Wednesday, November 30, 2005
My son is going through something I cannot put into words. He now refuses to nurse to sleep or cry it out or any other method that has formerly worked for him. He HATES his crib. You would think we were trying to get him to sleep on a bed of hot coals or something. He can be fast asleep, then somehow realizes he is touching the mattress and wakes up screaming and immediately stands up and continues to scream. Consoling helps, so long as we don't let him out of our arms. EVER.
Even bringing him into bed with us no longer works. He is restless, tossing, turning, needing to nurse frequently. It's a bad scene and we're all feeling the effects. So Ferber's "Graduated Extinction" method of going to him in 5 minutes, then 10, and then 15 is out. Weissbluth's sob-till-you-drop is in.
It feels a teeny bit like child abuse, but Nate has left us with no other alternative. NOTHING is working all of a sudden. Our perfect 8-7 sleeper is on strike. All the subtle and slow methods are what lead to him freaking out all night and us trying to "Ferberize". Maybe we took it to fast. But when you're not sleeping, you're desperate. And I feel guilty all the time for somehow un-teaching the self-soothing he was the master of in the beginning. We are definitely at the bottom of the barrel here. Scraping away.
I have been very fortunate to have had an adaptable baby thus far. One I could leave with others while I went out or away on short trips. One who has dealt with a disorganized, loosely scheduled mom and loved her nonetheless. But with six weeks to go until I'm not doing this full-time anymore (Countdown to Work parallels the countdown to this stupid ass election - January 23rd) I have got to devote myself fully to this child. And that means no Depeche Mode concert tomorrow night nor Fembots show Saturday night nor too many crazy holiday parties. Those days are done for a while. And I've just got to be OK with it.
Time for this momma to get her shit together and her house in order.
Friday, November 25, 2005
I was thinking this was kind of a new book since it makes me think of that Robert Redford movie The Horse Whisperer and so maybe I thought it was a trend like Spinning or something. So apparently the Baby Whisperer, Tracy Hogg, died of skin cancer a year ago today! So sad.
As for Nate's sleep at the boob issue, we are working on it and in wee bits it's coming along. Dad is now getting up at night and trying to rock him back to sleep as opposed to relying on the bottle (still a night feed) and it's worked one out of two nights. For daytime naps Boob still reigns supreme and that's been the biggest battle. But I'm trying to rip him off sooner than I normally would so he's kinda sorta not fully asleep yet and he rolls onto his belly and sucks his thumb for a bit. I hope that works over time. Someone online suggested getting him used to feeding when he wakes up from a nap instead of before. I will start trying that too and tell you how it goes. Still open to suggestions.
I hope Ann's sleep book comes out soon. If I gotta go back to work in just under 2 months time then I'd better get this sleep issue dealt with soon. Ack!
But part of me misses the action, the day-to-day of the office. Getting dressed up in something more than jeans, going for lunches and coffees, talking about Nick and Jessica's break-up... even going to meetings and the actual doing work part, sometimes I miss it. It's no secret that my last year of work was a challenging one. There were a lot of changes workwise, not to mention in my mind and body. I wasn't totally myself and I handled these changes poorly. I've had so much time to reflect over this past year and I know that I would be different this time around, that I wouldn't obsess over work as though it is the be all and end all. I would give it what I needed to succeed and feel good about myself without giving my entire self. Because at the end of the day I have someone (actually two someones) to rush home to see.
There are BIG downsides to going back to work. Number one: I can never be that stressed out person again. That stress, I am sure, is what caused my unborn child to have a stroke in utero. I overdid it and my baby suffered. It's something I am learning to forgive myself for. And so I rightfully worry that the corporate environment will lead me down that wicked path yet again. The key is not to let it. Easier said than done sometimes.
Number two: I did not have an awesome relationship with my superiors when I left. Note to all: NEVER bad-mouth your bosses over email. Try not to bad-mouth them period. It seems obvious you'd think. I said a lot of bad things about a lot of people. Things I should've kept in my own head until I was rational enough to see properly. But I got caught up in that crazy coworker water-cooler crap. And we all fed off each other. I honestly don't believe the Mommy-me would get into that again. I was really quite childish and unprofessional. It's not something I'm proud of, but I guess it takes two to tango. There are tons of new people there and it would almost be like starting a new job, so long as those who are still there will bury the hatchet, put the past behind us, and allow for a fresh start.
Number three: Nate, Natey, Nate. I can't fathom the thought of someone else possibly being with him when he says his first coherent words or takes his first steps. It makes me ill just thinking about trying to get ready in the mornings while trying to attend to his needs, getting him dropped off to the babysitter and managing to get to work for nine. Then rushing to get out the door at 5 pm, picking Nate up, getting dinner ready and trying to play with him before bedtime, with zero time to decompress after a day at the office. I ask this time and time again, but how does anybody do it?
Then I read *THIS* in my new issue of Today's Parent. If I don't go back I have to pay back my mat-leave top-up? WHAAAAAAT? That is a LOT of money. The kind of money that I obviously would not have if I didn't go back to my fairly decent salaried job. So it kind of made my decision for me. To be honest, it's probably not the one I would have made if I didn't have to pay back the cash, but now that I know I HAVE to go back, it kinda makes everything easier and I can look at the situation in a new, more positive way. Mainly that for the first time in almost four years we will have two fairly steady incomes. But also that I will be part of something exciting and ever-evolving and adult.
Am I just trying to make myself feel better? Probably. But hopefully with all your support Blogizens, I'll get through this too.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Nate is almost 11 months old and he has an addiction. Not to drugs, but to boob. He MUST fall asleep on the boob and if he doesn't, it's a struggle. He wakes up once a night to feed and according to everything I've read he doesn't need to be doing that anymore. Frankly, I'd like to get some sleep this century.
