Saturday, December 29, 2007

Apparently, because I'm white, it makes me an asshole when I don't like people waking up my sick 2-month-old with illegal fireworks

I just had my first experience of being called a haole bitch and being told to go back to the mainland. I tell you, I'm finding Hawaii more and more charming every day.

What happened was this. For some reason, some people in my neighborhood feel compelled to set off fireworks every night. They usually start right after we have put Zeke to bed (around 7 pm), but they are sporadic and not big bright ones so it's hard to tell where they are coming from. But tonight, at 7:15, I heard some really loud ones, and saw a big red flash outside my window. Immediately after that, I heard Zeke, who has been suffering from a cold and therefore sleeping particularly badly, start to cry. So I went to his room and rocked him back to sleep. At around 7:30, I heard the fireworks again, and looking out the window I could see exactly where they were coming from. I ran downstairs and told Jason, "keep an ear out for the baby, I'm going to tear some ass." The fireworks (and they were huge) were coming from a couple of blocks over, and I ran over and found a huge group of people milling around in the street, having a bit of a house party around the fireworks. I walked up to the group and said, "could you stop with the fireworks, please? they're illegal and they keep waking up my baby." At which point, two women started walking towards me, in full head-shaking mode (as if to say, "oh no she di'int"), yelling, "oh, yah, haole bitch? why don't you say it to my face?" This confused me a bit, because as far as I could tell, I was saying it to her face, so I said, "I am saying it to your face. Stop setting off the fireworks." And she said, "well, you could say it nicely." So I said, "OK, fine. Would you please stop setting off the fireworks? In addition to being illegal and not allowed in this complex, it's waking up my baby and it's rude and inconsiderate." Then this big Samoan guy said, "oh yah, lady? if you don't like the idea why don't you just go back to the mainland?" I rolled my eyes, and contemplated explaining to him that setting off fireworks isn't an idea, it's an act, but this probably would have gone right over his head, so I just said, "Give me a break, dude." And then everyone started yelling and getting in my face, "oh no, you give us a break, bitch. Fuck you, bitch." So I turned around and said, "never mind. I'll just call the police." And I did. I also sent the security dude over there, and I'm reporting them to management, and since I have the addresses, they're all going to be fined. On the other hand, they don't know who I am or where I live, but if anyone bothers me, I'll just sic Jason on them, because he got a Bowflex for Christmas so he'll kick some ass for me.

Monday, December 24, 2007

New York money, but with none of the New York advantages...

I'm sitting in my upstairs office in the new house. There are 4 neighbors whose houses are in close proximity -- I can hear activity in all 4. All day long I've had to listen to the shitty Hawaiian versions of Christmas carols coming from the radio of the people who live behind us, with occasional 20 minute bouts of their shitty little dog yipping. I can hear my neighbor next door blowing his nose in the shower. I can hear kids playing in the yard on the other side of us. Only in Hawaii can you spend almost half a million dollars on a house and still feel like you're living in a tenement.

a little star is born...

So Zeke wasn't an elf in the school christmas play. He was a star, along with the other babies in the infant class. The teachers marched the tiniest babies out and rolled out a crib containing the rest and sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." The role of the children was to look cute in their onesies decorated with stars. They succeeded. Then they got presents from Santa. It was too adorable -- Jason and I both cried.

Friday, December 21, 2007

My personal act of rebellion

I love Zeke's school. The place is open and colorful and cheerful, the staff is lovely, and the caregivers in the infant room are wonderful with the babies. But they're going a little overboard with the Christmas business. Not that I have a problem with Christmas -- it's a lovely holiday -- but there doesn't seem to be any acknowledgement at all of any possibility that Zeke might not actually be Christian. Everyone I meet talks about how it's his first Christmas, he's got a Christmas stocking in his crib, they're having a Christmas program today (in which he will be featured as an elf -- Jason and I are seriously going to lose our shit when we see him), etc etc. I refuse to be one of those assholes who throws a Christmas greeting back in the giver's face by saying, "actually, we're Jewish and we don't celebrate Christmas" -- I think it's rude and mean and totally unnecessary. So I had to send a message more subtly. I sent Zeke to school today wearing his onesie that says "save the date - my bar mitzvah 2020". It'll probably go right over their heads, though, because I'm sure that not a single person working there has any freaking clue what a bar mitzvah is. But still. It made me feel better.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The 8 week old clothes horse

I was just organizing Zeke's clothes drawers, and came up with an enormous pile of onesies. This isn't counting the ones that he can't wear right now because they're too big, or the ones in the wash, or the one he's wearing, or the extra outfits he keeps at daycare. This is only the ones that fit him, in his drawer right now. He could wear a different outfit every day for over a month and not wear the same thing twice. I've never had that many clothes in my life.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Peanut School

Zeke had his first day of daycare today. It's a lovely place with a very warm and nurturing staff. The teachers in the infant room are all big bosomed, soft-armed older ladies that seem tailor-made for holding and comforting babies. I was a little nervous (and feeling a bit guilty) when I dropped Zeke off this morning, but when the teacher picked him up he smiled at her and I sighed and knew he would be fine. The school is very detail-oriented -- even a 7 week old gets a daily progress report. So when I picked Zeke up at noon, I was pleased to learn that he had had two short naps (and at what times), had two bottles (how much and at what times), and that he enjoyed rocking in the rocker and was "very observant of the room, his friends, and his caregivers." So hilarious. The kid's been in school one day and already he has friends -- I've been here 10 months and I barely know a soul.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Two signs that the apocalypse is upon us...

1. I got my hospital bill for delivering Zeke. Uncomplicated vaginal delivery: $12,000. Holy shit. Thank god for insurance (though it only covers part of it, so don't anybody expect expensive Christmas presents from us this year).

2. With a completely straight face, the local weather forecasters are describing our current conditions as a "cold front." High of 83, low of 73.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Zeke has a bath

not that having a bath is such a monumentous occasion, but I couldn't resist posting a photo of him in the froggy towel that my friend Ali got for him (it's even got his name embroidered on the back - so cool). Every time Jason and I look at him like this we crack up. I hope he never runs for office, because his constituents will never be able to take him seriously with pictures like these out there...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

what's up

It's one of those rare days in Hawaii -- particularly on the side of Oahu we live on -- when it's rainy and crappy out. I've actually always loved rainy crappy days, so having the weather be perfect all the time isn't all it's cracked up to be. But right now it's thundering and lightening out, Zeke is dozing in his carseat on my desk, the dog is asleep at my feet, and I've got a mellow playlist going on iTunes. It's very peaceful.

It's been hard to find time to do anything not baby-related these days, thus the dearth of blog posts. Zeke is doing great -- at his 1month checkup he was 10 lbs 6 ozs and has grown an inch and a half. He's a solid little munchkin. He's starting to react to my facial expressions - I've gotten what looks like smiles, but I'm not sure. In any event, he's pretty damned cute.

In other news, we had a nice Thanksgiving with my brother Sam and his wife. I discovered that the key to a great turkey is to brine it. I also discovered, when we went for a hike, that not sleeping more than 2 hours at a stretch for a month is not conducive to cardiovascular strength. I practically coughed up a lung trying to walk up this hill. Also, we are getting the keys to our new house on Monday, and will move in the following weekend. It's going to be so great to be in our own place. We're going to get a Christmas tree - my first.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The happiest mommy on the block

When I was about 5 or 6 months pregnant, I ordered some DVDs from Amazon. One was a childbirth class, and the other was called The Happiest Baby On The Block, and it showed techniques for calming a crying or fussing baby. We watched the childbirth DVD in preparation for labor, but stuck the other one in a drawer and forgot about it.

Until last night.

