Saturday, April 29, 2006

My [un]glamorous night out

Last night the company my husband works for had their annual anniversary dinner. A couple thousand people show up to this thing, so it's held in the Alliant Energy Center, one of those giant buildings made out of concrete that hosts events like rock concerts, agricultural shows and Stars on Ice (yes, I went to that once and Michelle Kwan was excellent, thankyouverymuch). The anniversary dinner as a shindig is a rather ho-hum affair. The food's decent, but they serve only non-alcoholic beverages and the entertainment consists mainly of a speech by the CEO, employee awards, and skits with numberous references to Star Trek/Wars and Bill Gates (did I mention that this is a software company? Ergo geek humor). So even though the dinner was free, it didn't seem worth getting a babysitter. Stuart's co-workers were all eager to see the baby anyway, so we said "Oh, we'll just bring him along. No big deal."

Well.

Taking a three-month-old into a room full of thousands of people, flashing lights and constant speeches just an hour before his bedtime--Is. Not. Smart. He was okay for about 20 minutes and then "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!" I attempted to nurse. It worked for about 10 minutes and then, "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!" again. I had to take him out to the gigantic concrete lobby and walk him around. Eventually he calmed down so I took him back in to the dining area. "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!" I attempted to nurse again. "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!" I went out to the lobby again so that he wouldn't bother everyone else, and ended up walking halfway across the building just to find a place to sit down so I could nurse him. When I finally sat down, I realized that the baby, in all his fussing and wriggling, had managed to work open every button on my shirt except the middle one. Not only that, but when he was nursing, his little hand was clenching the other side of my shirt and holding it open so that everyone walking by who inquired about the whereabouts of the bathroom got a full view.

Oh well. I figure that when I gave birth, I checked my modesty at the door and never bothered to reclaim it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Some Random Thoughts

I just saw on the CNN website that Bush is calling for higher fuel efficiency standards. Have we suddenly entered Bizarro World? Did he get a brain transplant? Or is it maybe that since gas prices have been rising at the same rate his approval ratings have been dropping, he decided to endorse smart public policy for a change?

Last weekend I saw an elderly couple in a Cadillac with a personalized license plate that read "GODS CAD," accompanied by a yellow ribbon "Support Our Troops/God Bless America" decal in the shape of a Jesus fish. Hmmmm, I wonder how they vote.

That's all for now. I'm much distracted by the nagging voice in the back of my head that is telling me I better practice for that cello recital next weekend.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

"Work"

I got an email yesterday from my grad assistants' union. They need to hire a new staff organizer this summer to replace a guy who is leaving. I briefly considered applying, as there are many attractive things about this job:

-It's part time, 25 hours a week.
-The job is union organizing, so you'd be getting paid to help the progressive cause.
-Being a union job, it has great benefits (including child care reimbursement) and pays a living wage (meaning you couldn't support a family on your salary in Madison, but it's good pay for a single person used to living like a grad studen, and it's great supplemental income for a family).
-There are some pretty darn cool people that work for and volunteer with this union. It would be a great work environment.
-This is the first real job I'm qualified for that doesn't involve teaching "Yankee Doodle" to a first-grader.

There's one snag, though. A BIG one: I have a baby. I don't really have a prejudice against day-care - in fact, I think it's good for socialization - but Stuart and I have decided we don't want to place our child in day-care for the first year of life. We want our son to be with his parents whenever possible. (Mostly, that's for emotional bonding, but when you're breastfeeding, it's also a practical consideration.) Part time work is not an option for Stuart at his company, so that means I'm the stay-at-home parent.

The other issue is that I am a musician. Let's say I applied for the union job and got it. What then? Would I continue to teach a little bit and play recitals a few times a year? That would add up to a full-time job. Would I instead take a hiatus from music for a year or two in order to spend the time I'm not working with my kid? Musicians can't really do that; it would be like a professional athlete suddenly taking a year off from exercising. So, as long as I'm committed to being a musican, and as long as we have kids too young for school, I can't (or won't) seriously consider other kinds of part-time work because it would add up to too much.