I've tried the "cry it out" method and sometimes it works painlessly, other times he just gets so damn upset that I feel awful after 30 minutes, go in and give him the boob out of pity. He used to be the master self-soother, but then his painful teeth grew in and his thumbs can't handle it anymore. I want him to re-learn falling asleep on his own without torturing him to death. When I come into the room to comfort and reassure him that all is OK, he just grabs on to me and tries to get into boob position. If his father goes to him, he will cry hard, but then manage to fall asleep with 20 minutes of rocking. But this isn't correcting the problem either is it? He's still not learning to do it on his own.
So do I just put some ear plugs in and let him scream it out a few nights in a row? Can you actually "sleep train" a baby? Any suggestions?
UPDATE: 9 pm. It took us an hour, but we managed to get Nate to sleep without the boob. I made sure he ate a lot beforehand from the boob and then Daddy Dog gave him a bath and read to him. We said goodnight and put him in the crib. He immediately stood up in the crib and started screaming. So we left. We let him cry for 10 minutes and then went in to comfort him a bit. Then we let him cry for another 20 minutes before I went in. It was obvious that he was not going to lay down under any circumstances by himself, so I picked him up and rocked him, but didn't offer the boob eventhough he kept getting into position. I knew he wasn't hungry because he was well fed and refused the bottle each time (even when Dad tried). His eyes were fluttering and he was fighting the sleep, but he seemed tired enough to lay down and stay down, so I tried. He whined for a second and then rolled onto his tummy, bum in the air and fell asleep. Sorta on his own. It's a big step. Let's see if he stays asleep.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
It has occured to me that I am being way to detailed. Who actually fucking cares? Plus, I actually have a baby, and writing takes much time. More time than I have these days, now that Nate insists on clapping my hands for me every two seconds. Fuck it. I don't know how to be anything but verbose.
Saturday my sis and I had a major fight. In the street. In loud English. I could feel the eyes of every Parisian rolling. In fact, I could feel the eyes (or holes where eyes once were) of the skulls in the Catacombs rolling in their giant shared grave. We were pretty much right across the street from them when it happened.
It's no secret that Sista S and I have a love/hate relationship. We love each other like we're the same person and hate each other just as furiously (I think Lori Lansens wrote something to that effect in The Girls). She was upset that she didn't wake up early and go to buy the bag that was her obsession and had eluded us thus far. I thought she was giving me attitude for staying up all night giggling like a schoolgirl. So I freaked on her. In public. It almost came to blows. Queen Nomad had to break it up and run interference.
Enter comedic moment provided by pidgeons. We decided to get some yummies from the boulangerie and nibble them in the park, but the damn pidgeons closed in on us like teenagers eyeballing our Doc Martens. A swallow actually flew up to my sister's croissant and ripped it out of her hand! So I had to take action and ran back and forth chasing them away from us. I musta looked like a fool. Well, like half a fool, because damn my new boots looked fierce!
Me being a jackass lightened the mood a bit and we could get on with the business of having fun. Quick shop for SS to get her much-desired designer gear. SS looked at her watch and remarked that the Eiffel would be sparkling in 25 minutes. "Let's hop on a boat!" I have wanted to do the boat ever since seeing Before Sunset. So we ran down and got on the boat 2 minutes before it was set to take off.
Here we are, excited to do something new together. With my sis and QN having lived in Paris, it is rare to do something with them that neither of them has done before. We sat up top and these two little French kids sitting in front of us kept repeating with their cutie accents, "Eet eez de boat of de paradiyss." Eet most certainly was. Seeing Paris's icons from the river was breathtaking and eventhough it's touristy, I highly recommend the boat tour. They really know how to light their buildings, and seeing some of those bridges up close makes you value the work and skill that went into them. The only downside? It was fucking freezing. At one point, I believe it actually started to snow! Queen Nomad hates the cold. It's part of the reason she moved to Europe (though Destiny's a bitch and she had to live in Sweden for 9 months!).
So the Eiffel did its thing. It's fun to watch, but makes you wonder if they needed to draw more attention to the fact that they have a giant cock in the middle of their city. Well, not dead centre... like a true dick it hangs a little to the left.
On our way back to the hotel, we passed this Asian man who was doing elaborate carvings with root vegetables. It was so intricate and zen and magical that I had to share. He shouldn't have been on the street. He should be somewhere grander. But then perhaps I would never have seen his yummy lovelies. This certainly would have helped me to finish my brussel sprouts. Click to enlarge -- I swear, it's worth it!
So night was definitely upon us and went got dolled up for another 10 pm dinner reservation (super ick, but when in Paris I guess...). The resto-club was called Cabaret and the decor was like a Morrocan den or something. Kir Royales to toast, scrumptious overpriced food, super-pretentious stylish people about. Not my scene, but fun every now and then. The point was that Sista Sunny had a blast. Look how happy she looks with her yellow cocktail that tasted like Juicy Fruit or something.
The other point was that Queen Nomad and I, though in denial about it, were pretty drunk. Sure it was a disappointing drunk. The Grey Goose Bar by the dancefloor served Absolut but charged 11 Euros per drink nonetheless. The whole point of having dinner was to make sure we got into the club. We had this crazy incident in the past where we couldn't get past the feminazi at the door of another Paris club: a chain-smoking 60 year-old woman in an army jacket who decided who got in by pointing and saying "Oui" or "NON!" like you'd hurt her eyes with your averageness. When Sista S bitchily inquired, "Pourquoi?" the response was an even bitchier, "Pourquoi? Pourquoi pas!?!" That bruised the ego a bit. We finished dinner and entered the danceclub part only to realize that everyone was 18.
