Archive for February, 2003
Not sure Claire’s passport application will go too smoothly. Jeremy and I watched, with silent but increasing hilarity, as the office guy filled out his section. In spite of the fact that the word Australia is correctly spelled elsewhere on the form, as well as on both our passports that he was copying from, and in spite of the fact that he asked us and we spelled it aloud for him, he got it right exactly none out of four times. Instead:
They’re going to think we’re Austrian. Oh well. Otherwise, he seemed like a jolly nice chap.
Noelle: Look at her face. Check out how she’s looking at you!
Me (proudly): She thinks I’m cool!
Tina: You just wait.
Me (chagrined): Well, she thinks milk is cool.
Tina: That’s more like it.
Hooray for the Warming Hut, one of the few decent cafes in San Francisco with both a interesting bookstore and a water view.
Woman at the counter: Where are you from?
R: Australia, but I’ve been here five years.
WatC: You’re like the eucalypts. A transplant.
R: Yep, we grow too fast in this fertile soil.
WatC: You’re much more benign, though. They’re a pest.
R (darkly): You don’t know me.
I said: “I think I’m getting better at burping her. I just sit her up and sort of, fold her.”
Later, when she was gassy, Jeremy handed her to me: “Here, try origami.”
Against the war, again, still. We just missed the cavalry charge on Mission Street. We must have been going down the stairs into Civic Center BART when it began.
Later we had juice at Papa Toby’s. A sweet young thing came in, amped on adrenaline.
“They had us surrounded,” he said. “They just kept closing in. They wouldn’t let us leave. People were just sitting down and chanting, and then they started hitting.”
“Are you okay?” asked his concerned friend, touching his arm.
“Yeah, I’m great,” he said. “I feel… empowered!”
I say: “Can I interest you in parts of my body?”
She comes at my bare breast like Jaws at a dinghy.
In my old passport photo, taken shortly after my bible study leader days, I have long brown ringlets, huge round glasses and what Grant so memorably calls That Hard Look That Virgins Have.
In my new one, I’ve got white blonde hair and lots and lots of laughter lines around my eyes.
Talk about before and after shots. Mothers, take heed! Don’t let your daughters go to the cesspit of sin that is Dublin! Or Mardi Gras! Or Burning Man! They’ll end up… err… happily married, with babies of their own? Wait a minute, that can’t be right…
I mail Jeremy: I think the woman behind me is a vegetarian, or lactose intolerant. She hasn’t stopped farting since she sat down.
The mail flies through the aether to Jeremy’s laptop, which sits opposite mine at our table at Atlas.
He looks up thoughtfully. “Maybe Buddhist?”
Spent Sunday afternoon in Sunnyvale, which as a consequence of watching far too much Buffy I keep pronouncing “Sunnyd – Sunnyvale”.
Christ, that place is a *goldmine*.
As we walked past Starbucks, I heard a woman say: “He could be stalking me – and I wouldn’t even know!”
In Pasta Pomodoro, the host came by to admire Claire.
“We have two of our own,” he said.
“I keep thinking she’s going to call Child Protection Services: ‘Help! My parents are rank amateurs!'” I said. “We only started talking about it a year ago, and here she is.”
“Same thing happened to us. We adopted both our boys, and the first one came seven months after we applied.”
“Oh, cool. Did you do an open adoption?”
Okay, dumb question, I know.
“No,” he said. “No, we didn’t. Our boys are both African American, and their mothers, their highest ambition in life was finishing High School. And we just didn’t want that whole, that worrying about a whole other family. I mean, if when our boys are old enough, they want contact, I’ll be fine with that, I’ll take them to Chicago, we’ll all do it together. But they came from a very… impoverished background, and I’m confident that when they see what we gave them, and compare it with the life they would have had otherwise, they’ll be glad.”
Me, weakly: “Well, congratulations. And good luck.”
“You too,” he said, and glided away.
No mullet shall remain unstunned.
I’m very tired. I keep spoonerizing randomly. A recent highlight was “Liffey Jube” – not the gay Burning Man camp I was reaching for, but a tasty Dublin treat.
There’s a new cafe in town! Papa Toby’s Revolution Cafe on 22nd Street between Mission and Valencia is the new Atlas – much as jumping up and down is the new brain surgery.
In other news, how spoilt is your cat? Not as spoilt as mine:
Bebe is sprawled between me and the keyboard as I type, so this entry will be somewhat ergonomically challenged.
Busy weekend! Barnes arrived on Friday to inspect his new niece (he approves). On Saturday we went to brunch at Afshin’s and plotted our next move. Saturday night was Games Night at 795 Alcatraz. Sunday was supposed to have been a surprise birthday party in Palo Alto for Ian, except that Jeremy spilled the beans. On the bright side, Kat made trifle and Alusha made pav. I absconded with the remains of the potato gratin.
Bukes: I started rereading A Suitable Boy two days before Claire was born. I read five hundred pages in the first two days, fifty the next week, a hundred the week after that. My reading is gradually returning to normal speed. ASB was the perfect post-baby book, as it happened: soulful and episodic, so that I could read it in small bites between stops on the feed-burp-change express.
Once I finished that I tackled Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (not a typo)’s Mother Nature, a wonderful synthesis of thirty years of research in anthropology and biology, which explains exactly why new mothers are intensely territorial and ambivalent. (No word yet on why I was intensely territorial and ambivalent before I had Claire.) Mother Nature, which I intend to give to all my friends who are mothers, revisits a lot of the ground I covered last year: the Darwin biography and Goodall and Fossey and The Metaphysical Club and The Mismeasure of Man.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about reproductive success in game-theoretical terms, and how players try to influence the allocation of resources. Now I’m reading Imperial San Francisco, which traces corrupt dynasties through the Gold Rush and the earthquake and the water wars. The saddest aspect of this book is the lost opportunities: the extension of the Panhandle to Civic Center, to form a Parisian boulevard; the Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Central Park where South Van Ness Avenue runs today. In daydreams I walk through a ghostly San Francisco of the future that never was.
Meanwhile the nation juggernauts towards war and the rocket ship I watched on its maiden flight burns up on reentry.
R (ruffling through the front section of the New York Times): Is there any good news in here?
Barnaby: The Museum of Natural History is rebuilding its dioramas.
R: Oh. (Pause.) Good. How’s Claire?
B: Really cute.