Zeke has had a rough couple of days. He has been very fussy, and I thought he had bad gas, and then thought he was sick with a cold because his nose sounded congested, so I took him to the pediatrician yesterday to have him looked at. Apparently, his belly is nice and soft, indicating no gas problems, and according to the doctor, his nose wasn't even stuffed up. So in addition to being unable to calm my child, I have become that mom that rushes off to the doctor like a ninny the minute the kid shows signs of having a hangnail. But I did discover he now weighs 10 pounds (as my father said, "great news! we've never had a Sumo wrestler in the family!")

Anyway. He was relatively calm all morning yesterday, but then at around 2pm started this cycle of hysterical crying for 20 minutes followed by 5 minutes of calm, then more hysterical crying, then maybe 10 minutes of sleep, then more hysterical crying, etc. Nothing worked. I walked with him, sang to him, tried giving him a bottle, tried giving him a pacifier, tried holding him up on my shoulder, tried cradling him on his side, tried putting him in the carseat, the bouncy seat, and the swing, and nothing would calm him down.

Finally, he seemed to settle down on my shoulder (doing that "huh-huh-huh" thing kids do when they've been crying forever and are trying to calm down -- so pathetic), and I remembered this DVD and decided to watch it. It's made by a pediatrician whose theory is that the first 3 months of life are essentially a fourth trimester of pregnancy, and the best way to soothe a baby and make him feel secure is to mimic the conditions the baby was used to in utero. Common sense, yes, but sometimes it takes someone showing you the obvious before you get clued in. So the techniques are, you swaddle the baby tightly, hold him on his side or stomach, "shush" loudly (or use some other form of white noise), gently jiggle the baby, and give him something to suck on. Jason got the tricks down right away, but it took me a little while to get the hang of the side/stomach position. But I tried again this morning when Zeke was fussing; I swaddled him tightly, put him on his side (carrying him like a football, with his cheek in my palm), shushed him, and jiggled him a little, and he literally went from crying hard to passed out cold in about 10 seconds. He is now asleep in his crib with my white noise machine on loud about 6 inches from his ear, happier than a pig in shit.


Dr. Harvey Karp, if I could nominate you for a Nobel Prize, I would. I think you saved my life, or at least my sanity.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thank you,

for reassuring me that I'm not a monster and that it's perfectly normal for me to not find taking care of a newborn to be particularly enjoyable. My days have a foggy sameness -- waking to the sound of crying, changing a diaper, giving a bottle, burping, saying "shhh" when he cries (which is alot -- poor monkey's got bad gas and I'm having a hard time getting rid of it), waiting for him to fall asleep, falling asleep myself, waking to the sound of crying, and on and on. I love the kid, but I'll be really happy when he starts daycare.

The cure for insomnia

As anyone who knows me knows, I am a chronic insomniac. Haven't slept well for 10 or 11 years. I usually have no trouble falling asleep, but I'll wake up in the middle of the night and then not be able to fall asleep again until 4 or 5 in the morning. But I think I've finally figured out my issue. Apparently, my problem was that I had too much time to sleep. All of those uninterrupted hours during the night were too much for my system to handle. It was an embarrassment of riches. Because now that the time available to me for sleeping is so drastically limited -- I'm getting maybe 3-4 hours a night, in 1-2 hour increments -- I'm sleeping like a champ. No more waking up in the middle of the night, staring at the clock, unable to drift off again. So for all of you poor saps who can't seem to fall asleep or stay asleep, just set your alarm to go off every 3 hours or so, and then make yourself get out of bed and either rock in a chair or walk the halls for half hour to an hour at a time. You'll be nice and exhausted and will never have trouble sleeping again.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I'm a cliche

Not much blog-worthy going on these days. I spend my days and nights feeding the baby, looking at the baby, reading to the baby, taking pictures of the baby, talking about the baby, and trying to catch a bit of sleep when I can. Zeke is very mellow and easy, doesn't cry much, and loves to be held and to snuggle up with mommy or daddy or grandma.

To make up for the lack of posts, I've added a Flickr button to the side of this page -- I'll add new pictures as I take them. Feel free to admire my cute little munchkin.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Going native

The Hawaiian ladies are very big on getting designs on their big toes when they get pedicures. I always thought it was a bit too ghetto-fabulous for my tastes, but the other day Mom and I went and got our hands and toes done and figured, "when in Rome..."
I kind of love it, actually.

Hands down, the bitchinest new baby card we have received thus far....

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I might manage to finish the book by the time Zeke is 2...

When Dave and Michele came to visit in April, they brought a wonderful children's book for me to read to Zeke called On The Day You Were Born. It's about how the sun, moon, ocean tides, animals and people in the world celebrate a baby's arrival. It's beautifully illustrated and written in a poetic, soothing style, and as soon as I looked through it the first time I knew I was in trouble, because it's so sweet and lovely and expressive of the joy of a new baby that it makes me cry every time. After we brought Zeke home, I tried to read it to him and couldn't even get through the first paragraph before I started to bawl. The second time was not much better; I might have gotten through the first page. Last night we tried again and I was fine until I hit page 4. My mother thinks it's hilarious -- I sit there crying and laughing at myself, and she just laughs.

But it's not as bad as my reaction to The Giving Tree. One time I was merely explaining to someone else what the book was about and I choked up and started to weep. I would love for Zeke to have that book, but I may have to get someone else to read it to him.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Who the f@&k is Billy Ruebens?

As I mentioned in my previous post, Zeke is a bit jaundiced and is receiving phototherapy for it. He's doing fine and we're going home in a couple of hours. In the meantime, I learned something new.

When the night nurse came in a couple of nights ago to test him for jaundice, she said she was taking him to get his "Billy Ruebens" checked. I was a bit confused and asked who that was, and she explained that they were looking to see if Zeke had jaundice. So I figured that "Billy Ruebens" was a doctor back in the day who had come up with the test for jaundice or was some other prominent person in the medical field.

Then earlier today, we were meeting with the pediatrician who was explaining a bunch of stuff to us, and when she asked if we had any questions, I said, "actually, yes. I was just wondering who Billy Ruebens was and if he had something to do with jaundice research." She gave me the look that is usually reserved for people with dementia or some form of brain damage and explained that people hadn't been saying "Billy Ruebens," but rather, "bilirubins," which apparently is a chemical that has something to do with jaundice. Thankfully, her explanation was not followed by flashing sirens and large illuminated arrows with "moron" pointed in my direction, but it wouldn't have surprised me.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Look what we made!!

Introducing Ezekiel Monash

The last 3 days have been the craziest of my life. An amazing and overwhelming combination of excitement, apprehension, tedium, dread, elation, intense physical pain, intense euphoria, and finally, a contentment that I have never known. Just typing these words is making me bust out in tears all over again. I feel so blessed and insanely happy, and I wish that everyone in the world could feel what I'm feeling right now, at some point in their lives.

But getting from noon on Tuesday to this point was going to hell and back. I had been 1 centimeter dilated for 2 weeks, and I was afraid I would pass my due date, which would have sucked on so many levels. First, as my previous posts make clear, I was completely over being pregnant. Second, my mom is coming in today, and it would have been a huge bummer for her if I didn't give birth until right before she left, because she has been so excited about seeing her new grandson. So on Sunday, I started going on 5 or 6 walks a day to try to move the dilation process along. This was a huge boon for Max, who is always thrilled when I pick up the leash and slip on my shoes. Monday I must have walked him 5 times, and I also took a couple of brisk mile long walks with the iPod.

I guess it did the trick, because I woke up Tuesday morning feeling off, physically. Very tired and achy all morning, and then at noon I started having contractions. At first they were very mild -- more like menstrual cramps than anything else -- but by 2 or 3 in the afternoon they were definitely discernable and regularly spaced, albeit far apart (at least 12 to 15 minutes). I was also having "bloody show," so I knew that the time had probably come. I called my doctor at about 3:30 in the afternoon, and he said that when the contractions started getting closer together -- under 10 minutes apart -- I should probably head into the hospital. I didn't want to head all the way over there (it's in Honolulu, about 21 miles from where we live) only to get sent home because I still had too long before true labor would begin, so Jason and I hung out for a while and figured that we'd head into the hospital at around 7 or 8. In the meantime, we let our neighbor know (she was going to look after Max while we were gone), did the dishes, did some laundry, and finished packing the hospital bag.

