Archives: babies

Dear Tuesday

Dear Sprint,
There’s a war on. You know that, right? Between you and the iPhone people? And that every time I take my phone out, I might as well be pulling a six-shooter out of a holster? And that every time an iPhone and another phone are in the same room together, the air becomes dry and crackly and people nervously clear their throats? You can practically hear the jangle of spurs and the theme music to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly out here, Sprint. To the iPhone users, every hiccup in your performance is an opportunity to prove to me that the iPhone is faster, easier to use, and just downright BETTER than the phone I use, Sprint. SO. Here’s a little advice, from someone down in the trenches: Get. Yo’. Shit. Together. Don’t make me look like an idiot in front of the iPhone users. I’ve defended you for a long time, but the jackals are circling. They want an excuse, ANY excuse, to say to me, “Why don’t you just get an iPhone?”. Are you going to let them have it, Sprint? Are you just going to lie there and take it? Because that’s what the iPhone people are saying you’ll do. They think they’ve got you pegged. They think I’ll eventually get so frustrated with you that I’ll cave and buy a shiny white lozenge of a phone and leave you in the dust. Is that where we’re headed, Sprint? You know, now that I think about it, I actually can’t understand my loyalty to you. You really haven’t done much more than provide me with uninterrupted, trouble-free service for nine years or so. I mean, it’s not like you throw in a dozen roses every time I upgrade my phone. So why should I stick with you when everyone tells me the iPhone is better, faster, and smarter than your best smartphone? Because you had me at Hello, You’re Lazy. It’s true. I can feel a migraine coming on whenever I think about having to switch phone companies. So let’s make a deal, shall we? I will continue to fork over my seventy-some-odd-dollars for a worry-free, all-inclusive plan, and you continue to reward me for my laziness loyalty. Here’s another pointer: When I come into your store, make it seem, like the iPhone people do, that I have just brought in a wounded comrade and that you are a triage center. Treat that comrade like he is family. Gently tuck him into a white Formica drawer with other wounded comrades and promise me you’ll do everything you can to save him. Ask me how long it’s been since I’ve been without my device, and offer your condolences with lowered eyes and a respectful distance. Offer me a service ticket electronically and act like you don’t even know what paper is anymore. Tell me you’ll have a new phone in my hands pronto. And do this all with a smile. I mean, for godssakes, Sprint, the iPhone people are watching.

Dear Sprint,
You know I have, like, twenty six followers of this blog and that I could easily foment an insurrection against you? Do you know that in some parts of the world, twenty-six people all hating you at once out of solidarity constitutes a goddamned revolution? How much bad juju can you handle being beamed at you from every corner of North America anyway?

Dear Sprint Store Employee,
I can tell that every morning, in one motion, you push your arms into the sleeves of your corporate logo’d sweater and you put your heart up in a Mason jar on the top shelf of your closet because that is what it takes to do your job. It’s okay. I can’t blame you. I used to work for a corporate entity once. I, too, got tired of dealing with people who brought back items that THEIR CATS HAD OBVIOUSLY BEEN PEEING ON for three years and tell me that they just “changed their mind” about the color and could they just get a refund, please? I’m sure the stories you hear about what people do to their cell phones is equally as horrifying. I’m sure that people feign ignorance left and right about why their phones suddenly don’t work and why they need replacements right this instant for free. I’m sure you have to stare grown men in the face and not move a muscle as they tell you they most certainly did NOT drop their phones in the lake even as wriggling minnows tumble onto the countertop from their battery casings. I’m sure you have to defend against all kinds of asinine behavior that voids service contracts and that you have to tell a hundred or more people a day that that kind of stuff is just not the kind of thing that warrants a free phone.

Dear Assurian Insurance Company Who Insures My Phone,
I am not one of those people.

