September 30, 2011

September 26, 2011

A performance.

Last night I very ceremoniously sat down at the piano and performed my favorite piece. It was for a brand new, very important audience. The baby. Apparently, her hearing apparatus is now in tact and she can hear voices and musical notes, car horns and telephones. When I discovered this recently, it made me cringe slightly thinking about the bearing of all those sounds on freshly originated ears. Then I liked the idea. So, I narrate like I'm a mad one: "Here comes a donut," or "that's laughter," or "that's my boss' voice - ignore him." Xavier has started in as well. He puts his mouth against my belly button and says things like (in a covert tone), "C'est ton papa qui te parle, je te parle en français parce que c'est une langue bien ce sera notre langue a tous les deux." (It is your dad speaking, I'm speaking to you in French because it is a much better language, and it will be ours).

I got a little nervous (like fluttering in my stomach) when I was playing the Chopin Nocturne because of my audience. The fluttering may have actually been the baby applauding because that is what she is supposed to feel like to me right about now when she claps her hands.

September 25, 2011


One night we came home and the light was just like this. I said, "turn no lights on."

September 24, 2011

September 22, 2011

Goodbye summer.

Bare feet: I always miss you the most.

September 20, 2011

A lady.

I am fascinated by a certain woman at the gym. She is Japanese. She is sylphlike - she weighs nothing; bones seem to comprise her entire body. Oddly, last week I went to the gym everyday at almost the same time exactly. So did she. I think we could safely say that for her, that is a general practice. I don't think working out is a part of her experience there. The majority of what she does is pat. Seriously, pat.

She stands before the mirror with heavy, admiring eyes - staring at herself so watchfully and shy at the same time, it is like she is getting to know herself, or at a being she's recently discovered. Towel on head, white skin glowing - the thin vaulting of her bones, she begins the ritual before I leave the locker room. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, go her hands on her cheeks, while applying some sort of liquid cream. Must be magical. She takes the task very seriously. She is still standing there - hair wet, out of the towel now - patting, when I re-enter 30 minutes later. Forehead, nose, chin, but especially the cheeks, she is patting. In the time it takes me to enter the locker room, work out, come back to shower and get ready, she doesn't move from her vigil. So impressive. And crazy.

September 19, 2011

September 18, 2011

Alexander Hamilton.

It was his day this weekend. It was also US Constitution Day and the day that Hamilton Grange opened to the public. We were awoken yesterday and today by the festivities just across the street - Caribbean music (you know, this founding father grew up in what was the Caribbean slave island of Nevis and came to the United States as a young man to go to King's College, now Columbia, and then became Washington's right hand man in the Revolutionary War), hymns, gospel music and grandstand speeches. The enormous task of rennovating his house was finished and was being celebrated. He built the Grange as a country estate for his family and it was finished in 1802 when all of Harlem was still pastoral.

This dog was totally fascinated by Hamilton's getup.

The house's details have been beautifully restored.

All around outside the house were characters from ~1800. They were great - the lady spinner, the blacksmith, the harp and guitarists, the chocolate makers (apparently, Hamilton and others at his time, only drank chocolate) and Xavier putting a sword up his nose.

September 15, 2011

911 Memorial.

Avid, lovely Chris got us tickets to view the 9.11 Memorial as soon as it was opened to the public (9.12). Monday night we headed to the southern end of Manhattan to get in. Normally, the Memorial is still closed to the public because there is construction on all sides of it, making it dangerous to be a viewer, but they've opened it for specific groups for the 10th anniversary. You can go online to get the required tickets. Stephen remarked that he couldn't believe how physical the impact of the memorial is. It is true - the depression space is the same as the towers occupied (there are two fountain caverns) and it feels like empty space in your core when you stand on the side of these pits. The most aching part of the memorial is the middle square in the fountain, which extends down 30 additional feet (appearing bottomless) - that feels particularly mournful.

Chris was highly knowledgeable about every choice of stone and grass plain at the Memorial. He knew that this tree (with the blue remembrance ribbons) was a Callery Pear tree, which had existed on the grounds and had survived the attacks.

September 13, 2011

Still my favorite

reason to come to work early...

September 11, 2011

So, here she is. The ultrasound is, for now, the only real way she is making a visible appearance, since I look pretty normal and just continue to feel seasick. About 14 weeks now. The process of finding where and with whom to deliver is a tricky one in NYC. Maybe everywhere, but it seems even more challenging here in the big apple. My sister, Julie, is pretty brilliant (doing a double PhD in Anthropology and Communications at Indiana Univ. with 2 children under 3) and she has helped me to think through a lot of questions about birth. She had both of her girls at home.

We are looking at the Birthing Center at Roosevelt Hospital with a group of midwives there. I can't figure it out though. They are largely unreachable - they do not pick up the telephone (not ideal for a care provider). They do 20 births a month, so if your baby is born outside of its designated month, they won't take you...well, it is not like that exactly, but they have a strict range of dates and if your birth falls outside of those, even if still considered pretty safe, I guess it is the hospital for you. Care, as I imagined it, is hard to find.

There is a growing body of people in the US who are challenging the practice of birth and how it currently happens, often without any question from the women and men going through the experience. One book Julie recommended is "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth," by Henci Goer. So far, crazy. You open the book and the author lays out some astounding facts about how birth gets done at the moment in the US. Things like:

- Cesarean section is the most common major surgery performed in this country...The consensus of medical literature is that half of these operations were not needed.
-Nearly half of women giving birth vaginally still have an episiotomy...Reserach proves that, with rare exceptions, this procedure does no good and often does harm.
- Virtually no pregnant women manage within the conventional medical system escape without having tests, drugs, procedures or restrictions that studies show offer little or no benefit when used indiscriminately but which introduce risks.

Alarming, because going into this experience, I don't trust the people in whose hands I may end up. The medical world often views birth as something from which to deliver a woman; the doctor must intervene. Yet, what I like about this other way of thinking about birth is that a woman's body is trusted, the woman is the actor - who delivers the baby - not the doctor, and birth is seen as a natural process. All of that makes sense to me. I remember watching "The Business of Being Born" and hearing that, physically, lying on her back is the worst position for a woman to labor and deliver a baby. Made me really doubt a medical establishment that insists on a position for its own convenience.

Anyway, so we are meeting with the midwives this week. I have a long list of questions. My nightmare is that I will end up on a hospital bed with an IV in my arm, epidural in my back, fetal heart rate monitor hooked up, my legs wide open - at the mercy of some doctor who could decide to intervene in any number of ways - all in a process I believe my body capable of handling without intervention at all. I'm not interested in a painless birth - in fact, I think that pain will be useful in understanding my role in how to best get a baby born - if I assume the role of primary actor. I'd like to work with someone who trusts my body as much as I do.

September 5, 2011

More Cape Cod.

Look at how cute John is.

One of the neatest things in Provincetown is a beach/marsh that fills in when the tide comes in and then when the tide goes back out it vanishes and the sand magically appears completely dry within almost seconds. When the marsh fills in, you can swim all along it and get towed by the tidal motion.

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