But by 5, the contractions were getting more intense and paintful, and were between 6 and 8 minutes apart. We decided to head in. We got to the hospital at about 6 :30 or so, but I was still only 1-2 cm dilated, so they made me walk around for hours, checking my progress every hour. So we walked. I shuffled along in my hospital gown, and Jason held my hand and walked with me and rubbed my back when the contractions hit, while I gripped his arm or the railing on the wall and tried to breathe through the pain. By 10:30 at night, I couldn't walk around anymore -- the contractions were too painful and too close together, and it was wearing me out. The hospital staff decided to put me in a labor room (up to that point we had been in a triage room) and give me a narcotic to try to dull the pain a little bit.

The pain medication didn't work. For the next few hours, I lay in bed while wave after wave of pain washed over me. At around 2 in the morning, the staff checked my cervix again, and I was still only 2-3 centimeters dilated. I was exhausted and worn out and still had a long way to go, so when they asked if I wanted an epidural, I said "hell, yes."

The anesthesiologist showed up and inserted the catheter at about 3 am, and 15 minutes later, I was in heaven. Totally, 100% pain free, though all my contractions were continuing unabated, growing stronger and stronger and moving the dilation process along. The only scary part was that the medication made my blood pressure plummet and the baby's heart rate dropped very rapidly, so all of a sudden there were 6 people in the room, poking and prodding at me, making me get up on all fours while they inserted more tubes into every orifice of my body and broke my water, and adjusting various medications to get us back on track. Finally, they got me and the baby out of distress, and I spent the next 10 hours or so dilating to 10 centimeters.

The problem, though, was that by the time I was done dilating and ready to push, the epidural was wearing off -- just in time for the hardest part. The doctor gave me two "toppers" -- smaller doses of pain medication to help me out during the pushing -- but they didn't last very long. So I spent the next 4 hours pushing out an 8 1/2 pound baby with a 14 inch head. The baby was tolerating the pushing, so we kept going. At first, it wasn't too bad, but by the last hour, he was starting to move down the canal and then got stuck behind my pubic bone, and it got kind of brutal. Finally, finally, the baby's head cleared my body and the rest of him slipped out, but I was sweating and crying, completely worn out and in horrible pain. I didn't even really get to enjoy seeing him or holding him at first, because the doctor had to stitch me up. Jason was excited, but also traumatized at having witnessed me in so much pain, so he couldn't really enjoy the moment either.

But then, after Zeke got cleaned up, we heard this squeaky little cry. And we looked at each other, smiled, and both burst into tears. There he was. Our little boo-boo. And he was healthy and looked perfect (except for a bit of a conehead) and was alert and beautiful.

The past two days we've spent hanging out in the hospital, snuggling the baby, marveling at how awesome he is, telling each other how much we love each other, and experiencing the family we have created. We were supposed to go home yesterday (Friday), but Zeke was a little bit jaundiced so the docs decided to keep him overnight for photo-therapy. Basically, he gets to spend the night in a baby incubator with a bright light shining down on him. So I'm here with him and Jason went home to spend some time with Max, get a change of clothes, and pick up my Mom from the airport. They'll come straight to the hospital from the airport, so I should be able to see them in about 6 hours. I'm exhausted and ecstatic and weepy and totally in love, with both my husband and my son, and I feel like the luckiest woman alive.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Don't call us, we'll call you

I say this without any desire to sound like a bitchy asshole, though I'm sure to some that's exactly how it will come across. But I can't talk any more about how I'm feeling these days. I've received so many lovely emails and phone calls from friends and relatives whose motives are nothing but pure and who are excited about the baby's impending arrival and how I'm doing. But the truth is, I feel like dogshit and I don't want to talk about it anymore. I've got nausea and heartburn, I can't sleep at night because I'm so uncomfortable, my feet and hands are so swollen that when I do sleep I wake up unable to feel my fingers because they have gone numb from the nerve pressure, my abdominal muscles ache and pull every time I switch positions, and my bowels are in an uproar. I'm so excited to meet my son, but to be honest, he has worn out his welcome in my body and I just want him to get the fuck out. When I go into labor and give birth, I will let everyone know, but until then, I have nothing new to report. If you want to call me and talk about the Red Sox-Indians series or how Friday Night Lights is the best show on TV or how awesome the New England Patriots are this season or the turmoil in Pakistan or what an idiot Britney Spears is, I'm all for it, but I can't talk about contractions or cervical effacement or anything like that anymore. Sorry.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


The seller accepted our offer, with the only sticking point being the closing date. We wanted late December, they wanted mid November. We split the difference, so we're closing on December 3. Very exciting!

Monday, October 15, 2007

making progress

The house-hunting process has been a bit stressful. First, I'm experiencing extreme sticker shock at the price of real estate here. Basically, we're going to be spending twice as much as our Atlanta house sold for, to get something with similar square footage on 1/10 the plot of land and in a suburb 20 miles outside of Honolulu. Second, schlepping around to look at houses is physically taxing for me right now I'm less than 2 weeks from my due date and feeling absolutely enormous, and the baby loves to kick me hardest when I'm up and walking around. So getting in and out of the car and walking up and down stairs to check out open houses and showings leaves me exhausted.

But... I think we found a place. It's got 3 bedrooms, including a master suite that has a den attached that I can use as an office, a big downstairs with a new kitchen, a little yard where Jason can garden (he's way into it all of a sudden), and a two car garage. It's on a quiet street with nice neighbors, it's close to the beach and is in a community with a pool, and it's near a reasonably good elementary school, so I may be able to avoid the expense of private school for a little while. We're making an offer on it tomorrow. Fingers crossed...

Friday, October 05, 2007

The theme is "prison"

I've never thought of interior decorating -- or other similar stylistic choices -- in terms of having a theme. Because of my parents' jobs, our house was decorated with rugs and paintings and sculpture they acquired in their various diplomatic posts around the world, accompanied by neutral-toned furniture that wouldn't compete with the art and various objets. Nothing matched in the sense that they didn't pick out upholstery to match drapes to pick up the pattern in the throw pillows, but everything complemented everything else and looked cool. Likewise, I never had a bedroom that was all decorated in Holly Hobby or Peanuts characters or anything like that. It wouldn't have occured to me to ask for it, and it's not really my thing.

As a result, I've been at a loss lately when people ask me what my "theme" is for Zeke or his bedroom. I don't get this at all. I mean, he's a baby. He's not going to give a shit about themes. All he's going to want is to be warm and comfortable and to have access to my boobs whenever he's hungry. My feeling is, if his clothes and sheets and stuff are clean and safe, I've done my job, and as far as their appearance goes, anything simple and not ugly is fine by me. But the women from my exercise class, for example, ask me about my theme and tell me about how their theme for their babies' nurseries was "bears" or "sports" or "Winnie the Pooh." They look at me sort of blankly when I appear confused and a little bit panicked by the question until I blurt out, "my theme is 'baby.' Ha ha." Then their looks change to slightly pitying, as if I'm some poor soul who lacks the imagination to come up with a theme for my child, who will doubtless grow up neglected.

So I've decided on a theme. "Prison." Jason and I joke about how Zeke with be our little convict baby whose ancestors were sent to Australia when it was a penal colony. He's got a Johnny Cash Folsom Prison onesie, and yesterday I made him a t-shirt that says "I Just Spent Nine Months On The Inside." I'm trying to find some jammies that look like an orange prison jumpsuit. So there's your theme, exercise class ladies. I hope it meets with your approval.

Items from Zeke's layette

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Because we don't have enough going on these days...