Dear Sprint Employee (again),
Please review your customer service policies regarding “cracked smartphone screens”. Understand that when I hand over my phone and you casually remark, without making eye contact or mentioning a price, that you “could probably have a technician replace the screen in an hour”, this equates, in my mind, with a FREE service. You can understand, then, how frustrated and confused I was when, an hour later, you said the technician could not replace the screen because the phone showed signs of water damage. Water damage, Sprint Employee? I’m not following. HOW DOES A CRACKED SCREEN HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH WATER DAMAGE? I brought the phone in because my screen is cracked. And now I’ve gone from being mildly inconvenienced to irritated and confused. Do you see what’s happened here? You’ve turned me into an all caps lunatic. When you ask me if I’ve ever taken the phone into the bathroom while I’ve showered because, you know, condensation from a shower could be the culprit of said water damage and I stand there with my mouth agog, it’s because I am trying to comprehend how this is in any way related to my screen. My screen that is on the front of the phone and not the back of the phone where you checked for this alleged “water damage”. Sprint Employee, do you live here in our fair city of Seattle? Perhaps you are aware of how much it rains here. And surely you are aware of the high number of smartphone enthusiasts in our fair city (I’ll direct you to the paragraph above regarding the iPhone users). So, you must, you simply MUST, understand how, given the number of days in the year there is measurable moisture in the air (ahem, you might understand this better as “shower condensation”), and the number of smartphone users, that, by your logic, EVERYONE’S PHONE IN SEATTLE HAS SUFFERED WATER DAMAGE AND THEREFORE EVERYONE’S SERVICE CONTRACTS ARE VOID. Am I understanding this correctly, Sprint Employee?

Dear Assurian,
You might want to have a talk with the Sprint people. Apparently, there is some confusion about when to pay a deductible for a new phone and when screens are fixed for free. Now, having paid you people seven dollars a month for the last year to insure my phone, I was more than ready to pay this deductible and to have a new phone shipped to me pronto. But, it seems like we all had different ideas of what was supposed to happen here, now didn’t we? You shipped me a phone in three days due to “backups” and “popularity of the phone” (and not immediately like you should have, like I am paying you to do). And then, when I got the phone, it was damaged. And when I called and asked your customer service rep if I should ship back the whole package, which included a battery and a memory card, or just the damaged phone, your representative told me “just the phone”. And then you somehow, AMAZINGLY, MIRACULOUSLY were able to ship me a BRAND NEW PHONE overnight to replace the damaged one… which, of course, included ANOTHER battery and ANOTHER memory card. (Are you catching all this, iPhone users?)

Dear Really Stupid Week I’ve Just Had,
Man, am I glad you’re done. Geez…. Now, if I could just back to a regular sleep pattern…

Dear Crows Outside My Bedroom Window at 7 am:

Dear Baby Next Door,
Are you in cahoots with the crows? Do you suffer from night terrors? Why the hell else would you be awake at 7 am and screaming like you’re being murdered? Do you fall out of your crib every day at the same time and land in rusty bathtub full of broken glass? Why the hell must you scream like that, baby? I wake up every morning terrified that you’re being mauled by lions. Why, baby? Why? I’ve met your mother; she’s a dear woman. I know you’re not being harmed in there, baby, so it must be all in your head. Do you need to see a therapist, baby?

Dear Neighbor with Backfiring Motorcycle/Neighbor with Lawnmower,
Really? Are you and the baby and the crows all in on this together? Is there some conspiracy to make as much noise as possible at the appointed hour of 6:45 am to get me out of bed? You know I don’t actually GET out of bed at 6:45, right? Sure, sometimes I get up and press my nose to my screen window and scream at the top of my lungs for the crows the shut the hell up but that doesn’t constitute “getting out of bed” per se. Anyway, please stop. It’s getting a little ridiculous out there. I mean, a screaming baby is one thing. And crows another. But mowing your lawn AND repairing your motorcycle all at once? Come on. That’s just silly.

Dear Self-Employment Schedule,
Thanks for letting me sleep in.

