Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love me some New Year's resolutions.  I love the fresh and clean feeling of the new year, new calendars, new planners, putting away the Christmas decorations, cleaning out closets and underneath beds.  I love January magazines, with their articles about diets and cleanses and organizing.  I love that the days are getting just a little bit longer every day.  I am ready to hit this January hard!  Watch out!

I decided yesterday driving home from Target that I'm tired of whining - I've got such a good life.  My baby is healthy, my husband is sweet, hardworking, and cute, I've got a good job and live in a lovely neighborhood - what the heck do I really have to complain about?  Sure, I'm tired a lot, and I don't have time to exercise like I'd like to, and I have an addiction to sugar, and I wish I could work less and still retain benefits.  I'm not alone.  And these things are not ideal.  But I am so lucky.  Navel-gazing and bellyaching aren't going to change any of those things and will likely only make me feel bad.  So forget it, pal! 

I'm not saying I'm never going to complain again, or feel sorry for myself sometimes.  I'm human.  But whether I eat a piece of chocolate or whether my thighs are heavier than I'd like - these are small potatoes.  So I'm gonna make potato salad - and savor every messy, tangy bite of my life.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Better Not Pout

I keep opening the fridge and the pantry, scanning the shelves, expecting what I want to magically appear.  What do I want?  Something sweet, but it's not there.  I still haven't had candy - it's Christmas Eve, and I've made it this far, so there's no stopping now.  Except that i don't really think I've curbed my sweet tooth much.  I've been eating pumpkin bread, cupcakes, frosting, scones, Pop Tarts like there's no tomorrow.  So what the hell is the point of cutting out chocolate, except to make myself crazy? 

You know that time in the morning when you resolve that THIS is the day you make changes, the first day of the rest of your brand-new healthy life?  I've had quite a few of those lately.  I see Oprah and Dr. Oz smiling from the bright yellow cover of her January issue, and i so badly want to believe that they can tell me how to remake my habits, cleanse myself of my dietary sins. 

Maybe they can.  Maybe they can't.  Maybe it doesn't matter what they advise, because what's really eating at me isn't found in a box or a grocery cart or a tree or a plot of soil.  It's all in my head, an endless loop of anxiety and perfectionism and melancholy, an inability to LET GO and just breathe.  It's Christmas Eve, for Frosty's sake!  I'm putting this out there, into the universe, hoping that I can give myself a break and just enjoy the next few days.  There's a lot of pressure to be "in the Christmas Spirit," and if you're just not quite feeling it, you feel like there's something wrong with you.  I am trying to keep Christmas in my own way, even if I haven't quite figured out how yet.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Review: Crampton Hodnet, by Barbara Pym

You might think that with an almost six-month-old at home, I would have no time to read.  Well, you would be wrong!  I enjoy a luxurious 30 minute lunch break at work, which after microwaving my Lean Cuisine and cleaning up my silverware amounts to about 24 minutes, and the nightly 3.5 minutes from when I get into bed to when I fall asleep.  In that 27.5 minutes a day, I indulge in my true passion - books.

When the modern world presses upon me too much - people looking down at their phones, almost running smack into me in the aisles of Target, the incivility and stupidity of reality television and the news - I crave a retreat to a simpler time.  No, not the Amish inspirational romances that are so strangely popular these days.   I crave something British, a bit genteel but with a smidgen of droll wit - something like Jane Austen or Barbara Pym.   Pym's novels of the mid-twentieth century are like Austen's with their drawing rooms, spinsters, and vicars; just add electricity, automobiles, and church jumble sales.  I adored Pym's Excellent Women and have been slowly making my way through the rest of her works.   Alexander McCall Smith, another author who's work I've been recently enjoying, wrote a nice piece on Excellent Women for the Guardian.