We're starting the house-hunting process. We've got our prequalification letter from the bank, our realtor is lining up open houses and showings, and we want to be under contract soon so we can close before the end of December and get the tax break for 2007. Let's hope my water doesn't break as I'm traipsing through someone's house...

Monday, October 01, 2007

A womb with a view

Aww... he's got my cankles!

I'm giving birth to the creature from the black lagoon.

This past weekend we went for an ultrasound to check the baby's size and development. All looks good. We got one of those "4D" scans. I was hoping for a better shot of the baby's face, but because of the position he's in, it was hard to get a clear picture. His features look squished and weird and half his face was in shadows. But all is well, and I'm now less than 4 weeks from my due date. Which can't come soon enough, because I'm so ready to have this baby. I'm bored and huge and constantly needing to pee and I can't do much of anything without feeling completely exhausted within 5 minutes.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My baby brother is kewl

My youngest brother, Sam, is one of my favorite people in the world. I've thought so ever since he was a little kid -- he was always smart and funny and looking at the world in a new and unexpected way. He has the left brain of a money guy but the soul of an artist, and I respect him enormously for it, and for his willingness to make an effort to create art, be it music or photography or whatever catches his fancy. He has a band called Lipstik, and they play gigs and write and record songs and get stuff on iTunes and put themselves out there. They may make it big, they may not, but props to them for giving it all they've got. Here's their new video for "Honey Eyes." According to the band, it's "a meditation on the songwriting process and on the dual lives we all tend to lead."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Yay!! I said something that wasn't totally inappropriate!!

It's no secret that I share my father's tendency to say wildly inappropriate things in public. With a certain gift for the gab comes an inability to keep my mouth shut, I guess. Just last week, I was waiting in line at the post office, and the line was growing behind me while some lady carried on a long conversation with the postal worker behind the counter. For a long time she blathered on about non-post-office-related matters, while people impatiently tapped their feet and checked their watches behind her. Then she asked a question about online postal services, saying, "you know, I don't like having to come here if I don't absolutely have to." And before I could stop myself, I said out loud, "yeah, neither does anybody else, lady, so let's cut the chatter, shall we?" Oops. She gave me a dirty look and hurried away.

Saturday night, Jason and I went to see a high school football game at Kapolei High School. It's about 3/4 of a mile away, so we thought it would be a nice walk and fun to get out of the house.

A beautiful night for a game

We had a really nice time hanging out and watching the game, even though the game wasn't very good. Kapolei's team had a couple of drives in which they were able to string together some good plays, but for the most part they looked pretty inept.

Jason has lost all feeling in his leg taking this picture

Kapolei's team didn't match up well against the Mililani Trojans. I think the final score was 31-7.

The high school band, on the other hand, was pretty impressive. I don't even remember if my high school team had a marching band, but if they did, I don't think they were as good as these kids were. They played tunes that were recognizable and upbeat, on key, and they marched in pretty tight formation and seemed to be having a good time. As they walked off the field from doing their half-time performance, I turned to Jason and said, "that's the most organized and cohesive group Kapolei's had on the field all night!" A guy sitting right in front of us who looked to be a couple of years older than us chuckled and gave me an appreciative smile, and a few minutes later, two of his kids walked up, and they were band kids. So I had paid him and his family a compliment!

KHS's rockin' band

Jason looked at me and said, "hey, look at that! you said something that didn't insult anyone!" I laughed and replied, "I know, I was just thinking the same thing. Maybe my streak is broken!"

Don't anyone hold their breath, though.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Aloha?? Anyone??

Yesterday I walked out of my house at about 2:45 in the afternoon to go run some errands, only to discover that I had a flat tire. A pain in the ass, but nothing catastrophic, as I have a full spare (no crappy temporary spares for Mercedes!) and I was paying attention the day they taught us how to change a flat in driver's ed. The fact that I'm huge and cumbersome and exhausted was a little bit of an impediment, but the tire needed to be changed, so I sucked it up and got to it. I dragged the (heavy, dirty) spare tire out of the trunk, loosened the lug nuts, and jacked the car up. I was sitting on the ground as I was doing this, so in addition to getting tire shmutz all over my hands and clothes, my butt and legs were getting all dirty and grass stained, plus the size of my belly makes it difficult to sit on the ground comfortably in any event, let alone maneuver big heavy tires on and off of a wheel, all while trying to hold the spare tire in place and line up the lugs at the same time so that I could screw it in place. What I'm saying is, I got the job done, but it wasn't pretty, and to anyone passing by, it would have been obvious that I was having a difficult time.

Oh, yes, did I mention that it was the afternoon, and that people were trickling home from work, and students (including able-bodied high school boys) were trickling home from school, and generally there were many people passing by who could see me? People that I see in the neighborhood every day when I'm out walking the dog or getting the mail or going for a stroll with my husband? People who say hi to me and ask me how my pregnancy is progressing, and therefore know who I am and that I'm hugely pregnant? People like the leasing agent who drove by with some prospective tenants, slowed down to look at me, and then kept driving? Or the landscaping guys, who also slowed down to look at me and then kept going? Or my next door neighbor's 17-year-old son, who walked by me, and was at most 10 feet away, but resolutely kept his eyes on a point in front of him so that he wouldn't have to acknowledge my presence? Yeah, them. All of those people, who know me, who are well aware of my condition, who saw that I was having a hard time, and not fucking one of them stopped to see if they could give me a hand. Say what you will about the South (and I lived there for almost half my life, so I am generally not one to bad-mouth it, but plenty of people do), but if this had happened in Atlanta, not only would multiple people have fallen all over themselves to stop and change the tire for me, but they (or their spouses) would have send me casseroles afterwards and called to make sure I was OK. Hawaiians like to brag about the "aloha spirit" that pervades these islands and makes them such a hospitable, friendly place, but I sure didn't see much evidence of it. Maybe we just need to move to a better neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy 5768

Tonight is the start of Rosh Ha'Shana, the Jewish New Year. It's the beginning of the Days of Awe, the 10 days leading up to Yom Kippur (the day of atonement), during which time a person is supposed to settle up spiritually, both with people and with God, making right the wrongs of the past year, so that the next year can begin with a clean slate. So tonight I will be going to synagogue, eating apples dipped in honey, and renewing my efforts to be a good and loyal friend, daughter, sister, wife and soon, mother. I wish all of my friends and family a happy, healthy and prosperous year, and may I be worthy of the love and support I am showered with on an embarrassingly regular basis.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I need a book

I've been plowing through all of the books on my must-read list, and I've hit a bit of a lull. Stuff that I've heard so much about -- The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Water for Elephants, to name two -- have left me feeling decidedly unsatisfied. I want to read something that blows me away, like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay or The House of the Spirits or One Hundred Years of Solitude or Handling Sin. Something smart and original and unique. Any suggestions would be most appreciated, unless it's for an Ayn Rand book, because I think she sucks.

In other news, my life is incredibly boring these days. Work is kind of slow, and I'm so tired all the time that I can't really do much of anything without needing a nap (or a pee break) after 15 minutes. I spend my days either working or reading or watching U.S. Open tennis and Law and Order reruns, and my nights trying to get comfortable or making 3 a.m. runs to Safeway for Pepto Bismol to battle heartburn. Exciting, exciting stuff. Hence my need for a great book.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Where are they now?

Last night I was watching an old episode of Law and Order and when the guest actor playing one of the defense attorneys came on screen, I thought, "I know that guy." Sure enough, it was a classmate from UVa. that I was really good friends with 3rd and 4th year. He and a couple of other guys lived in a house across the street from me 3rd year and we hung out all the time. I did a little internet research and discovered that he is using a different last name, but uses his former last name as a middle name, and it's definitely him. He's a working actor who does lots of plays in New York (including on Broadway) and Washington (at places like Arena Stage), in addition to guest roles on TV shows like Law and Order and Criminal Intent.