So I'm not going to apply for this job. It kind of bums me out that I have to pass up even trying for such ideal employment, not just now, but for the forseeable future (as if such an opportunity would ever present itself again!) It makes me feel a little bit hemmed in by my options, or, more accurately, my lack of options. I see years ahead of teaching half-assed students and accompanying lame undergrad recitals and wishing I could find work that made me feel valuable. But, as I said to my husband last night as we were discussing this over dinner, this has helped me to see something a little more clearly: as much as I gripe about how I'll never make a decent amount of money, my family is more important to me. I'm not going to sacrifice that much time spent with my kid just for the sake of earning money.

PLEASE don't take this to mean that I think mothers shouldn't work outside the home!! In an ideal world, there would be better part-time options for mothers and fathers so that parenting could be shared more equally. In an ideal world, musicians could make a decent living and not have to worry about paying for health insurance. But we don't live in that ideal world - yet - and so for now, I have to be satisfied with what I've got.

Monday, April 24, 2006

What's new about the baby this week:

1. He can hold his fist in his mouth long enough to suck on it for a few seconds.

2. He can win a staring contest with any adult.

3. He is now interested in brightly colored plastic objects, which is nice because it means he can be entertained by something other than me!

4. He pooped 2 days in a row instead of saving it all up for a whole week.

5. He can vocalize the vowel sounds "ee," "aah," "ooh," and "ooo."

6. He sleeps for a six-hour stretch at night.

Lawn Care

The other day, I was hanging clothes out on the clothesline. Baby Daniel was snoozing in his little car seat out on the lawn next to me. It was a gorgeous, sunny day. I breathed in deeply, anticipating fresh spring air--and instead got a nose full of the rank smell of chemicals. I can only assume that some neighbor or other was dumping pesticides and fertilizer on their lawn to make it "look good." Realizing that my little son was also breathing in that crap, I was momentarily furious. How dare someone pollute the air, ground and water for the sake of uniformity in their lawn?

I, for one, don't even think it looks good. Bright green lawns with no plant diversity or bugs or birds are just so unnatural! Sure, our lawn is a bit scraggly, but it's organic, there are lots of fun little animals running around (including evil bunnies that like to munch on my lettuce!), and I have a little garden with flowers, herbs and vegetables, so my yard is just the way I like it, thank you (...except for the carpet of poison ivy way out in the back. Oh dear, I'm just not sure what to do about that. Maybe we'll have to bust out the nasty chemicals after all before Junior is old enough to run around and get into the PI...)

You can imagine my frustration when I am suddenly finding stuff from ChemLawn in the mailbox, addressed to ME, offering "free estimates." I want to know who sold them my information. I plan to write them a brilliantly scathing letter sometime in the near future. When a guy actually came to my FRONT DOOR offering to do an estimate on the lawn, I wanted to say "Look here! I have a new baby and I grow FOOD in my garden. There is no way your disgusting, polluting, carcinogenic shit is getting anywhere NEAR my yard. Stay away from me!" but instead I just looked at him icily and said "No thank you. We don't put chemicals on our lawn." Once when I was a kid, I heard my mother yelling into the phone, presumably to a "lawn care" company representative, "Your company puts things in the ground that kills animals and pollutes the water. I hope you go out of business!" I'm pretty sure we didn't hear from them again.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Freaks and Geeks

We just finished watching the first two episodes of "Freaks and Geeks," a TV show that aired six or seven years ago for one season. It's about kids in high school and all their social issues. It's very funny; one particularly tall geek, Bill, is reminiscent of Napolean Dynamite. Anyway, the first episode, which focuses on a) a pretty girl, Lindsay, who mixes up with the "cool" crowd (re: troublemakers) and is suddenly afraid to look smart and b) her little brother, Sam, who is tortured by a bully, with a side helping of c) their dad who says things like "I knew a guy who smoked cigarettes. You know where he is now? Dead!!" While it was a good episode, it rang just a little too true of the painful experiences of high school...and suddenly we were terrified. It's one thing to think about your own adolescence and wince knowingly at the dorks on TV. It's completely another thing to realize that your precious, adorable now-ten-week-old is going to have to go through that. I almost can't bear it. I just hope it's easier for him than it was for me.

