Category Archives: sibling reference

never will i ever: baby edition

my favorite google search since this pregnancy was confirmed has got to be, hands down, “useless baby gear”. but that’s probably a post for another day. what i really want to write about is my second favorite google search: “things i said i would never do before i became a mom” (& variations). so many people out there have written blogs or posted on messageboards, making fun of themselves for their naive beliefs about how they would parent. it’s like the old saying goes: “i was a really good mom…before i had kids.”

i feel that i have about as reasonable a set of expectations about what parenting will be like as i can, given that this is my first baby, i have almost no close friends with children, & i haven’t even touched an infant in like ten years. i’ve decided to tempt fate by compiling my own list of stuff i don’t think i will do, & then maybe i’ll revisit it in a year or two to see if i actually had my head screwed on straight or if i was as hopelessly naive as i sometimes feel.

i won’t let my baby play with my cell phone. cell phones are expensive! even though i just have a crappy $20 kin one & not an expensive iphone. i still don’t want to risk my baby breaking my phone or accidentally texting someone i don’t like but haven’t deleted from my contacts. i almost never use my phone anyway, so i’m hoping that my baby just won’t realize the phone exists. jared never uses his phone either, so we’re a good team in this respect.

i won’t let my baby bang on my computer & pretend it’s working with me. i DO have a very expensive computer, & i already managed to break the track pad & had to shell out $75 for a “magic track pad” (basically just an external track pad–a mouse would work just as well). i don’t want to take the chance of the baby doing even more damage. i have this fantasy that i will only use the computer when the baby is asleep or having daddy-only time, so maybe it won’t even realize i have a computer. but that is unlikely to work. i spend WAY more time on my computer than i do on my phone, & jared is the same way. we’ll just have to teach the baby that computers are for grown-ups or something.

i won’t let my baby have noisy electronic toys. this is more for my sake than the baby’s. i don’t care if my kid wants to bang pots & pans together, kick its feet on the floor, scream, whatever. i just don’t want all the electronic noise & lights in the house. i prefer my noise natural, & therefore beautiful. or at least not elmo-themed.

i won’t enroll my baby in any weird enrichment classes before it develops its own interests. no baby yoga, no baby karate, no baby soccer. if my kid starts to show some kind of burgeoning interest in the mandolin or french cooking or something, then we’ll see, but i’m not going to force my kid into the kiddie achievement rat race just to compete with other parents. if i am going stir-crazy & want the company of other moms, i’ll try going to the playground more often or something.

i am going to try really, really hard not let my kid have “screen time” before the age of two. meaning: no TV, no checking out movies from the library & letting them watch on my computer, no youtubing “the wiggles”, etc. we already don’t own a TV & i don’t want the kid messing with my computer, so hopefully this will just be a continuation of other policies. i know i won’t have control over what happens at other people’s houses though, & once the kid gets a taste of that sweet, sweet screen, all bets are off.

i won’t try to force or trick my kid into wearing gender-conforming clothes if it doesn’t want to. some people have said that i’ll feel differently someday & do anything to keep my kid from being picked on, but i feel that if my kid is picked on for being gender-non-conforming, it’s other kids & their jerk-ass parents who taught them shitty values that need to change, not my kid.

i will not intentionally introduce my child to disney…EVER. i know eventually the kid will find out on its own, from its friends or whatever, but i’m not going to be the one that brings that evil into my child’s life. what is it about disney? whenever someone tells me they love disney, i just know they vote republican & probably own a texas tuxedo.

i won’t go nuts about organic food & be that mom who won’t let her kid eat birthday cake at a party. i think this one will be pretty easy. i mean, pregnancy hasn’t stopped me from drinking coffee, eating sushi, & snarfing the occasional frozen pizza. i doubt i’ll flip the script where the kiddo is concerned. we eat pretty healthfully; i think we can just stay the course.

i will not post about poop on facebook. i recognize that no one wants to hear about my kid’s diaper incidents, not even other parents.

i won’t beat myself up if i fail to have a natural birth or breastfeed my child for as long as i would prefer (i’d like to do baby-led weaning). i also won’t act like a superior jackass if i do have a natural birth or do extended breastfeeding. my choices are my choices & they’re not for everyone. & if they don’t work out, they don’t work out. the kid will probably be okay either way, which is what matters.

