, speak your mind here. You may not be a MoveOn kind of person and that's fine. But this is an issue that goes beyond Democrats and Republicans. This is about being a human being and standing up for other human beings who are in danger of being treated as less than equal, less than human.

Remember: If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?

Three Completely Unrelated Entry Points

1. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves was fabulous. Just fabulous. It made me laugh and it made me think. And it taught me a few things about punctuation that I could never have verbalized before, but knew were important rules and conventions. Plus it made me feel cool for being a total grammar geek. Can't ask for much more than that. Just for the record, however: I do not want to hear about every punctuation mistake I make from here on in. It will just depress me to know that I've fallen short of Lynne Truss's high standards.

2. This is Day 7 of Major Panic Attack #2. I am trying to contact my doctor to see what we can do, medication-wise, to MAKE THIS GO AWAY. I continue to try and find a therapist who will actually, you know, take on patients while at the same time accepting my insurance. You'd think it wouldn't be quite this hard. You'd be wrong. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It's ridiculous how hard it is to get help, especially when you're dealing with mental illness. Just when you're at your lowest point, least able to deal and all that jazz, that's when you're expected to make a dozen phone calls, deal with secretaries and voice mails, figure out what the best course of action is and pull yourself up by your bootstraps. No wonder so many of us wind up in dire straits. I'm a phone phobic at the best of times. When I'm tingling from head to toe because I haven't been able to take a full breath in a week, I'm not exactly at the top of my game. It's frustrating as hell, it is. I'd scream, but the weight on my chest won't let me draw in a deep enough breath.

3. Em's in soccer camp this week, apparently having the time of her life. Today was face-paint day, or something like that. She insisted that I needed to paint her face this morning so that she could win a prize. So I drew a soccer ball on one cheek, a net on the other, and wrote SOCCER! across her forehead, all in eyeliner. That was all well and good, except that then mini Em, aka N, insisted on having the same done to him. I complied. But when we got to preschool, he grew suddenly very self-conscious. His teachers were all giggling and making a fuss over him and that freaks him out a bit, so he insisted on having me wash it off. Too bad. He looked absolutely edible, with his new short haircut and his soccer-ball cheeks.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Outed Again!

So, as usual, my brother-in-law came over on Saturday to have dinner with us and play with the kids. (World's Greatest Uncle. And I'm not just saying that because I'm about to reveal that he found my blog, and because he might be reading this right now. Really.) He's sitting at the kitchen table with Baroy when he suddenly says, "You know that your Little Coconut thing is searchable online, don't you?"

I believe my brilliant response went something like this: "Huh?"

Turns out, he'd been looking for mentions of his new book--a must-read, by the way--and came upon Natalie's blog, where there was a mini-review of the book...and a mention of me. So he clicked the link, and wound up here.

And through the discussion, there's my husband, sitting at the table, looking only slightly confused. So, finally, I just had to say, "Oh, yeah, I really was going to tell you. I have this blog, see..."

He thought he had already known, it turns out. So it wasn't the big issue for him that is't been for me, the whole 'should I or shouldn't I' thing. He doesn't "do" the blog thing--doesn't read any, doesn't have one--and said he wouldn't look for mine, anyway, so that I could say whatever I want to about him. (At which point I noted that having a fairly firm "no dissing coworkers or husband" rule on my blog was a good thing, considering that both coworkers and husband's family members had found the thing, despite my attempts at being icognito...) I was trying to explain to him what I said in a previous post about why I was keeping this a quasi-secret from him, but he wasn't completely buying it, I think. No matter. If he does end up deciding to come and check this out, then he's going to see that I'm not saying anything nasty about him. But he's also going to learn way too much about my panic attacks and my occasional bouts of I-wanna-be-a-SAHM resentment and the like, which I put here because I don't think they need to be pounded home at home as often as I need to get them off my chest, and which will only serve to make him feel bad.

So, if you're here and you're either Baroy or my bil or someone else in my immediate family who hasn't mentioned finding this to me...Hi. Welcome. I'd say make yourself comfortable, but that might be difficult. Still, it's a free web. And it's your call whether you really want to hear what I have to say. If you do, remember to take it with a grain of salt. This is a journal. It's not a historical document. The facts presented are the ones I see. The feelings presented are the ones I feel. But only right this second. By the time you read this, everything may have changed...

Friday, July 09, 2004

Baby Talk

Every blogging mommy I know does it at one time or another: the obligatory 'oh no, my baby is losing his/her baby words' post. Here's mine:

Oh no, my baby is losing his baby words! Wah! I already miss them!

The one that brought this on was "fire engine." Every day, on the way to and from daycare/work, we pass the local fire house, and every day, on the way to and from daycare/work, N talks about the fire engines. Except, until yesterday, he called them "fie-nin-nin-nin-nin-nin-nins." (The number of nin-nin-nins that followed the fie always varied.) It never failed to elicit a smile from me. But yesterday, out of nowhere, came, "Look Mommy! The fieya engine is out of the gawage!" Pause. "Mommy! I say fieya engine like you!" Sad that the nin-nin-nin-nin-nin was gone; sadder still that he was the one who pointed it out to me.

I was also sad when he stopped calling his best friend Dada (a true honorific if ever there was one, both a sign of the fact that he couldn't say William, and a symbol of the high esteem in which he's held William since they were infants). I was sad when he stopped referring to himself as Nahnoo. (I always had a flash of Robin Williams as Mork when he did that.) I was really sad when he stopped saying his last name was Kookoo. (Sorry, my paranoia is too deep to say what the real name should be, but suffice it to say, our last name is NOT Kookoo.) And he doesn't always call the kitchen "the chicken" any more. Why do they have to grow up? What fun is life when a kitchen is just a kitchen?