Set in Oxford, the titular Crampton Hodnet is a fictitious nearby vicarage devised by Mr. Latimer, a young curate boarding with the formidable elder Miss Doggett and her lady companion Miss Morrow.  (Miss Morrow is basically a lady-in-waiting, a spinster in her mid-30's who tend to blend in with the drapes and make witty asides to herself.)  Mr. Latimer and Miss Morrow get caught walking in the rain one day, heading home from the same direction but not together, and the curate freaks out when an acquaintance sees them and assumes they were together - hence the unnecessary fabrication.  These are the kinds of things upon which Pym builds her stories - and slight though they may seem, they loom large in the insular, gossipy circles of her novels.  Her books do not end as happily as most of Austen's do, however - there is a much more complicated depiction of marriage and the roles of men and women here.  Yet I always find myself laughing out loud at something in her tales; they are so wryly funny.  Here, a passage in which Miss Morrow sees Mr. Latimer off to a trip to Paris and then does something uncharacteristically passionate:

It was a lovely morning, when even the monkey-puzzle (tree)  was bathed in sunshine.  She clasped a branch in her hand and stood feeling its prickliness and looking up into the dark tower of the branches.  It was like being in church.  And yet on a day like this, one realized it was a living thing too and had beauty, as most living things have in some form or another.  Dear monkey-puzzle, thought Miss Morrow, impulsively clasping her arms around the trunk. 
"Now Miss Morrow," came Miss Doggett's voice, loud and firm, "you must find some other time to indulge in your nature worship or whatever it is.  You look quite ridiculous.  I hope nobody saw you."
"Only God can make a tree," said Miss Morrow unexpectedly. 

Miss Doggett goes on to point out that she messed up her dress, and Miss Morrow, seeing that her drab colored clothing was unsullied, thinks, 'That was the best of drab clothes.  One could be a nature-worshipper without fear of soiling one's dress.'

I am so glad that I have yet to work my through all of Pym's novels.  They are truly delightful and I intend to parse them out, savoring the pleasure for some time.  And then, of course, there's always the joy of re-reading!

Friday, December 16, 2011

In the Air, There's a Feeling of Christmas...

I love Christmas music.  My husband does not - mostly because he's forced to listen to it non-stop at his place of work, and it drives him crazy.  So we don't play much around the house - but in my car, it's another story.  I love that there's this one time a year, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, where we can enjoy timeless songs - and then we put them away for another year with all the ornaments and wrapping paper.  My favorite secular tunes are "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (mood: wistful) and "Silver Bells" (serene.) 

Last night on my way home I listened to a mix CD that a friend made a few years back.  It's pretty eclectic, from Sting's version of "I Saw Three Ships" to Run DMC's "Christmas in Hollis."  My favorite song on the CD is NSYNC's version of "O Holy Night."  It is one of the best renditions ever done, in my opinion, and that is my very favorite religious Christmas song.  Say what you will about NSYNC, but those boys can sing, and listening to this feeds my soul this time of year. 

So here is a treat to get you in the Christmas spirit - if you aren't a Grinch.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Woohoo, gum.

So, more than a week in to this whole "no candy" thing, and I haven't caved yet.  There are times when I want nothing more than to fall headfirst into a bowl of Hershey bars, but I've not allowed myself that luxury.  I have had a 4 Pop-Tart day this week, but that's another story.  In my defense, two were consumed in the morning and two at night.  Perhaps it will be a "no Pop-Tart Lent!"

When I miss candy the most is when I'm at work.  This time of year is our slowest; everyone's elsewhere, shopping and decorating and wrapping.  I want the sweet burst of flavor, that zing of sugar and carbohydrate and smoothe, rich momentary relief from boredom.  Our candy jar is well-stocked.  Mercifully, it is hidden in a file cabinet and not in plain sight.  Out of sight, out of mind is true to an extent.

Instead of a mini Kit Kat or Almond Joy, I chew a piece of gum.  Yay.  I enjoy gum.  (I'm reminded of Chandler on Friends, stuck in the ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre... "Gum would be perfection.")  I like its breath-freshening, thirst-quenching properties.  But it's gum, ho hum, and it's just not the same.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day Three

I didn't have any candy on Monday, or Tuesday, despite it not being December yet.  So I guess I'm already starting my sugar-less (not sugarless) sojourn.  There's a square of Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate in my lunch bag.  It's been there for 3 days and I'm going to have to either throw it away or give it to my mother tonight when I get home (she takes care of Baby one afternoon a week.)  All the magazines extol the virtues of dark chocolate in moderation, and really it is my favorite form of candy, but if I want to do this right I'm going to have to include it on the banned list - for now.  (Sniff.)