i won’t get rid of my cat just because i have a baby. even if the cat scratches the baby…it’s a good lesson. animals aren’t toys. as my sister put it when my cat slashed her child in the face: “pain is the teacher.”

i’ll probably think of more stuff as time goes on. any experienced parents reading this–what do you think? do i seem to have reasonable expectations or am i utterly deluded?

all nesting all the time

in the past week & a half, i have been victimized by three different enormous spiders in the bathroom. the most recent horror was in the sink, desperately scrabbling up the basin to freedom, but being pulled back down by its own girth. jared captured all three & released them into the freedom of the garden. & this is why i’m not outdoorsy. too many monstrous beasts.

the spider situation was making me really sad. i’m nearly 33 years old; i shouldn’t be afraid of my own bathroom. i don’t necessarily think that the spiders were colonizing the bathroom because of its relative cleanliness level, but i did get obsessed with giving it a thorough scrubbing & hopefully scaring any other horrible monsters out of their hidey-holes. but i was also scared to start cleaning because we had inadvertently provided quite a few hidey-holes. for some reason, we had an old shower curtain stuffed behind the bathtub (did we think we were going to repurpose it someday?), & any number of spiders could have been lurking in its folds. so i kept jared on standby while i pulled everything out of the bathroom. no spiders emerged.

i wiped down all the baseboards & woodwork, cleaned & polished all the ceramic & metal, & mopped. then i cleaned everything else that had been in the bathroom–plungers, plastic storage boxes, plastic shelving crates, the toothbrush holder…the bathroom is now sparkling clean & hopefully 100% spider-free.

this week i also shipped out the last of my doll collection, which i sold to raise money for baby expenses (prenatal care, hospital stay, baby gear). i was able to put away a few thousand dollars once it was all said & done! i also completely emptied the hallway closet of anything that isn’t for the baby (we already have a box of baby clothes from a friend who works for carter’s, a handful of board books we bought at the children’s book sale at the library, & some breast milk storage bottles from my ob-gyn, plus the fabric i bought for the baby quilt chepina & i are making). i re-organized my own closet to make room for extra linens & old journals, & emptied one of my dresser drawers to make room for baby clothes or cloth diapers. & i cleaned out the fridge & washed all the shelves & drawers with hot soapy water. basically, i am hardcore nesting. unfortunately, the baby isn’t due for another six months, by which point everything will be filthy & messy again.

i also decided to tackle the epic baby gear question head on. jared & i had experimented by going to baby stores & window-shopping, but that did very little to teach us what we really need for our baby. mostly we just became completely overwhelmed & started hyperventilating. i asked around to some of my parent friends, & quite a few of them had helpful tips, but none of them gave me what i really wanted, which was a detailed list of the bare necessities & the cheapest places to get each item at the highest quality. i consulted some online baby registries, but they were totally confusing & seemed to be padded with all kinds of useless shit. one registry included a baby comforter & specified that comforters are dangerous for babies & that it is only to be purchased to match the other nursery linens. points for honesty, i guess?

finally i printed out two copies of the baby registry at the bump. i kept one copy for myself & gave the other to jared. then we each independently went through the list & crossed out anything that seemed pointless & annotated as needed. this is our final list:

CLOTHES
3 short-sleeved onesies*
3 long-sleeved onesies*
3 tees*
2 pairs of leggings*
3 footie pajamas*
1 romper for looking cute*
1 sweater*
8 pairs of socks
3 sleep sacks (young baby only, pre-rolling)
1 winter cap
1 sun hat
1 snowsuit
1 swimsuit**
(items marked with * should be purchased in multiple sizes)
(items marked with ** should be purchased after baby is born)

SLEEP
cosleeper
4 large receiving blankets
3 swaddling blankets
quilt (making it myself)
glider*
cute animal mobile*
basket for toys/diapers/clothes
bouncy chair**
(items marked with * are things i would want even if i wasn’t pregnant)
(items marked with ** can wait until after baby is born, see if it likes being bounced)

DIAPERS
diaper bucket
wet bag
cloth wipes
10 one-size snap pocket diapers
10 one-size velcro pocket diapers
a dozen newborn-size prefolds
a dozen small-size prefolds
5 size one thirsties fab fitteds
5 size two thirsties fab fitteds
5 diaper covers