We Have No Bananas… But We Do Have Fresh Children

Okay, okay. I know I’m supposed to be telling you about Burning Man. And I will, I swear. There is so much to tell you, so you won’t be disappointed that you had to wait this long. But, I mean, honestly. How can I possibly start? At what point do I jump in and just start rattling it all off? My plan was to sort of break it down, day by day, make it sequential and all, just to make it easy on us both. Stretch it out and write down the epic adventure that it was. But, because it was just that life-changing, and because I haven’t had one spare moment to myself since I got home to really write one single eloquent thought about it, and because, within 72 hours of getting home, I jumped on a plane to NJ to visit my family, and because I have been completely distracted by this gorgeous stretch of beach I am staying on, I am going to stall and tell you about something far more interesting. First, first, I am going to tell you about the meat department at the Strathmere, NJ, Acme Supermarket. But first let me tell you why I’m at the Acme in Strathmere, NJ, in the first place.

My sister and I are visiting CLH’s cousin Renee (and her husband Steve) in south Jersey. Renee just had her first baby. Back in February, she asked me to be with her during the first few weeks of the baby’s life and I said yes. I was so honored when she asked me I actually broke down in tears. So, being here with my sister is a big deal to me. Renee is the oldest of CLH’s gaggle of cousins and I have always felt a special kind of kinship with her.

It’s also a big deal, because, up until a few years ago, before my peers started having kids of their own, I was scared to DEATH of having children. I mean, really, really scared. And the fear was multi layered. The first layer had everything to do with my fear of psychologically screwing the kid up. And I had a whole litany of excuses to defend my when-hell-freezes-over answer to the question of motherhood. There was the Well-I-don’t-want-to-bring-a-child-up-the way-I-was-brought- up-and-aren’t-we-all-destined-to-repeat-the-mistakes-of-our-parents argument that I used for a long time. And then there was Well-there’s-so-much-to-know-about childrearing-and-I’ll-never-know-it-all-and-i’ll-probably-do-something-I-should-have-known-better-about-and-what-lawyer-is going-to-defend-a-mom-that-should-have-known-about-honey-and-botulism-and-newborns? argument.

Several thousand dollars and years of therapy later, my attitude is: it doesn’t matter what I do, the kid’s gonna need a few years on a leather couch himself to work out all the stuff I’ve absolutely blown as a mom and it’s gonna be okay. He’ll have a long list to work on, of course, but, then again, who doesn’t? He’ll probably cite Mom’s annoying ability to deduce that BOTH SIDES of an argument are valid. Her obsession about the order of the spice drawer but utter disregard towards the mold in the shower. Making him eat tofu. FORCING HIM TO LISTEN TO JAZZ.

Whew. So, after that was all cleared up by the psychologists, the second wave of neuroses hit. And these stuck around for years. The ones having to do with my physical ability to actually extrude a living thing from my lady parts. I have a short torso, people. Not exactly baby housing material. I’ve been known to faint at the thought of getting a paper cut. Cough syrup gets me high, and a single cup of coffee? A single cup of coffee can turn my heart into Kool-Aid Man: it will burst through my ribcage wearing Bermuda shorts and yell “OOOOOOH YEAH!” to thirsty, despondent children. Given all this sensitivity, how in the hell would I be able to withstand hours, nee, DAYS, of excruciating labor pains? How would I be able to endure the morning sickness? The heartburn? The lower back pain? The sleepless nights? Not to mention the parts no one talks about: the way your nipples get cracked and hard from breastfeeding. The perineum tearing and the subsequent stitches. The -gasp- hemorrhoids, people. Let’s not forget the hemorrhoids. How could a person whose heart can’t handle a common breakfast stimulant handle the endurance needed to squeeze a very large thing from a very small hole?

And then I was invited to witness a live birth. In 2001, my best friend’s sister was about to give birth to her second child, and she invited me, CLH, and a choice few other folks to be present for the birth, which was to take place in her home. And sure enough, it was all my worst nightmares come true. I could hear the wails of pain from blocks away. I was nearly frozen with fear before I even stepped foot in the house. When I got inside, I didn’t know what to do with myself. My friend’s sister volleyed back and forth between gut wrenching moans and making happy, idle chatter as the contractions got closer and closer together. I was beside myself with fear and confusion. My modesty radar self destructed as this naked woman let herself be led from one position to another by the midwife, and finally into the birthing tub by a small army of people. Naked! Naked, pregnant, and wailing and moaning like she was dying. I didn’t know what to pass out from, the primal fear this wailing triggered, or having my mind implode at the sight of so much pubic hair in public.

