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This day, man. This fucking day.

Fucked up at work.
Fought with my mom.
Realized just how little headway I've been making against my student loans.
Bit the bullet and raised my monthly payment by…more than I want to.
Up too late figuring all that shit out.
Had a Personal Blood Issue, and that's all the detail you need.
Rocket had the crappiest day, poor sweetheart.

On the other hand…

Have cookies.
Went to a yoga class.
Took the kids to the library.
Had delicious Indian food for dinner.
Got a new jacket last week and I love it.
Mom has been making my favorite childhood foods.
Work has been fascinating and there is an exciting new project coming up.
The Junebug finally decided he wanted a haircut.

Actually that last one demands its own detail. He had this gorgeous long hair! I loved it! I loved that he was missing out on a lot of random boy gender role reinforcement! I loved that he wanted to have long hair! I am sad that he no longer has his gorgeous long hair and I can't put cute little braids in it anymore!

On the other hand…

No more hair in the food! No more hair in the eyes! No more trying to keep him from brushing his hair out of his eyes while he's in the middle of wiping his butt! No more having to condition his hair! No more wrestling with him to let me comb it and braid it on the train! Less beautiful, but more cute! Less striking, but MUCH less messy! Adorable cowlick! And - it has forced us to see him with new eyes. He looks like an entirely different person, and I'm looking at this little boy, and he is GREAT. I think I was kind of still annoyed with him for things that….he really doesn't do anymore? This has gotten me to really take a harder look at what he's like now, not a month ago! And I'm SO HAPPY with the way he is now.

You win some, you lose some. Or actually maybe sometimes you win AND lose the same ones?
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You may remember that I made some pathetic efforts to silicone caulk around the back door recently, and the Junebug was fascinated; therefore, he easily identified what the handyman we saw out the train window this morning was doing.

"LOOKIT!" he announced loudly, to the entire train car. "HE HAS A CAULK GUN! MAMA, LOOKIT ALL THAT PINK CAULK!"

It was indeed, for some reason, possibly only for the amusement of those around small children, bright pink caulk.
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I have just evicted, from the gap at the edge of my kitchen floor where the wood was not sealed properly to the threshold of the porch door: two pillbugs, a healthy worm, some small but flourishing wood ear type mushrooms, and a lot of rich-smelling, damp humus. This is partly because our gutters are clogged and the rain has been running right down the door. Also I have sprayed it all down with bleach solution. Currently I am trying to dry the gap out with a hairdryer in hopes of being able to seal it with silicone caulk, which probably won't work because I don't think I can get it clean enough for the silicone to stick, because the edges of the floorboards are partly decomposed, but I have scraped away as much of the humus as I can and I don't know what else to do.

I realize that this is a size 2 jeans problem, but homeownership is such a joy.


I did a hysterically bad job of caulking because I did not tape it off properly. And now my slippers are all slippery from getting silicone caulk on them. Motherfucker. Anything worth doing is worth doing badly, because it’s better than not getting it done at all?

At least E cleaned out the gutter, so it can drain now. Yay, E!
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The other day the temp I didn't like came to my desk to ask me a question. But first she stopped, sniffed the air, and asked, "Is that your perfume or someone else's?"

"I don't know," I said. It could have been me, or the person next to me, or the woman who had just walked by. "What does it smell like?"

"Huh? It smells like perfume," she said.

We stared at each other. "Then I don't know," I said.

I understand that lots of perfumes are complex and I personally cannot chirp "It smells like a spiced floriental with an amber drydown" off the top of my head. Nonetheless, perfume strong enough to notice does provide more than one bit of information!

Incidentally, I was wearing Lush's Breath of God. Tautologically, it does in fact smell like perfume, since it is a perfume and it smells like itself. However, if you sniff someone wearing it (and it is not a sillage monster) you are less likely to describe it as "perfumey" and more as "did you have a cantaloupe soaked in barbecue sauce, Vicks Vaporub, and Ivory soap for lunch?" It is deeply weird and I love it.
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Last night I started to have a sexy dream and then it gradually started to get mixed up with a work dream and at one point I was trying to have sex inside of a PowerPoint presentation and then somehow one of our project managers was there and I basically woke myself up mentally screaming NOOOOOOO.

The other day the Junebug, talented little staller that he has become, ran over to my room when he was supposed to be getting dressed in his room instead and asked, "How does Batman say the alphabet?"

Me: [Is this a joke? Is this a real question that I somehow have to come up with a answer to?]

Me: I don't know. How does Batman say the alphabet?