QN actually danced! (as pictured here). Oh, and she picked up a guy it seemed. He thought she was a student. When she mentioned she was married and from Toronto originally he told her he was going to get his friend that she just HAD to meet. He came back with a six foot tall Eastern European mail order bride. She was looking to find out about immigrating to Canada. Oh boy. As Tina said, "I know what I would do if she needed to get away from a guy she was talking to, but how do you get rid of another woman?"
We spent the rest of the night attempting to get these Italian dorks to talk to us for laughs, but chickening out each time we approached them. I wish I took Italia boy's photo. He was the ultra-Gino. He had a tight zip-up shirt that actually said Italia on it and white jeans (also snug) with zippers on the bum. We kept daring each other to un-zip his ass pocket. Funny. You can see here, we are clearly hammered. But I've got my yellow Stella top! So all in all a good night. (The rest is a little fuzzy)
Monday, November 21, 2005
On Friday morning we woke up in anticipation of the arrival of Queen Nomad. I don't know if I blogged about this... probably not since I was way fucked up about it. Anyway, QN and her hubby, the Green Genius, were home for two months this summer. Two of the busiest, but best months of my life. Just when I thought that QN might be staying in Toronto after 3.5 years of living in Europe, the GG got a great job offer in Brussels.
She came over to tell me and I was dreading it the whole day. I knew she was going to move again and break my heart. So as we walked to Sweaty Betty's to get drunk (the only thing to do over important conversations where you can't change the outcome) I made fun of Belgium. I told her how no one funny ever came from Belge, and even though they have chocolate, waffles and diamonds out the whazoo, all she could look forward to was Jean-Claude Van Damme, Tin Tin, Les Schtroumpfs (Smurfs -- yes they are Belgian) and a world of mussels (she detests anything from the ocean) and fries with mayo (unlike me, she can't swallow anything white and creamy).
Anyway, I feel bad about giving her the gears now. In the past few months she's been pretty bummed about being in a foreign country during her child-bearing years and about this whole "Where is home" debate in general. So we were very excited to see her for a cheer-up weekend. I would have been equally happy if it were just Sista Sunshine and I all weekend, but adding Queen Nomad to the mix just added another layer to my joy.
QN wasn't set to arrive until 3:30 pm. We overslept and missed the Rememberance Day ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, so we decided that we would spend the morning having breakfast at Tina's and the afternoon looking for a pair of boots for me in the St. Germain de Pres area. When my sis was moving to Paris in 2003, Ragdoll suggested I put her in contact with her pal Tina, who had moved to Paris earlier that year. Tina was a great influence on my sis, making her come out of her shell and try new things and talk to boys (SS can be quite shy). Tina also became friends with QN and GG. She is the type of person that knows everybody. I once had a strange woman in my apartment (strange as in unknown, not weird) who worked in Sustainable Futures and lived in Paris. When we mentioned that she should meet our friend the Green Genius, who also lived in Paris, she was shocked and said she already knew him through this girl Tina. Small world.
Tina served croissants with Nutella and coffee in her fabulous apartement in the 12th. We chatted about her new boyfriend and the cost of living in Paris and agreed to meet for dinner later. We perused the market by her home and I bought a ton of Frenchie scarves for so cheap -- they make awesome presents. We ogled oysters and minded mushrooms. Then we visited what I am sure was EVERY SINGLE SHOE SHOP in the 4th, 5th and 6th arrondisements. OK, I am exagerrating. We did half of them and then rushed back to the hotel to pick up QN and THEN we did the other half. I did find a pair of boots finally, but not before Sista S had picked up THREE new pairs of shoes (um, she has a bit of a shopping prob)!
We took photos in front of St. Sulpice and laughed about the Da Vinci Code and how so many people believe it's real. I have to admit, it was so female-favourable that I truly hoped it was real when I first read it. We went inside to "find the Rose Line" but there was a huge Rememberance Day mass going on so it was inappropriate and not really possible. What struck me though was that the priest was black and the congregation was multicultural. That is a rare site in a city centre -- you would be hard pressed to see that in downtown Toronto.
Cafe Mabillon was our place of rest during Happy Hour. What the hell happened to Happy Hour in North America? Some idiot decided that it encouraged people to drink (um, duh!) so they nixed it. What is this? Prohibition? Honestly, I don't understand our societal mentality. Happy Hour in Paris is a must-do. No one eats dinner until REALLY late, so a snack and a lot of bevvies are the call of the day. I remember the first time I was in Paris with the same companions and I tried to eat at 6:30. I might as well have asked the waitier to lick dogshit off my shoe. By this third time out, I knew "the rules" so Happy Hour and 10 pm dinner reservations were OK by me.
At Cafe Mabillon we got pretty tipsy for not a lot of money and started noticing that there were many hotties abound. So I suggested we play Who Would You Do? (You have to basically just say who you'd fuck from every guy that goes by in a 20 minute time span) As soon as we agreed it seemed every hottie disappeared and we were left with uggos that were being dragged around by wives and girlfriends. "I'm calling the game off," I said, and like magic a group of hot young gay men appeared. Strange.
We made up a dumb, typically us, game as Sista S kept wanting to take the old skool elevator up to the second floor. We would race her up the stairs and pretend we were waiting forever. Thank God we were only on the second floor! Those windy stairs are anything but heel-friendly. We also made sure to buy some butter and baguettes for the room, as well as some pudding. Pudding is to France as chips are to Canada. They have entire aisles dedicated to pudding. And like everything else, they do it so well.
We met Tina at a Metro stop and headed for the duck restaurant that QN has been raving about. All I have to say is this: there is a toaster on every table so you can toast your own bread for the foie gras. Awesome. And not expensive. 4 of us, wine, water, coffee, foie gras, duck mains, desert = 78 Euros! The only negative I would say is that the waitress was a scary bitch. But otherwise 9 out of 10.