The interet is a magical thing for reconnecting with old friends or classmates. Over the years, I have found (or been found by) dozens of people with whom I went to middle school, high school and college. A woman who was in my senior class in India got tremendous shit for dating an Italian guy who, while being smoking hot, was a freshman and the definition of jailbait. Well, it turns out it was true love, because she married him and they live in Italy, where she runs a travel agency. A guy I went to high school with in Israel is an art history professor at a small liberal arts college in South Carolina. A woman I was good friends with at UVa -- she lived in the geek dorm, like me -- became an award winning journalist in San Francisco. A former college roommate is a PhD in Japanese language. My best friend from middle school in Israel is a singer-songwriter in LA. When I knew first knew them, we were so young and stupid and unformed -- learning how to put on makeup, obsessing over silly crushes, worrying about finishing our history homework. It's so interesting to look back on those children and see the adults they've become. Remembering them way back when and learning what they've become is like being in a sculptor's studio the first day he starts working on a big piece of clay, and then coming back years later and seeing the finished result.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Get a job, honey.

We have a neighbor in our complex who is very sweet and nice to us, but she never stops bitching about money. I've gotten to the point where if I see her coming, I wave and pretend to be incredibly busy, because if I engage at all, I'll be stuck in a half hour conversation (or rather, listening to a half hour rant) about her travails with the leasing office because they're trying to raise her rent, or the fact that she had to spend $50 on this or $40 on that and how her husband didn't get any overtime work last week so they're behind on their bills. Her husband, meanwhile, works for a company that is redoing Honolulu's sewer systems. He often has to work the night shift, has skin the color of a fish's underbelly because he never sees the light of day, and is constantly exhausted. The wife, on the other hand, doesn't work and doesn't want to work and seems to think that the solution to her problems is for her husband to work overtime or figure out a way to get more hours in or something.

I don't understand this attitude at all. I thinks she is being a selfish, lazy asshole. She wouldn't need to work full time. Even part-time would be enough to give them the cash to ease the burden, and it would mean that her husband wouldn't be completely fried and stressed out about working and supporting his family. He could spend some time with his kids and she could get off her ass and make herself useful and their lives would be better as a result. But I guess then she wouldn't have as much to complain about, and it seems like she really enjoys the complaining. So maybe she's doing just fine, and I should butt out. But it's much more fun to be nosy and tell people how they should live their lives.

I'm not sure why I'm so irritated about this. Maybe it's that I come from a long line of working women -- my mother had an awesome career in the foreign service, my grandmother owned her own business at a time when most women didn't work -- so the notion that I should get to sit on my ass like a schnorrer (Yiddish for a parasite or a moocher) while someone else works for my benefit is totally foreign to me. But anyway, it bugs me. As you can see.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Zeke has the hiccups

I'm sitting in my office working right now, and my belly is going nuts. The baby is incredibly active all the time anyway, but right now in addition to feeling him squirming around, I can also feel a rhythmic pulse, about every 5 seconds or so, that must be hiccups. I haven't even met this kid yet and already I can't even deal with how cute I think he is or how much I love him.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Living in paradise doesn't suck

One of the nicest things about being in Hawaii is that everyone wants to come and visit. Last night my parents came to hang out with us for 8 days, and of course they'll be back when the baby is born. It's so nice to have them around. Mom came with me to my exercise class this morning, and we're going to go to the beach and go sightseeing and chill, and I get some extra mommy-pampering. She rubs my belly and marvels at every kick and makes me lie down and rest when I'm tired (which is alot, these days). Visitors are also a great way to do all of the touristy things that I wouldn't ordinarily get off my ass to do, like go to museums and drive around the island just for the hell of it. This really is such a beautiful place -- all of the trees are in blossom and the air smells fragrant and nice trade winds are blowing and the sun is shining. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Aloha casual," indeed

Yesterday Jason and I went to a wedding. The groom, Francis, is a good friend of Jason's from work. Francis and his wife have been together for 9 years and have 3 kids together, but decided to finally tie the knot 9 years to the day after their first kiss. Kinda romantic. Anyway, Francis and Kim were both born and raised on Hawaii, so Jason and I both thought the wedding would have more of a Hawaiian flavor to it, but the ceremony was your run-of-the-mill Christian ceremony that lasted 5 minutes and mentioned Jesus alot.

What was Hawaiian about it was the dress code. Francis had told us that it would be "aloha casual," meaning shorts and slippers (Hawaiian for flip-flops), but the part of me that has lived in the South half my life couldn't believe that people wouldn't at least throw on a decent pair of linen shorts for a casual wedding, so I wore a dress and Jason wore beige linen pants with a nice white shirt. But sure enough, we were more dressed up than anyone else there, except possibly the bride and groom (though the bride wore flip-flops, as did the bridesmaids). The bride's father wore jeans shorts and flip-flops, and many people showed up looking like they were on their way to the grocery store.

The bride's parents

wedding guests

This may take some getting used to. I have a feeling Zeke is going to be the kid in school who gets shit because his mom is always getting on his case to pull up his pants and put on a shirt with a collar, when the other little punks are running around with tribal tattoos and no shoes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

We're still fine

Flossie's projected path has shifted south, so even assuming she takes the northernmost track of the projection "cone," Oahu will not be hit. The past day has been a little windier than normal, and Jason is down at the beach as I write this, taking advantage of the bigger surf, but other than that, nothing is out of the ordinary. The earthquake this morning was on the Big Island -- we didn't feel a thing (in fact, I didn't even know about it until somebody emailed me asking about it).

Monday, August 13, 2007

We'll be fine, weather permitting

A number of people have contacted me asking about Hurricane Flossie, which is on track to pass just south of the Big Island. Oahu is not under a hurricane advisory at the moment -- the storm is expected to pass well to the south of us and bring some big surf (woohoo!) and rain, but nothing more. We've got some small craft advisories in effect, but since I don't own a boat, I'm not really worried.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Am I missing something?

For about 2 months, I've been participating in an exercise class specifically for pregnant women and new moms. We meet in a local park and combine cardio work (power walking, jogging, whatever) with resistance work using stretch bands. Today toward the end of class, we were doing ab work near the playground, and a woman came up with a couple of kids and started talking to the class instructor. Apparently, the woman (Melanie) used to take the class but hasn't been in a while. Anyway, we were all chatting with Melanie and she started telling us about how her 2 year old was acting up the other night when he was supposed to be going to bed, and so she went into his room, "whacked" him without saying a word to him, and left. She was happy to report that he piped down and went to sleep after that. The weird thing was, she sounded almost proud of herself, and from the way she was talking, it appears that smacking her son is a fairly regular occurrence.

Now, I recognize that reasonable minds can differ about whether a mild spank from time to time is an appropriate form of discipline, but among the people I tend to associate with, it's not really accepted. And maybe I'm hyper-sensitive because as a child, my husband suffered some pretty horrific beatings at the hands of his (ex) step-father (not his mom's current husband, but her previous one). So to me, it's totally verboten -- neither Jason nor I have any stomach for physical punishment. But my delicate sensibilities aside, I still found Melanie's almost gleeful recounting of hitting her kid to be repulsive. Is it me? Has it become cool to beat your child?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Baby gear bonanza

Now that I'm in my third trimester, Jason and I figured it was time to get serious about loading up on baby gear before Zeke is born. I've been keeping an eye on some furniture stores and baby outlets, and also trolling craigslist for deals. Then my exercise instructor announced that she and her husband were leaving Hawaii and moving back to the mainland, and that they were selling absolutely everything, including all of their baby stuff. So I got a wooden crib (plus mattress and tons of bedding), a pack n' play, a stroller, 2 baby seats (with attachments), a nursing pillow (with attachments), a diaper genie, a chair that attaches to a countertop or table, and a couple of other things, all for $300. I'm so psyched. After we left her house, all the rest of the day Jason and I kept looking at each other and saying, "Jesus, I can't believe how much we just scored." All I need now is a car seat and a changing table and I'm all set. And of course, I need to figure out where I'm going to put all of this shit.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Moon over Kailua