Suze

Another Thursday

I'm glad to say that this week's round of piano lessons went better than last time. The baby was all smiles and charms and nearly everyone had their books this time...notice I said "nearly."

I do have a bit of a problem, though. One of my students is incredibly bright, completely bilingual (her father is from Spain), beautifully imaginative, very musical, has the best sense of rhythm of any young student I've taught, but is having real problems with note-reading. It's frustrating for her and frustrating for me, and I'm afraid she'll get discouraged and quit. A great teacher would know what to do. A merely good teacher like myself would try a few things and then just fret. Her dad told me she has problems with reading in general, so at least it's not all my fault. But it makes me wonder why she's behind; she's having enough problems with note-reading that I wonder if she's got a disorder of some kind.

These kids must face some real competition, even in their elementary school. You see, they live in an exclusive neighborhood (re: very wealthy) close to the University, so I would bet that a good portion of the people that live there are professors. Not just any professors either, but the ones that are prestigous enough to afford to live there. Therefore, their kids are usually pretty smart (one of my students, the daughter of a law professor, was reading Louise Erdrich novels at age 9, and I don't get the sense that this is unusual). So when I know that a student of mine is having some trouble reading, I bet that this could set her apart more than in a normal school.

One of my students is practically a genius. He's in 6th grade and gets to be in special advanced math classes because he's so smart. I hope that my child is smart, but not a genius, talented, but not gifted. That would be such a huge responsibility. I was a smart kid. No genius, fortunately, but I impressed my second grade teacher enough that she recommended I advance directly to the fourth grade, so I did. I think I came through it pretty well, but it wasn't always easy. Being younger than everyone and still performing at the top of the class pretty much sealed my reputation as a nerd. Wearing the world's dorkiest glasses didn't help. Neither did reading books as I was walking to school.

At least my students are in a place where being smart and precocious is acceptable, probably even desirable. Because of that, I think I can partly forgive the fact that they are surrounded by such wealth and privilege.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Some thoughts for today

Boy, am I beat. All I did today was try and figure out why the baby was crying and wash the dishes. Yes, that took all day. We don't own a dishwasher, so that second thing takes more time than you might think. As for the crying baby, that's anyone's guess. One thing's for sure, though: my child nurses strictly for nutritional purposes. There's none of this "nursing for comfort" crap that Dr. Sears advocates. Sometime I'll tell you all the reasons I hate Dr. Sears, but I promised myself that I would blog about things other than parenting, so I'll save that for another day. Anyway, if baby Daniel's fussing and I try to nurse him and he's not hungry, MAN does that piss him off! He writhes and squirms and cries even louder. In addition to all that, today he started a new thing: clamping down on my nipple when he's mad and doesn't want to suck it. OUCH. This better not continue after he's got teeth.

Of late, I've had a few people ask me what I do all day. I know that their curiosity is honest and innocent, but I have to admit I have found it a tad insulting. I have a hard enough time feeling valid right now, why rub it in with these questions that reinforce the nagging feeling I have that I'm getting nothing accomplished?

I didn't really mean to spend a whole blog entry on the minutiae of baby care and the "challenges of motherhood" (I feel the mother martyr complex coming on already!), though. I actually wanted to reflect a bit on being a collaborative pianist.