Then we tried to get into this bar called Footsie, a play on the letters for the stock exchange FTSE. The price of drinks varies, depending on how many people order them. Popular cocktails can get really high, nasty ass drinks stay cheap. You have to watch the screen to see if the price of your Cosmo has gone up or not. So you end up trying to outwit your fellow barmates by ordering bizarre combos. Cool idea, packed to the tits as a result.
We decided to try and grab the last Metro to the Bastille area (my fave) and try some bars there. The guy was closing the gate to the Opera Metro entrance. It was literally a cene out of Indiana Jones. "Tro me dee idol, I tro you dee whip!" We slid through the an opening where the last panel was not in place yet, then, realizing we didn't have any tickets, we rolled under the turnstyles hoping to catch the last train. I had forgotten how bad the Metro stations reek of piss. Nasty.
In Bastille, before I could say anything, we ended up in a bar we had been to two years ago. Paris being as large as it is, I am not a fan of repeat visits unless I REALLY love the place. Sans Sanz in the Bastille was a longtime fave because it had an amazing restaurant and a fun bar where you could dance. They had the Molten Chocolate Cake (Mi Cuit) long before it became the new hot thing in North America. Now that President's Choice makes the same dessert, I saw no point in returning. Same goes for this place, which I can't even remember the name. The whole street, packed with bars, and we have to choose the one I've been to before. Ah well.
The good thing was that Sista S got REEEELY tipsy off some champagne cocktails there. (See she looks super happy in the photo!) They had a giant video screen so basically we just spaced out watching videos as we were all too tired to talk to each other, let alone to strangers. A big hit there right now features an animated dog in space singing the lyrics, "Shake yo ass, come on, shake yo ass! I'm not Scooby Doo Scooby Doo Scooby Dooby Doo!" Say wha?
We dropped Tina home in a cab and woke up the doorman at our hotel to let us in. QN and I stayed up talking all night. Sista S would wake up every so often and bitch us out to go to sleep "Are you losers STILL FUCKING awake?", then would fall back asleep and make us laugh with her whistling nose. It was kinda like a grade 7 sleep over. I confided in QN about my irrational fears of death and illness, and how I think I am at the point where I need to talk to a professional about it. And we managed to find humour in my situation and giggled until we fell asleep when the sun was up.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
DAY ONE/LA PREMIÈRE JOURNÉE
Weight: 56.7 kg; Coffees: 2; Alcohol: 4 units (3 glasses of wine and a dessert floating in a pool of rum); Bread: 1/2 a baguette; Potatoes Consumed: roasted with a cheese sauce; Times I thought of Nate: 362
After many major anxiety attacks and hyperventillating thinking that the plane would crash, or that we would be murdered by terrorists, we landed in the fairest city of them all. (Air France was so awesome by the way. The food was incroyable and the service fabulous) We decided to ignore the hype and take the RER (train) that passes through some of the affected suburbs and would take us to a stop near our hotel. As we were passing through the turnstyles, we noticed that some Arab men were being questioned by heavily armed policemen. The unfortunate men looked like they were on their way to work. Absolute racial profiling.
Our train fast-forwarded through the suburbs, so we didn't stop until we were in the confines of central Paris. But we saw the problem, the same problem that affects every major city. Tall, ugly, run-down apartment complexes. Dwellings that were far from the ground and from the heart of the action, so you would never feel a connection to the city in which you live. In this world you are who you know, and if you only meet others with few opportunities, how will you ever have a chance to do better?
I wasn't at all afraid. After all, if you read the news, it seems that cars, not people, were the main enemy of this ignored segment of the population. Cars, the symbol of all that's wrong with our world, representing oil and wealth and war. And we figured that baddies usually create destruction late at night and were likely sleeping at 9 am.
We stepped off in the 14th, took what may be the world's longest moving sidewalk (Gardez les pieds! Gardez les pieds!), out from the ground, and I gasped. There she is. Just like that. As beautiful as ever. With her Hausmann-standard six-storey buildings and the wrought-iron Juliet balconies with the adorable window boxes. With her mini cars turning at the roundabout with their cute European honking. Street posts and newsstands with billboards for pudding and cell phones and movies that came out in N. America six months ago.
We walked to our hotel and remarked at the Sephora and Zara across the street. We passed a flower shop with its compulsively neat rows of rosettes, freesia and lilies grouped by colour -- do they do flowers better anywhere else in the world?
Our hotel rocked the block! Normally I avoid chains like the plague, but the Best Western Nouvel Orleans had all the charm you would want in a Paris hotel for a fraction of the price. We got a wicked deal off a last-minute website and paid only 95 Euros a night for a gorgeous room with three separate beds, a flat screen TV (for watching MTV Europe and dubbed over Bold and the Beautiful), a huge bathroom and two Juliet balconies overlooking the main street. (Our room was two windows up/2eme etage on the left.)
Our room was not ready yet, so we decided to hop on the bus to Rue de Rennes to hit the H&M early and get the goods. We passed a café with two mega hot guys out front and decided to pause pour un café. We peeked around the corner first to make sure there was no lineup at H&M and there wasn't one. Maybe the French didn't care for the cheap designs of a Brit?
My sister got mad at me for pulling out my novel at the cafe, but I could not put the book down. SO GOOD! (Have any of you finished yet?) I can't wait to discuss it in our book club! She pulled out a pack of smokes and I told her that I would take a drag off every ciggy she had (eventhough I don't smoke) just to piss her off. We slugged back the coffee and headed for the store.
That's when I saw my first riot.
