Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Elephant On My Chest

I can't breathe. There's an elephant sitting on my chest.

Oh, wait, no. That's not an elephant. That's MY FUCKING LIFE.

My mistake.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

This Camel's Final Straw

Monday morning, Baroy called. He had taken N back to the doctor for a recheck of his hernia scar, and to have them take a look at this 'new' bump we've found. The verdict: it's either a dissolvable stitch that's traveled a bit and is causing a local reaction, or it's another hernia, either newly grown or previously missed because the original one was bigger and hence hiding it from view. We're to bring him back in two months' time for a recheck, and if the lump is still there, we'll discuss options.

Monday at around eight, my boss called. I knew something was up as soon as I heard her voice. Not because she never calls me at home--she does, usually to tell me some funny or juicy tidbit from the office that she just knew I'd appreciate--but because she had "news." I knew what it was as soon as she said the word "news" with such forced cheerfulness. She's handed in her resignation.

We talked for about fifteen minutes, me stammering in shock most of the time. Just as we hung up, Baroy returned from picking up Em at her "twilight camp" for Girl Scouts, which runs from 3 to 8. I started to stammer to him as well, when I smelled something.

"Shit! The London broil!"

It was like a sitcom, except without any comedy. I opened up the oven, and smoke poured out, setting off the smoke detector immediately.

Crack. My knees buckled, Baroy grabbed me, and I started bawling. I cried for a good 15 minutes, thoroughly scaring both kids. When I'd finished, and Baroy had headed out to Weinerschnitzel for a replacement meal for N and himself, I opened the refrigerator door and grabbed the bowl of vanilla pudding I'd made for the kids the night before, took a spoon, and plowed through all four portions of the stuff in about five minutes flat. The kids just stared.

I am quite the role model, no? This is what we call emotional eating, children. Take note. Oh, and N, please be sure to finish up all your nitrate-laden hot-dog on its bleached white roll before you eat any of those oil-soaked fries, OK? You can see how I'm all about the nutrition.

The crying didn't scare me. I knew why I was crying: because I'm crazy about B, because I'm going to miss her, because she's just the latest in a line of people moving on with their lives and thereby moving away from me. But mostly I was crying because this is going to force my hand, make me decide what I want to be when I grow up. It's going to make me finally do what I've been whining about wanting to do--get out of this job. The only thing still keeping me at this particular job was B; without her, there's no good reason left to hold on here, unless lightning strikes twice, and I find myself with another incredible boss. And, actually, I don't think it's in my best interests to stick around and find out; I need to take advantage of this opportunity to make a move.

But all of this means change, which I hate, and getting my shit together, which it isn't. It means being able to hold a thought in my head long enough to impress an interviewer. It means trying to figure out just what I want to be when I grow up. This is my chance to make a huge change if I want, but I don't know what I want that change to be--outside of the options that aren't available to me with an un/underemployed husband--and there's so much else on my plate that I just feel like...well, like crying.

And so I did. And yesterday I spent the day acting as if someone had died. And now, today, I need to be done with it. I need to move on. I have about a billion ideas of what I can try to do next, and I don't know which direction to go in, but at least I am starting to see the light of the situation, rather than the dark of my friend and mentor "deserting me."

Last week, in therapy, I talked a lot about how I feel as if I'm not getting my 'reward' for being a good girl. I kept talking about how, in the past, I've always had this incredible luck of things sort of coming to me, happening to me, and how upset I am that it feels as if that force, that feeling that there will be a sign telling me where to go next if I just wait and trust, has disappeared.

Apparently, it's back, only in a guise I couldn't at first recognize. (Be careful what you wish for...) Now I just need to remember how to listen to it, interpret it, trust in it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Quick Update

As my friend Hilary noticed before even I did--she's a sharp one, that woman--today, Salon published my response to the responses to my original letter to Ayelet. (And if you understood that, you're a better man than I.) You can find it here; it's the last letter in the batch.