My friend Bob was in town this past weekend taking a trip with his girlfriend. She has friends that live in Kailua, on the windward side of the island, and they invited us over for dinner. They have this unbelievable place right on the beach with a pool and a hottub and a huge house that catches all of the best island breezes. It's seriously my dream house. Anyway, sitting out on the back patio was almost magical -- the air was balmy, the breeze caught the scent of plumeria, and then a full orange moon started to rise out of the ocean. Living in Hawaii definitely has its perks. I'm not a good enough photographer to do the view justice -- it's really hard to photograph the moon at night with a standard camera -- but here's a glimpse of what we were looking at:

Mt. Kilauea

Jason and Dean went to the Big Island last weekend and saw Mt. Kilauea erupting. Apparently it started firing about 2 hours before they got there, and by the time they went over it in a helicopter, there were rivers of lava flowing down into the ocean. Pretty freakin' cool.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Shark Week

My brother-in-law Dean is visiting us right now. This morning while I was upstairs working, he was chilling downstairs watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. At around 1:30, he went down to the beach to have a swim. Before he left, he said, "with all the shark stuff I've been watching, I'm almost nervous to go in the water." He came back an hour later because the beach had been closed and everyone pulled out of the water because there was a shark sighting. Too weird.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

At last: rest

It's been a crazy week or two. First I was going nuts trying to finish and file a big brief that, for reasons that drove me crazy, came down to the wire. Then I was getting for my trip to Atlanta and New Hampshire, and getting the house ready for Jason's brother's visit (not that it took much, but I wanted to get some new bedding and rearrange a few things so he'd be comfortable). Then I took the red-eye on Friday night to Atlanta, got off the plane, went shopping with Kathleen, met a friend for lunch, took a brief nap, went to a baby shower that Michele hosted for me, which led right into a party. The next morning, I got up early to meet Michelle at the Y to go for a swim, then spent the rest of the day first at a wedding shower for Michelle, then at a massive party that Kathleen and Rich hosted for Addie and Lula that included a water slide, a moon bounce, tie-dying, face painting, and about a million little monkeys under the age of 6. The party started at 3 and ended at about 9. We went through 40 veggie corn-dogs, countless spinach pies and mini-pizzas, a huge bowl of crab dip, bottles of wine, bottles of water, juice boxes, and God knows what else. That night, Lula was having a really rough time settling down and it was freaking Addie out, so at about midnight I brought Addie into my bed to sleep with me. I had to be up early to get to the airport to make my 9:30 am flight, but like an idiot, I left my driver's license at Kathleen's house. I discovered the error early -- I only lost about 15 minutes -- but the 15 minutes was enough to make me miss my flight to Manchester because the fucking security line was an hour and a half long. I got to the gate about 2 minutes after they closed the flight, having run all the way down the terminal because of course my gate was as far away from the terminal entrance as it possible could have been. I see the ladies closing the door as I'm sprinting up there with my huge belly heaving, and I yell "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!" They look at me blankly and say, "sorry, flight's closed." At which point I burst into tears and stood in the middle of the gate area sobbing like a baby, with mascara running down my face. The next flight to Manchester wasn't for another 5 1/2 hours, so I had to sit there and wait. I was so angry and stressed and tired that it took about 45 minutes for me to calm down, so I sat there crying and doing that "huh-huh-huh" breathing thing that little kids do when they can't calm down, all the while trying to read my Harry Potter book. Finally I calmed down, got a new boarding pass for the next flight, and read my book. I finished it, too. When I got off the plane in Manchester, I took one look at my mother and Emma, who were meeting me at the airport, and promptly started to cry again. Oy.

But we got to the beach house and I got some food in my belly and finally, finally got a decent night's sleep, plus a 3 hour nap about an hour after I got up, so for the first time in I don't know how long, I feel rested. And I can reflect a little bit on my trip.

It was so wonderful to see all of my Atlanta friends and their children. It was a little bit overwhelming to have the activities packed in one after the other for a solid 36 hours, but I got a good love fix in. I miss those people so much.

But what really amazed me was how much I miss Jason. Of course I love my husband, but I will only be gone a week, so I shouldn't be such a sap. But sitting in the airport terminal, my first thought wasn't, "I want my mother," which is whom I normally yearn for when I'm stressed and tired. It was, "I want my husband." I just wanted him to come and give me a big hug and let me sleep on his shoulder. Thinking about it on the plane made me weepy all over again. He's a keeper, he is. The baby is kicking like crazy these days and all I can think about is how excited Jason and I both are to meet this little monkey and be good parents to him and teach him how to surf and read him stories and make him giggle by blowing on his belly. I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's alive!!

I have a terribly brown thumb. I love pretty flowers, but I don't have the patience to be a good gardener. I'll get really excited about gardening and go crazy planting and tending and digging, and then I lose interest and things start dying.

About a month a go, Jason gave me an orchid. It sat in its little pot looking pretty. I watered it a couple of times, but it didn't seem to be doing well, and then started drooping and getting yellow leaves and looking very sad. I didn't want to kill a plant that my husband had been sweet enough to bring me for no reason other than he loves me, so I went to KMart and bought a new pot for it and some soil and Miracle Gro, and I re-potted it. I even mixed coffee grounds into the soil, at the suggestion of one of our neighbors who has a yardful of beautiful orchids. Two weeks later, new shoots are growing, it's leaves have perked up, and the flowers are looking peppy. Maybe there's hope for me after all.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


I'm so grumpy today. Grumpy grumpy grumpy. I'm working on a brief on which we've already gotten more than a two week extension, and yet 3 lawyers in the firm (me included) are busting our asses to get the thing ready to file on Monday. My problem is that I'm sort of the coordinator of the master document, so I synthesize all of everybody else's work product into one final brief so that it all flows and makes sense and is persuasive. Of course, this means that for me to finish what I have to do, other people have to finish what they have to do, and they've all been lollygagging and dilly-dalling and procrastinating and making me crazy. I know I have to just suck it up and do the work and get it over with, but I'm so irritated I'm having a hard time focusing. The only bright side is that for the first time since we moved here, it is grey and misty and ugly outside, so I don't have to be further aggravated by the fact that I'm losing valuable beach time by having to work.

I'm also officially over being pregnant. I'm tired of the swollen feet and ankles, the heart-burn, feeling like a beached whale, not being able to lie on my back without feeling woozy, having a fatter ass than I've ever had in my life, having my boobs back at their pre-reduction size, not being able to do the physical activities that I love, and having this little alien monkey inside me kicking me at all hours of the night and disrupting the few hours of sleep that I might otherwise have been able to get (which, as a chronic insomniac, wouldn't have been many in any event). And I don't want to hear about how it's only going to get worse over the next few months (duh, thanks for reminding me) or alternatively, how it's such a beautiful wonderful experience and pregnancy is such a miracle blah blah blah. Fuck off, jolly pregnant ladies. You're weird.

Friday, July 13, 2007


This is apropos of nothing except a song that just started playing on my iPod. I know that Willie Nelson has become something of a caricature of himself, viewed as a pot-smoking, tax evading hippie who never met a cheesy duet he didn't love. But I defy anyone to listen to his Red Headed Stranger album from 1975 and not recognize it as an absolute masterpiece and work of genius.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Apparently it IS an Aussie thing!

My brother Sam has an Australian coworker who explained that crocheted coat hangers are traditional Australian gifts, frequently given by older people ("aunties" and "uncles").  I'm not sure why my Australian husband was unaware of this. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Is it an Aussie thing?

My in-laws are lovely people and they have always been incredibly kind to me and supportive of my relationship with Jason. I truly bear no ill will against any of them. So I don't want to sound like I'm being an ungrateful, snotty bitch when I say that they give the strangest, most random gifts I have ever heard of.