Dust. Destruction. Mayhem. Angry shouting. I was totally afraid. Who were these crazed maniacs? I didn't know but I'd be damned if they were going to ruin my trip. I was getting that yellow top dammit. And no aggressive fashionista was going to get in my way. Hundreds of women crowded around what once was maybe eight racks of clothes. Waiting for the changeroom attendant to come out with the pieces that were passed over and pouncing on her when she did. Women in their 60s holding every piece of the collection! No one dares to be unfashionable in Paris and nothing is totally age appropriate.
I am normally aware of the detest for the English language being spoken at high decibels in France. So I speak French as often as possible, or Armenian to my sis, or if I must say something in English I try to be quiet and not attract attention. I try to emulate the Parisian street fashions (fitted blazer, scarf, jeans and Converse) and never wear my camera around my neck. I do NOT want to look like a tourist. I just want to fit in for a few days and pretend. So I did my best to channel my inner French girl and fight over the clothes I was holding en Français. But when the 10th girl tried to wrestle my yellow top from me, I couldn't take it anymore and started to shout, "NO! That's mine honey. Paws off!" Well, it's one thing for a Parisian to lose a coveted fashion item to a fellow French girl, but it's quite another to lose to someone they believe is an American.
We talked about perhaps seeing a movie. The first time we were in Paris together we saw Matrix Reloaded on the Champs Elysees. Let me tell you, the French really get into their flicks -- shouting at the screen, cheering when Neo kicked some ass, applauding after a funny line -- it made a mediocre film quite entertaining. But all the films at Odeon sucked and had already started. You know a film is bad when it comes out in Europe before it comes out here. So whatever that was with Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear... you may want to avoid it at the video store.
We tried to muster up some energy to go to a bar, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. Our nice hotel room was calling. Unfortunately, once I got to the room, the coffee kicked in and I was suddenly very awake and jittery. And I had a terrible pain in my stomach. Lately I am experiencing unbelievable pain and bloating during ovulation. But somehow I convinced myself that I had stomach cancer and was dying. I lay awake thinking of a Six Feet Under episode I saw recently where a woman ignored the pain in her stomach, and when she finally went to the doctor, she had two tumours the size of melons and she died shortly after. Someone with my level of (self-diagnosed) anxiety disorder should never watch shows involving illness or death.
I finally managed to go to sleep taking deep breaths and dreaming of Nate.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
I have been immersed in all things Nate since I got back Monday evening. I am dying to do a long post, but the Dog is off until Saturday and therefore pressuring me to get outside rather than take care of Nate while I sit in front of the computer.
I have so much to tell you. I appreciate your patience. More to come tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
OK, just had to say Goodbye to Nate and it was brutal. He was sleeping on my shoulder, hugging me tight when Daddy Dog took him to put him in the car and drive to Grandma's. I am bawling. I haven't been this big a suck since our Grade 8 camping trip when I called home on the second day begging my parents to come and pick me up. I am homesick and I haven't even left yet!
I know, I know, I want to slap some sense into me too. I won't even be gone a week! Maybe getting to H&M tomorow morning, right when it opens, to get first paws on the new Stella McCartney collection (6 hours before my fellow Torontonians I might add) might help to ease the pain. Shallow? Oh yes, but the thought of this outfit coming home with me makes everything less ouchy.
As I was putting Nate to sleep last night, I thought to myself, "I hope this isn't the last time I get to put you to bed." Silly, I know, but I think we all know how paranoid I get about flying, nevermind crossing the Atlantic.
Needless to say my prayers were answered. Sort of. Nate woke up at 8:30 pm. Then at 9:30, 10:30, 10:40, 11:30, 12:30, 1:48, 3:38 and 4:27. Then he slept beside me until 7:30 am, which meant I got no sleep and he kicked and flopped and worst: snorted snot. He is sick. Again.
Ugh. As if I wasn't emotional enough already for being selfish and wanting to take a girls' trip. Now I have to hand off my sick child to Grandma, while I go galavanting around to designer exhibits, duck restaurants and bars owned by celebrities. Suddenly that sounds like total torture. What's happened to me?
Anyway, I know I'll have fun and I'm being a spoiled, neurotic brat. But what can I say? My boy has changed my life and I guess I'll never be the same diva again. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to hard to find a balance between my old, pre-baby self and my new role as a mother. It is the most difficult thing. And sometimes you get so tired, you just want to give up. Who am I trying to impress, you think to yourself. But giving in is worse, because you wake up one day and realize you don't even recognize yourself anymore. So what to do? Keep plucking those eyebrows and shaving those legs, keep taking nights off from the babe for both your sanities and hope for the best I guess. God it's exhausting being a modern mum.
Hopefully Tante will have some magic sleepy pills for the plane (she is the pill princess) and I'll try to catch up on my Zzzzs and calm my hyper-emotional self down.
I'll try to update from Paris. If not, my next post will be Tuesday. Stay safe everyone. A bientot.
Monday, November 07, 2005
My sister sent me this excerpt from Parler Paris (the ex-pat newspaper) writer Adrian Leeds, who was at a Hurricane Katrina charity event on Sunday night in the City of Lights.
"To ignore the Paris riots would be irresponsible on my part, but I must tell you, that if it weren't for my CNN news alerts, I wouldn't know they were happening. That's not to say that my head is "in the sand," but living in central Paris, there has been no sign of the angered destruction taking place in the "banlieue" (suburbs) or in other parts of France -- until last night, when a car was burned in the Marais.
I caution all those watching and reading American media so as not to overexaggerate the true situation. Remember that the American media is run by entertainment organizations that tend to sensationalize the news to build ratings. Remember that they usually take the same 20-second "sound bite" and run it every hour on the hour or more often leading you to believe the event is happening in continuous motion, rather than done and past. Remember that in Paris, the rich live in the center and the poor live in the suburbs -- the opposite of the U.S. condition of the inner cities vs the wealthy "burbs."
