Archive for July, 2005
Ian: You never answer your phone! Why do you even have a phone? You know what I got from your blog the other day? “Blah blah dog blah blah builder blah blah I LEFT MY PHONE ON THE CHARGER”!
R (inspecting phone): Oh, Ian, looks like I missed a call from you.
First I baulked at the five-hour drive to King’s Canyon, so we compromised on Tuolomne Meadows; then Bryan realized he couldn’t really spare a day from work, so we compromised again on Bullfrog Pond. We made it as far as REI – Jeremy was inside buying camp cookware, and I was sitting in the car in the hot sun – when I realized the cramps were actually getting worse, and I nearly passed out from the pain.
I thought for a little while that I was losing the baby. There aren’t many circumstances under which projectile vomiting at the cute midwife on whom you have a fierce crush, and being diagnosed with gastroenteritis, come as a great relief; but having suspected you were in pre-term labour definitely qualifies as one. I was pretty acutely uncomfortably but Julia was perfectly happy, so they kicked me out of hospital and I went to sleep for 24 hours, waking only to ingest clear liquids and applesauce.
Ian likes to call his gut his “food baby”; at about midnight last night I was delivered of mine, and matters improved greatly. Today I did shag-all but attend to some neglected paperwork. We ventured out at six for sushi at Yo’s and pear sorbet from Mitchell’s, then Claire and I had a warm bath and she washed my hair.
Maybe we’ll go camping next weekend.
Q: How do you know you’re living in San Francisco?
A: First thing you see when you step out your front door is a pit bull attack.
Actually what I saw was the builder’s assistant whacking the pit bull with a shovel. They were among a mob of people under the tree across the road, outside the house that the builder and his assistant are doing up. I think the builder owns the house. I was horrified to see the dog being hit and yelled “Hey!”
Then the pit bull’s owner, a thug in a wifebeater and filthy jeans, shoved the old man from the big Victorian down the street. The old man toppled over backwards like a skittle. He has a bad knee. This made me realize the situation was more complex than I had at first assumed.
I scrambled in my purse for my cellphone to call the police, but I’d left the phone on its charger, and then I saw that Michael from the warehouse was already calling them.
The owner and his mother collected their dog and took it back up to their house, directly across the street from ours. I know the dog. It’s a beautiful brindle, like Belinda and Cholla who I love, but I’m scared of this dog, because it growled the one time I approached, and it meant it.
Apparently the dog had been taunting a couple of other dogs in house that’s being renovated, so the builder asked the dog’s owner to leash it. The dog’s owner shoved him against the wall of the next-door garage and hit him repeatedly in the face, splitting his lip and cutting the skin on his forehead. The dog dived in underneath and bit his butt, hard enough to rip his jeans.
The builder’s assistant and the old man from the Victorian heard what was happening – you could hardly miss it, there was so much yelling and growling – and came running to help the builder.
The dog bit them both, on the knee and butt. That’s when I came out and saw the assistant belting the dog with his shovel, thus getting quite the wrong impression of what was going on.
We stayed to talk to the police. While we were waiting, the owner walked past us again sans hellhound, and yelled “My dog will protect me!” Probably not, after the judge orders it destroyed. Sigh.
1. “Marmalade!” (pause for thought) “Daddy-lade? Baby-lade?”
2. “TWINKLE STAR, I WANT YOU STAR”
Fred: Hershey has bought Scharffen-Berger.
R: Oh no!
F: I know.
R: Oh no!
F: I know! It’s as if Budweiser bought Anchor!
F: I learn so much about the world through my tiny window of mergers and acquisitions.
R: Oh well, there’s always Dagoba.
R: An organic chocolate from Oregon.
F: Oh, I don’t eat chocolate.
Gasps of dismay from entire office!
I collected Jeremy from Oakland last night with inhuman precision, leaving Burlingame (and Ada in floods of tears at Claire’s departure) on the spot of 9.30, pulling into the airport parking lot at 10.10, checking the arrivals in Terminal 2 to see that his flight had not yet landed, then checking the arrivals in Terminal 1 to see that it had.