Being a collaborative pianist (or, as most people call it, an "accompanist," but that term is actually rather demeaning) can give you a complex if you're not careful. A lot of musicians think that pianists who choose to make their living as collaborative artists do it because they don't have what it takes to be a soloist. (Ditto for teaching.) This is mainly because solo pianists memorize their music, and collaborative pianists don't, leaving many with the false impression that it takes more brains to play solo music. I've done both, so let me tell you right now why that's not true:

1. If you're playing a solo piece, you have one thing, and only one thing to concentrate on: how you're playing that piece. If you're performing with other people, you have to keep up with your part and all of theirs. A collaborative pianist must be able to multi-task at the highest level.

2. If you're playing solo music, you have only your own ego to contend with. When you collaborate, you are, by definition, working with other musicians. You must learn to find that perfect balance of asserting yourself musically while adapting to their sense of style. Not only that, but you have to deal with other personalities on a daily basis. A collaborative pianist must have excellent diplomatic skills.

3.Many solo piano pieces are famously difficult. But don't think you don't need some serious chops to play chamber music. Some of the hardest music I've played in my life has been with other people. To name a few: the Brahms horn trio, the first Bartok violin sonata, the Ravel trio...and those don't even include orchestral transcriptions, which weren't written for the piano in the first place and therefore require real finesse to pull off. Twentieth-century brass concertos come to mind. A collaborative pianist must have the pianistic ability to play very difficult music AT THE SAME TIME as everyone else. You have very little room for error.

I say these things because sometimes I feel like I have to justify what I do. Every time someone tells me they do a little accompanying on the side when they're obviously not very well-trained, it makes me feel defensive. If anyone can do it, why am I in graduate school for it? (Same goes for teaching; I have a masters degree in piano pedagogy.) Sure, having an advanced degree in "collaborative piano" means I can charge a little more than the schmuck down the street, but how many people really understand the difference?

I have to be careful, though, or I'm going to live up to the stereotype of the whiny, defensive, over-sensitive pianist. There are enough of those already!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Some people don't get it

Last night I played harpsichord for a voice recital, something I intend to write more about at a later time, and afterwards I ran into a guy I know moderately well who had been invited to the performance by the singer's sister. We exchanged the usual "How's it going?" kind of stuff, and then he said "I haven't seen you since you were pregnant. What have you been up to?" I've noticed that only people who know nothing about kids (mostly single men) ask me this question of late. That nasty little sarcastic, condescending sliver of my personality wants to say "What do you THINK I've been up to? I have a baby! That's basically a full-time job! DUH!" Instead I smile and say, laughing apologetically in that non-threatening feminine way, "Oh, since I had the baby I just mostly take care of him, but I manage to get out every once in a while for gigs like this, you know, as long as it's not too late in the evening. ha ha ha." At least I've managed to avoid the saccharine "Motherhood is WONDERFUL! I love EACH and EVERY minute of EACH and EVERY day!!"

Friday, April 14, 2006

Why don't they make full-body diapers?

Baby Daniel slept better last night than he ever has, only waking up to nurse at 10:00, 2:00 and 5:00. Unfortunately, every time I picked him up to nurse, he had peed so much that it had leaked out of the diaper cover (we use cloth diapers) and all the way up his back. Every damn time! Do you know how much I DIDN'T want to change all of his clothes at 2:00 in the morning? But I did because I also didn't want my child sleeping in pee. Urg. Maybe tonight I should insert a diaper in the back of his jammies, just in case this happens again.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Some days are easier than others

I teach piano every Thursday for about three hours; I have 5 students in 3 families (two sets of siblings). The current arrangement is that we meet at the home of one of the families, the kids walk over when it's their turn, and their parents take turns holding the baby. Usually I have to take a break to nurse and change the diaper (they were really eager to hold the baby, but not change him...curious...). In some ways this is ideal, but today was a bit of a challenge:

3:05 I arrive at the home of family B. The first lesson does not start until 3:15. I am early because I have overestimated how it long would take to pack up the kid and drive over. I have a rather awkward conversation with the dad, who informs me that Evan is feeling "a little queasy" and is having a carbonated beverage but that he'll be fine. I have a rather neurotic fear of vomiting (my own kid's spit-up doesn't bother me), so this puts me a little on edge.