CLEANING
baby shampoo/wash
washcloths

FEEDING
5 glass bottles*
assorted nipple sizes*
bottle brush*
8 large bibs
high chair attachment
dedicated ice cube tray for freezing breast milk
nipple pads & cream
(items marked with * are for dad feedings)

FIRST AID KIT
aloe vera plant
baby nail clippers
cotton balls
medicine dropper
nasal drops
gripe water*
old-fashioned teether*
(items marked with * can be purchased after baby is born, see if they’re necessary/useful)

GETTING AROUND
convertible car seat
moby wrap
umbrella stroller (older baby only)

ENTERTAINMENT
carefully chosen stuffed animal
gnawable board books
rattle

that’s it. i didn’t include anything that we already have or can fashion from items around the house or other items on the list. we eliminated a LOT of items from the suggested registry. a baby doesn’t need a bathtub. give it a sponge bath in the sink when it’s tiny & get in the bathtub with it when it’s a little bigger. my sister used to take her baby into the shower with her so they could both get clean at the same time. baby towels are adorable (especially the ones with animal face hoods), but a baby can be wrapped in a regular towel just as easily. you can substitute baby socks for no-scratch mitts & they actually stay on better. if you’re already using a perfume-free gentle laundry detergent on your own laundry, you can use it for baby laundry too. cribs & all their accoutrements are like the #1 go-to must-have baby item (i bought my sister one when she got pregnant, not even considering that not everyone uses them), but if you plan to sleep with baby, what’s the point? if you live in a 700-square foot house, you don’t need a monitor. a baby doesn’t need its own CD player. a baby hairbrush? babies barely even have any hair.

i could go on. i did some research & put together a registry with specific items we want. (i guess i’m going to put that online next week after my next sonogram.) a few people have said they want to buy us something, if we give them some guidance about what we could use. so that will help a lot, & we can fill in the rest as the due date approaches. i am still overwhelmed by all this baby stuff. i went to the store yesterday to stock baby’s first aid kit & got completely overwhelmed. i wound up ditching my basket & hiding out in the pet toys aisle for a while. i mean, an ear thermometer costs $20 to $40, & none of them have good reviews. why not just re-purpose one of my numerous fertility awareness digital thermometers (i kept “losing” them & replacing them) as a rectal thermometer? more accurate, & it’s not like babies remember that stuff.

oh, ps–i had another baby dream. this is the third dream i’ve had in which the baby is a girl. (i have had zero in which the baby is a boy.) this dream was super-specific. she was a girl & we named her ramona. she was born on january 17 via cesarean. let’s see how much of this comes true! (hopefully all of it except the cesarean.)

more than you ever wanted to know about american girl

so, it’s wintertime, it’s getting chilly outside, & that is perfect weather for staying at home, curled up on the couch, reading my way through big stacks of library books. recently i have become somewhat obsessed with reading american girl books, especially the canonical six-book series that accompanies each historical character.

american girl is a toy company that is now owned by mattel, but was originally started in the mid-80s by an entrepreneur named pleasant rowland. she wanted to create dolls that actually looked like little girls (as opposed to the omnipresent baby doll or a fashion doll representing an adult woman, like barbie). each doll would be a character based in a different historical era, with a series of six books telling the character’s story. each series started with a basic “meet so & so,” introducing the character & the unique historical circumstances of her time period, followed by a school story, a holiday story, a birthday story, a story about the character doing something dangerous & helpful, & a story that sets the character on a new, more grown-up path. various accessories were also available for each doll, corresponding to her stories. for example, you could buy a replica school desk that was historically accurate for the character’s era, or a dress that matched the dress she is depicted as wearing in her birthday story, or even tiny miniatures of the toys she plays with in her stories. it’s all very cunning: catnip for adult collectors & little girls alike, & a perpetual moneymaking machine. wish i’d thought of it first!

the first three characters were kirsten, a swedish pioneer girl growing up in 1854 in minnesota; samantha, a posh edwardian-era orphan being raised by her rich grandmother in 1904; & molly, a spunky girl with glasses growing up during world war 2 (her father is off treating wounded soldiers on the home front). allow me to add, molly’s father is not an attractive man:

Image

though he was rocking harry potter glasses 50 years before his time. hipster dads strike again.

the fifth character introduced was addy walker. growing up in 1864, she was born into slavery & ran away to freedom in philadelphia with her mother after her older brother & father were sold to another slave master. she was the first historical character of color, & until this year, the only black historical. (cecile rey, a free person of color growing up in new orleans in 1853, was released this past summer.)

