Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Monday, August 28, 2006

This Is The Society We've Created

At the Santa Monica Pier today, with Em and her friend J (one of several one-on-one birthday celebrations planned this week), we came across some sort of trampoline/bungee jumping thingamabob. The girls only had to beg briefly to be allowed on the line to jump (at $5 a pop--insane); I was a pushover today.

In front of them were several kids, including a young boy...maybe 4. When he entered the enclosure, the teenager running the show weighed him (to make sure he made the 20 pound weight minimum, and to see which harness to put on him) and then strapped the harness around his waist. The teenager then began to try to get the kid to reach between his legs to pull the two hanging straps through, so the he (the teenager) could attach them to the belt part of the harness. The kid was NOT getting it. The teenager kept trying to explain; the kid kept staring at him blankly.

Finally, the mother came over, clearly annoyed, and picked the kid up, pulled the straps through, and finished the job. As she handed him back over to the teenager, she was scowling.

As she passed me, I leaned over to her, and said quietly, "Quite a world we live in, isn't it, where it's no longer OK to reach between a 4-year-old's legs to pull a strap through?"

She stopped. "Dear Lord. You're right," she said, her scowl turning sad. "Quite a world."

Friday, August 25, 2006

She's Nine

Last night, Em began asking me questions:

"Nine years ago, right now, what was happening?"

"How did you feel about becoming a mommy?"

"How did you know I was ready to be born?"

As the questions got more detailed, I finally just said, "Hey, you know, I wrote a birth story after you were born. I reprinted it my blog a couple of years ago, on your birthday. Would you like to read it together?"

And so we did. Once again, Em's ability to comprehend the subtleties of situations well beyond her years came through for her, and she listened with only a few quiet questions, tears in her eyes, a smile on her face. When I was done, teary-eyed myself, she hugged me for a long time.

"Do you still have those pictures you were talking about?" she asked, finally. "The ones that made you think I was going to die?"

"I do," I sniffled.

"Can I see them?"


And so we looked, together, at a photo in which I was stroking my newborn baby with one finger, as several medical professionals waited impatiently to get her to a NICU four miles away.

"Are you going to write about my birthday again on your blog?"

"Probably. I may even write about this, and include this photo."

She considered that for a minute. "Well, if you do, you should also include a photo of me from today, to show that everything turned out OK."

And so I give you Em in a photo from our Mexican cruise last April.

Clearly, everything turned out better than OK.

Happy birthday, baby. I love you so much it hurts.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

It's Up!!!

Today marked the official unveiling of (the beta version of) ParentsConnect.com, the often-mentioned-but-never-really-explained parenting website for which I now work. There are actually PEOPLE there now...and not just people I invited to the pre-beta site who gloated but never bothered showing up. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Rich.)

Here's the official 'word' on what ParentsConnect really is:

ParentsConnect is a new online community where parents, prospective parents, and other caregivers can quickly find and easily share advice, ideas, opinions...even laughs. At ParentsConnect, it's the parents who have been there and done that who are the real experts.

Key features include: personalized home pages that update dynamically, Host Parents who help keep discussions lively and blog on the site, and local advice and kid-friendly listings powered by GoCityKids.

ParentsConnect is for all parents--and grandparents and caregivers. It's not just for moms, or for people who share one particular philosophy or experience. ParentsConnect is also for parents of all kinds of kids. You won't feel ignored on the site if your kids are over 6 or even if they're over 16.

You should come by and check out the site (at http://www.parentsconnect.com) just for the fun of it, because getting in on the ground floor is awesome and makes you feel super cool (even if saying things like super cool and awesome is neither of those things). But you should also come by to hang out with ME, one of the aforementioned Host Parents. There are 21 of us (16 moms, 4 dads, 1 grandma), and we each have multiple roles on the site. My screen name is...oooh, abandoning some of my carefully cultivated anonymity here (if you've never followed links to my book, that is)...LoriO, and I host the various boards on the Health & Wellness subtopic and the Life/Work Balance subtopic. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease come and comment on a thread or two there. I want my boards to look busy. I NEED my boards to look busy. This is how I feed my kids, people!

You can find my boards listed in the drop-down menu which will show up if you click on the green "Discussion Boards" tab at the top of the personalized home page.