Junebug: [wrinkling up a ferocious little nose] [stomping his feet so hard that his naked little butt jiggles] [DOING A SURPRISINGLY CREDITABLE CHRISTIAN BALE IMPRESSION] "A!" "B!" "C!" "D!"

It was a real joke! It was funny! He is 4!

Rocket is in like the stage of maximum adorableness. He understands more every day, but he's still all round and squishy. He's more capable every day, but he still wants to please and to be helpful. IT'S THE BEST.

You know when you run the shower before you get in to get hot water? A friend of mine started catching that water in a bucket & putting it on her tree outside. I liked that idea, but I have developed precognition since becoming a parent, and I could clearly see the future down the timeline where we decided to have an open bucket of water in a bathroom with two little house monkeys running around. So we didn't do it. But then one day I was throwing out an empty gallon plastic jug; and I had a brainwave! So now we catch the water in jugs, with lids, and I put it on my plants. I don't pretend that a gallon or so a day will make a difference to the drought; but, it makes a difference to my plants.
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1. If the Junebug ever gets comfortable enough with you to tease you, he will call you an eyeball. Or diaper cream. "Hi eyeball!" he will beam. "Hi, diaper cream!" He knows he is being silly and he loves it. I don't know where "diaper cream" comes from, other than that obviously it's a thing we use around the house. Now you might think that "eyeball" grows out of his toddler obsession with eyes. I remember one time L and I took him around the small local aquarium and he helpfully and loudly pointed out the eyes on every fish that had eyes (Spoiler: every single freaking fish in that aquarium had eyes.) That eye interest I think was because he had made the connection that eyes meant alive, as in, if he saw a drawing of a plane that had eyes, it meant that it was a character - "an alive plane" as he says - and a drawing of a plane without eyes is an inert vehicle. So fish that had eyes he knew were alive, and that was very important to him, and he needed to share that information a lot. But this eyeball thing is different. This he picked up at daycare. He came home upset one day and questioning elicited the fact that some kid had called him "one eyeball;" despite the fact that, as he shakily insisted to me, "I am NOT one eyeball." But they grow up so fast; he got over himself and made the weapon his own, and now you are an eyeball and so am I and so is everyone. Hi, eyeball!

2. One day during pickup, as usual, I was crankily chivvying the Junebug through the routine of pee and then are you done? Answer me in words. Are you done? Pull up your underwear. I said stand up. Pull up your underwear and your pants -

"If you don't stop saying that I will show you my butt!"

Then he turned around, bent over, and waggled his naked butt at me.

I lost it. Oh my god, I laughed until I had to sit down. Even though I knew you can't laugh at these things or they will never end. I couldn't help it. Dude. How many times do you think I've seen your naked butt? I still wipe your butt! I could probably draw your asshole from memory! I think the shock value has been lost. Incidentally, I love your tiny adorable butt to pieces, and possibly never more so than when you are waving it at me and cracking up at your own amusingness.

3. When Rocket is very tired and sitting on my lap he will just let his head fall forward into my sternum with a thump. And then of course he has to be hugged very tight and snuggled and have his head stroked. He used to do this all the time as a baby. Constantly. It hurt! Baby heads are big and solid and heavy! And yet….it was his way of asking for hugs. So I loved it. And I had not quite realized that he had stopped doing it. Until this past weekend, when his schedule was all messed up, and he was too tired to fall asleep, and I was holding him on my lap, and…thump. And I realized that it hadn't happened in a long time. So I hugged him very tight and snuggled him and stroked his little head. And I want to write it down before I forget it. Because he is leaving babyhood behind so fast, and I'm not sure it's going to happen again.

hi guys

Jan. 29th, 2015 09:43 pm
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I'm sorry if I owe you a phone call or an email - or three - it's because I'm so behind that I can't cope, and I swear I will be getting back to you sometime around the 4th of July.

No sooner do I find a new pair of work pants - than one of my old ones develops a hole. Aargh! And pants are really hard to shop for online. And these days finding time to go to a store in person is a sort of invasion strategy development that involves careful timing and personnel deployment. I might get to try around the end of February.

We need to get in an exterminator because we have so many freaking silverfish. I know they are harmless but they are getting so numerous that I am having nightmares all night about them.

I see people online sneering at vegans because they claim their food is cruelty-free and yet their food is actually picked and produced by brutally exploited migrant workers. Guys: is there a non-brutal-exploitation food production option that I am currently unaware of? Is the idea that working in a slaughterhouse is a much better job? Or is it just sneering at an attempt to do something for not doing everything?