as children, my sister & i were OBSESSED with the american girl catalogue, which must have been mailed to every little girl who happened to be between the ages of 6 & 10 at any point between 1987 &…i don’t know, NOW, i guess. my sister loved samantha because her collection was full of frilly dresses & clever little accessory sets like a butterfly-catching set that comes with faux-butterflies, or a doll-sized watercolor set with real watercolors. my sister has always been a major girly-girl. let me just tell you that she has enough nail polish that it requires an organizational system & we’ll leave it at that. (i’m 32 & still bite my nails.) i liked kirsten & felicity, the redheaded colonial character who rises up against the british circa 1774 (she was released fourth). i’ve always had a soft spot for both the revolutionary war & the “little house on the prairie” books, so it was a tough choice for me. but the dolls cost something like $70 at the time, & each little dress or accessory set was at least $15 more, & it all just seemed like a money pit to my parents, who said no way.

which set the stage for an adulthood of being weirdly obsessed with these dolls that i was not allowed to have as a child.

i thought i had read addy’s books ten years ago when i started researching american girl again, but i guess i didn’t, because i checked them out of the library last week & read them over the weekend & HOLY SHIT. i knew on some level that she was an “escaped slave,” but her first book is all about the work she has to do on the plantation, her brother trying to run off & getting hunted down by dogs & hauled back to the plantation to be whipped, addy getting whipped for saying goodbye to his father while he is manacled on the ground after being sold to another slave owner…i mean, JESUS. there’s a scene where addy is helping serve lunch to her master, who is hosting a fellow slave owner. the other slave owner asks if addy’s master would be willing to sell her, & then he pets her head. if you are an adult who is aware that female slaves of all ages were routinely raped & sexually exploited by their masters, you will definitely pick up on those undertones in this scene. god only knows how it reads to a child. there’s another scene where addy is distracted while working in the fields because her brother & father have been sold. she misses a few worms that she was supposed to be picking off the tobacco plants & the overseer forces her to eat them. GODDAMN. i felt traumatized reading that, & i am four times older than the target demographic. when addy & her mother finally decide to run away, addy’s mother explains that they have to leave behind addy’s one-year-old sister esther. they have to run too far & too fast to make it to the safe house before being re-captured, & carrying a baby will only slow them down. plus she could cry at any time & give them away. i mean, it is beyond imagining.

i feel like most of the american girl books are heavier than i expect them to be when i am just looking at their plastic smiling doll faces & their cute little accessory sets, but addy’s really blew me away. i feel like most of her collection is quite fetching (especially the retired stuff), but really? no one at american girl stopped & had a moment where they were like, “hmmm…we have created an escaped slave doll…& now we are going to SELL HER.” it’s a bit tone-deaf, no?

don’t sleep

i accidentally stayed up all night on the fourth of july. jaimie came by at 8pm & we went out to get some dinner. then we drove out to the country, where we attended a huge, weird party with bands & hours upon hours of professional-grade fireworks, which are not illegal in kansas. away from the light pollution of town, i could really appreciate how bright the stars were. & the crescent moon looked orange because it was obscured by smoke from the fireworks.

when i was a very little child & my sister was just barely a toddler, our parents took us to fireworks hosted by the little town we lived in. a chunk of spent firework, about the size of a ping pong ball, fell into the crowd & hit my sister in the eye. she was okay, aside from being a baby with a shiner. that is one of my earliest memories & as a result, fireworks have always freaked me out a little bit. i think they are nice from afar, like last summer in philadelphia, when jared, amanda, & i went to the park & could barely even see the fireworks because there were so many thousands of people that had arrived before us, or the years before that, when jared & i watched the boston fireworks over the charles river. but these amateur fireworks in the country were just being set off by random punk kids with very questionable dread mullets, like ten feet away. they were exploding right over our heads. as far as i know, nothing caught on fire & no one was maimed by debris. but it was really over-stimulating, especially because the fireworks were almost the only source of light at the party–which was huge & spread out all across a big country estate/farm. someone had lit tiki torches along pathways, right next to little trees. i really thought the tiki torches were going to catch the trees on fire too.