Already I feel lighter.  You know how you read or hear about people saying that they've given up things to God, because they just can't do anything about it anymore, so they just release it to a higher power?  I sort of feel like that.  I'm not sure God really cares all that much about my post-baby pudge or my emotional eating.  Goodness, there are so many other pressing things to deal with.  But I do feel like I've let go of something that had been weighing me down, and whomever received it, more power to you. 

There's absolutely no reason on Earth that I can't do this.  Taking this seemingly small step towards better physical and emotional health and balance could be just the beginning, the beginning of a lifetime of healthier habits and inner peace.  Inner peace operating on a sliding scale, that is - I am what I am, as Popeye says.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Want Candy!

In the spirit of the blog's title, it's about time I actually did something instead of whining about it.  Lately I've been sucking up candy like a vacuum cleaner, ever since I had my baby and was freed from the tyranny of my low-carb gestational diabetes diet.  Well, that was almost 5 months ago.  It's time to get serious about eating a healthier diet.  If not for me, then for my baby, since I'm still breastfeeding and hope to for another 7 months at least.

I am a sugar addict.  I seriously believe that sugar is an addiction.  The consequences might not be as deadly as with drugs or alcohol, but then again, look at the skyrocketing diabetes and obesity rates in our country.  I wish I could be one of those people who can enjoy things "in moderation."  I don't think I am that kind of person, sadly.  If I eat one cookie, I want to eat 4 more.  If I eat one piece of chocolate, I want to eat 3 or 6 or 8 more.  Last night I stood in my kitchen and ate 7 Hershey kisses with almonds, one after another, quickly, almost not even tasting them.  And this was after a mini Snickers bar too.  I looked at the gold foil pile in the trash can and said to myself, "I'm done with this." 

I am done with abusing sweets.  Or at least I want to be done.  So starting December 1st, I'm abstaining from eating candy for one month.  I thought I'd start out with candy, see how that goes, and go from there.  I figure I can do this, even in the month of December, when everyone and their mother are literally throwing candy in your face.  What do I mean by the term candy?  Well, specifically, any processed goody such as Kit Kat, Kisses, Reese's Cups, Nestle Crunch, etc.  Also, I'd better not eat anyone's homemade candy goodies either, which will be tricky as we get closer to Christmas.  (Our library patrons are always so generous and show us their appreciation with food this time of year!)  Surely I can channel my energy and my emotions into something more... satisfying?  Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful List, 2011

So many things.  Sooooo many things. 

Parents who love me, who always loved me, who always tried to do their best for me.
Marrying into a wonderful, sane family.
My affectionate, intelligent, hardworking husband.
My sweet-natured, healthy, adorable little boy.

A job I like.  Some things about it I love, some things I don't like, so it averages out to Like. 
A pretty, safe neighborhood in which to live.
My health.

Peace in my nation -  that I don't have to be a refugee or victim of war crimes.  Lack of famine, that I might be able to be fed and feed my child.

And now, the sillier things:

J.R. Martinez, champion of Dancing With the Stars season 13.  I started watching a lot more television once the baby was born - who has energy to do anything else, especially at first?  For some reason I began watching DWTS, and I fell in love straightaway with J.R.  His joyful energy was a delight to watch all season.  And Bruno's ridiculous judge's comments are always fun too!

Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, the cast of "Modern Family" (another recent television discovery.)  Reruns of "The Office" and "Seinfeld"   - for making me laugh on a regular basis.

The New York Yankees.  Not a championship season, but fun to watch nonetheless.  Baseball season is the best three-quarters of the year - it's springtime, then it's summer, then it's early fall.  I married into a passion for the Yankees, and it's really been fun learning all about the mechanics and history of the game.  Baseball is definitely a game for nerds, so I fit right in the demographic.  (Although I'd be more thankful if we'd never gotten rid of Johnny Damon or Matsui.  And if we could gently unload A.J. Burnette.)