Thank god for the internet. I grimly decided that it was time for the Junebug to learn to wipe his own butt. I… realized I had no idea how to teach a kid to wipe their butt.

To the internet-mobile! THE INTERNET DELIVERS.

(At breakfast, me: "Oh my god! This site totally explains how to teach a kid to wipe their butt!"
Mr. E: "How?"
Me: "You use peanut butter!"
Mr. E: "…

…you must be joking."
Me: "On a PLATE.")

It's brilliant! We're working on it.
metaphortunate: (Default)
Ah, parenting small children on this particular Thanksgiving morning. Lazing about in bed, cuddling, being a wrestling referee ("NO BITING!") explaining that people want to shut down the Thanksgiving parade because the police keep killing black guys, explaining that their parents are sad and what death means. Relaxing!

And Rocket is cutting FOUR molars, poor little thing. No wonder he's been so fussy and demanding. I keep trying to tell myself that there will come a day when no one wants any of my time, and I probably won't be happy about that either, so I should try to enjoy this while I got it. True, I don't really want two or three decades of that, but could I have like a weekend of it right now, though?

The Junebug verbally asked me for a hug the other night, for the first time ever, though. It was wonderful, although also pretty funny, because I think the cunning little bugger played me. We were out getting burgers for dinner, and he went to grab my arm with his greasy little hands, and I said "DON'T touch my sweater with your greasy hands, you know the rule!" And he said "Mama, can I have a hug?" And I knew this was manipulation and you know what, it didn't matter. When they offer you the bait you want just that much, you see the hook and you take it anyway. Because it's worth it. Didn't even hesitate; hugged the crap out of him and he hugged me right back and I'm pretty sure I got grease and ketchup all over my sweater and in my hair and I didn't even care.

To be fair, it's not that he doesn't ask for cuddles. It's that the way he does it is, he says "I'm the lobster and you are the shark that ate me." - or the lion that ate him, or whatever. This means he will curl up on my lap in a little ball and I will wrap my arms around him and tell him that he's in my tummy and he was delicious. This is because no matter how Freudian my life gets, parenting is one long streak of the universe telling me it's just not Freudian enough yet.

Got to see some friends last weekend that I don't get to see nearly often enough, which was wonderful. Why is distance? :(

Rocket got his first haircut and I held him on my lap and he did not even cry once. He's a hero!
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I have to take these antibiotics 4 times a day and I can't take them within 2 hours of eating or 1 hour of going to eat. I think these stupid drugs want me to lose weight.

But I don't even care, because omg I'm so grateful. Today I dragged my sick ass to work only because we had a deadline and I had no makeup and experimental hair and jeans and the repulsive raggedy old sneaks that are what I can lace over my two - two! - MAD SEXY ankle braces, and I still felt like cutest I have felt in maybe months. Because that is what not feeling like a disgusting disease-ridden sack of pus will do for you! When you move on up to merely a slightly defeated sack of meat with just disease sprinkled on the top, it's like a million bucks! God, antibiotics, how we're going to miss you.

Also someone seems to have replaced my regularly scheduled Junebug with Junebug: Snugglebug X-Treme version, at least for him. I have gotten hugs! And blown kisses! And Mr. E has gotten kisses hello and goodbye! I don't know what's going on here but I LOVE IT.

And, I got to binge-watch OITNB while I was home sick this week. I haven't seen the season finale of S2 so don't spoil me, but damn. On the one hand, show I love you. On the other, did we really have to have a fake rape storyline? Really? In a women's prison? Why is that…why. Oh my god, I hate that so much. Also, I love Vee as a character so much, and I love watching Lorraine Toussaint just Cersei her way through everything and everyone without so much as pulling her hem off the floor, but I am getting just a little creeped out at the constant tradeoff between Good White Mother Red and Bad Black Mother Vee. But, of course, that is the great thing about having more than one black woman character in a show: she doesn't have to be Black Women, she can just be Vee, because there's also Taystee and Poussey and Cindy and that one Golden Girl and etc.

Also, Red's not that great, so there's that. :D
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I haven't been around much because in my ten minutes of free time a day I've been working on a drawing. Which has been interesting. More on that when I finish it.

The Junebug, at the age of 2 years and 7 months, has firmly entered the phase of infinite whys. Sadly this has not coincided with my becoming infinitely wise.

If you were there for me complaining about housework and gender and stuff, know that surprise! now that I am back at work and Mr. E is on his paternity leave, I am magically much happier about it all!
...we'll see how it goes when we're both back at work in two weeks, and Rocket goes to daycare, and we begin our year of being sick. Gonna suck for quite a while, is my guess.