jaimie was all, “pretty much everyone in lawrence who is cool is going to be at this party. you’re going to get there & be amazed by how many people you know.” but out of hundreds of people, we probably only knew five folks. which was fine. i don’t really feel like i know that many people in lawrence anyway.

we were among the last few people to straggle out, which i regretted when it came time to drive back to lawrence. jaimie was just trying to reverse the directions she’d written down, & we had gotten lost on our way out, so i was all turned around. i wished we would have left when some of our friends had left so we could follow them back. but eventually we figured out where we were going (thank god that even country roads in kansas are on a grid system) & made it back by 12:30am.

jaimie came in & we just sat around & talked until around 3am. after she went home, i decided to polish off a little writing project i’d been working on earlier in the day, but when i looked out the window after i finished, the sun was starting to rise. i knew that if i went to bed then, i’d just sleep until 2pm & hate myself. so instead i made coffee & got started on a new day. i napped for an hour or two in the late morning, but i’m going back to boston to see jared for my birthday this weekend, & he’s on a pretty normal schedule because he’s spending all day everyday at the historical archives. so i decided to just stay awake until a decent hour & then go to bed & wake up at 8am today.

despite being so tired when i went to bed last night, i slept really badly. it was one of my worst nights of sleep ever. i kept hearing weird noises that i couldn’t totally identify over the sound of the air conditioning, & because i now live in my own little one-story house, i kept thinking it was someone trying to break in. not that lawrence, kansas is really a hotspot for criminal activity, but shit happens everywhere. when i did finally drift off, charlotte woke me up by parading through the house, meowing at the top of her lungs. she’s usually such a quiet, independent cat. she hardly ever meows about anything. but she seems to have a gift for recognizing the times when i really need my sleep, & then she’s as noisy as possible.

i did manage to turn my schedule back around & got up at a totally respectable hour–like 8:30am. but i immediately started thinking about how i’m leaving for boston tomorrow, which means i have to drive myself to the airport, on the highway. i have had to get a lot more comfortable with driving in the last few weeks, because i no longer have jared around to do the driving i’d prefer not to do. i have definitely noticed that i feel a lot more confident & a lot less anxious behind the wheel, & i am getting progressively better at driving things i used to struggle with, like parking. but driving on the highway still makes me anxious. especially when it’s followed up with getting on an airplane. i am not terrified of flying, but it’s a little nervewracking.

i turn 32 on monday & am getting started on making my list of 32 things to do before i am 33 years old. i made a list of 31 things to do before i am 32 last summer, but i lost it when my computer hard drive died in san francisco. i thought i had copied into my journal, but…i guess i didn’t. i wish i had it for reference, because i know there was a lot on there that i didn’t get to, & i am struggling to come up with items for this year’s list. any suggestions? i am stalled at ten items. they are pretty big & exciting items, but at least one of them is so big & life-changing that i am having trouble imagining what my life will be like once it happens & what goals may be reasonable to set.

in honor of mother’s day

the other night, i was thinking about these two cats my family had when i was a child. there was a black one named primo, & a fluffy black & white one named groucho. groucho was not at all grouchy. she had a black mark that resembled a bushy mustache right under her nose. you don’t want to know how old i was before i cottoned on to the groucho marx reference that gave her her name (hint: well into my 20s). the cats were sisters & my parents had adopted them as kittens shortly after they started dating. they died within months of each other, ostensibly of old age, when i was 7 or 8. my parents claimed that the cats were 17 or 18 years old when they died, & i clung to this advanced cat age for years (decades, really) as proof that maybe charlotte will live to be equally as old (she will turn ten this summer).

but the other night, i realized that my parents started dating five before i was born. if i was eight years old when they died, they were only about 13. that might not seem like such a far cry from 18, but five years is a big difference when you’re speculating about how old your beloved cat may live to be. why on earth did my parents claim that the cats were five years older than they were? were they just really bad at math? (that would certainly explain our constant familial money woes.) & why did it take me over twenty years to do the math myself & realize the inconsistencies?

this reminded me of a story about my mom & her gullibility when adults told her things that were patently untrue. one day when i was about 16, my mom walked into the living room, stopped dead in her tracks & said, “that’s not true at all!” my siblings & i were just hanging around doing nothing, & we asked her, “what’s not true?”

“um. nothing,” she said.

“what? what’s going on?” we asked.