The patience of my friends for looking at all the pictures of Baby I post on Facebook.

The 30 minutes a day I get to read, uninterrupted, on my lunch break at work.

Cute baby clothes with wry, silly sayings on them, like the Halloween onesie that says "Take Me to My Mummy."  They didn't have such things when I was a baby.

Coke Points, which allow me to subscribe to magazines I otherwise wouldn't bother subscribing to.

Good warm bread spread with butter.
Mmmm, butter. 

I am going to eat so much food tomorrow.  :)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Fat Mom

I am not going to become another fat mom.  There are already too many of those around today, sadly.  I completely see now how someone lets this happen to them, since having James.  There are not nearly enough minutes in the day to accomplish things as mundane as mopping the floor or raking the backyard, let alone time enough to nurture your own soul. 

I adore my child; he is the greatest thing I've contributed to in my whole life.  His sweetness and delight are infectious and addictive.  I can't get enough of his sweet smell or the way he smiles at me.  Even so...  there are times when I head straight to the pantry and stuff candy or cookies or chocolate in my mouth as fast as I can cram it in.  I have realized that I do this because it's a tiny little escape.  It's a precious second of time just for ME.  Sweets are associated in my mind with comfort, with release, with good times.  I use them as a way to nurture myself.  Until the second after the taste leaves my tongue. 

Then it's a litany of horrible feelings washing over me, sounding in my head.  Ugly, fat, glutton, addiction, disgusting... on and on.  You don't need this, I tell myself.  You shouldn't.  Don't have another piece.  And then I do, a big f*** you to the food Nazi in my brain.  And then I feel even worse.

I've checked out and bought countless books about food addiction, I have watched Oprah and read her magazine regularly, I know the drill.  I am not stupid.  No one who struggles with food addiction is stupid.  We all know what to do to be healthy and lose weight.  But this isn't even about weight for me, at least not at this stage.  Breastfeeding is managing to help me maintain my pre-pregnancy weight, thank God.  This is about control, and feeling my emotions, and managing them.  This is about feeling good about myself, dealing with loneliness, dealing with fatigue.  This is about trying to figure out how to be a mother and still feel like myself, like a whole and separate person. 

So I know how women become fat after having kids, or become alcoholics, or abuse pills, or shop themselves into debt.  Whatever your coping mechanism was before you had kids is the thing you'll turn to after.  We do it because doing so feeds something in our souls that is lacking.  We do it because we're tired, we're sick of doing all the housework, we're lonely for adult conversation.  We do it because, while we love our kids more than anything in the world, we need someone to nurture us too. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Already Snarky

I've just been back to work two weeks and I'm already the snarky librarian again. :) In reality, everyone here has been absolutely lovely to me, asking after the baby and my family, indulging my desire to show off pictures. It's quite a transition - just when you sort of get a hold on being a mother in the first place, they yank you back to the workforce for most of the day! Not coincidentally, I bought a Powerball ticket last week for the first time in years.

Anyway, my snarkiness has absolutely nothing to do with my patrons, but with the books I shelve day in and day out. I have a running list of authors who need to stop writing books. Oh, I don't really mean it - these authors are still quite popular, and people coming into the library to check out their books in part justifies my job, right? So of course I am not serious. But in terms of my loathing to shelve their books (more accurately, smooshing and shifting their books into an ever decreasing space on the shelf) I hereby would like these authors to cease and desist.

In no particular order: James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele, Debbie Macomber, Janet Evanovich, Patricia Cornwell, Tom Clancy (the DOORSTOPS this guy comes out with!), and Clive Cussler (although he gets points for writing the book that became the cute movie Sahara with Matthew McConoughey.)