And for those who can't get to Salon...
Oh, for crying out loud, people! Has every single person in this world lost their sense of humor? The story I related about the "we hire people" comment -- said by my sister, mind you, not myself -- was clearly tongue-in-cheek, clearly exploiting a stereotype. Or so I thought. Except, apparently, there is no such thing as a sense of humor anymore. Do I need to start using emoticons?

I'm tempted here to put in a whole paragraph about my and my Jewish husband's bona fides regarding home repair. But that would imply that there is a reason to do so. You do your own fix-it jobs? You go, Jewish boy/girl. But while you're doing it, you might want to twiddle with the setting on your internal humor thermostat. I think it's set a little low.

And, oy. Give me some credit for knowing to whom I'm speaking. This is a liberal-leaning Web journal/magazine/newspaper/lifeline: I think it's safe to assume that when I respond to a column written here, I'm not writing to a neo-Nazi organization. And so, as far as I'm concerned, the next person who wants to give me an earful about how I'm perpetuating stereotypes and inciting prejudice can come and kiss my daughter-of-a-Holocaust-survivor butt.
I feel much better now, knowing I got the last word in. Well, I feel better about that issue, at least. More on the other issues about which I don't feel better later.

Friday, June 24, 2005


I planned to sit down for a while and write about how sad, miserable, unhappy, unmotivated, alone, apathetic, antisocial and persecuted I feel. I mean, it's lunch time, after all, so I can step back from all the work I've been doing today to...bwahahahahahahahahaha! (And to think I almost got through that whole bullshit sentence with a straight face.) But I almost literally can't stomach the thought.

It's not that I'm not feeling sad, miserable, unhappy, unmotivated, alone, apathetic, antisocial and persecuted. I am and I am and I am and I am and I am and I am and I am and I am. But I'm tired of hearing myself talk about it and whine about it and snivel about it, even if almost all of that talking and whining and sniveling is only happening inside my head. I am, as I have said so many times before, totally over me.

Well, maybe not totally. I could use just a tetch of sympathy about one thing I haven't made myself bored senseless thinking about.

Here's the backstory: Ayelet Waldman wrote a piece on Salon.com about how her husband does all the fix-it stuff around the house, making comment as she went about how part of this might be a "Jewish thing." It made me laugh. Then, someone-who-might-or-might-not-be-me-writing-under-my-real-name wrote what that someone thought was a tongue-in-cheek letter in reply about how things are similar in my...I mean, her...house, and how her sister once made a humorous comment about the religion-and-home-repair situation.

Today, Salon published responses to those responses, and among them were several lambasting someone-who-might-or-might-not-be-me-writing-under-my-real-name. Said person was upset, incensed even. I have information leading me to believe that that someone has written yet another letter to Salon--this time, though, I hear tell she thinks it unlikely that it will see print, since she's betting Salon is getting tired of this debate. According to said writer, the response (which she forgot to copy before sending) contained lines that said something like, "If you do your own home repair, then you go boy/girl. But maybe next time you're fixing things you could check on your internal humor thermostat," and "If anyone else has anything to say about how I'm insensitive to the Jewish plight, perpetuating stereotypes, and inciting prejudice, they can kiss my daughter-of-a-Holocaust-survivor butt."

So my question is: Out of proportion? Appropriately annoyed? Clearly suffering withdrawal symptoms from the rapidly lowering dose of FXor in her/my body? You can tell her/me. She/I may very well bite your head off for it, but you can tell her/me.

[I know many of you aren't Salon Premium customers, but I just couldn't cut-and-paste the whole thing. You can always watch the silly commercial and get a day pass if you really want to read what all this is about. I'm not sure it's worth your time, but you can make that decision for yourself.]

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

If My Eyes Are NOT Deceiving Me, There's a Good Chance I'm Going to Lose My Mind

Last Tuesday, as I may have mentioned in passing (heh), N had a dual surgery--he had an epigastric hernia repaired, and he had his left testicle put back in the place it was supposed to be.