“well…when i was five years old, my grandpa leimgruber told me that if you pick up a newborn calf on the day it’s born, & then pick it up again every single day after that, eventually you’ll be able to pick up a full-grown cow. but i just realized that obviously one day you just wouldn’t be able to pick it up anymore. it would be too heavy.”

my siblings & i laughed our asses off, because…duh! how could she possibly have believed this ridiculous tall tale about picking up full-grown cows for 35 years? i don’t think adding five years to a cat’s age is quite on the same level as the cow thing, but it does make a person think about how one of the great joys of hanging out with kids is getting to tell them all kinds of ridiculous shit & seeing what they will believe well into adulthood. i can’t wait to just make up a great big pack of lies about inconsequential nonsense & feed them to my own child. like darlene does to DJ in this episode of “roseanne”:

my mom’s birthday was back in january, & even though i hadn’t spoken to her in a year & a half, i sent her an ecard because i was going through one of my routine fits of nostalgia in which i imagine what my life might be like if i had a passably normal relationship with my family. you know, the kind of relationship where we acknowledge one another’s existences, maybe talk on the phone every now & again about topics unrelated to me putting my mom’s gas bill in my name (i declined to do this), perhaps have a working knowledge of what state we’re each living in these days…i wasn’t holding out for a mother-daughter spa vacation or anything. just something not completely dysfunctional.

my mom wrote me back with her latest news: she was supposed to be getting married in the coming week, to a very nice devoutly muslim iraqi gentleman named ibrahim. they had met on the internet, because my mom spends pretty much all her time on the internet brushing up on her knowledge of various arabic dialects, studying the koran, & agitating for arab self-determination in the middle east. when i was a child, she spent all her time making power crystal wands by affixing big chunks of quartz to copper pipes & wrapping the pipes in leather, & then proceeding to beat the shit out of windshields of people who took too long in front of her at the wendy’s drive-thru with said power wands before heading off to the mall to buy another denim minidress. we all contain multitudes, i guess.

tragically, my mom explained, ibrahim had died on thanksgiving in a roadside mine. in iraq. where he lived. it is worth mentioning that they had never met in person & i don’t know if they were planning to get married over the internet or what, because he had no plans to come to the states & she had no plans to leave the states. she did try to join an aid flotilla to gaza, but was turned away due to her poor physical health. i don’t doubt that she had big plans to somehow get to gaza & then desert & make her way to iraq somehow. anyway, the wedding was off because ibrahim had died. “so i’m single…& not looking. LOL!” she wrote. LOL indeed…i guess? what the fuck?

this bizarre e-mail exchange continued, but eventually i wrote that my siblings & i had some concerns about her propensity to become engaged to every dude in iraq with access to a webcam. my siblings were concerned that perhaps these dudes were hitting up for money & she was sending it to them–such as she has, considering that she has been squatting in my brother’s apartment for the last four years. she was outraged by this suggestion & wrote to me, “neither baraa nor ibrahim EVER asked me for a DIME. baraa once asked me to send him some blue jeans, which i could have done, because i have free access to men’s, women’s, & children’s blue jeans in all sizes, but i didn’t even do that so as to not set a precedent of sending gifts.” i wrote her back & said, “i’m not going to ask about your miraculous pipeline of free blue jeans for all occasions. i’m just telling you that we have been a little concerned about your decision-making.” but privately i was thinking…free men’s, women’s, & children’s blue jeans? is she running a counterfeit jeans ring out of my brother’s carhole or something? how does anton bugleboy feel about this?

a couple of weeks ago, i read an article about FBI criminal informants. it heavily profiled a crazy dude from michigan who fashioned himself as a wealthy austrian prince, wining & dining the glitterati of new york city. part of the way he financed his lavish faux-royal lifestyle was by running a counterfeit jeans ring back in michigan. i was like, “…mom?” & then i was like, “why is this my life?”

the kids’ book that could save the industry

someone reminded me the other day of one of my favorite novels, geek love, by katherine dunn. it’s a touching tale about a couple that runs a failing circus. to boost attendance, they decide to create a circus freak sideshow by indulging in some serious pre-natal mismanagement. the story is told from the perspective of the eldest daughter, who was a disappointing freak for the family coffers. she’s a blind, bald, albino dwarf. more exciting are her younger sisters, beautiful conjoined twins who play the piano. but the real draw is their older brother, who has flippers for limbs. as a child, he wows the crowd with amazing aquatic tricks, but he become cynical as her gets older, & eventually develops himself a cult of followers who trail behind the circus from town to town, willingly submitting to amputations in order to emulate their hero. the youngest brother isn’t much to look at–he just looks like an everyday regular kid. but he has telekinetic powers, which the father puts to good use pickpocketing high stakes gamblers.