3:15 Evan walks into the piano room for his lesson looking a little pale.

3:30 Evan's mom shows up with a can of Sierra Mist and asks him what feels bad. "A little of everything," he replies. I grow increasingly nervous.

4:00 The first lesson has concluded with no major incident. I breathe a sigh of relief and wash my hands with the thoroughness of a surgeon scrubbing up.

4:05 Just minutes into lesson #2, the baby, who has been sleeping blissfully in the carseat next to me, wakes up looking very hungry. I commence breastfeeding while demonstrating a B major scale with my free hand.

4:20 Baby is still nursing, making the demonstration of proper finger technique impossible.

4:25 Baby finally finishes nursing, so I tell the student to practice a few measures while I hurry the baby out to parents eagerly waiting to hold him.

4:35 We should have 10 minutes left of lesson #2, but the student has forgotten several of her books so we just end early.

4:40 Student #3, younger sibling of student #2 and approximately 7 years of age, is outside where he has found a wooly worm and doesn't want to come inside. After a few minutes of fruitless coaxing, his mother says, "Max, come in or I'm going to have Susan tell you to come in." He's inside the door within seconds. Since when am I the bad guy, I wonder?

4:45 Lesson #3 commences, but only after Max has washed the mud and wooly worm fur off his grubby little hands.

4:55 Evan's mom brings in the baby, who has fallen asleep again, to sit next to me.

5:00 The family dog, a large and friendly golden retriever comes rushing into the piano room to see who the new people are, disrupting the lesson and waking the baby. Fortunately, baby is nonplussed.

5:15 Lesson #4 begins with another eager 7-year-old who has misplaced all but one of her piano books (What's with my students not having their books?), even though we're in her house. We do some warm-ups, spend 10 minutes looking for her books in the basement and in the bathroom (Why the bathroom? You got me.), kill some time practicing sight-reading, and end the lesson early. Meanwhile, I can hear the baby screaming somewhere upstairs and am completely distracted.

5:40 Screaming baby will not nurse. I have pulled out my left boob for nothing. I change his diaper, plug the noise-hole (re: pacifier), and hand him off.

5:45 Student #5 shows up with all her piano books but not her assignment book. I tear a loose sheet out of another notebook, feeling sure that she will lose it by next Thursday. Student is clearly tired and bored. I feel like a failure of a teacher. Meanwhile, the baby, who has once again joined my side, keeps spitting out his pacifier and threatening to fuss if I don't replace it immediately.

6:30 I arrive home tired, grumpy, and wondering just how long this arrangement is going to work. Sigh.

2 great bumper stickers I've seen...

1. I was born OK the first time

2. I never thought I'd miss Nixon (this on a vehicle that also sported Vietnam vet and USMC stickers...)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rally Schmally

I was going to comment in response to mamcita, but just decided to post instead.

I don't get excited about rallies as a general rule. About a year ago I was on the Organizing Committee in my grad union and helped organize a student rally. I think it was to protest tuition hikes and the generally anti-higher-education climate in the Wisconsin state leg, but I don't even remember exactly. My attitude about that rally was lukewarm at best for two reasons. First, I was out of town with a touring opera company on the day of the rally, so I couldn't even be there. Secondly, and more importantly, I didn't really believe that rally was going to be at all effective, even if people skipped class to attend. Originally, more gung-ho activists wanted to organize a student strike, but they knew it couldn't be pulled off, so they compromised and settled for a rally instead. When you're trying to organize a protest of some kind, you're often in a catch-22. A strike, whether it's a labor strike or student strike, is certainly more effective, but it's extremely difficult to convince people to participate. A rally, on the other hand, is an action in which people will more willingly participate, but it's not disruptive enough to be effective. So, more often than not, people organize rallies, which can take tremendous time and energy if you want a good turn-out, and all you get for it is a little bit of media attention and maybe a warm-fuzzy feeling for trying to do the right thing.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country marching for one specific cause is a different matter, though. It's sad that one day of protesting will probably be forgotten all too soon, BUT I think they still surprised the pols in the sheer number that turned out, especially considering how many of them had to sacrifice a whole day's wage (not insignificant when you're living day-to-day) to do it. I don't think that was lost on the reps who want our votes in a few months.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A few thoughts on activism