On Sunday, he was running around naked after playing on the new Slip-and-Slide he and Em purchased with their allowance. Now, granted, he was probably cold. But when Em said, "Um, Mom, which side was it that they fixed?" my heart sank. She was right. He was, um, lopsided again, except this time it was the mirror image of last time.

He had a recheck with the urologist on Monday; the urologist said that yes, now it does indeed appear that his right testicle is a wee bit high, but that could just be nerves. (Yeah, I guess if you'd just had a knife used in that area, you too might pull stuff in, involuntarily or not, every time someone tried to feel around down there...) STILL, he said, it could be that the right side is going to do the same disappearing act that the left side did, and we will be needing to keep a close eye on it. Greeeeeeaaaaaat.

Then, this evening, I was putting a new bandaid on his hernia scar; the steri-strips finally fell off, but the scar is a bit oozy, so I wanted to keep it covered with bacitracin, etc. Noah shifted just as I was finishing, and a flash of something caught my eye. A flash of roundness, of shadow. A flash of a bump.

"Get back here!" I bellowed after him. Poor kid came scurrying back, trying to figure out what he'd done wrong. I felt it, then felt it again, and again, and again. There's another lump. Just above where the first one was. Smaller, less immediately obvious. But another lump. Another hernia. Baroy is trying to come up with a million reasons why this doesn't mean what we both think it means--that either the surgery didn't work, or that it merely prompted the problem to move upward--but really, who is he trying to kid?

I know they were minor surgeries. I know N came through them with flying colors. I also know that there aren't enough meds in the world to keep me from throttling someone--anyone, even if there isn't anyone to blame--if it turns out we have to do the whole thing over again. Because, really. Someone's ass needs to be kicked, and it sure as hell ain't going to be my son's again...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


We were at the library for storytime today, something N and I have not had much opportunity to do together. I had brought him there with ulterior motives; mostly, I had brought him there to watch his reaction to being in a group of kids he doesn't know. His response was both upsetting, in that he once again showed that he can't deal with those sorts of social situations at all, and settling, in that he's been progressing by leaps and bounds since I've started working with him (having gotten fed up by how slowly the wheels of 'outside help' turn) and I'd become concerned that I was progressing him out of being able to impress an evaluator with his "differences." Apparently, not so much.

But that's not my point. At one point int he storytelling session, N slid off my lap and went to climb up on the chair next to me. As he lifted his leg to begin boosting himself up onto the seat--being a very small boy often means you can't just back up and sit down in a chair--I saw him wince. I looked at the clock. It had been exactly four hours since I'd given him Tylenol.

"Do your stitches hurt, sweetie?" I asked.

"No," he said, "They no hurt. I want to sit in your lap again."

After story time, we went into the library to look at and read some more books. I noticed he was walking slowly. "Do you want to go home and take some more medicine so it stops hurting?" I asked.

"No," he said. "It not hurting."

I furrowed my brow. I knew he was in pain, but I also want him to feel some control over his body right now, and so if he wants to just soldier on through, I want to let him. After all, there was so much about yesterday that he couldn't control. I can give him this one thing.

After he'd had his fill of books, he sat on the floor to play with some puzzles. At one point, he turned around to ask me something, and I watched him grimace.

"I ready to go home now, Mommy," he said.

"Do you want to stop and get lunch first?" I asked.

"No, I want to have lunch at home," he replied. "And maybe I can have some red medicine [Tylenol, the only one he can stand the taste of], too."

By the time we got hom, you could literally see the pain in his face, and the way he was walking, but he wasn't talking about it. He prattled on and on as he always does about the dump trucks he saw on the way home, and how the 'ment mixer' has to keep turning around so the cement doesn't get hard.

Where did this child come from? Baroy and I are whiners, or at least we'd like to be. (We've discovered, ever since we became parents, that we're not allowed to whine when we're sick, because it's just going to piss off the other person, the one who has to carry the full load of household chores while you're down.) Em is a Drama Queen Extraordinaire, enjoying ill health for all its worth.