it’s an excellent book & i recommend it.

but i can never think about this book without thinking about the time i was watching “john stamos: true hollywood story”. this was a couple of years after i read the book for the first time, back when john stamos was still happily married to rebecca romijn. the crew interviewed him about their relationship, & he started gushing about how they were so in love, it was almost embarrassing. he said, “we’re just two geeks that found each other & fell in love. you know that book geek love? that’s like us: two geeks in love.”

uh, dude? that book is not about what you think it’s about. i guess it’s probably a positive development for the limbs of hardcore “full house” fans that those two never had a baby together. let this be a lesson to us all: never compare yourself to a book if you haven’t actually read the book in question.

speaking of books, jared had a great idea for a children’s book. the audience would specifically be the children of queer parents, or i suppose the children of non-queer parents that hope to raise their children to be accepting of queer people. it would be about a gay ram & it would be called he’s just not that into ewes. i developed a whole story for it. basically, there would be this gentleman sheep farmer. (this is important because a sheep farmer who is actually trying to turn a family-supporting buck off his sheep farm would probably be a lot more likely to sell his gay non-lamb-producing ram to the local halal butcher.) he has a bunch of ewes & he needs a stud ram to help his flock grow. so he buys this ram & introduces it to the lady sheep, but the ram is remarkably uninterested in getting into the bone zone with the lady sheep. the farmer is like, “WTF?” so he gives up & gets another ram. but this ram is also “just not that into ewes,” as it were. but then the farmer & his wife & the sheep notice that the rams like to disappear together behind the trough, & they’re always frolicking in the clover together. when the rams start offering the farmer’s wife some helpful insights into her knitting projects, the pieces start falling into place. so the farmer gets a third ram, & this ram is really butch & pretty into his job. however, he seems somewhat threatened by the close personal relationship the other two rams share. he’s all like, “dude, were they checking out my horns? i am not okay with that.” but eventually, he gets over himself & comes to accept the gay rams, & the ewes are like, “those rams in love are great. they’re such good listeners, & so gentle with the lambs.” & everyone learns a valuable lesson about accepting homosexuality.

i asked jared yesterday, “what if we are browsing in a bookstore in san francisco & we find a kids’ book called he’s just not that into ewes?” jared replied, “fortunes won & lost.” there’s been a lot of hubbub in certain circles over a recent “new york times” article forecasting the death of the children’s picture book, but i think he’s just not that into ewes could revitalize the industry. publishers need to remember this important advice: it’s the parents that buy the picture books, & parents can’t pass up a good pun. or at least jared & i will be unable to whenever we become parents. & this is why our children will be incredibly nerdy & constantly subject to swirlies, not to mention the dreaded rear admiral.

we argue sometimes over whose last name our kid will get. i vote for my own, because i am the only xyerra in existence (because it’s just a name i invented) & it would be nice to start a new line. plus i’m the one giving birth, so i deserve a little something for my trouble. but jared wants to use his name, because it’s not just a made-up name that no one can spell or pronounce, & because name lineage seems to be pretty big in his family (his brother is david taber the fifth). so then we joked that we’ll have two kids: one with my name & one with his name, & we’ll have a contest to see which one gets into swarthmore. i think reading them hilarious picture books about gay rams will ground them in the early literacy they will need for success. i also think it would be funny if we each got one kid that we could name without any veto power from the other. mine would probably be something like ohia emeline xyerra & jared’s would be, like, sarah spencer taber. those are real names we have both put on the table. my suggestion is just a name that i think is awesome, & plus i am from ohio, & plus jared’s mom is from ohio, so there’s some family recognition there. jared’s name is after his mom, & while there is nothing wrong with that name, i think having a sarah & a ciara in the same family would get really confusing. my sister is named dani (well, danielle) & my dad was named don, & trust me, it got confusing every now & again.

since everything we put on the internet these days is cached for eternity, i wonder if someday my future child is going to stumble across this blog entry & be like, “oh my god, mom, you are such an embarrassment. i hate you!” probably.