Yesterday there were rallies all over the US to support immigrants' rights. There was a big one in Madison, something like 10,000 strong. I feel vaguely guilty about not going. This is a cause I want to support, plus it's exciting to be part of something this big. I heard on NPR yesterday that some people think that the movement to support illegal immigrants could be as big as the civil rights movement of the 1960s. But something about the prospect of finding a place to park downtown (no small task in this city, especially when some streets are blocked by throngs of demonstrators) and standing outside for hours with an increasingly heavy 2-month-old prevented me from going.

I like being an activist. Sometimes I like to think of myself as a hell-raiser, but that's probably stretching it. I've never been arrested in an act of civil disobedience or anything like that. Someday I'll write about my experience as an organizer for a labor strike at UW, which is one of the coolest things I've ever done, but it's a long story for another day.

There are a couple points I want to make out of all this rambling. First of all, I want to raise my child (eventually I’ll refer to my offspring in the plural) to be aware of and involved in social justice. Considering that he’s a white male in an educated middle-class family, that isn’t likely to happen on its own. Secondly, no matter what I end up doing with my life, I want to know that I’ve committed at least a little piece of myself and my time to causes more important than my own personal career. Or maybe it's just a way of easing my guilt as a white midle-class liberal.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Why I vote

Junior had his first civics lesson this week. On Tuesday I put the baby in the sling and we walked over to our polling place, an elementary school just a few blocks away from my house, to vote in a local election. I'm always a little conflicted about these elections because while I believe in the "Think globally, act locally!" idea, I really don't keep up with local politics very well, so I usually don't have a clue about the candidates and their positions. It boils down to this question: is it better to vote in ignorance or not at all?

This election was for a couple seats on the school board, the county board (I don't even know exactly what that is), some other stuff I don't remember, and a city-wide referendum to recommend immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. I suspect that last item attracted more media attention and brought more voters to the polls than anything else, though it probably has the least actual impact on the local community. Other than spurring a community discussion about the ongoing war in Iraq and the pros and cons of keeping troops there vs. bringing them home, a city-wide statement doesn't do much in practical terms. Would anyone care to disagree with me on this point?

Meanwhile, the rest of the items on the ballot were names I'd never heard before. I went with my union's recommendations on the school board elections, took a blind stab at the county seat spot, and was somewhat relieved to see that the rest of the positions were uncontested, so unless I could think of a write-in candidate, I wasn't reduced to "eeny meeny miny mo."

It's disappointing to see how few people show up for these local elections. If I think about it too much, I get so infuriated at this inflated American notion that we're some kind of beacon of democracy for the rest of the world and given the chance, every non-democratic nation would adopt some variation of our system of government because it's the fairest kind, YET our pathetically low voter turnout, even in highly publicized neck-to-neck presidential elections, indicates that maybe people here don't care about democracy at all. It is my belief that citizens of this country have no ground to stand on when they complain about their elected leaders unless they dragged their sorry butts to the polls. Even if you're terribly cynical, which I am, and think that the system is broken, that elections in Ohio and Florida are rigged, that there are no good candidates, that they're all corrupt (except Russ Feingold and Paul Wellstone, may he rest in peace, and occasionally even John McCain has his moments), you still have the right, nay - the duty! - to register your disappointment on a ballot. Write in someone's name if you have to.