I actually don't read any of these authors, which makes it much easier for me to dismiss them. Next, I move on to genres. In the cross hairs: Amish romances and anything with a vampire or werewolf.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our Buddy Butterbean

Today we said goodbye to a dear member of our family. Our cat Gus, better known as Butterbean or Bean, left us today. I had to take him to the vet to get put to sleep. I put on my big girl britches and went with my aunt to the vet, and it's amazing how fast the process went. He had kidney disease which had progressed of late into kidney failure. We knew it was only a matter of time. I just didn't know how fast he'd go downhill - in two days he went from slow but okay to not eating or drinking, bony and pitiful. The vet told us we made the right call at the right time, not too soon and not too late to make him suffer. I am so grateful he told us that. I can hang onto that at least, knowing Gus isn't suffering and didn't suffer at the end. His daddy told him goodbye this morning, since he had to work a double shift and couldn't get out of it at short notice. It was wrenching watching Eric cry - he doesn't cry often and I know he loved Gus very, very much. They were special buddies.

Gus loved to be scratched on his head and the side of his face. He'd get up on the table and Eric would sit there and scratch and scratch, and Gus would give him a friendly headbutt, and then after a few minutes, he'd flop onto the table in happiness. All he wanted (besides cheese or lunch meat whenever we had either of those!) was to be loved on. Yet he was never what you'd call a "lap cat." He was fairly independent.

He came to me as a stray while I was house sitting for a few months at a place in Lindbergh Forest on South Knoxville. This was in 2000. I took him with me when I left and have loved him ever since. It's hard to believe he's gone. That we now have only one cat. I threw away his food bowl when I got home. The house seems strangely empty now, even with another cat and a five week old baby.

I'm going to plant a rosebush out there in the backyard where he's resting. I will tell James about the prince of a cat named Gus that shared his home with him for 5 weeks and 4 days. He was a very, very good cat. We love you, buddy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Baby Tornado

Hi! I'm here, once again. Baby J. is also here, born July 1, 2011 at 4:17 am after a long induced labor due to my gestational diabetes. He's healthy, I'm healthy, and we are blessed with this precious, sweet boy.

Our life is so different now. I was right, I had NO idea how my life was about to change. It's a completely new life we're living. I'm not an idiot, I should have been more prepared for this, but I truly don't think one CAN prepare for all the changes. No sleep (about 3-5 nonconsecutive hrs per night for me.) LOTS of diapers. Sore nipples. Watching a LOT of tv. No reading (I've read about 50 pages of my book since he's been born.) Trying to nap when the baby naps (good advice but not always easy to do!) At least one load of laundry per day.

Initially the hardest thing for me to wrap my mind around was my new identity as Mom. I had simply been Laila for 34 years, the woman who reads, works out, goes to work at the library, goes out with friends to the Farmers Market and Tomato Head whenever she wanted to, had all damn day with which to do whatever she wanted. Now I am Laila, the Mom of J. And my priority is this little innocent guy who needs us to take care of him. He comes first. If he's crying, I put down my lunch, I delay my shower, I get off the phone. It's a challenge to be thrust into that mindset suddenly when they let you out of the hospital to be on your own with this tiny life.

I know it won't always be this way. I know one day I'll have more time for myself and for my relationship with the hubby. I see moms of elementary school kids at the library and they seem more together than moms of babies or toddlers, so I know that things get more settled as your children grow up. I'm really trying to enjoy this time, when he's so small and needs me so much. I love when he looks at me with those big eyes when he's feeding, and his tiny hands grasp my fingers as I'm holding his head. I love when he curls up into the crook of my shoulder after a feeding, and he's all passed out asleep, so content. I love his little grunts and snores when he's sleeping. I love his quiet alert time when he wakes up in the morning. I love laying him down on his activity mat and talking to him about the animal toys on the bar above him.

I can't wait to teach him about the world. This job is among the most important, shaping and guiding a life. I hope to endeavor to deserve it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

So here's the thing...

A friend of mine says that all the time, and it's one of my favorite things about her. I find it's a good way to begin a post.

The thing is, lately I've been feeling stressed. And feeling stressed during my pregnancy makes me even more stressed, because then I worry about what the stress is doing to my baby. A borderline high glucose test, my husband's new job and variable schedule, trying to get the baby's room ready, trying to figure out what to register for, trying to keep the house clean... all these things press upon me. And I know it's all normal, just part of it, the anxiety, the unsettled feeling. So far this pregnancy has been a great teacher! I am learning just how much I crave order and a sense of control. I'm learning how rigid I can be, stuck in my cozy routine just like the typical bullish Taurus that I am.