Actually it's not just the drawing, two other things: I've been thinking about the backyard/garden, and trying like hell to snatch a little time to work on it, because it's one of those things where the timing matters. I should probably be out there now. :/

And the other thing is that I finally figured out how to make Tumblr sort of more or less work on mobile. I'm on there same name. I pretty much just read and reblog, but I did do a post about Washboard and ShortBlogger.

Rocket, god help us all, appears to be getting his first tooth.

Last night Mr. E and I got dressed up and went out on a DATE with fancy food and music and it was GLORIOUS. It was my Christmas present, it was the best. :)
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
Every time I read Mr. Tickle it gets more and more fucking depressing.

Same with Curious George. We really need to get the ones where he gets the hell out of the zoo. Also, another one in the fine tradition of artistic works where you do a bit of reading and discover that the thing was done by a man and a woman but only the man's name was ever put on it for some reason.

Mr. E, in a delightful display of foresight, got on a kids' costumes swapping thread before Rocket was even born and organized the kids' costumes for this Halloween. Rocket was a peapod. The Junebug was Elmo. Let me tell you something. If you go out dressed as Elmo on Halloween, you are dressed as baby Jesus. Not the baby Jesus: Jesus to babies. All the other little kids whispered "Elmooo" and reached out to try to touch him. Except one. Slightly older kid whose parents yelped "Elmo! Son! Look! It's Elmo!" Kid looked at the Junebug, looked at his parents, said nothing. Except his face, which eloquently said "Bitch, that is not Elmo. I know Elmo. Elmo doesn't get all fucked up on Kit Kats and nod out in his stroller in a pile of wrappers."

Now I've seen all the mommy drive-bys. Last one I saw was someone harshing on other moms for the little mittens you put on newborns so they don't claw their own eyes out. On the grounds that it was mean to deprive them of hands.

I would say we were doing fantastic with a toddler and a newborn if only I didn't need to sleep. The days are long and demanding but if we could put the kids to bed and get our well deserved etc. to be ready bright and early the next morning, it would all be fine. The problem is that the nights are just as long and demanding.


Oct. 17th, 2013 11:30 am
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Illness, day whatever:

Throat still hurts. A lot. Moving carefully so head does not come off. Mr. E has now got it as well. So far Rocket seems to have escaped; at least he's not crying & no fever.

How nursing is going: Mr. E changed him, handed him to me for feeding, we listened to the trumpeting sounds from his butt, Mr. E took him back for another change, looked at me, & said "He's heavier than when I handed him to you."

Well. Good. He is palpably heavier than when he was born, anyway.

This morning Mr. E woke me up after 2 hours of sleep to hand me a wailing, hungry baby. As I crankily nursed the baby, lying on my side, feeling exactly like a sow, he leaned over and murmured in my ear, "In the paper bag in the fridge are the last really good strawberries of the year. I got them yesterday. Eat some before our son gets them all."

Takeaway: "50 Shades" doesn't say dick about how to provide real pain and pleasure.
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Some of you may have heard me bitch that the moment - seriously, like the absolute exact day - that we finished paying our car off, the dealership we bought it from chose to mark the occasion by sending us a letter to the effect that since we now owned the car, we probably wanted to get rid of it and buy another one, and they would be happy for us to come replace our car at their lot again. Because we'd probably start feeling lonely or something if we weren't in debt to them anymore.

We chose to celebrate a little bit differently.

This past weekend we came home from running errands and our neighbors were washing their car on the sidewalk. The Junebug insisted that we had to sit on our stoop and watch the process. I shamefacedly explained to them that yes, now there was a toddler staring bug-eyed at them and announcing "Wet! Car all wet!" every ten seconds, but you see, it was very exciting to him, because he'd never seen a car being washed.

But now he has! Yes! In honor of paying off our car loan, we have washed the car. Who needs a new car, I say? Phooey! Clean is just like new! Hell, I'll probably get it washed again in another three years whether it needs it or not!


Dec. 29th, 2012 10:23 am
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Omg. Am so peopled out. Am hiding in a dark bedroom with a napping baby because I just cannot talk to any more people, not right now, not at all, no.

Christmas was actually pretty great this year. This year it's Mr. E's parents' turn, so we're in New Jersey. They are very nice laid-back people who give good presents. I like them, I swear. But after nearly a solid week of being here, I am ready to go home. Home. HOME.