hamster baby(sitters club)

i am trying to read a book about chronic pain, called the pain chronicles, but it is tedious work. the language is so dense & flowery & needlessly pretentious. there’s all this crap about deer falling through ice & pain as a metaphorical response to romantic love…i hope it gets better. i hope i can stay awake long enough to appreciate whatever nuggets of truth are lurking within the book.

so, last night, jared & i went to the thanks for nothing show, which is a night of cover bands, each one covering tunes by a different punk band. of least interest to us were the urinals & the melvins cover bands. more exciting were jawbreaker, minor threat, bikini kill, & nirvana. we almost bailed before the nirvana cover band because we were tired & they were last, but cait talked our ears off until they started & convinced us to stay. & i’m glad we did, because they were pretty fun. they mostly did songs off “bleach,” which was far more amusing than it sounds. i wasn’t 100% psyched about jawbreaker because i honestly never really listened to them much & their songs aren’t all that familiar to me, but i did enjoy the singer’s attempts to sustain the jawbreaker rasp. he did a very nice job. i also was not psyched about the minor threat cover band because i hate ian mackaye so much, i want nothing to do with anything he does. but they really won me over, for two reasons: 1) hilarious stage banter that mimicked all of ian’s most self-righteous opinions, & 2) jared went completely bananas for them. he actually tried to start a circle pit, which did not pan out, because apparently kids from missouri & kansas are notorious for being unable to sustain a circle pit. they just mosh. which actually just consists of shoving each other really hard.

needless to say, i was most curious about the bikini kill cover band, which so did not disappoint! they were genius. the singer even did the little dude-bro interview sequence before launching into the lyrics to “white boy”. i knew a fair number of people at the show (considering how few people i actually know in lawrence), & i have to say, it was really cool to see all these ladies i DON’T know being really into the bikini kill cover band & singing along to all the lyrics. i felt so much solidarity with all the ladies in the bar (except kelly, who later said that she skipped bikini kill to sit outside & smoke because she likes ladies, but she loves cigarettes) (okay, i’ll still be in solidarity with her). i can’t even begin to imagine how awesome it must have been to actually see bikini kill play back in the day. i have always been really into them, of course, & i thought their lyrics expressed by disaffected teenage feminist angst really well, but it must have been totally mind-blowing to be at an actual bikini kill show in like 1992. my mind was a little bit blown just watching a cover band last night! i just really loved watching all these different kinds of ladies yelling, “your whole fucking culture alienates me!”

when we came home, i spotted the world’s most humongous spider in the hallway. it was so big, i almost didn’t think it was a spider. i thought it was maybe a dark-colored grasshopper or something. & it was just standing there, doing nothing. so i was able to get pretty close to it, at which point i realized it was a spider, & i told jared, “there’s a huge horrible monster in the hallway.” he killed it. i seriously think it may have been an acromantula, a ginormous spider heretofore believed to be mythical. i have seen a lot of spiders in my day, but none as huge at that one. even jared, who consistently downplays the size of spiders he kills in an effort to mitigate my spider phobia, acknowledged that it was fucking huge. it practically required a burial.

so i know some people were curious about my babysitters club fan fiction, which i posted a few days ago. that was my first time writing fan fiction ever in my life. i actually had a lot of fun with it! by aging the characters i chose ten years, & choosing minor characters to begin with, i was able to impose a lot of personality of my own invention on them, but it was still fun to imagine how these characters i “know” might respond to the situation i created for them.

the story, i am somewhat embarrassed to admit, is part of a larger writing exercise i may pursue, which involves writing a hundred stories based off a hundred different prompts–all of them babysitters club-themed in one way or another. it could be fun, but i am torn. i don’t really understand the point of fan fic. someone want to help me out with this? i know my sister writes tons of it, & has even won awards & had her fan fiction translated into other languages. but…why? i think it can be fun if i think of it as a writing exercise as opposed to, like, the actual endpoint of my creative energy. but there’s also a chance that i am just looking down my nose at fan fiction because i fear (know) that it’s incredibly nerdy. i am not really a person who has a lot of non-ironic interests, so i have a hard time thinking of myself as a “fan” of anything. but i have read every babysitters club book ever written at least a couple of times–& in some cases, dozens of times. might as well put all this useless knowledge to some kind of purpose.