There is no question of the seriousness of the situation. For a very long time the poorly treated immigrant pot has been simmering and predictions of it coming to a boiling point have been whispered about. Now the time has come for France to pay for its mistakes vis a vis its poor and suffering immigrant population, mostly of North African and West African origin, who are jobless and grossly discriminated against. I remind myself that I, too, am an immigrant in France, but my white face and western background don't threaten the French middle class.
Craig S. Smith of the New York Times reminds us that "Just two months ago, the French watched in horrified fascination at the anarchy of New Orleans, where members of America's underclass were seen looting stores and defying the police in the wake of Hurricane Katrina."
In his article "France Has an Underclass, but Its Roots Are Still Shallow" published November 6, 2005, he continues, "The corrosive gap between America's whites and its racial minorities, especially African-Americans, is the product of centuries: slavery, followed by cycles of poverty and racial exclusion that denied generation after generation the best the United States could offer. France, on the other hand, is only beginning to struggle with a much newer variant of the same problem: the fury of Muslims of North African descent who have found themselves caught for three generations in a trap of ethnic and religious discrimination."
Now both sides of the Atlantic are getting a taste for their just rewards. While the rioting is destructive, just like Katrina was, it sheds new light on problems that need to be addressed NOW, not tomorrow, and for our pain and suffering will come renewed enlightenment. Just like my cast will help heal my torn ligaments, so shall the uncorralled and violent expression strengthen the cause.
Call me the ultimate optimist as one of France's more welcome immigrants, but I see a brighter future for an ailing community from a more tolerant government.
Paris is still Paris. Paris will always be Paris and this, too, shall pass."
Not that any of this eases the panicked phone calls of my middle eastern family members. I have been trying to tell them, "Just pretend it's in Mississauga or Ajax. It's far from where I'll be. I went to London in 1999 when the bombs were happening remember? It'll be OK." Ah well, c'est la vie. It's not my first time in the big city, and as long as no one sets fire to Colette or Le Bon Marche, I'll be just fine. But if they happen to be looting these stores, well, I may have to join in...
If you want to go for drinks in the day (and who doesn't?), listen to some cool music and meet some great gals, please go to their launch party this Thursday at the Supermarket (hip boite in Kensington Market) --click on the flyer for more details.
I, alas, am missing it, because as a mom with a baby and a life, I am jetsetting to Paris to celebrate my sister's 30th b-day and meet up with my best friend, Queen Nomad. But do go and have a cocktail for me!
And say a prayer for me will ya? As if I'm not nervous enough leaving Natey for 5 days to cross the ocean, these damn riots have me beyond freaked. Only to me this would happen. Let's just say I'm taking a cab from the airport to avoid the blazing burbs.
Friday, November 04, 2005
I met Ruba Nadda in Winnipeg and she was a gorgeous, friendly and super-bright woman. I have to admit, I was jealous. I mean here she was Canadian, Arab, beautiful and only slightly older than me and she had a fully funded feature film almost out. Unfortunately I flew out the night her film, Sabah, was being screened.
I did, however, get to catch a screening of it in Newfoundland. And I was expecting... a Canadian film. A film you had to be a film school grad to understand or like. I was expecting overly artsy and alienating. What I got was a film that crossed boundaries and felt familiar, like hummous at a house party. A mainstream(ish) Canadian film that's not saccharine like former attempts (Men With Brooms anyone?). These were characters I could relate to, without the cheesy over-the-top comedy of My Big Fat... You-Know. They were honest and real, but hilarious in their truth. It stars Atom Egoyan's wife, Arsinee Khanjian (ironically, three of the main actors are Armenians like myself) with a performance that is quite different from her past work. She is so totally likeable here, cute almost. The leading man is Shawn Doyle (Eleventh Hour hottie and the bad guy in Frequency) who I had a total crush on throughout the film (partly because he was super nice to me when I worked with him back in 1999 on Who Killed Atlanta's Children? I had a crush on him then too!)
Who the hell ever thought a Muslim romantic comedy could fly? Oh but it does, with butterfly wings. I won't hype it up more because then you'll expect too much. It's not a perfect film, but it's finally a Canadian film that everyone can enjoy. You will be pleasantly surprised by this sleeper.
As it turns out, Ruba spent years making short films out of her own pocket (usually starring her sister) and entering them into film festivals like mad. No one had seen her films in Canada, but internationally they were having retrospectives of her work! By the time she was 30 she had made something sick like 14 short films and 2 self-funded features. She is inspiring.
Sabah is out on DVD November 15th. You don't have to be Middle Eastern to be totally entertained by this movie. But if you are, then it's a MUST SEE with your whole family. Finally someone shows us as people with regular lives and loves (just more rules than everyone else) instead of terrorists.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
He has a sense of humour. A real taste for funniness. He plays games with us that he creates on his own. As I feed him with the White Hot spoon, he will clamp his teeth down and make it impossible for me to tug it free. And he will look into my eyes and laugh because he has stumped me. He will chase the cat until she has nowhere to go but behind his bedroom door, and he will open the door to peek at her, then close it shut to hide her away, then erupt into giggles when he opens it again to find her sitting there, staring blankly at him.
He thinks it's funny when Tante, normally quite reserved, takes his plush dog toy and slowly drags it across the floor, suddenly unleashing it on his neck with a loud growl. Unlike his mother, he finds Fear funny. Any situation that is slightly dodgy or startling will cause him to erupt into full belly laughs, so long as he's with someone safe. He's in love with his only first cousin and will try anything she asks him to. He wants to impress her badly. When he sees his Ya-ya or his Gram-gram, it's as though he's aware that these women are an extension of his parents. Aware that the nurturing he feels from Mommy and Dada was grown in their patient hands. And I am never afraid to leave him with either of them, because they love him as though they bore him themselves.