Not going home yet :(

It's okay, though. Baby is napping. Snow is falling outside. Tomorrow we are going to drive like 3 hours (round trip (I hope)) to see my brother and his girlfriend and my brand new niece, which I have extremely mixed feelings about but it is planned so we are going. I would be worried about the schedule but I have kind of maxed out on worry to the point that I have begun letting things go because I simply cannot worry any more. There is no more worry available. Will traffic be hellish? Who knows? Will the Junebug cry the whole way? Who knows? Will he be sick? Who knows? Will we be so late getting out the door that we spend less time there than we do in the car? Who knows? All I know is, we're going to give it a shot, and it'll be how it'll be, and then we'll go home soon.

Last night we left the Junebug with his grandparents and went into NYC to have drinks & dinner with E&Z, which was fun and wonderful. They took us to Amor y Amargo, which as the name suggests does all drinks based on a million different kinds of bitters. SO GOOD. I think we tried like 9 different drinks among all of us and could not come up with a bad one. Then there was New York style pizza as a treat for Mr. E who is on his holiday diet break and misses it always. And hanging out. And drunk tweeting! Because I am done nursing! The Junebug is a year and a half old, and there is no more nursing. My body is my own and I can keep it out late and poison it as I like!

Of course then this morning the Junebug woke up bitchy and threw hissy fits all morning. While I was not looking someone has replaced my angelic little baby with a toddler.

Christmas itself was great: good food, and the family showed truly virtuous restraint in presents for the Junebug. He got a few well-chosen things he's really been enjoying. They do beep/buzz/blink/blaaagh, but that is grandparent privilege. :P Also he got to see his six-year-old cousin, which was great because he's at the perfect age for her. I think in 6 months he will want to join in her games & she will find him annoying, but right now he just wants to watch her, fascinated, which makes him extremely valuable as an audience.

Gonna take the baby out to play in the snow when he wakes up. In his new Christmas snowsuit! Why are little kids so extra adorable in cold weather gear?
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Yesterday I was playing with the Junebug and he discovered that you can balance his wooden building blocks on top of the big emery board that we use to file his nails, and that was really fun!

And then he tried to eat the block. It would fall off, and he would hand them to me and "uh!" for me to balance it on the emery board again so he could try to eat it again. Because he's recently been learning to eat with a spoon. And so that's what you do with chunks that are balanced on top of flat implements, right? They're for eating! Eh, wrong superset, kid, but way to inductively logic!
metaphortunate: (at one with the universe)
;__; all Tuesday night the baby had this hacking cough and on Wednesday morning he sounded terrible and it was my turn to stay home from work with him

:/ of course, half an hour after I sent out all the emails saying I wouldn't be into work and he wouldn't be into daycare, he cheered up and started running around like a tiny tornado

:D so I decided that as long as we were playing hooky, we would go and get him some his very first set of rain gear so that he can go out in the winter weather

D: but it turns out to be impossible to find rain slickers in his size! I went to three places and then he was exhausted and we had to go home

D: and I bought the smallest rain boots they had and they were still too big and he got really frustrated later that afternoon when I took him to the park to try them out

:D but maybe he can wear them over his shoes for a while, and also I got a really good deal on other new clothes for him, and I got my freelance illustrations done and I installed a budgeting app on my phone and I'm going to start keeping track of my expenses and basically I got almost everything I had set out to do that day, done!

D: but that meant I didn't get to bed before 2 am.

:D but on Thursday I had planned to have dinner with Mr. E and[personal profile] jrtom who is in town!

D: but on Thursday Mr. E was sick and [personal profile] jrtom pinged me to say with traffic it sounded like a 2.5 hour drive from the office.

:D but Mr. E said he didn't mind staying home with the Junebug and [personal profile] jrtom found a carpooling buddy and the two of us went out to dinner and I had a totally great time talking about Tolkien and The Once and Future King and names and Google and kids and all kinds of things

:D and holy cats, that was some delicious fired tofu*

D: but I didn't get to go to bed early

D: and my god I'm so tired today

DDDDDD: and the baby's diaper came UNFASTENED in the night so he woke up smeared from stem to stern with poop

D: so he had to have an emergency morning shower with me, and it turns out, 1) the baby no longer copes well with showers, 2) there is an air raid siren somewhere in the ancestry of one or both of our families, 3) lot of good acoustics in the shower. Yes indeed. Very reverberant.

D: and the baby is STILL coughing, and cough medicines don't work so you shouldn't give them to babies

:D but it turns out that a simple spoonful of honey is actually as effective a cough suppressant as dextromethorphan! Hey, we have honey right in the kitchen!