And then there's my pride and joy, my other blog, called The Mom Report. (You didn't know I was cheating on you all, did you?) It's my look at and take on some of the parenting news that's fit to print. (The tag line, which is currently missing on the newly redesigned board, reads: "Dispatches from the front line sof parenting: The good, the bad, and the you have got to be kidding me.")

Right now, there's no one-click way to get to it on the site, unless I happen to be the "Featured Parent" on the left hand side of your screen when you go to your homepage. HOWEVER, if you click the "Meet the Team" link (which is part of the box talking about whoever IS the Featured Parent of the moment), you will be able to find me in the sea of faces and then click on the link to my blog there.

And if all of that is too confusing for you (it is for me), try this:


Did I mention that I *need* you guys? That I need your comments? That this is how I feed my kids? And my ego? Well, consider it mentioned. Again, and again, and again...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Aw, You Guys!

Thanks for all the well-intentioned caring and stuff. But, really. If there was anyone who would be likely to get all het up about The Malaise and its potential medical repercussions, it would be me, Madame Malingerer, the woman who Has Things. The truth, however, is that if the last two times I dragged my malaise-y self to a physician's office are any indication, there's nothing significant going on here.

Last time, we took blood tests, and thyroid panels, and all that good shit, and...nothing. The time before that, when I did not yet recognize The Malaise for what it is, I called it West Nile and my doctor laughed at me. A lot. (Actually, I'm still not sure it wasn't West Nile...and now that I think about it, maybe The Malaise is just the long-term effects of West Nile...hmmm...)

What was I saying? Oh, yeah. So I'm pretty sure The Malaise is nothing more than, well, a malaise. A tiredness. A fatigue. A Victorian-era reaction to some combination of stress, depression and anxiety, with none of them overwhelming enough to create mental agony, but with all of them together just enough to make you feel as though there is no finer thing in the world than sleep. And more sleep. And more sleep. And then a nap.

And I should mention one more thing. There is this tendency, among some bloggers, to occasionally exaggerate either physical or mental symptoms, or the details of daily occurrences, so that they sound better or elicit more sympathy. Not that I would ever do anything even remotely like that, of course. But if someone else had written a post like mine from yesterday, someone who was prone to melodrama and self-pity, for instance, well, you might want to take it with a grain of salt. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Return Of The Malaise

It's back.

This time, there's less floatiness and more world- and body-weariness. There's sleep. Oh, so much sleep. Except never enough sleep. I'm too tired to lift my fingers to type properly, so this short entry is taking me way longer than it should, what with the 73 typos per line. Hell, I'm too tired to expand my chest fully, so I'm feeling sort of perpetually out of breath. There's also the missing of deadlines and the lack of creativity. Oh, right. Those are just regular me traits. Nevermind.

I've also had this weird bruise-like pain in my left big toe that's been annoying me for the past three weeks. Which has nothing to do with the malaise, but I figured as long as I was kvetching...

So there you go: The State of The Coconut. Fascinating stuff, no?

I now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion of the enmity between squirrels and robots.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Questions I Can't Answer, Part I

"Mommy, why do squirrels hate robots?"

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Queen Bee Returns

It was a quiet month. Em (who turns 9 a week from today) was in New York from July 13 through August 15, and we got used to the slow pace of life in our house without her.

She's been home for two days now. She was out until well after 10 last night, seeing a friend in a summer-camp production of "Wicked." This afternoon, after attending N's preschool graduation ceremony (more on that when I'm not feeling so weepy about MY BABY growing up), we returned home to two messages for her: C wanted to know if she could play; R wanted to know if she could come to the movies with them. After realizing that neither plan would work out, she and N decided to go splash around in our not-so-hot tub; within half an hour, the boys next door had come over to join them. Fifteen minutes later, J and J, her friends from down the block, were back there as well.

And so it begins, again. The kids tracking through the house, leaving doors open for Snug to escape through, asking for snacks, for drinks, for another roll of toilet paper. Arguing, yelling, name-calling. Laughing, laughing, laughing.

God, I missed this.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Tooth Fairy Fucks Up

This is my new favorite story, even if it isn't about my own kid.

My nephew, M, is 10. He's a fantastic kid with a great sense of humor. Part of his charm, however, is his general naivete about life, including a continuing belief in both Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Well, until recently.