I want to be able to do everything and do it well. I want to have a clean, orderly home, a sweet, pretty, organized room for the baby, time for relaxing, time for my husband, time for my friends, time for my family, time to walk, time to shop well and eat right, time to sleep. I feel like I should make a keepsake scrapbook of my pregnancy, and the fact that I haven't begun makes me feel bad. Then there are all the baby books I've got lined up on my bookshelf - one about newborns, one about breastfeeding, one about labor, a few about everything. They reproach me when I look at them, since I've yet to finish any or begin some at all.

I gotta turn those books in. I need to give myself a break. This baby doesn't care if he has a scrapbook, or if his mom has an organized closet. He just needs me to love him, feed him, keep him safe and dry. I can do that. I can't wait to do that. I can't wait to meet him, nurture him, watch him develop into a person. He's already changing me, making me better, shaking up my routines and my world view. I can't do everything. How did I ever think that I could? Or that I should have to?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Secrets and Pet Peeves

Secret: I don't like the K-town Mexican food institution that is Senor Taco. I'll go there willingly for a birthday party or a get-together, but I just don't share the love for that place that everyone else in my age bracket seems to feel.

Pet Peeve: When people say "Li-berry" instead of "Library."

Secret: I feel ignorant and uninformed when the talk turns to unions, collective bargaining, and balancing state budgets. I hear people say all the time that unions are part of the reason nothing is made in America anymore. I tend to favor the corporate greed argument, but I know it has to be more complicated than that.

Pet Peeve: When people get their library card out of their wallet and throw it on the desk.

Secret: I sometime worry that my friends think I'm an annoying, uncool, boring doofus.

Pet Peeve: When I say "Hello" or "How are you?" to someone and they don't respond. Am I speaking Farsi?

Secret: I count and cheer on every single day that this baby is in my body when I get up in the morning. 22 weeks and 3 days, 22 weeks and 4 days... way to go Peanut! I pray that he is healthy, I am healthy, and we both make it happily through all 40 or so weeks, through the delivery, and beyond.

I am too blessed to concentrate on more pet peeves. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Boy Books

We're having a boy! At least that's what the ultrasound tech told us, and I have to trust her experience, because I wasn't at all sure what I was looking at! :) It's terribly surprising and exciting - it's a whole new world. I know all about girl stuff (I was a very girly girl), but as an only child, I know NOTHING about boy stuff! And it occurred to me this afternoon, as I was shelving juvenile fiction, that I'll have to start reading some BOY BOOKS. A lifetime of reading Nancy Drew, Little Women, Anastasia Krupnick, and Sweet Valley High has ill prepared me for getting a little boy excited about reading! At least there's always Harry Potter. Thankfully, I have some time before Little Man is ready for the J-Shelves. We'll do some board books first, and they're pretty gender neutral.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Is this really neccessary?!?

In addition, I would like to abolish all Jane Austen "updates" - the latest one I saw on our shelves is Bespelling Jane Austen. It's four romantic novellas based on Austen's works - with a paranormal twist. The poor woman. Can we just LEAVE HER ALONE? Her works are timeless masterpieces in and of themselves!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review - Espresso Tales

One of the weirdest of my pregnancy experiences thus far has been a phase in the first trimester where I couldn't read. Books held no attraction for me for about three or four weeks. This is highly unusual for me. I had no attention span, and this combined with overwhelming fatigue left me crashing in front of the television every night after work. I didn't even care what I was watching, truthfully. If I did deign to read something, it was a pregnancy book. Blessedly, somewhere along week 9 or 10 I was able to enjoy my usual steady diet of fiction and I felt like myself again.

I am trying to make the most of my pre-baby time in many ways: spending time with friends, going out to eat, reading voraciously. My life is about to change in ways I can't even imagine, and I am sure that reading will be challenging if not impossible once Peanut arrives.