D: but the Junebug refuses to eat honey. It turns out. Will fight like a cornered badger to avoid even having it smeared on his lips so he can taste it.

D: I failed at feeding honey to a baby.

D: See the bit about the shower.

D: And then today work was SHITTY.

D: And then today the Junebug had to come home early from daycare with a high fever, in addition to his cough. Mr. E was able to pick him up, which was a mixed blessing.

:D But then I had a brilliant idea about melting honey in warm lemon juice and letting the baby drink it out of his water cup, instead of trying to feed it to him with a spoon, which he hates!

D: Now the baby doesn't trust me to give him water, and there is honey all over the floor, the walls, Mr. E's guitar and amp, and everything.

X[ And I don't even give a shit anymore. I'm going to bed.


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The train station I get off at downtown frequently features a homeless man torturing a broken violin for money. I don't know if this guy has been deaf since birth and never learned the concept of music, or if he has simply achieved transcendent levels of not giving a shit, or what, but what it looks like is cargo cult behavior: like he noticed that some other bums had instruments that they messed around with and then they got more money, so somewhere he got a beat-up violin and a bow with one or two unbroken strings left on it, and now he rubs one against the other to fill the escalator with deranged nightmarish noise and puts a hat out. It's hideous and pathetic. He doesn't seem to collect very much.

But today he wasn't there. Instead, a totally different guy was there, a white guy wearing clean clothes, playing smooth beautiful music on a violin, and for extra cough-up-the-goddamn-money, the violin case with the money in it was being guarded by an adorable small fluffy tail-wagging dog.

I know it's just a different guy who is 5,000,000% better at his job. But my very first thought was "OMG, he finally found the Blue Fairy and she turned him into a real busker!"
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On both of our flights back from Bali I had fish for dinner. 22 hours in transit, they give you two dinners. Dinner was fish, which struck me as ludicrous, fish being the water animals that they are; these fish lived their lives, probably, at around 0 feet altitude, and were killed chopped up filleted flash frozen and eventually eaten at 32,000 feet above sea level by a person traveling halfway around the world in less than a day. These are strange, strange days and I wonder if my son will see the end of them. Peak oil and all, you know. Maybe as an old man he will bore his own children with pictures of himself as a mosquito-bitten yet still adorable toddler in a climate way too hot for him being swarmed by people who live in a place you can't get to in less than a day anymore, at least not if you're not in the military or similar, professions which employ very few toddlers.

The Balinese adore the crap out of toddlers, by the way. And babies. When we were reading up on Bali (a place to which we took a one-year-old for family reasons which don't need to be explored at this juncture), we read that the Balinese are very fond of babies, which I found reassuring, which reassurance I needed because I was really dreading two solid days of airplane travel with a baby, not to mention the week of Bali itself. "Fond" does not cover the half of it. Everywhere we went:
- adults, usually but not always women, grabbed his little elbow or shook his little hand or grabbed his little foot and played hide-and-seek with him and beamed at him and needed to know how old he was and his name and sex and so on
- every SINGLE person with a baby or very young child needed to point him out to the baby and get the baby to shake his hand or "kiss" him
- older children were fascinated by him and would swarm him on their own or drag their own parents over to him
- waitresses in restaurants would scoop him up out of the high chair and take him off to the kitchen to show him things

(A bit weirdly given this, we saw almost no Balinese babies. We reciprocally went gaga over the ones we did see, but mostly it was kids of about three or four and up. Apparently the Balinese mostly keep their babies at home till they're older.)

Everybody needed to know how old he was because apparently there's a ceremony of some sort around a Balinese kid's first birthday where their little feet are allowed to touch the ground for the first time? We got conflicting stories, but the gist seems to be that Balinese babies are carried all the time for their first year. I wish I'd gotten to see more of them, because I remain confused about the fact that they are carried all the time (I saw slings) and yet apparently they don't use diapers. EC is great and all, very ecologically correct, but does it really work when the kid is strapped to your body constantly? Like, on a moped? Do you just live with getting peed on a lot?