The gargantuan grin Nate grows when his father walks into a room makes me completely sure that I married the right man. It makes me fall deeper in love with my partner to see how dedicated he is to his family and how much his wee son loves him in return. The look in Natey's eyes when Jan appears wearing the Baby Bjorn says, "Yes! Outdoors Dad. Take me on an adventure. Teach me about your world." Nate's squeals when his father pretends to chase him on all fours are more delightful than any music I have ever heard.
Nathaniel is mischevious. He will do what he knows not to in order to get your attention. He pretends to choke in his high chair if you turn your back to mix cereal or check emails while he sits there, trying to impress you with the way he shoves food into his mouth. If a drop of formula or water is spilled, he immediately plunges his hand in and spreads the fluid around, like he is finger-painting. He climbs up the stairs when he thinks I am not looking and then looks over his shoulder to make sure he catches my eye. "Stop playing on the computer Mommy," he's trying to say. "Let's go up to my room and party with the Alphabet Blocks!"
He is musical, shaking his bottle, plashing in the cat's water bowl, tapping a toy on the stainless steel garbage can, just to hear the sound it makes. His body thrashes with glee if we play Kanye or JT or Beyonce and have what can only be described as a family rave. Itsy-Bitsy Spider can turn a frown upside down in a fetal heartbeat. He has even begun twisting his little hands at the wrist in a "so-so" fashion when we sing it. He sings all day in his unintelligible babble. He babbles along when I sing the Alphabet song.
If you put your forehead to his, Nate will rub his whole face into yours and sometimes attempt a kiss. He will hold Tante's hands while she watches The Backyardigans with him (an addiction she is fostering, against my better wishes). When we have a sleepover with Tante, he will slap our chunky middle-eastern thighs with a joy that makes me hope he always has a love for women with some meat on the bone. He will kiss Gram-gram on the mouth. He will climb up Grandpa Tony's torso and face until there is nowhere to go. Nate will sit comfortably in the crook of his Dede's arm, just as he did back when he was still immobile. He will try to pet the cat gently -- after months of my insistence -- until he gets so excited he just pats her hard and repeatedly like a drum. He will push Scout to the floor trying to stand up using her back (I also try to discourage this).
He has the biggest eyes I have ever seen, framed by eyelashes that often cause strangers to think he's a girl. His entire face changes with a smile, as his Norwegian cheekbones form perfect apples on either side of that adoreably strong nose. The nose we saw at 12 weeks in the ultrasound photo. Two more shiny teeth rounding it up to six in total, and two more on the way, he now has a people smile. He bites me and leaves teeth marks, but I will take it, because the thought of not sharing that closeness with him makes me want to cry.
When he sees Goodnight Moon, he crawls over to the rocking chair and climbs to standing using my knees. We rock and read and he attempts to turn the pages and just when I get to the part, "And a quiet old lady who was whispering "hush"" Nate leans back into my arms to feed as I continue saying goodnight to the room and the moon and everything else in the book. I know it by heart. Then I sing him a lullaby that I made up in Armenian, and maybe a couple other songs that aren't lullabies (some Mamas and the Papas, a little Lauryn Hill, an occasional James Taylor or Elton John) but songs that have sentiments that translate (un-creepily) from mother to child. Then I tell him to sleep well so we can have an even better day tomorrow. He always falls asleep at the boob and then rolls into the crib on his side or onto his tummy (bum in the air), sucking his thumb until he is in deep slumber. "Good night sweet prince," I whisper as I close the door.
(Yes, I'm aware that Hamlet ended badly.)
Tonight I got to watch him fall asleep for what felt like the first time. Tonight he was full or restless and would not settle down at the breast. So I put him in his crib, drowsy but awake. I put a stuffed toy beside him for snuggling, and then stroked his head while his eyes fluttered, fighting sleep. He lay on his back, smiling and slowly gave into the slumber. And it was the most beautiful moment I think I've ever had. Save maybe the first time we ever locked eyes.
How can there be wars and abuse and pain and evil in the world when there is this? This giant LOVE that I believe can spread out over the globe and heal all the hurts. Because it is healing mine.
Also, I'm going to activate verification on my comments until I can set up HaloScan (so you wont have to type h7djn4* forever). I am being comment spammed by dog people now and it's making me batty. In fact I urge you to go to www.dogtwist.com and leave them a comment asking them to fuck off and leave me alone. Why does commerce have to ruin everything? Can I not refer to my man as The Dog without being bombed by idiots who don't read and just want to sell me a doggy jacket?
And lastly, our Mom Show closet reno appearance will air on December 5th at 11:00 am and 6:00 pm Eastern Time. I'll remind y'all closer to the date.
That is all.
A few weeks ago, the Dog’s folks were visiting and on our way back from lunch, we stopped in a park. It’s not too far from my house, but embarrassingly, I’ve never taken Nate to any park around here since we moved. So we had a blast, watching Nate giggle on the swings and chatting with other parents in the park. As I was leaving, I was approached by one of the moms. "Are you middle eastern?"
"Yes, I'm Armenian."
"Oh, I'm half Lebanese. You know it was so easy talking to you, do you mind if I gave you my card? I go to an Early Years program on Wednesdays, maybe you'd like to come along."
And that's how I picked up my first mom in the park.
I called her when I got back from St. John's. It was during that bout of fighting with the Dog and I realized, "Shit girl. You have GOT to get out more!" Sarah was happy to hear from me and so we made a date.
So yesterday morning I got us all suited up, with the help of the Dog or I would have been SUPER late. I was still a bit late and ran the whole way there (as if! OK, OK, I ran two blocks max. I'm so bloody out of shape that I would have collapsed if I ran the whole way). She lives about a 10 minute walk away. We walked and chatted. She told me how she had petitioned to get a crosswalk on Dundas near her home. I thought that was pretty cool. We got along well.