Claire ran up and down a red stripe in the carpet, for practice, and when our party appeared she hurtled towards her respected sire with loud, glad cries of “Daddy!”, and crash-tackled him around the knees.
He had good stories. Knoa hadn’t bothered to remember anyone’s name, so the Jeremy in the next camp along was “the guy with the same name as” (pointing) “him” and the seven-year-old girl, “…my older friend.” Jeremy said she always included the pause.
A hippie climbed a tree to offer a kite to the tree spirit, and when he fell he lay on the ground vocalizing in low, even tones. His friends asked if he needed any help, but he waved them away, and since he was the kind of hippie who would lie on the ground at 3am toning under ordinary circumstances, they went to bed. In the morning he was still toning, but requested a medic. He compressed a vertebra and broke his wrist. He’ll be okay.
The last story is, as Jeremy says, amazing and tragic. He spoke to a Korean man who remembers, at five years old, going to the bus station in his grandmother’s village and catching a bus to Seoul to find his parents, who were doing up a house. He ended up on the streets of Seoul at 10pm, not knowing his grandmother’s name or village or his parent’s address.
They never found him.
He lived in an orphanage for a year before being adopted by an American couple. Now he’s in his thirties and working for Microsoft Research.
The sorrow of his birth family is hard to think about.
C: Fort, foot, fart…
R: Claire, do you even know what a fart is?
C (indignantly): Yes! Poop! (much giggling)
Jeremy’s at the Phoenix Festival with the evil Jaffe Tsangs, disapprovers of potential names for Zoë/Julia. I miss him horribly, although I slept like a baby and got to work far earlier than usual today. Claire misses him too. Our dawn chorus is “AY! DADDY! AY!”; when it was me that went to get her instead of J, she looked disgusted and demanded “Daddy go?” The “Where did” is implied.
I called J and gave C the phone. She’s very professional about it these days.
C: Allo daddy. (pause) I Cian’s house. (pause) Cian pillow pile. (pause, with much nodding)
R (sotto voce): Can you tell Daddy you love him?
C: Yes. Love you Daddy.
At which point everyone died of delight.
When Jeremy makes breakfast, it’s plain yogurt with cereal. When Blanca makes breakfast, it’s pancakes. Guess which Claire prefers?
C: AY! DADDY! YUMMY PANCAKE-AY!
J (ruefully): She’s rubbing my nose in it.
R: She’s got a big splinter in her heel. We should get a proper first aid kit.
J: Good thing we live half a block away from Walgreens.
R: Walgreens, pfff. I want a good one, not one from Walgreens. Ye Olde Crap Worlde.
R: Oh, shit! Oh, crap! Oh no!
J: Your days of swearing like a sailor are strictly numbered.
Oz. The pump for the domes was broken, so we ended up with a choice of Liberty, Newbird and the yurt; we took Newbird again, and Salome and Jack took the yurt.
R: Already less drama than last time!
Jeremy: Yes, by the time we got here, people had been arguing for three hours over who got which cabin.
Jack (without irony): Damn, and I missed it. I love interpersonal conflict!
Newbird was raw and sort of plonked into the woods when we were there last, in 2003; now the woods have grown up around it and it belongs. There was a very cheerful and friendly hopping mouse in our outhouse. I also saw a deer and fawn, and an opossum and a gopher. Salome and Jack saw moles. Nature being red in tooth and claw, about half of these instances of wildlife were dead when the weekend was over.
It turns out it’s completely impossible to concentrate on games with a three-month-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old spitting up or trying to eat the choking hazards. Lord of the Rings: Risk never got further than opening the board. Simpsons: Monopoly ended prematurely when we all nearly fell asleep in the yurt. We actually achieved two hands of gun rummy last night, before Salome declared the game stupid and announced that it was bedtime.
Instead of trouncing each other at things, we talked. This led to some oddly dreamlike results, as for instance:
Jack: Yeah, Heather used to be a huge activist.
S: That’s right, she grew gills.
Jack (merrily): What?
R: Heather. Grew gills?
S: Didn’t she break into a nuclear reactor?
Jack: Yeah, but the doctors never figured out if it was a mutation from the radiation, or just, you know, one of those weird things.