In one way traveling with the Junebug was great because instead of just being a troupe of sweaty awkward tourists we were the entourage for a tiny rockstar, the bearers of welcome baby awesomeness. In another way it made everything harder because: look. I might be willing to careen through Crete in the back seat of a taxi with no seatbelts whatsoever and a driver who believes he is a leaf on the wind, in the acceptance that if I die at least I die clutching my lover's hand in one of the most beautiful late afternoons I've ever seen. But making that decision for my baby is another animal entirely. This time we traveled with a carseat. So we hired only vehicles with at least some seatbelts, so we could strap him in. No renting bicycles to tool around the Sanur boardwalk in, no mopeds for us, no ad hoc rides from some random car owner in the middle of Ubud offering transport for a few thousand rupiah. All around our van entire families were zooming around on mopeds, baby slung to mother riding in front of father with big brother tucked up on the handlebars and big sister hanging on behind. I'm sure that's how the Balinese drivers and hotel employees who helped us ferry their own families around; but they helped us keep our own little bug suited up in his protective steel shell. You don't want to travel halfway around the world to live exactly like you do at home but where do you draw the line? How much foreignness are you willing to accept?

The tourist industry in Bali doesn't believe you're willing to accept much. Everyplace we ate had hamburger and sandwiches on the menus, which were in English and/or French. This is partly because we ate at fancy places, not roadside warung. But the reason we ate at fancy places and not roadside warung was because that's what there was within walking distance of the places we stayed, and because on the days we hired a driver, despite the fact that his English was near-perfect, we were unable to communicate to him that we didn't need to go to a fancy place with flower arrangements that was 45 minutes away, we would have been happier to stop anywhere selling food within the next 15 minutes. I don't mean to complain. We never got Bali belly, which is something I was especially worried about with the Junebug. I am perfectly willing to trade authenticity, which is not something I believe in anyway, for a non-dehydrated baby or even just for not having to take care of a baby while shitting my own guts out. It bugged the shit out of my brother-out-law though. He is one of those tourists that it itches like fire ants to be able to see any other tourists, his highest praise for anyplace we saw was that it was "where the locals went." He wants to fit in despite the fact that he is an eight-foot-tall white guy with REI performance clothes, enormous mutton-chop sideburns, and three different cameras. He is also extremely friendly and cheerful and talks to everybody and was probably the most welcome member of our group after the Junebug, but my Christ, he never puts those cameras down. This trip was basically the opposite of what he liked. We did not keep it real. Bali is very clear about where it will make it easy for you as a tourist to go: roads lined with stone carvings, wood carvings, cheap batik-themed prints, all identical, for miles: and what it will make it easy for you as a tourist to do: buy sarongs, bags, sunglasses, massages, carved coconut trinkets, hamburgers, etc., etc.

Surely someone must enjoy this. There must be people who enjoy being driven to large warehouses where someone gives you an extremely practiced spiel about the Ancient Craft of Balinese Woodcarving and then encourages you to wander around shelves and shelves of the same tasteless art they produce from Indonesia to Guatemala or a spiel about the Ancient Craft of Batik and then encourages you to wander around piles and piles of cheap printed shirts and quilted bags made in China. If tourists didn't shell out money for this sort of thing, it wouldn't exist, right? Giant carved wooden eagles and poorly made little boxes and "primitive" bird sculptures familiar from a hundred motel lobbies - someone must greet these things with acquisitiveness and delight. Someone must be the financial justification for these places' enormous parking lots. But who?

We did not buy anything at the warehouses, though we could not convince our driver that they were not where we wanted to go. We did not buy any massages. I don't know why. It became funnier as we all got stiff necks from sleeping on strange beds and carrying the baby around all day, but we didn't. Maybe the language barrier? A massage is a fairly intimate thing, and we got used to asking people for something, and them cheerfully assenting, and then it becoming clear that they had no idea what we had asked or that something else was going to happen entirely. That's a bit of a daunting idea, with massage. Kind of the opposite of relaxing. Mr. E spent the month before we left doing a Pimsleur course in Indonesian, but it only helped a little. (Along those lines, if you ever go to Bali, guidebooks will point out that not every place to stay will offer hot water and that you should make sure to ask in advance whether they do. My advice is not to bother because, whether or not they say they do, they won't. The hot water heater will be broken or unpredictable or simply The Water Heater Not Appearing In This Room. You get used to the cold water pretty fast anyway.) I did buy some cheap sarongs, at the beach where Mr. E saved my life, because I had meant to buy one or two cheap sarongs anyway, and because I told the woman selling them that I would buy her sarong if she would tell the women selling beaded bracelets and sunglasses and massages and other sarongs and the guy selling paintings and the guy selling flutes that we had bought all the tat we needed to buy that day and were not in the market for any more. I think it worked for about an hour, which is to say we got to skip two rounds of hard sell. Bali is very serious about the hard sell - in the tourist areas. One day we got up early and went to the village market in Padang Bai, which is where the Balinese sell oranges and mangoes and snake fruit and toys and ube puffs and hundreds of other unidentified things to each other, and nobody bugged us at all. They just smiled at the baby. Despite the fact that we were flashing cameras in full tourist regalia. Apparently there is a hard sell zone, and a non hard sell zone, and if you are out of the hard sell zone, it's not worth the bother.