For that reason, I'm glad that elementary schools are often polling places. Maybe those kids notice, maybe their teachers point it out to them, or maybe not, but when they see the yellow "Polling Place" signs on the walls, directing voters to the teacher's lounge with the elderly volunteers and ballot boxes and the slow but steady trickle of consciencious (and dare I say a tad self-righteous? because I'm willing to admit that in this case) citizens, I hope that on some level those kids realize that they're seeing our democracy, in all its imperfections, in action.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

P.S.

I realize that last post was a little scattered. Also, I realize this blog is totally lacking in links to other blogs and websites. That, my friends, is because I am completely clueless at html. I can't even get a title bar on my posts. How pathetic is that?) When I get around to it, I will ask my computer-savvy hubby to show me how to do these supposedly simple tasks, and then I will do them. Until then, you'll just have to bear with me.

Shots and other stuff

The poop rocket and I both got stuck with big needles today at the doctor's office, though I didn't cry as much as he did. I was getting blood drawn for a routine cholesterol check (which I told my PCP I would do, oh, about 5 years ago) and Daniel was getting his 8-week shots. He didn't like them one bit, but after only about five minutes of screaming bloody murder, he calmed down and went to sleep. Thank God for infant Tylenol, I say. The good news is that he's in the 90-95th percentile for weight and length (BOO-yah!), so our boy is healthy and definitely growing.

Because I had to fast for twelve hours for that blood test, I decided to treat myself to a double espresso and a scone at Steep 'n Brew on my way home. It's amazing how going somewhere with a baby, especially a very young and immobile one, prompts total strangers to come talk to you and tell you about their kids. I found myself in a conversation with a woman (incidentally, a dead ringer for Katie Sackhoff of Battlestar Gallactica) who is going to school for nursing and has two kids of her own only 15 months apart, age 5 and 6. Some people might find this kind of thing annoying, but I have to admit I enjoy the attention and opportunity to talk to other adults, even if that includes conversing with random strangers.

Coffee shops are great places to eavesdrop on people, too. The guy working the counter, a young blond gentleman with barrettes in his hair and a distinct lisp, was telling the Katie Sackhoff look-alike, "Yeah, um, when I was like eighteen I did every substance I could get my hands on, I mean anything, but mostly ecstasy ya know? and that was for like two years and that stuff really messes up your brain so now I can't just be like, hey brain, just make some fuckin' seratonin because it just won't, like, do that on its own and my friend doesn't believe in pills and she thinks it's just, like, all in my head, and I'm like you shouldn't judge me until you've walked in my shoes for a day and that really pissed her off but I was like, I'm sorry, you just shouldn't judge, I mean, some people have to judge cause that's their job in court or whatever but you shouldn't be judging me..." (That, by the way, was the abbreviated version.) I just pretended to be reading the New York Times.




Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Balancing Act

It's not easy to type with a sleeping baby on your chest. I know that if I put him down, he'll wake right up and cry (how do I know? because that's exactly what happened half an hour ago), and he's too peaceful to fuss with a baby carrier right now, so I've resorted to leaning back a little in this office chair so that I can type with both hands. Baby Daniel (or "Danny" or "Puppy" or "Poop rocket"-take your pick) is all curled up like a little comma, and he couldn't be cuter if he tried. When he wakes up and wants to nurse, I'll have to type with one hand; that's when things get really interesting.