Today I went out to get the mail and there was a package for me from Jason's mom, Jan. The Australian postal service requires people sending packages to identify the contents of the package on a label. This package informed me that Jan had sent me a coat hanger. I opened it up, and sure enough, there was a small wooden coat hanger covered with pink crochet and decorated with a pink ribbon. The note accompanying the package talked about some travel she was doing, expressed wishes that we were doing well, and asked about Max (my dog). But nothing like, "oh, and I saw this hanger and thought it would be cute for the baby" (she doesn't know we're having a boy), or something explaining the motivation for the gift. Just a letter and a coat hanger.

This is not, incidentally, the first time I have received coat hangers as gifts from Jason's family. A couple of years ago his grandmother, Noonie (who, again, I must reiterate is an awesome, sweet woman whom I love dearly), gave me a package of three purple-satin-covered puffy hangers for Christmas. In Noonie's defense, she also recently sent me some little baby booties for Zeke that she crocheted herself. So cute. Anyway, I have also received from Jason's family styrofoam coozies and a bath towel. Not a decorative towel or something that said "Australia" on it or anything like that. Just a beige bath towel. I also once got bright turquoise socks so huge that they would hang off of Shaquille O'Neal's feet.

Last week, Jan sent Jason a birthday present (his birthday is tomorrow). It was a wine bottle carrier, like something you would take camping. Which is great, except that Jason doesn't drink wine.

The glamorous side of practicing law, part 2

It may not have been glamorous, but it did the trick. We got the court of appeals to reverse a really bad district court decision. Mission accomplished. I love winning. It's like, better than losing, ya know?*

**Extra credit points to anyone who can tell me what movie that line came from. And family members, if you can't figure it out, you lose points.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

pseudo-intellectual musings

I'm reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, Team of Rivals, about Abraham Lincoln.  I'm about 200 pages into it and am finding it incredibly interesting.  Two things jump out at me that I can't stop thinking about.  First is how uncertain life was back then, and how much we take for granted our health (and the high quality health care we get) these days.  Women routinely died in childbirth, people died suddenly of fevers, cholera, tuberculosis, the flu, etc.  Of the four central characters in the book, every one lost at least one child and many lost parents and spouses at an early age.  By the time Salmon Chase was 44, he had buried three young wives and a daughter.  Chase had another daughter, and in a letter he wrote to her when she was 11, he chastised her for not making more of her time on earth and warned her that she might not live another 11 years.  Edward Bates and his wife had 17 children, only 8 of whom survived to adulthood.  Lincoln lost his mother at the age of 9 and a 3-year-old son to TB. 

The other thing that strikes me is how intellectual pursuits consumed the lives of Lincoln and his contemporaries, and how they viewed themselves as having a duty to matter in the world and in society.  They were utterly dedicated to the principles of democracy and self government that the American "experiment" embodied, and they spent much of their time discussing the issues of the day in broad, philosophical terms, writing speeches and pamphlets, stating their positions through correspondence with friends and loved ones.  They lived deliberately, perhaps not in the way Thoreau meant it, but with purpose so that when they died, they could say that they had lived and that their lives mattered. 

Monday, June 25, 2007

ebbs and flows

Not much terribly exciting going on these days, but rather than write the brief I'm supposed to be writing, I'm procrastinating by blogging. Pregnancy is going pretty well -- had a checkup last week and the baby's heartbeat is strong and he appears to be growing as he should. I'm feeling lots of kicks and flutters these days. The past few days I've felt kind of yucky. I had felt great for about a week and a half, then yesterday all of a sudden I was crazy exhausted and queasy. Jason made this incredible dinner and I couldn't eat anything but a bite of mashed sweet potato. Kathleen says that nausea in the second semester means the baby is growing lots of hair. I guess Zeke will be a hairy little monkey, but that's not much of a surprise, given the thatches on the heads of both his parents. Anyway, I'm still feeling kind of punky, which sucks because I've got assloads of work to do and not much motivation to do it.

Yesterday we went up to a beach at Makaha, on the leeward side. I'd never been there before. The leeward side is much poorer than other parts of the island and many of the beaches are filled with homeless people living in tents. But there's a state park that we went to that has a beautiful beach -- the water is crystal clear. When the surf is up, it's a great place to surf, but yesterday there were no waves so we went snorkeling instead and saw lots of pretty fish.

I'm heading to the mainland in a few weeks to visit friends and family -- I'll spend the weekend in Atlanta and then go up to New Hampshire to meet my new niece Hazel and to hang with my brothers and parents. While I'm gone, Jason's brother, Dean, is coming here for a visit, so he won't be totally lonely and miserable without me.

OK, back to the brief. xoxo

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

baby music

I'm listening to Bob Marley right now while I work. I read on a pregnancy website that the baby can hear things and that it's good to talk or read or sing to my belly. So I've got my iPod speakers resting on my lap, and Zeke is bopping around - little rasta baby!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The glamorous side of practicing law

I'm in Pasadena, California, right now. We have a case that is up on Thursday for oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and I've been here preparing since Sunday with my boss, Charlie. Since checking into the hotel on Sunday afternoon at about 6 in the evening, I have left the hotel once, for 20 minutes, when we walked over to a grocery store yesterday to get some lunch at the salad bar. Other than that, I've been sitting in Charlie's hotel room for 15 hours a day, typing on the computer, reading cases and briefs, preparing argument outlines, and practicing the argument. My wardrobe consists of sweat pants and ratty t-shirts. Sometimes I put socks on, sometimes I stay in my bare feet. We have candles burning in the room to keep the stink of room service and us from getting too overpowering.

I bet it was like this for Clarence Darrow, too.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pickin' and grinnin'

I used to think that bluegrass and communities of bluegrass musicians were found in small, select portions of the globe. Namely, the southeastern United States, with the odd geographic anomaly here and there (like the fact that Bela Fleck is from New York). Then I fell in love with an Australian whose father, like me, plays the banjo. One of the best bluegrass jams I ever went to was an open mic night at the monthly meeting of my father-in-law's Sydney, Australia bluegrass association. I did four numbers with some fantastic musicians there, and they even did me the enormous honor of surprising me at my wedding with an impromptu bluegrass performance (and they let me sing!). I've decided that bluegrass musicians are like the Jews -- they're everywhere, and they'll eventually take over the world.

Australia wedding bluegrass

Last night I picked up my banjo for the first time in dog years -- I seriously don't remember the last time I played. I haven't played with any regularity in 7 years, which bums me out because I used to be decent at it. Now I can barely remember the most basic arrangements that I used to be able to play in my sleep. But I got out my old sheet music and my metronome and worked through some songs, and I'm going to try to play more regularly. I even found, much to my delight, that Hawaii has a traditional music and bluegrass society that organizes regular jam sessions. So I put myself on their mailing list and plan on trying to get up the nerve to play in public again, after all these years.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Why my mom is the awesomest person I know

My mother works for the State Department, doing passport security and immigration type work. She was recently talking to some American business owners who were trying to get work visas for a bunch of Chinese workers they wanted to hire. They were complaining to her about the fact that sometimes there is a wait in the consular section at the American Embassy in China.

"We've heard some people have to wait up to two hours in the consular section. It's demeaning!"

She replied, "is it really any more demeaning than being told by your government how many children you can have, or what you can think, or where you can live, or what political party you can belong to? More demeaning than that?"

That's like one of those comebacks you think of an hour after the opportunity to say it has passed, and then you kick yourself for the rest of the day for not having thought of it sooner. Given the time, you can think of the best zinger in the world, but rare is the occasion when the inspiration and opportunity to deliver it coincide. My respect for her, which has always been considerable, is now in orbit.

Also, if the Chinese consider waiting for two hours to be an extraordinarily demeaning experience, then the DMV in China must be a magical, wonderful place.

Zeke's progress so far...