But N just goes on about his life, and only gives in to the pain at the last minute. I just don't know to think about such a creature. I don't know how to deal with someone who doesn't moan over every ache and pain.

As I typed this, N came wandering into the family room to get a blanket to put on the hard chair, so his stitches don't hurt him. (I taught him to do that last night.) I asked, "Do you feel better yet? Has the medicine started to work?"

"Oh, yeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh!" he said, practically skipping into the next room.

He may only be four years old, but I think he's my hero.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Well, That Was A Waste Of A Good Worry

Home. Fine. Better than fine, actually. He's running around the backyard playing with the "you did great" toys I got him while I was filling his prescription for Tylenol with codeine. I'm guessing we're not going to be needing that right now.

But, man. If two abdominal cuts and a cut in his scrotum can't keep this kid down...

(Yes, I say that with all due pride. He really was awesome today. Didn't even cry coming out of anesthesia. Basically just looked around and went back to sleep for an hour until all the yuckiness went away. He rocks, that boy.)

It's Never Too Early To Worry

It's 4:30 in the morning, and I've been up since 3. Apparently, my middle-of-the-night waking did not spontaneously disappear at the exact same time that I started taking a higher, stupidity-inducing dose of gnurontin. Apparently, if I run out of gnurontin and then don't make it over to the pharmacy to pick up the refill my psychiatrist called in for me and so only get to take half my daily dose of the stuff...apparently, under those circumstances, I go right back to waking up at 3.

Of course, I'm being helped in no small part in this Return of The Insomnia by the fact that in about 45 minutes, we need to leave to take N to the hospital for his combined tuck-in-that-epigastric-hernia/return-that-testicle-to-its-rightful-place surgery. It's outpatient, it's going to be fine. But with such an early appointment, I figured that if I didn't wake up in the middle of the night to start worrying about all the possible-though-remote complications, I wouldn't have nearly enough time to do it later. I'm nothing if not committed to my anxiety disorder.

N knows what's going on today...I think. If asked, he will tell you he's getting the bump on his belly fixed, and also his testicle. But in typical quirky N fashion, I'm not sure he really GETS any of it. Which is fine by me, actually. Especially since his sister more than makes up for his lack of drama about the whole thing. (She's sleeping at a friend's right now, since we'll be gone long before school begins this morning; when she was packing for the night, she asked Noah for one of his stuffed animals to take with her to her friend's and then to school, so that "when you're having surgery, if I miss you I can take it out and hug it." Could you not just simultaneously die from the sweetness and roll your eyes at the over-the-topness?)

Actually, if I didn't know better, I'd think that N set me up for this insomnia. Last night, as I was making dinner, N wndered into the kitchen to watch me. I looked over and flashed him a big smile. He smiled back and said, "Why you smiling at me, Mommy? You happy I still be alive?"

Now, this is something he says a lot, ever since the bunnies died. He's been processing their deaths--and processing it and processing it and processing it--by regularly pretending to be dead himself, and I've explained to him how much I hate that game, because even if it's pretend, it reminds me of how very sad I'd be if it were for real. And so he often checks with me to be sure I'm still pleased that he's drawing breath. Still, to have him state it so baldly to me, just as I was sort of subliminally processing this whole "my baby is going under anesthesia and someone is going to make a series of cuts on his body" thing...it was just the teensiest bit unnerving. And so now I sit here, writing in the dark (and yes, I'm here to bear witness to the fact that it is indeed darkest before the dawn), worrying about the day to come, not to mention all the days that will follow it. Because it really is never too early to worry.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Down, down, down

Earlier this week, I had a checkup with my psychiatrist, and after talking with him a bit, we decided to begin tapering me off of the FXor. Why? I've never been all that impressed with it. In fact, the only impacts it's had on my life are weight gain and sexual side effects. 'Nuf said. Buh-bye FXor.