A few weeks ago, during New York's heat wave, M lost a tooth. Em was sleeping over at my sister's house with them that night, and all three were huddled in my sister's room, where the air conditioner is. J, my sister, fell asleep before getting around to doing tooth fairy duties that evening, and woke up to a disappointed son. Like all of us when we do that (is there ANYone out there who doesn't eventually screw up a tooth fairy encounter somewhere along the way?) she thought fast, and told him that the tooth fairy had clearly expected M to be in his room, not hers, and that they would rehide the tooth that night and leave her a note so she'd know to look in J's room.

That night, note written, J lies in bed pinching herself to keep herself awake until after M and Em fall asleep. When the time comes, she realizes that she doesn't have the correct change to give M for his tooth, and so goes into his room to steal a dollar out of his piggy bank, though she's still a buck short.

The next morning, he is clearly relieved to feel the tooth fairy money under his pillow when he wakes up. But when he looks at the money, his face falls. He sucks it up, but he's clearly not happy. J, thinking he's bummed about getting a dollar less than usual, takes him aside when Em is otherwise occupied, and asks what the matter is.

"I didn't want to say this in front of Em, but you're the tooth fairy aren't you?" he asks her.

"Why do you say that?" she replies.

"Well, because a couple of weeks ago, T [M's stepbrother, who lives with M's dad and his new wife] was messing around and drew a mustache on George Washington on one of my dollars, and..." and he shows her the dollar she'd filched from his room the night before. There is old George, festooned with a handlebar 'stache drawn in black ink.

And there was J, stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Either she had to paint the Tooth Fairy as a petty thief, stealing money from kids so that she could afford to pay for their teeth, or own up to the whole subterfuge. She went with the latter. My newphew is now older but somewhat wiser...though, much to his mother's dismay, he still hasn't made the link to good old Saint Nick.

Clearly, no good deed goes unpunished.

Friday, August 11, 2006


When I got off the plane at JFK on Wednesday night (yes, just hours before all hell broke loose at airports worldwide...and you must know how thrilled I am to be getting back on an airplane on Tuesday with two thirsty children and nothing liquid in tow), my mother announced that the very first man to hand me a paycheck some (gulp) 28 years ago had passed away the night before. My aunt has worked for him for, oh, I have to think it's been almost 40 years or so, maybe more. And so, even though I probably hadn't seen him in decades, I've heard about him often, and about his daughters--especially his youngest, Tracy, who used to work with me in his CPA office during tax seasons, starting when we were both around 14 years old. Seeing a grown-up Tracy today--in her early 40s, like me, but looking just as she did when she was 16, sorta like me--was bizarre and really, really nice, if there can be 'nice' in the death of an 83-year-old man who was in the office the day before he died so unexpectedly, and who was really about the sweetest, gentlest guy around, with a great sense of humor. Rest well, Howard Wolf.

One of the people in attendance today was my mother's cousin (my second cousin, if you like to follow those convoluted relationship charts). I've always loved Richard; always felt really comfortable around him, despite the fact (or perhaps because of the fact) that he teases me mercilessly. At some point, he made some kind of crack about how neither of us would be able to understand what the rabbi was saying, and I mentioned how we joined a temple last year, and how I was slowly (very slowly) but surely becoming interested in, if not yet fully comfortable with, Judaism. He laughed and said something about having gone in the opposite direction, and how that would have been such a source of discomfort to his Orthodox parents [my great-aunt and -uncle] and grandmother [my great-grandmother].

"Your what parents?"

"You didn't know that?" he asked. "My mother kept a fully Kosher household, and my grandmother was as Orthodox as they come."

"But...but..." I looked helplessly at my mother. Was it possible that my own grandmother, with whom I'd spent innumerable days and weekends as a child, and who lived until I was in my 20s, had been an Orthodox Jew and I'd never even known it?

Turns out that Grandma (mine) was the only one of my great-grandmother's kids not to take along with her any of the orthodoxy in which she'd been raised. "I have no idea how that came about," my mother commented. "It wasn't even like she was the youngest." (In fact, she was the fifth of six children, all of whom are gone now; the last died just a few years back, when she was in her 90s.)

That was better--the idea of having missed so much of my grandmother's essence would have totally freaked me out. But still. Uncle Jack (Richard's father) had been like a grandfather to me; he was very close to his sister (my grandmother), and my actual grandfather had passed away six or more years before I was born. And Aunt Tootsie, his wife? Orthodox? But all that time I spent with her when I was little; all those times I went with her to the school at which she worked as a secretary. How did I not know? How could I have lived in a world of so little religion, and not noticed that they lived in a world full of it? My only memory of Judaism that involves my grandmother is of her annual break-fasts after Yom Kippur. Sure, I knew that all the aunts and uncles walked from synagogue to Grandma's apartment, but that was it. I didn't know why. And I didn't think too much about it, especially since Grandma didn't go with them, at least not when I was old enough to be aware of who was where, when.