I *heart* Michael Chabon

I'm about three quarters of the way through The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and I'm absolutely loving it. Reading Michael Chabon's writing is the intellectual and literary equivalent of savoring the most delicious corned beef sandwich from the best Jewish deli in the world. I adored Kavalier and Clay, but I think I love this book even more. I don't want it to end. And I think I've got a bit of a crush on the author, though I'm sure if I were ever in his presence I'd feel too stupid to say anything, since he's so conspicuously brilliant.

Friday, June 01, 2007


I learned how to swim when I was a year and a half old. People at our swim club in Venezuela used to freak out at the sight of a little two-year-old peanut leaping fearlessly off the diving board into the deep end of the pool, but my parents didn't worry about me because they knew I could handle myself in the water. I'm trained and certified as a lifeguard, including open water rescues. And until yesterday, I have never felt physically overpowered by any current or wave, whether in a lake or in the ocean.

Yesterday afternoon at around 5:30, Jason and I took the dog down to the beach for a walk. We do this at least 3 or 4 times a week. Sometimes we'll take our bathing suits and go for a swim, sometimes not. If one is in the water, the other stays with the dog because he tends to freak out if he can't get to us. He'll stand at the water's edge and bark nervously. It's kind of funny and kind of sweet.

I had done a hard workout just before we left, so I was hot and sweaty and wanted to go for a swim. The beach that we go to has a rocky shelf along the shore, so if you go out about 10 feet you'll be standing on flat rock, and then all of a sudden the ledge drops off and the water is 6 or 7 feet deep on a calm day. Yesterday the water was not calm. It wasn't crazy rough, but it was high tide and the waves were a decent size. We went to this spot where there's a break in the rocks about 20 feet wide, so you can swim without getting dealing with the rocks. But yesterday, the channel between the rock formations created a rip current that was very powerful. I waded out to the water until it was about chest high, and then all of a sudden a wave came and I was pulled back away from the beach. I tried to swim back to shore, but even swimming my hardest I was still moving backwards, and then being pulled sideways behind the rocks. At one point I tried to put my feet down to push off with my legs, but I was getting battered around so much that all I did was smash my ankle against the rocks. I gasped from the pain, and inhaled a huge mouthful of water.

I know enough about rip currents to know that you shouldn't fight them -- just let yourself be drifted down the beach until the current eases up and you can get out of the water. But I was scared of the rocks, particularly of smashing my pregnant belly and hurting the baby. and because of the water inhalation, I was coughing and having trouble breathing, plus I was tired from exercising. Jason, who was sitting on shore with the dog, could see that I was drifting out pretty far, and waved me in. I yelled that I couldn't get in, and he was up in a flash and ran into the water to get me. After a couple of minutes of struggling with the current, he finally reached me and grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the water.

When we were standing on the beach, panting and trying to catch our breath, we looked down at our legs, both of which were bloody with cuts. I had little blood spots on my ankle and the back of my foot, and Jason had hit his knee and shin pretty hard and had also cut up his toe. But we were safe and in one piece. I gave him a hug and told him he was my big strong hero, and he clung to me, still freaked out by the whole adventure. The poor dog was a mess as well -- when Jason ran into the water, Max tried to go in after him and was flattened by a big wave. The three of us decided we had had enough beach time and headed home for dinner.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

New bling

I'm going through that stage of pregnancy that is causing me to become a bit, er... gassy. So Jason gave me a necklace he made out of a can of air freshener. What a considerate husband!

Relaxation, Hawaii style

Jason has become good friends with a guy that he works with, Francis. Francis is a born and bred Hawaiian, as is his wife, Kim. Francis's family has a house on Sunset Beach (up on the North Shore), and the house is literally on the beach. You walk out the back door and through a gap in the hedges and you are on the beach. Francis and his family invited us up there for a barbecue on Sunday night. We had Hawaiian barbecue, played with Francis's kids in the water, watched the sunset, and hung out on the beach in front of a huge bonfire. Not a bad way to spend a balmy summer evening.

Francis mans the grill

Sunset at Sunset Beach

Friday, May 25, 2007

I see dead people

I've read that pregnancy can bring on crazy dreams. I have pretty insane dreams anyway, but in the last week, I've dreamt three different times about childhood friends of mine who are dead. One died in a car accident and one in a plane crash. But in my dreams they're alive and just hanging around, doing whatever I happen to be doing in the dream (at a party, for example, or riding in the car). In the dreams, I'm aware of the fact that they are dead and aren't supposed to be there, but I don't say anything to them about it. And then I wake up very disturbed and sad. I keep waiting for a dream about Kristin, but it hasn't happened yet.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Virtual book club

I've added a new feature to the blog. On the right side of the page, there's a list of books I'm reading. I did this because I really miss my book club. Kathleen and Mindy and I started it about 6 years ago, and we would alternate fiction and nonfiction. We read some great stuff, met some great women, and had some great discussions. So if anyone wants to email or call to talk about books, or suggest a good read, please do.

Tables turned

Last weekend we went to a new baby product expo in Honolulu. At one of the booths there was a prosthetic pregnancy belly for men to try on so they could get a sense of what it was like to carry around a big belly. So here's Jason at 7 months, and me at 17 weeks, belly to belly:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Family tradition

We're at the point in my pregnancy where we're thinking about names. We've actually had first names for a boy or girl picked out for a long time, so there hasn't really been any debate about that. But we wanted a cool middle name, too. My dad is a great student of military history, and my brother Josh's middle name is Wingate, after Orde Wingate, a British major general who was instrumental in the creation of the State of Israel. So Jason and I were thinking about choosing a middle name for Zeke that reflected both Jason's Australian heritage and my Jewish ancestry. So I asked my dad. And it turns out, John Monash was a great Australian war hero during World War I, fought at Gallipoli and all that, was a tremendous civil engineer, and he was Jewish. There's even a univeristy named after him. So we can name our boy Ezekiel Monash. Fucking awesome.
It's all starting to feel more real, this whole baby thing. Next week I've got an appointment to tour a daycare/preschool center. I'm on waiting lists for others. I've already received samples of formula and baby gifts from friends. Holy crap, I'm going to be a mommy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A new monkey in the family

Today my sister-in-law Lori is having another baby. Hazel, welcome to the world, sweetie. I can't wait to meet you!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Don't mess with Aussies

Australians, or at least, the ones I know (e.g., my husband and his family), are unbelievable practical jokers. Jason's dad had a neighbor who used to go boating from time to time, and he kept his boat at a marina but brought the boat's engine home to store in his garage or whatever for safekeeping. So one day when the guy was out on his boat, Jason's dad dug a big hole near the guy's back yard, along the path that he typically walked when bringing the boat motor home. He covered the hole with palm frods or other pieces of foliage, and then hid behind a fence and laughed his ass off when the guy fell into the hole while carrying his boat motor. Or there was the time Jason and his pals duct-taped a drunken friend to a flag pole naked in the middle of a public square. The poor bastard had to borrow a towel from the police to wrap around himself so he could take the train home. Or there was the time Jason rewired his boss's car so that every time the guy stepped on the brakes, the car horn sounded. Or the time his brother stole a garbage truck and drove it to his girlfriend's house to pick her up for a date. I could go on. But in any event, what many Australians would consider a "harmless prank," we would consider "vandalism" or "battery" or "larceny."

There's a guy at Jason's work that has started the cycle, apparently unaware of what he's gotten himself into. He put some goofy stickers on Jason's hardhat, so Jason taped some flowers to the guy's hardhat. Then he screwed Jason's tool belt to one of the equipment carts at work. So Jason waited until the guy had put his tools away for the day in some secured boxes that he keeps on the back of his truck, and screwed those shut. So the guy can't get them open because any tools he would use are locked inside. Last night Jason started talking about needing to get some shoe polish for the next round of tricks. I'm getting really nervous that we may have to put a defense lawyer on retainer.