The Early Years program was fun. We split into two groups. On one side was a noisy playroom, on the other a quiet discussion on discipline and babies (our group focused on 6 months to a year). I learned that you can't train a baby and all those books are crap. That a baby is an investment: you have to put a lot of deposits in now to get the big returns later. That leaving Nate to cry it out at night will only make him insecure. He is not being manipulative, he actually needs me, even if only for a minute. That I must focus on what I get from the baby too (like unconditional love -- until he's 14 at least), and not always think so much about what I have to do for him. And all kinds of good stuff like that. The kind of stuff which made me feel more confident as a mother and gave me the tools I needed to be more patient and understanding.
Then we moved to the noisy room where a professional caregiver asked me if I would like her to watch Nate while I went to get a snack. No coffee, but free muffins! A nutritionist came by to hand out pamphlets and ask me what Nate was eating and how, and if I had any questions. And all the moms were really nice and unpretentious (not a Bugaboo in site!). Did I mention this was free? The thing is, the government puts on all these really great programs that no one knows about. I guess word of mouth will have to do, but it would be great for new moms to get handouts in the hospitals or from the public health nurse. (though this may have happened but my brain was too mush at that point to even process that info. So maybe they should do a mailout at 3 months post-partum or something.)
Anyway, here's a link if you want to find out more about what's offered in your area. I totally recommend it. It was a nice break from my normal routine, even if it disrupted Nate's naptime, and it was good to be social and talk dumb "Does he like sweet potato" mom-talk.
Afterwards, I walked along Queen St East and went into THIS insane scrapbook store. Holy Fuck! I think I have to take some classes there. I couldn't breathe I was so excited about all the papers and stamps and stickers and cutouts. The crafty bitch I used to be has been itching to come out and I think the time is nigh. Thinking of taking a card-making class to deal with the holiday card issue that's coming up. Anyone interested?
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Oh yes Halloween arrived and I procrastinated. That was scary in itself as neighbours and family arrived at the door expecting Nate (who had no clue what the hell was going on) to be dressed in something cute. So I cheated and ran to Zellers, fought the crowds and grabbed the first cute furry thing I could find.
I aged five years on Friday night when the scariest thing since the stroke happened. After a week of no sleep thanks to teething, the Dog and I had a HUGE blow up on Friday afternoon. In the street. Queen Street, no less. Being middle eastern, it's fair to say that when I argue I am LOUD and there is no winning. We were sleep deprived, both grouchy and depressed a bit at our situation and it got the worst of us. I actually said the ridiculous sentence, "If you say that ever again I am LEAVING!" As if.
But that was not the most fearsome occurance of the day. Nuh-uh. After we made up and went to the dollar store for some candies, we came home and decided to eat a few. Two mini-Caramilks later (for me, not Nate), the baby and I went upstairs to brush our teeth. He is so good at brushing his teeth. I will have to take a photo for you all to see. After gnawing on the brush for several minutes, he began to gag. The Dog inspected his mouth the best he could (a difficult feat with our snap-jawed son) and we concluded that Nate just had a bristle from the brush in the back of his throat. I gave him some water and he seemed fine. So I threw him in the car to ship him up my parents so we could get some much-needed sleep.
On the way to my folks, alone with him in the car, I heard him gagging again in the backseat. Two seconds later he was chatting in his adorable sing-songy way (mum-bum-bum, da-da-da-day) and I relaxed. Halfway to my parents house, the cute babbling turned into what can only be described as the Tasmanian Devil, as he began to scream and cry at the top of his lungs. I thought he had just had enough of the carseat, or was fighting sleep. "Be patient," I said, "We're almost there. 10 more minutes." As if he has any gauge of 10 minutes. If it's anything like summer vacations feeling like years when you're a child, the 10 minutes to a baby must seem like a life time.
Then came the most terrifying part. He started vomitting. Barfing, sputtering, choking. And I'm on the highway. And the next exit seems as far as Medicine Hat. So what do I do, I freak out and start bawling. Because I feel horribly helpless. And worse, I feel guilty, because earlier that day during the spat, for a split second I thought, "Maybe we shouldn't have done this. Maybe if Nate wasn't in the picture, we wouldn't be having this problem and things could be the way they used to be."
Faced with this scary event, I realized that I could not imagine a world without Nate. I have no idea how parents get over the loss of a child. I don't know that I would be able to. I got off at the next exit, pulled into a hotel parking lot and checked on Nate. He was crying, but he seemed alive and well. So save upsetting him more by taking him in and out of the carseat, I got back in the driver's seat and headed for our destination.
Once we got to Ya-ya's I was a sobbing, shaking mess. She didn't know whether to comfort me -- her own baby -- or Nate -- the love of her life. Once we got settled and I stopped crying, I tried to nurse Nate to sleep. He kept biting me. So I pulled him off and looked at him, only to see something sticking out of his mouth. What I pulled out was a purple piece of cellophane. Part of a Halloween-sized Caramilk wrapper. Man, did I ever feel horrible about that. How freakin' lucky is that? He so should've choked on that thing. But he didn't.
This is only the beginning of scary moments to come. He'll be 10 months-old tomorrow and I'm definitely getting better at this, getting the hang of it more, and finding the balance. But letting go of the fear is proving to be the hardest part. The fear that I might one day be faced with knowing a world without him in it. Or that mine will be the life cut short and I might miss all the good stuff to come. I know it's irrational and no way to live your life, so I'm working on it. "Get busy living, or get busy dying," as my wise husband always says.
Anyway, scary events and commercial baby costume and all, he looked super cute and had so much fun. He crawled to the door each time the bell rang, to check out the kids and giggle. And every time I look into those chocolate eyes, I realize I don't have time to be afraid.