It's a little thing, really. And yet in many ways, it's not little at all. It's just this idea that this part of my family had a whole secret-to-me-but-not-really-secret-at-all life, and I missed the whole damned thing. Where *was* I? Where was my head? How is it possible for someone to be so embedded in your heart that you still think of them almost daily (I have a picture of Baby Me and Uncle Jack in the stairwell leading up to my bedroom, and so see him all the time), and yet, in the end, you find out you didn't really know them at all? What else did I miss?

[And this, my friends, is after only Day One of my attempt to go through *14 boxes* of my old letters and notebooks and memorabilia from various periods of my life so that my mother and stepdad don't have to move them when the sale of their house is finalized in just over two months. It's going to get maudlin around here, I fear. Death and disconnect. You've been warned.]

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor...Or Not

That's the title of the piece my brother-in-law wrote for USA Today, in which he examined the all-too-real choice that any number of homosexuals are facing these days--should we stay or should we go?

Read it here.

The mere idea that there are people in this country--not to mention people who I, personally, love--who feel the need to consider leaving in order to be treated with respect...or even just with the same basic rights as everyone else...well, it's simply criminal. Criminal.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Life With A Writer

There's going to be a reading of one of Baroy's plays this month at our friend Marc's gorgeous little theater (that is about to be shut down due to a bureaucratic fuckup so frustrating that it makes me want to cry). Our other friend, Glen, is directing it. During the first night of rehearsals, Glen saw a narrative hole he wanted Baroy to fill, and so yesterday Baroy wrote a new scene.

He spend much of the day on it, and when he was done, printed it out and handed it to me. "Let me know what you think," he said, and sat down across from me on the couch.

I wasn't three lines in when I felt them--Baroy's eyes boring in to me. I glanced up, then lowered my head slightly, peering at him over the tops of my glasses. He smiled weakly and picked up the newspaper. I went back to reading.

But not for long. "You know," I said, not even taking my eyes from the paper, "in about ten seconds I'm going to have to ask you to leave the room. I can't read with you watching my every facial twitch."

"But you haven't laughed," he whined.

"And I won't, until you stop watching to see if I do," I said. "Get over yourself. I'll tell you what I think when I'm done."

This morning, I was listening to the audiobook version of Stephen King's "On Writing.", when I heard him telling a story about riding in a car with his wife Tabitha while she was doing a first read-through of whatever novel he'd recently finished. "After I'd glanced over at her eight or nine times," he says (though of course I'm paraphrasing, because you can't take an exerpt from an audiobook), "or, OK, fifteen times, she turned to me and said, 'Would you keep your eyes on the road and let me read? Stop being so damned needy.'"

Apparently, they're all the same. Except Baroy's tax returns don't look like King's.

[For what it's worth, the scene was good--Baroy can write, no doubt about that--but seemed a bit stilted and contrived to me, possibly because I read it out of context of the rest of the play. And, yes, I said as much to Baroy. Except without the words stilted and contrived. Because he wants to hear the truth, but damn. Not that much truth.]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fun At ParentsConnect

There's a really, um, spirited discussion going on over on my blog on ParentsConnect, that parenting website I've been working for. It's in response to a New York Times article from last week about a Jewish family run out of a Delaware town for objecting to Jesus-preaching at the public high school's graduation. People have stuff to say about the topic (no surprise) and it's gotten heated, but interesting. (Baroy is among the discussants, and he NEVER posts to blogs!)

If you've already registered on the site, go check it out at http://stage.parentsconnect.com/home/host_parent/LoriO_profile.jhtml. If you need an invite (we're still in our pre-beta phase, which means you need a password just to get on the site to register), just drop me a line at tinycoconut [at] sbcglobal [dot] net or in the comments (be sure to leave me an email address if you do the latter).

Pre-beta ends on August 15th or thereabouts and people will just be able to go and register at the website after that, so I'll soon be hawking my writings there more frequenly and obnoxiously. But for now, well, this one is worth the effort, at least in my point of view.

free hit counter