I just finished a positively delightful novel, Espresso Tales, the second of the Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. He's a Scottish author best known for his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mysteries, which I have not read. This is not a mystery, but a story about people and families living on and around Scotland Street in Edinburgh. You have Bruce, the ridiculous narcissist, trying to open a wine shop knowing next to nothing about business or wine, and there's Pat, his roommate, who works in an art gallery and gets an invitation to attend a nudist picnic with a young man she's interested in. There's poor Bertie, a 6-year old genius pushed by his overbearing mother to play saxophone, learn Italian, and take yoga, when really all he wants to do is watch trains and go fishing. There's Cyril, the dog who longs to bite ankles but doesn't want his master to yell at him, and Domenica, the wise older anthropologist in a bit of a rut. These characters yearn, make mistakes, overthink, pontificate, blunder through life, like the rest of us; they feel real and the reader roots for them - even the unsympathetic ones have their charms.

Why do I love reading these novels? They're light without being vapid, funny without trying too hard, subtly moving without manipulating emotions. Entertaining and intelligent, wise and witty. I am excited that there are three more novels in the series.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another Me

I started cleaning out the office, which will hereby be known as the baby room. It looks like a bomb went off in there now, but I have a vision of soothing, semi-organized loveliness to come. I found two boxes of letters, cards, and mementos from college. Last night I sat on the couch and started going through one, only making it half-way before I felt soaked in too much nostalgia.

Letters are fantastic. No one writes them anymore. But this is not that blog entry, the one where I lament the death of paper and pen. This is the one where I ponder who the hell that person was that received all those letters. Certainly she was lucky, to be loved by so many interesting people, eager to share their summers and Christmas breaks and semesters abroad with her.

As my stack of things to toss out grew, so did my discomfort level. A potent mix of feelings swirled within - embarrassment, yearning, gratitude, sadness. I realized just how different I am now, how much I am not that 20-year-old anymore. Old regrets rose to the surface with the hindsight of the past 14 years. I should have studied in London, I should have applied myself more to my schoolwork, I should have spent a summer at an internship away. Simultaneously I took heart in the knowledge that these great people loved me, confided in me, missed me. I was surely doing something right in my life at that time to be surrounded by a circle of true friendship and camaraderie.

My husband always tells me I'm too hard on myself, and I know he's right. I had a wonderful college experience, full of interesting classes, amazing relationships, silliness, crushes, road trips, stupid arguments, parties, dancing... all the things that make going away from home for four years worthwhile and edifying. Hubby says, "You're just a late bloomer," and he's right again. Self-confidence and a willingness to try new things came relatively later in life to me, and sometimes that's just how it goes. Better late than never, I say. Still, reading all those letters dredged up old self-doubt.

With a box and a half to go through, part of me wants to just chuck it all! Sometimes it's better to let your old life rest, let your former self stay mostly forgotten.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Craving oranges, enjoying everything.

I'm back. I've missed this cute little blog o' mine. Not enough to actually write something, apparently, but I'm here now.

Things are happening in my life, and I finally feel at liberty to start talking about them. I'm expecting a child in early July. Sixteen weeks into this crazy process I feel like maybe, just maybe, I can talk about it and write about it at will, and everything will be okay. Guess I've inherited my mother's superstitious nature after all - or maybe I'm just a worry-wart. But I also know that things will be what they will, no matter what I tell the world. And that is my father's Persian fatalism coming out in me.

One of the absolute best things so far about being pregnant is that for the first time in my life, I don't give a damn about reading the omnipresent articles in women's magazines about losing weight. I don't care a lick about the segments on the morning shows about diet and exercise. I am eating intuitively for the first time that I can recall. I actually like it when the scale inches up a pound. I am caring for and nurturing a future human being inside of me - I am growing a person! It's so profoundly amazing. I know it happens all the time, all over the world, and has for millions of years. But this is MY experience, my body, my future child. It is intensely consuming, fascinating, absorbing. It's all I can do to direct my attention elsewhere.

I hope that after the baby arrives I can cling to this feeling of caring for my body, treating myself kindly, forgiving what society says are its "flaws." I want to set a good example for my child, so that they might know what it means to value health over a number on the scale or a pants size. That they might eat some pizza or a doughnut without self-flagellation. They they can arm themselves against messages from corporations and media outlets trying to sell them self-hate.