I remember how much I loved Em's Emisms, and how much I mourned their passing. (Among my favorites: butcept for except, mick-yous for music, in a couple whiles for in a little while.) But N's my last baby, and it hurts more than it did with Em.

Oh well. At least we'll have really good material to tease him with when he's a vulnerable and easily embarrassed teenager...

Wednesday, July 07, 2004


So I finally finished reading Middlesex. And I'm just going to be brave and say it. I didn't get it. Not 'I didn't understand it.' I didn't get it. The hype. The praise. The incredible reviews. There were things to be impressed with in the book. Jeffrey Eugenides knows him some stuff. Factoids and bits o' info abound. But the characters were more-often-than-not poorly drawn. The plot meandered, and didn't go where it needed to go. It switched levels of reality on a regular basis, and didn't really achieve what it seemed to be setting out to do. And it suffered from that overly-rushed ending disease that so many novelists seem to succumb to these days. In fact, let me make that a public service announcement. Take as much time with the last third of your book as you do with the first third, would you. Yeah, I'm talking to you, you writer person. And to you, too.

And I could go off for half an hour on how quickly I recoiled from his deciding to have a character called Chapter 11. There was simply no justification for it. I got WHY he was called that, right when I was supposed to. But it was so disingenuous, so smarmily cute and inappropriate...Well, it just sealed the deal for me.

I wanted to like this book. I expected to like it, if not love it. But I did neither. What about you? Did you like it? And if so, please tell me why. Maybe I just didn't get it in that other sense of the phrase.

I've now moved on to Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Now THAT is some funny stuff, and some excellent writing. Maybe it will take the bad taste out of my mouth from Middlesex, and the even worse taste in my mouth that Carrie Fisher's The Best Awful left when I read that during my bipolar-book-writing days. (The bottom line: Don't even consider buying or reading it. It's awful. Not the best awful. Simply, truly awful.)

And there you have it. Book reviews you didn't ask for. Don't say I never gave you anything.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

What to Say

I've been keeping a list of things I want to write about here. That list is now so spectacularly long that I'm going to throw it out and start a new one. Or not start a new one. Or something like that.

We had a fantastic long weekend. One of my all-time favorite folks in the entire world is in town, and she and her adorable childen and several other of our friends joined us for a chaotic but fun barbeque-and-fireworks evening. So much smiling and laughter and hugging of children and each other. My friends rule. Seriously. If you're not jealous, you should be.

That fantastic long weekend was much needed, and thus even more appreciated. It followed a week in which I learned of the suicide of the 18-year-old daughter of one of my online friends, and then had to cover/deal with (from a PR point of view) the suicide of a patient from the local county hospital, who crossed the street and threw himself off of one of my school's research buildings. So much sadness and grief. And even as they jumpstarted my anxiety attacks--or, rather, re-jumpstarted, were there such a word--they also slapped me upside the head a little, and told me to snap out of it. I didn't have to bury my daughter this week, after all. I didn't feel so much unrelenting despair that I would walk up nine flights of stairs, take off my shoes and line them up side by side, put my wallet and my cell phone beside them, and then stride to the ledge of a building and, quietly, jump. For that, for the lack of immediate and inconceivable tragedy in my life, and for the presence of so many good and loving and funny and smart people in my life, I am very, very grateful.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Watching and Weighting

Back in January, I wrote about how my body does its own thing when it comes to weight loss and weight gain, and how I don't even bother to diet, because eventually my metabolism just turns around, and it doesn't matter what I'm doing, nothing makes that turnaround come faster or slower.

A week ago, in my ongoing and unintentional effort to prove that no matter what I say I will eventuallly reverse myself, I joined Weight Watchers. Just the online version, because I'm up to my ears in scheduling issues, and can't even conceive of finding time for meetings.

So let me say this up front: I'm not having fun. I don't care how interactive it is, or how logical, or how many flex points they throw my way...I'm hungry. What I've learned in the past week is that I tend to eat pretty healthfully, most of the time, but that I eat in quantities that can't really be described as portions, but rather as loads. Apparently, real people can look at a piece of meat the size of a deck of cards, and a scoop of rice the size of a tennis ball, and call it a meal. And apparently, I am very much not real. Because I'm listening to them, and trying my best, and I'M STILL HUNGRY.


So why am I putting myself through this? About a month ago, I went to lunch with my boss and some of my colleagues in the medical school cafeteria. After we gathered our lunches, we went in search of an open table. Over in one corner, we spied the med school's dean of admissions, who is a good friend of my boss, and with whom I've had lunch on a number of occasions. So we went over to join her. And she looked up, smiled as we approached, and then said, "TC, are you expecting again?"

As soon as she said it, she realized what she'd done. She was already turning beet red when both my boss and I kind of blanched and said, "Um, no..." and she tried to backtrack by saying she thought there was someone in our office who was pregnant but she couldn't remember who...but clearly, there was no other reason than that I currently weigh 20 pounds more than I usually weigh, and 30 pounds more than I weighed a year ago, when I was deep in the throes of being crazy. (Being crazy is a good diet, in my case at least, because crazy for me means perpetual motion and no appetite.)

That comment has festered for a month, especially coming as it did from someone who is bright and knows me and clearly had no ulterior motive, but who looked at me and thought, "Wow, look at that belly. She must be pregnant!" And while I like to think of myself as an above-it-all kind of gal who doesn't care about weight or gray hair or wrinkles or whatever--the kind of gal who only shaves her legs when it's a must and who almost never wears any makeup at all--the truth is, I do care. At least I care enough that that one comment propelled me into the world of deliberate weight loss despite my earlier-in-the-year declarations to the contrary.

And so here I am. And I'm hungry. And I'm not having fun.

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