It's kind of a lame segue, but this whole game of using the computer while cuddling a sleeping infant is indicative of my life as a whole right now. Essentially, I'm a SAHM, which means I am the primary caretaker of our child, and I don't have a job outside the home. That last thing is only partly true, as I started teaching piano again last week and I've agreed to play a couple gigs over the next month or so. With a husband who works a full-time job, that makes things a little tricky interms of childcare. My piano students' parents just take turns holding him while I'm teaching. (This is working out well except for when he threw up all over someone last Thursday. She didn't seem to mind, though.) Thusfar, I've managed to schedule all my rehearsals on evenings and weekends so that father and son can have some special bonding time. But that doesn't always work out, and this week I had to schedule a couple rehearsals in the morning and I'm planning on just bringing him along. My fellow musicians say that's OK with them, but I'm a little nervous about how it's going to go. What if he wants to go on a nursing spree? What if he spits up all over himself and needs changing? (We have a pretty barfy kid, so this is a distinct possibility). I guess I'll just have to roll with the punches.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Rainy Sunday

I always go garden shopping in the worst weather. Several weeks ago when Stephanie was visiting, we packed up the wee babe and took off in the 4" of slush and snow to buy planting trays and peat pots at a local greenhouse. Today it is wet, wet, wet and kind of cold, so when husband Stu and I got tired of working last week's crossword and watching old episodes of "Scrubs," we went out to the greenhouse to buy onion bulbs and peat moss. We also got more peat pots, not because I ran out the first time, but because I accidentally dashed an entire tray of beautiful basil and sweet pepper seedlings to the floor with one unfortunate elbow jerk last week, so I need to re-plant. I should have knocked over the lettuce seedlings instead because recently they all died a limp, soggy death. I think they were over-watered.

Stu and I frequently fantasize about buying a little plot of land and trying to subsist. In our version of paradise we have a little house off the grid, a few chickens giving us our daily fresh eggs, perhaps even a goat, heck, let's throw in a pair of alpacas while we're at it, and a bountiful garden full of lush produce. Of course, we're aware that this dream of ours is at best a woefully romanticized idea of homesteading and at worst, La-La Land.

Gardening in the middle of the summer here is always a reality check. July in Madison is when, for the home gardener without a fancy schmancy greenhouse, it's a little too early for tomatoes but a little too late for the salad greens which have gone all bitter in the heat. The weeds have taken over, you have to water every day, and your god-awful putrid stink spray has failed to fend off hungry rabbits and instead just makes you smell like garlic and rotten eggs after hopefully but futilely spraying it on your bush beans. Gardening for pleasure and the occasional homegrown salad is high maintenance enough. Gardening for actual sustenance may be more than I could handle.

In early spring, though, this knowledge doesn't stop me from getting all ambitious every year, expanding my little yard garden, buying more seeds than I actually have room to plant, and thinking that this season I'll get a little closer to that goal.

I love to play in the dirt.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Welcome to my blog!

I'm finally doing it, joining the blogosphere to record the anecdotes and events of my so-called life for anyone out there who cares to read about it. I could say that I'm doing this for the benefit of my family and friends who are spread out across the country and the globe, but let's be honest here: I'm mainly doing this for myself. Eight weeks ago (Feb. 7, to be exact) I gave birth to a son, my first child. Since then, as a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom), I have discovered the art of multi-tasking. I can do the dishes while rocking him to sleep in the sling. I can eat my own lunch while he's having his. I can even answer the door while he's nursing. Even so, being a SAHM means spending a lot of time "alone," and by that I mean "not around other adults with whom I enjoy interacting." So I decided that a blog would be a good way for me to keep my brain engaged in creative output on topics other than breastfeeding, baby poop, baby gas and baby spit-up, all of which occupy a considerable portion of my time. Of course, said topics will probably feature as prominently as anything else on this blog, but I'll try and keep everything in perspective.

A word about comments: if you want to comment on this blog, you have to register as a user. I'm doing this to avoid the spam-like advertisements that will inevitably clog up the comments roll. Registering as a user doesn't mean you have to have a blog of your own; it just means you pick a user name and password and give your email address to blogger.com. (I did that a while back to be able to comment on other blogs, and I have yet to get unfiltered spam in my inbox.)

So anyway, to all the millions (ha!) of you viewing my blog, welcome! I hope you visit and comment often.