(What happened at the beach: one day we got up early to get there before the vendors and hawkers, and I tried to go snorkeling with poorly fitting equipment while Mr. E stayed on the sand with the baby, and I got out past the breakers before I lost a fin. And discovered that I couldn't get it back. And discovered that I couldn't get back in. And got bashed and bashed against the coral and rocks by the waves. And panicked. And screamed for help. And Mr. E asked the guy who rented the chaise lounges by the beach for help, to which the guy said, "Can you swim?" So he held the Junebug while Mr. E swam out to me. Luckily I didn't so much need someone to tow me back as I needed someone to help me not wash further out while I caught my breath and stopped panicking, which Mr. E did, and then we swam back together. Maybe I could have gotten it together on my own. Maybe if I had been pulled further out I could have made it to one of the boats at the mouth of the lagoon. Maybe they would have helped. I'm glad I don't know. My foot and leg looks like I got mauled, and I had to spend one entire day off my feet because it hurt so bad, and basically, don't go swimming alone in rough water with borrowed equipment because you think it would make you a wuss not to at least give it a shot at your one chance snorkeling on your vacation.)

Another part of the reason I didn't buy much stuff, though, was cognitive dissonance. I don't know why. I should be used to this. It is the world I grew up in. I was born in a city and raised in the suburbs, by immigrant parents who tried to visit home as much as they could. It is entirely possible that I encountered fish at 30,000 feet before I ever saw fish swimming in the ocean. Why does it strike me as strange? Why does it strike me as strange that:
- on the domestic floor of the Balinese airport, in the bathrooms, there are helpful informational stickers on the doors of the stalls showing a crossed-out drawing of a person squatting on a western-style toilet and a circled drawing of a person sitting on the toilet, with the caption - in Indonesian only - "Yes, really!"
- but upstairs, in the international floor, there are outlets for Prada, Jurlique, Ralph Lauren, beautiful silk sarongs, all the whiskey in the world.
This is global capitalism - I grew up here! I should be used to the way tourism distorts local economies. People go to Bali to see the rice fields but there are hotels built now where the rice fields used to be and the locals don't mind because you make a shitload more money carrying bags in those hotels than you would have working in the rice fields. One of our drivers told us there are so many Americans now living in Ubud that they call it "Balifornia". One of the times that a waitress swooped the Junebug off to the kitchen in search of baby adventures, he came back clutching an apple bearing a sticker: "Product of USA". Mr. E says he's just happy we're exporting food. I can't believe the apple didn't come from New Zealand, like the ones I saw in the market down the street from my apartment today. But I know this is the way it works. Last week Washington apples were cheaper for some reason so they showed up in Bali. It makes sense, as long as the oil holds out. Why does it strike me as strange. I don't know.

Other than that: chickens are everywhere, you will hear roosters crowing at all hours of the day and night, the roosters in large wicker cages are for cockfighting, which is a much-loved pastime; the monkeys are macaques and they are ninjas, we saw them steal glasses off people's faces and shoes off people's feet, and eat them; I've never seen anyplace so profligate of flowers; this was my first trip out of Christendom, which was stranger to me than I had expected; and the Junebug took his first unsupported steps. End of vacation, glad to be home.

hi guys

Aug. 29th, 2012 09:24 pm
metaphortunate: (Default)
Got to hang out in the park and get dinner with [ profile] harimad & [ profile] cruiser & their adorable spawn. Turns out it's hard for three adults to have a conversation while keeping an eye on three kids of mobility varying from speedy crawling to TURBO CHARGE ZOOM, but we managed, with some trading off. It was fun.

Also, I love kids. They never heard of tact. They give zero fucks. They are here to tell you what is what.

M: I'm so glad you're coming to dinner with us! I like you!

ME: That's so sweet! Thank you.

M: Do you know why I like you?

ME: No, why?

M: Because of the baby! Babies are my third favorite thing. And toddlers.

ME: Yeah, he's the draw for a lot of people.

Gorgeous sunny day at the inland beach, walking home nicely full of crepes & fries in a warm summer twilight. Good day.


metaphortunate: (Default)
metaphortunate son

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