And then the baby came. And no one died. And the sister was in control of her birth experience the whole time. And she was happy afterwards. Really, really happy. And the baby was happy. And both were healthy. And the world didn’t explode and no one bled to death and I made it out without fainting.

And it was after that birth that I got to thinking, wait a minute. That wasn’t so bad. Which led naturally to, Hmmm. Hold on a second. I could probably do that. Drastic, right? Like, what kind of a logical jump is that? Like, I, too, could probably skydive over an active volcano blindfolded! But I’ve figured out that it’s not logical, this whole child-rearing thing. It’s supposed to do things like turn your world upside down and make you think that pushing a wiggly, pokey, bundle of flesh out of your body while being consumed by the worst pain of your life is actually rewarding.

Which is why I eventually had to shove aside the stream of unending questions that issued forth from my over-thinking brain after witnessing this birth. Like how on earth am I going to calm a crying baby in public? A crying baby that doesn’t speak English. Or spend leisurely hours in the ethnic food aisle at the supermarket with a toddler? Or listen to This American Life uninterrupted EVER AGAIN? How am I going to take a shower when it is old enough to crawl? Doesn’t the baby need 24 hour supervision? Doesn’t it have the ability to snap its own neck? Doesn’t it suffocate when it’s laid on its back before the age of six months? Or is it the stomach? JEEEZUS, I DON’T KNOW, JUST LIKE I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THE HONEY AND THE BOTULISM. And the next thing I know, I am tearing my hair out and screaming, Oh Dear God, I’ve killed my baby because I wanted to take a shower.


And I tell you all this because I feel so honored to be in this baby’s life with this entirely new perspective on parenting. It makes being here feel like I’ve worked through a lot of issues and come out the other side a little more wise, and a little more, well, adult. And it gives me an enormous appreciation for the hard work it takes to be a parent. And that sometimes, despite your best efforts, your kids still do things to disappoint or embarrass you. All your lessons about manners and appropriate public behavior go right out the window and you have to just regroup and start over and that’s okay too. And that, sometimes, your greatest work can come undone in the meat department of an Acme Supermarket.

So, my sister and I are standing in front of the fish case at the Acme supermarket here in Strathmere after a long day of driving. We’re making a special seafood dinner for Steve and Renee and we’re arguing over the amount of shrimp we need. The supermarket is so poorly stocked, we’re wondering if there’s been a war down here in Strathmere and that Steve and Renee just forgot to tell us. We’re hot, we’re tired, we’ve got low blood sugar, and we’re trying to make a dinner out of mouthwash, flounder, and ice cream, the only things left in this supermarket. While we’re waiting for our fish to be weighed and packaged, a group of three adults and a boy come down an aisle and pause a few feet away. The boy looks to be about five years old or so. He slithers away from the adults, and while they are talking groceries, he furtively writes something in the condensation on the outside of the meat case. He scurries away, thinking that no one has seen him. But of course, having been around a newborn for a few hours, my mommy senses are heightened, my kid-tracking-beam is turned up to eleven, and I have been watching this kid out of the corner of my eye the whole time.

The shrimp is handed to us just as this kid sidles up to his adult supervision, and suddenly, I see what he’s written on the glass.

maet butt.

The kid has written “maet butt” on the glass.

I’ll spell it once more just in case you’re not wiping the tears out of your eyes yet: maet butt.

And suddenly, all the fury inside my sister and I over how much shrimp to buy and the fact that we’re starving but there’s not one piece of edible produce in the whole joint… well, that just melts right out of us and we are holding our sides we are laughing so hard at maet butt.

Because THAT little prank? That is what makes all the hemorrhoids in the world ALL worth it.

Welcome to the world, little Tre.