R: She grew gills.
S: I didn’t believe it either, so I went and asked her, and she showed me the scar where she’d had them removed.
S: Well, she couldn’t actually breathe through them, they were just these flaps of skin.
R: Okay, I see what’s happening here. You two were lying in bed this morning, complaining about how I’m always making these authoritative statements with no evidence to back me up except what I read on the Internets, and you thought ‘How can we mess with her mind?’ And one of you said: ‘Gills!’
Jack and Salome (in unison): Nooo!
We cooked mountains of organic food, we ate it, we baked in the sun, we swam naked in the ice-cold river, we napped, we had hot bubble baths, we sat on the deck and looked out over the apple orchard and the meadows and redwood forests of the Garcia River valley; hawks screamed and there were turkey vultures, which last caused a certain amount of confusion among the child population:
Claire: Yummy turkey!
No Net, no cell service, no TV. I take all these big old books and end up reading a six-month-old copy of Harper’s someone left in the kindling pile. In short, Oz rocks. Next time we go, you should come.
Seem a bit upset by the Hate mail…
So here is the LOVE.
can u feel the LOVE
The day certainly has improved. Miss Zoë got the big thumbs-up from Yeshi, my fabulous midwife, and I had the number three lunch at Sunflower. I really should get some actual work down now.
R: Andy Gill posted to Tristero that the Enlightenment is over, and we’re heading into an age of superstition. It made me sad. Do you think he’s right?
J: Only in America.
R: Heh. Well, I don’t really care if I’m out of step with my world-historical moment. I like Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft, I approve of human rights and I’m going to live like a nineteenth-century liberal humanist even if there is no liberal humanism any more. If I believe in the scientific method really hard, it must be true, right?
J: The Enlightment! It’s shiny!
R: Actually the nice thing about the scientific method is that it doesn’t matter whether I believe in it or not. I guess I do have to have faith that mathematics really can describe the way the universe behaves, and that it’s not just all in our heads.
J: It’s one of those subtle philosophical questions: does pure maths really map onto physics, or do we just think it does because our brains evolved that way? Paul Erdös believed in maths. He liked to talk about The Book. He said that when mathematicians die, they get to read about how everything really works.
R: Oh, I like that. It’s like how when I die, I get to read the rest of Jane Austen.
I am inundated with hate mail, and I haven’t even had breakfast. Jeremy and I walk to Katz Bagels.
R: Everybody loathes everything I write.
J: Go eat worms.
R: Okay. Perspective. One of the readers at a mid-Western literary magazine I’ve never heard of, and the founder of a small Canadian software company, have ridiculous and insubstantial objections to some things I wrote.
J: And the rest?
R: …all my other stories got published.
J: You need to write some more!
R: I thought of writing up that weekend I spent in Kentucky at the Rolex. I wanted to call it Four Star. I thought up some great characters, a dorky divorced dad who keeps embarrassing his thirteen-year-old daughter, and a crazy ingenue riding school instructor from California, and her leathery eventing trainer. And her trainer’s horse, that they’d bought as a yearling, that bites and kicks so that even though he’s really talented, no one likes him.
J: And the dorky Dad could say, break a leg, and they do.
R: Yes! They’d all be watching the water combination, and the competition would stop for ages and ages and they’d gradually realize that someone had had a bad fall, and it would turn out be the trainer, and this fun frivolous weekend suddenly turns into something else.
J: And the dorky Dad comes into his own.
R:Wait. Is this getting heart-warming? I HATE heart-warming.
J: No! Dorky Dad could be a brain surgeon! He could operate right there on the cross-country course!
R: He could transplant the horse’s brain into the trainer’s head! The horse could give its life so that the trainer could live!
J: Now you’re going too far.
J: He should just transplant a leg.
We hop gracelessly and giggling down Valencia Street, although it’s unclear whether we are humans trying to run on one horse leg or three-legged horses attempting to trot.
She is given food.
C: THANK YOU MUCH MAN DARLING!
I don’t know where she gets it from.
Zoë… Woo! It worked!
J: Claire, do you want a bagel?
J: Okay. Do you want hummus on it?