Now begins the watching and waiting period, to see if the gnurontin can keep my mood up and my anxiety down on its own, and I can simply be free of antidepressants altogether. Of course, this might not be the highest of bars to set, what with the constant anxiety attacks of late and the way my mood has pretty much sucked for the past couple of months anyway. But it's a goal nonetheless. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Blogging for Books #12: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

[I wasn't going to enter another BforB after # whatever the one was where I kinda sorta got second place but only because the author crapped out on us and so poor Jay had to do the picking and then there were no prizes and I was very, very sad...but then I decided to grow the fuck up (read: decided I was in this for the fame, not the fortune), so here I am, back again. This is the story of a somewhat spontaneous decision and the journey that changed the course of my entire life.]

Chuck and I dated for nearly seven years--through the summer after my senior year at college, through his last two years at the same institution, and almost all the way through his four years of dental school. It was a relationship I came to somewhat reluctantly, and in which I often behaved very badly. We both deserved better, but it wasn't until he found his version of better in the form of one of his female dental-school roommates that we found the courage to make a break.

Actually, that's a lie. There was nothing courageous about our break, and there was no "we" about it. It went something like this: One night, while lying in bed together and discussing the logistics of his imminent move to do an internship and residency and whether we would live together or not, and where our relationship was going, I said, "You're making this too difficult. It comes down to one basic question: Do you love me?"

I'd never realized how vulnerable that question could make a person feel until I lay there for a long, long, long time--and I do mean loooooong--listening to the silence that followed. I left the next morning, angry and surprisingly heartbroken, despite the fact that I'd always been aware of the fact that while I loved Chuck, I was not in love with him.

It was a Monday morning, and I went straight from the train station to my office in Manhattan, numb from the sternum up. I told my friends in the office what had transpired, and they left me alone for the day, let me just sit and stew, and work when I felt I could.

That night--or maybe it was the next night; details have never been my strong point--the phone rang, and it was my boss, who worked primarily out of our LA office. My boss. Calling me. At home. What the...

"I hear Chuck broke up with you," he stated.

All I could come up with was, "News travels fast."

He laughed. "I bet you could use a change of scenery. How would you like to come out to LA, take Joe's old job?"

I must be dreaming. He must be kidding. Is it humanly possible to deal with this much...stuff...all at once? "I...I don't know," I said. "I guess I'd need to think about it."

"Well, we can talk specifics next week," he said, referring to our upcoming once-a-year meeting of the offices, scheduled for LA (with a side trip down to San Diego) this year.


"It'll be great for you," he said. "You're going to love it out here."

I remember only flashes of that trip to LA. I mostly remember our trip to the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park, because we visited the folks at the condor recovery program, and I'd written a piece for our magazine on it program, so I sort of "knew" the people who gave us the tour. I remember the hotel we stayed in, with these unbelievably gorgeous rooms, every one of them different, each with a guest book by the bedside where people had written their impressions of the town. I remember poring through that book after sitting with two of my favorite women in the whole world and going through most of a bottle of Bushmill's. I remember my boss glued to my side through half the trip, pushing for a decision, trying to convince me to come.

Not that it was that hard of a sell, mind you. He was talking a major promotion, from associate to senior editor, and a raise on the order of $15K a year. And he was talking about a way to put me on the opposite side of the continent from a man who had recently bruised my heart and really hurt my ego.

"Plus," my boss said, "if you come out here, I'll take you out for lobster, and I promise you your hair will turn blonde."

And so I agreed, even though I had managed to survive to the ripe old age of 29 without a driver's license, and would need to learn how to drive, a prospect that filled me with dread, and should have filled the people on LA's freeways with terror.

That was in March, 1993; by the end of May (the 29th, to be exact), I'd moved into temporary quarters in Burbank, near our offices. On July 1 I moved into an amazing apartment in West Hollywood. I got my driver's license in August, and bought my first car in September. On January 16th, 1994, I decided my life really needed to change, and because most women seem to change their lives by changing their looks, I went and had about a foot-and-a-half cut off of my hair (which was so long it needed to be, um, held up when I went to the bathroom). The following morning, at 4:31 a.m., the earth jolted out in the Northridge area, and my apartment shook. And shook. And shook. And two days later, when we were able to return to our offices, my boss announced a preplanned move back to New York for the entire magazine. I was somewhat sad, but ready to sign on.

Before pen could meet paper, however, I met Baroy and my real life began. The rest, as they say, is herstory.

By the way: The lobster was only so-so. (I've eaten lobster in Maine; I've eaten lobster on Long Island, out in the Hamptons, where you could watch it being brought in from the boats and then carried into the restaurants. Nothing from the Pacific ocean could beat that; actually, chances were that the lobster I ate that night, amidst somewhat stilted conversation with my Asperger-y boss, was probably shipped from the east, anyway.) And my hair only turned blonde six months ago...when I dyed it during another bout of wanting-to-change-my-life angst. Nevertheless, saying yes and coming to LA was the smartest, most tranformative journey I've ever undertaken.

And I have Chuck--and that long, long silence--to thank for it.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Old Friends

The phone rang this morning, and it was an old friend; we talked and talked and talked and talked. When we'd hung up, I just felt so happy. We hadn't spoken, in person or by phone, for almost four years, after all. We've emailed, but despite the fact that that's where the friendship began, it's never the same once you make the switch over into real-life, sleep-in-each-other's-houses friendship, you know?

The reason we hadn't spoken? Nothing more malicious or devious than life. That's all it was. We'd seen each other last at her daughter's bat mitzvah; five months before that, she'd been my doula, my attendant, at N's birth. Kara walked me through labor, slept on the uncomfortable chairs in my labor-and-delivery room at the hospital, stayed with Em the night after N was born so that Baroy could be with me. She didn't get the payoff of actually being there when N came out--emergency c-section--but she was the first non-medical-staff, non-parent to hold him.

My reaction on hearing her voice--the feeling as if no time at all had passed, and the secure knowledge that I didn't have to worry why she hadn't called, or if I'd done something to insult or hurt her--made me stop and think. What is the difference between those friends who you can call after four years without a second's concern that your voice won't be a welcome one, and those friends who are in your life every day for years and then just disappear? What is it that makes Kara an "old friend" in the sense of somebody I expect to have in my life forever, even though I've only known her for eight years or so, while I have other "old friends" I give that name to in order to denote the past tense, as in "this is someone who was once very important in my life"?

I have a number of the 'good' kind of old friends in my life, including some I almost never see anymore as well as those I see every week. (Yes, I know you're reading. Yes, I mean you.) I have a number of the other kind of old friends, too, the ones who every now and then pop back into my head or even my life for a minute, but then we quickly realize that reconnecting is just too hard, and not worth our while. And I can't tell you why one person is one and not the other, except that it's a feeling deep down, a kind of basic connection on an enduring base. Sometimes it's the feeling that you've known this person forever, even when you just met. Sometimes it's the feeling that you have something very important to learn from this person.

But whatever it is, thank god for it. Because there's no psychotropic drug in the world that can do as much good as the reminder that there are more people than you think out there pulling for you, thinking of you, loving you.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A Mother's Birth

When I went to pick up N at preschool a few weeks back, he was out in the yard playing with WeeyumWise, and in no mood to be interrupted. So I went into his new preschool room and, after signing him out, looked around a bit. I hadn't spent more than a few moment in that room since Em graduated from the preschool in 2002, so there was a lot to look at.

On one wall was a remnant from the preschool Mother's Day celebration, a poster with a quote from each kid, saying why he or she loves his or her mother. It was Carlos' quote that made me catch my breath: "I love my mother because we were born together."

That may be one of the most nakedly and inadvertently truthful statements I've ever heard. It's what I've tried to explain to so many people, so many times in my life, when I talk about what motherhood has done to me, how it feels, what it means. Except, when I try and do it, it takes at least a fistfull of paragraphs and several hundred words to even come close. Carlos did it in one sentence made up of nine words, with a gut-punch of an ending...we were born together.

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